Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Upside Down Cake

1 Sep

Am I the only person who can’t resist when the grocery store has overly ripened bananas for 1/2 off? I recently was at the grocery store when this particular manager’s special was going on and I found myself unpacking approximately 20 ripe bananas from my grocery bag. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a loaf of High Fiber Banana Bread sitting on the kitchen counter but 7 loaves of it? That might be a bit much. I decided to experiment with making a banana upside down cake.


I used ATK’s method of creating the caramelized topping for an upside down cake, added walnuts, and swapped in bananas for the pineapple. To me, banana-flavored things need to have a heartier texture to them. I decided to use whole-wheat pastry flour and cracked wheat for the cake. I prepared the whole cake in a cast-iron pan to keep with the rustic feel. While this recipe isn’t necessarily “healthy” you are getting some fiber, potassium and heart-healthy fats from the whole wheat flour, bananas, and walnuts.


Next time you find yourself with a few (er…20) brown bananas on your counter, give this recipe a whirl.

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Upside Down Cake

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

I decided to bake this cake in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. You can make this in a 9-inch round cake pan. If you do this, grease the bottom of the pan; melt the butter and sugar in a separate pan; and increase the baking time to 60-65 minutes. 


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

3 bananas, sliced int o1/2-inch pieces


1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour

3 tablespoons cracked wheat (this can be omitted if you don’t have any; it just adds to the texture)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 cup (7 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup milk (I used skim)

1. For the topping: Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat; add the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is foamy and pale, 3-4 minutes. Add walnuts and stir to combine. Remove pan from the heat. Add banana slices evenly across bottom of the pan; set aside.

2. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, cracked wheat, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium speed. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the yolks and vanilla (scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary); reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately in 3 or 4 batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, until the batter is just smooth.

3. Beat the egg whites at low speed in a large bowl either of a standing mixer or with a hand mixer until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; continue to beat to stiff peaks. Fold a quarter of the beaten whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula to lighten. Fold in the remaining whites until no white streaks remain. Gently pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly on top of the banana, being careful not to dislodge the bananas. Bake until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick or thin skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

4. Rest the cake on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Slide a paring knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a large tray or serving platter over the pan and hold tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the cake pan. If any banana slices sticks to the pan bottom, remove and position it on top of the cake.


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