Thursday called for snack cake

In case you are not familiar with this special category of cakes, let me bring you into the know.  Snack cake is, well, cake that you snack on. And by snack on I mean eat in between meals and sometimes in lieu of meals if necessary.  It's not a fancy cake like birthday cake or something special for company.  It's usually fairly simple fare, has a moist crumb, and doesn't contain a lot of sugar. I prefer my snack cake without icing -- just a dusting of powdered sugar to make it pretty.  Generally, snack cake disappears quickly.  Plus you have far less guilt when eating it than you do when eating regular cake.

This week I dug out a favorite banana cake recipe from a former colleague and turned it into snack cake.  I haven't stayed in touch with the woman who shared it with me, but I think of her whenever I make this cake.  I thoroughly enjoyed our work together.  She was artistic and witty, a talented designer and graphic artist.  I heard that a few years after I left my work with her she had several tragedies in her life -- the saddest and greatest of which was losing her only child, a 15-year-old boy, to a brain tumor.  I don't know if it's possible for a person to recover from that kind of loss. But I hope my friend and colleague has found a path through her sadness and has found a way to laugh and love again.  Given her penchant for good food, her love of fashion and style, and her designer's eye, I can't help but believe she has found her way back to the happy side of life . . . that she is cooking again, and making cake.

So the snack cake I made this week was from her. Although it's called banana cake, I don't think it's much like banana bread at all, which was my assumption.  And in case it was yours too, I wanted to clear that up.  The cake is much lighter than any such bread, and the bananas and lemon give it a nice fruit flavor.  The well-beaten butter and sugar and buttermilk give it lift and lightness.

Wyatt and I polished off a good number of pieces of this cake within hours of it coming from the oven.  Once Byron discovered it, he helped us make short work of the rest.  My advice is make it when you can get first crack at it, and eat it warm.  It's delightful with powdered sugar on top.  Just remember not to breath in when you take a bite . . .

Banana Snack Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a 9 x 13 pan.

In a small bowl, mix the mashed banana with the lemon juice and set aside.  In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  This will take several minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time and stir in the vanilla just until combined.  Add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix in the banana mixture.  Pour the cake into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven, immediately.

Bake for about one hour (I baked mine for 1 hour 7 minutes), until a toothpick insterted in the center comes out clean, but moist, and the center is not jiggly.  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the pieces as you serve them.  And start snacking as soon as it's cool enough to handle.

The cake will dry out as it cools so wrap it tightly to keep it moist for the few days it may be around in your house.  Refrigerate it if you have any cake left after 24 hours.


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