Banana Fruit Cake

I like banana bread and I like fruitcake so the marriage of the two makes for a very likable cake.  It is a simple mix of fruit compared to most fruitcake recipes as it contains only cherries, dates and nuts.  No yucky mixed peel in this cake!  (I really like mixed peel, but it seems a dislike of peel is the prevailing consensus among the rank and file.)

Somewhere in my travels I became the owner of a recipe box filled with those recipe cards you purchase monthly like a book club membership.  I can't remember where I got the box from, but probably at a thrift store of garage sale.  A few years ago, as the box was taking up space, I went through all the recipes and copied the ones I liked and threw away the rest.  Most of the recipes were either like ones I already had or were so strange they didn't interest me.  But there were a few that piqued my interest and this Banana Fruitcake is one of the ones I copied. 

You might think this cake is just a glorified banana bread but it isn't.  You make it like most other cakes by creaming butter, sugar and lots of eggs together and then adding the liquid (banana) alternately with the dry ingredients.  So it is not at all a banana bread.  

Surprisingly, the cake doesn't have a strong banana flavour like you would expect from the amount of bananas used.  Instead the flavour is more subtle when mixed with the other fruits and nuts.    

The cake can be made well in advance of Christmas and frozen until needed.

Banana Fruitcake
¾ cup butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon sifted all-purpose flour (divided)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups very ripe mashed bananas (4-6 bananas)
2-3 cups candied or maraschino cherries, well drained
1½ cups chopped pitted dates
1½ cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Fruitcakes need a slow oven.

Grease and flour or line a 10-inch tube pan or two 8½ x5-inch loaf pans.

Sift or mix together the 2 ½  cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and  nutmeg.  Lay aside.

In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in lemon peel, juice and vanilla . Alternately blend mashed bananas and dry ingredients into creamed mixture.

Mix the cherries and dates with remaining 1 tablespoon flour and add to batter with the chopped pecans.

Turn into prepared pans.   Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes for 10-inch pans or 50-60 minutes for loaves, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Turn out of pan and cool completely.

Decorate cake with a simple vanilla glaze or go all out and frost with a cream cheese frosting

Vanilla Glaze
1½ cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Enough milk to make a glaze to your liking

Mix all ingredients together, adding enough milk to make the glaze as thick or thin as you want.

Prepare the fruit and nuts.  Grate the lemon peel and mash and measure the bananas.  Cream the butter, sugar and eggs together with the vanilla and lemon peel and juice.  Mix the flour and mashed banana alternately in the creamed mixture.  Mix the dates, cherries and nuts into the batter. 

Prepare the tube pan by greasing it well and flouring.  This will keep the cake from sticking.  If using loaf pans, line with parchment or waxed paper.

 Scrape the Banana Fruitcake batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake in a slow oven for 1 hour 20 minutes or until baked through when tested with a tooth pick or cake tester.  300 degrees is perfect in my oven but if your oven is particularly hot turn it down to 275 degrees.

When the cake is baked, let it rest in the pan at least 10 minutes before turning out on a cake rack to cool.  Once cool you may decorate the cake or freeze it until needed.

When completely cool, decorate with a simple vanilla glaze or even a cream cheese icing.  A few cherries and pecans make a nice decorative touch. 

 A festive cake plate makes the cake look even more inviting.

Fruitcake slices need not be large.  
A small slice is sufficient because of the richness of the ingredients.

Deck the halls with Banana Fruitcake, 
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la...


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