This is an outstanding cake. It’s otherworldly delicious, beautiful, and spectacular: a creamy, banana-flavored, New-York-style cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of extraordinary banana cake. Yes, you read that right. This is not a cake filling that tastes like cheesecake. This is a cheesecake. A banana cheesecake in between two layers of delicious banana cake. Two reasons this works so well: 1) each of the components is a stellar recipe on its own, and 2) this is a dreamily creamy cheesecake that isn’t terribly far off from a pastry filling to begin with. It’s not as heavy as you might think. It’s actually just the right amount of perfectly rich.
The cheesecake middle layer is a banana version of “Cordon Rose Cream Cheesecake,” from The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. New York: William Morrow, 1988. 81-83. It’s tangy, not overly sweet, soulfully bananesque, and lighter than many cheesecakes while still being as satisfyingly luscious as you could want. The banana cake top and bottom layers are from one of my favorite recipes; I’ve posted about it before. It’s excellent straight from the fridge, which helps to make it perfect for this context.
Ingredients (at room temperature):
1 lb. cream cheese (2 eight-oz. packages)
7 oz. sugar (1 cup)
5.25 oz. egg (3 large eggs)
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
16 oz. sour cream
8 oz. banana, thoroughly mashed
1 9-inch banana cake
MAKE THE CHEESECAKE:
Preheat to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment. Line the outside of the pan thoroughly with foil, to prevent water from seeping in. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese and sugar on speed 6 (of 10) for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Beat in juice, vanilla, and salt. Blend in sour cream and banana.
Pour batter in to prepared pan. Set pan into a slightly larger pan whose sides are lower than the springform. Pour in steaming-hot water until it comes about an inch up the side of the springform. Bake until the center is just slightly jiggly when the side of the pan is gently slapped, about 45 minutes. Leave the oven door closed, turn the oven off, and let the cake sit there for an hour. Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly on a rack. Remove the foil, then cover the top of the pan with a layer of new foil. Place the pan on top of a double layer of tea towels and refrigerate overnight.
Slice the banana cake into two equal layers. Set aside.
Remove the springform collar from the cheesecake. Wrap the top of a flat plate in cling film and place it, inverted, atop the cheesecake. Turn the whole thing upside down. Remove the springform plate and the parchment from the cheesecake. Carefully invert the bottom banana cake layer and place it onto the cheesecake. Grab a cake plate, invert it, and place it on top of the inverted banana cake layer. Once more, treating the whole thing as a single unit, turn it upside down. You should now have these things, stacked like this:
- inverted flat plate (on top)
- sheet of cling film
- layer of banana cake
- cake plate (on bottom)
Congratulations. Remove the flat plate and the cling film, and place the remaining banana cake layer on top of the cheesecake. Use a butter knife to smooth the edges of the cheesecake. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar no more than a few hours before serving. (Re-dust if the sugar is eventually absorbed.)
- For pan prep, it’s worth it to buy extra-wide foil. You can make do with standard-width sheets, but it’s more difficult to make sure that there’s no way for water to seep in.
- I used a 10-inch cast-iron skillet as my water bath pan. This probably increased my baking time, but I was hard-pressed to find another pan that fit the bill.
- When it comes time to unmold the cheesecake, I find that a raised cake plate works beautifully as the “flat plate,” because its pedestal makes an excellent handle.
- The bottom of the cheesecake will be wet. This turns out to be a good thing, because it will adhere to the bottom cake layer particularly well. The top crust of the cheesecake will prevent a similar level of adhesion, but not to the point that it’s a real problem. You could shave off the crust to expose the moist interior of the cheesecake, as well as give the cut side of the top cake layer a very light coating of simple syrup.
- Take extra care when placing the bottom cake layer onto the inverted cheesecake. Center it perfectly. Once it’s in place, you can (and should) make slight adjustments if you have to, but it’s difficult – be gentle and patient.
- The finished cake is fantastic straight from the fridge.
- Next time I make this, I will strongly consider adding two layers of chocolate ganache, one on either side of the cheesecake, and/or coating the top of the cake with a thick, fudgy glaze and letting it drip down the sides of the cake (maybe with a sprinkling of macadamia nuts and a garnish of two or three banana chips). However, I would shy away from too much chocolate, because the banana flavors are so exquisite. I love how the mellow banana of the cheesecake plays with the sweet banana of the cake. I wouldn’t want to distract from that.
- The cheesecake needs to be made in advance, since it requires an overnight in the fridge. The banana cake can also be made ahead, wrapped (once fully cooled) in plastic.
- This cake keeps well; it’s a great make-ahead item. Eventually, the cheesecake will compress the bottom cake layer. This takes about 24 hours. It’s a purely esthetic change; the cake is just as divine on day two as it is on day one. If it bothers you, though, to have the bottom cake layer look thinner than the top, and you want to fix it, you can, by storing the cake in an anti-gravity chamber. Most modern microwaves have this function, even if they don’t advertise it. Simply press 5, 4, 9, 7, 9, popcorn, popcorn, baked potato, 0, 7, 5, 3, 5. Then place the cake inside the microwave, and the long-press “time.” Or, you can do this: if you know you won’t be slicing into it on the first day, you might consider cutting the banana cake layers so you wind up with about 2/3 of the original cake for the bottom layer (measured from the side of the cake – not taking the domed portion into consideration).
Banana Cake with Banana Cheesecake Filling
Credit for images on this page: Make It Like a Man! This content was not solicited, nor written in exchange for anything. As I often do, I found Joe Pastry‘s weights and measurements page useful for this post.
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