Bananas Foster Cakes

The Bananas Foster at Freemans is one of my all-time favorite desserts. I don’t know what it is about caramel and rum that makes me love bananas. Well, I guess it is the caramel and rum. They might make me love anything. The dish was supposedly invented at the famous New Orlean’s restaurant, Brennan’s,  in 1951. This confirms two things: a lot of good recipes were created in the 1950’s AND southern cuisine is spectacular. When I saw this recipe for individual bananas foster cakes in a recent Cook’s Illustrated, I was anxious to try it out. It is a excellent adaptation of the classic dessert.

A warm and subtly-flavored cake is flipped over to reveal a delicious caramel banana topping and the whole thing is pushed over the edge with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Outstanding. I was really impressed with how simple this recipe was and how delicious the results turned out to be. I think this could be a very elegant end to a dinner party. You could put the cakes in the oven when you sit down to eat and they’d be ready when it comes time for dessert. The recipe can also be cut in half (which I did) with equally delicious results.

Individual Bananas Foster Cakes (from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 14 pieces and softened
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons dark rum
  • 3 ripe, firm bananas, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins, then set on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup of the brown sugar and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in 2 tablespoons of the rum. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the sauce into the bottom of each ramekin.

Shingle the banana slices on top of the sauce inside each ramekin. Whisk the remaining rum, the milk, eggs, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and zest together. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter into the flour mixture and continue to beat the mixture until it resembles moist crumbs, 1 to 3 minutes.

Beat in all but 1/4 cup of the milk mixture, then increase the speed to medium and beat the batter until

smooth, light, and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly beat in the remaining 1/4 cup milk mixture until the batter looks slightly curdled (this didn’t happen for me), about 15 seconds.

Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins, smooth the tops, and gently tap the ramekins on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cakes on the rimmed baking sheet until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes.

Immediately run a small knife around the edges of the cakes, gently invert each ramekin onto an individual serving plate, and let sit until the cakes release themselves from the ramekins, about 5 minutes. Remove the ramekins and serve with vanilla ice cream.

32 comments to “Bananas Foster Cakes”

  1. That looks amazing. Get thee to San Francisco and I will take you for bananas foster French toast (!!) at my favorite breakfast joint, which also happens to have New Orleans roots.

  2. Now this looks like a good reason to own ramekins. Yum!

  3. Mmm, it’s like pineapple upside down cake but not. Love it!

  4. I immediately thought of tarte Tatin but with bananas. I’m wondering…would it be a stretch to serve this for brunch?

  5. If you like a sweet brunch this could be nice. Maybe with unsweetened whipped cream instead of ice cream. Makes me wonder if you could do this in a muffin tin and make even smaller versions of the cakes…

  6. I love Freeman’s. Such a great restaurant:)

  7. mmmmm. mini cakes. love love love you spa

  8. We both love bananas foster – this looks like a delicious twist. I wonder if you could use a kitchen torch to flame some rum or caramelize the top?

  9. Wow, that looks fantastic!

  10. wow, this looks really great! i am def gonna have to try this one!

  11. Banana’s Foster is one of my favorites! I’ve even made it layered over fried dough. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Dawn in CA says:

    March 3rd, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Killing me with this one. But it’s a happy death. Adding this to my to-do list for this weekend.

  13. My word, that looks remarkable! The perfect, decadent, fruit-based dessert to make in the middle of a blustery winter.

  14. Which cook’s illustrated is this from? I always like to read their stories behind the recipes but must have missed this one. Looks great by the way.

  15. Hi Jennifer: This is when I learn my lesson not to rip stuff out of magazines without noting where it came from. My guess is that it came from the “Best of 2009” issue (one of those impulse buys at the check-out). Maybe someone can verify?

  16. wow – these look amazing! Just found your site through Pioneer Woman and I have to say that I love your recipes and photography!

  17. I like the dinner party idea. With the baking aromas filling the house, all will salivate for dessert while eating dinner. I checked out the Cook’s site and looks like it may be from “Bananas Foster for Two” from April 24, 2007, yes?

  18. Oh I am so making these little beauties today.

  19. Oh Tim, your photos make me all jealous and sad that my photos aren’t as clean and pretty and yummy EVERY SINGLE TIME. Thanks for the eye candy and great recipes.

  20. Caroline, your photos are always beautiful! But thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

  21. Dawn in CA says:

    March 9th, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Made these this weekend after coveting them daily since you posted. ;) The cake was just as moist, and the caramel just as sticky-good, as I hoped. But… the booziness was a bit overpowering for me. I was out of rum (gasp!) and I subbed in some good bourbon, so maybe that was the problem. And they were sooo rich I couldn’t even finish one (and I can seriously eat). Guess I’ll have to make them again, in mini-size and with rum this time, just to test out my theories. :)

  22. Hi Dawn: Yes, I would guess bourbon would be a little stronger than the rum. I think the original recipe called for 6 tablespoons of rum, which I reduced to 5. Keep reducing if you want less alcohol flavor. I am anxious to try these as mini-cakes, let me know if you beat me to it!

  23. While my kids and I have never had true banana foster we are huge fans of the flavor! About a month or so ago I made banana foster bread pudding and loved it so I can’t wait to try this……printing out the recipe! Thx!

  24. Wow, those cakes look amazing! Btw.. I don’t seem to have much luck when I reverse cream using all purpose flour, but I don’t like using cake flour. How did you find the texture of this cake?

  25. Hey Steph, the cake was nice. A little muffin like, with a good crumb. Thanks for writing…

  26. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t given much thought to eating Banana’s Foster before simply because it never sounded appealing, but after seeing your beautiful photo of this mysterious concoction, I think might I have to try out your recipe!
    PS-Freemans rocks!

  27. Just made this today, and I’m so, so glad to have found this recipe here… it is such a nice and luxurious change from the eternal banana bread to save doomed bananas!

    Thank you so much for sharing… this is extra wondeful!

  28. Fabulous recipe. My husband loved it for his birthday “cake”.
    Only thing I would do different: Double the caramel sauce. Mmmm.
    P.S….I melted a bit of good quality chocolate and mixed it into about the last 1/3 of the batter and made some chocolate ones. Very good too—but that was as much because the overall recipe is great anyway.

  29. I just discovered this recipe on your website and OMG … it looks absolutely orgasmic. As I don’t have the ramekins, one question: Can it be made in a larger pan? Perhaps a leak proof springform or even a regular cake pan? Please advise and thank you so much in advance!

  30. Delish! My family loved these. I ended up with probably twice as much batter as necessary, so there was a bit more cake than I would have liked. But no one complained! Served with vanilla ice cream … everyone ate it all up. Thanks for the lovely, easy recipe.

  31. These were delicious. However, my bananas and rum sauce were inside the cakes when I removed them from the ramekins. Did I do something wrong, or did you add more bananas and sauce to these to stage a prettier photo?

  32. Hi Nana- How did they end up inside? That seems impossible. I honestly don’t know what happened. Mine came out like the photos, I never stage photos- what you see is what you (I) got.

What do you think?