it takes two. [triple layer banana cake w. caramel, vanilla bean custard & buttercream frosting]

January 17th, 2012 by | comments

To celebrate my dad’s birthday over the weekend, my mom and I made him the family favorite dessert–triple layer banana cake with caramel, vanilla bean custard and buttercream frosting.

We’re only graced with this gourmet cake on special occasions–you’ll understand why when you scroll down and see the recipe. My mom has always made the dessert by herself (which can take up to 5 hours) but since I was home, I decided it was time I learned how to make the cake. Even though it still took a few hours to make with the two of us, the result was beyond worth it.

The recipe is from one of our favorite cookbooks: The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook. We visited this restaurant during our first trip to Hawaii 12 years ago. The macadamia nut-crusted halibut with mango-lime butter sauce recipe I posted a while back also comes from the The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook.

triple layer banana cake w. caramel, vanilla bean custard & buttercream frosting
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • Banana cake recipe:
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup caramel filling (recipe below)
  • 4 cups buttercream frosting (recipe below)
  • 4 bananas, diced
  • 1 cup pastry cream (recipe below)
  • Caramel filling recipe:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Buttercream frosting recipe:
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 8)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, in small pieces
  • Pastry cream recipe:
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ½ cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
  • 6 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8 by 3-inch round cake pans.
  2. For the cake: In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  3. In a bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the sour cream and mix well. Add the flour mixture in 1½ cup batches to the butter mixture, alternating with the banana mixture, beginning with the flour mixture and ending with the banana mixture.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, turn cakes out of the pans onto wire racks, and allow to cool. You can refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours to make it easier to manipulate.
  5. For the caramel: In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture turns a light amber. Remove from the heat.
  6. Add the cream very, very slowly to the caramelized sugar mixing constantly with a long-handled whisk. Add the butter and mix until combined. Allow to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  7. For the frosting: Be sure to have a candy thermometer to prepare the buttercream. Put the egg whites in a clean bowl. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, start to beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on low speed. Beat until soft peaks form. When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from the heat.
  8. Pour the mixture slowly into the egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture cools completely; it should be at room temperature. Slowly add the butter and mix well. The buttercream is now ready to use, or can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  9. For the pastry cream: Pour the milk into a saucepan over medium heat. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the milk, then add the pods. Meanwhile, in a stainless-steel or other heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Sift the cornstarch into the mixture.
  10. When the milk comes to a boil, remove from the heat and remove the vanilla bean. Slowly ladle half of the milk into the yolks while whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan with the remaining milk and, whisking constantly; bring to a rolling boil. Pour into bowl to cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
  11. For assembly: Place one cake layer on a serving plate/cake platter. On the first layer of cake, fan out enough banana slices to cover the cake. Cover with half of the remaining caramel filling and then with half of the pastry cream. Place another cake layer on top and cover with the remaining banana slices, caramel filling and pastry cream. Place the third layer on top and cover the whole cake with the buttercream. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Serve chilled.
Recipe from The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook


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