Banana-Coconut Crumb Cake

April 20, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . .

S&SK goes to Florida!  I’m in Sanibel Island for my annual girlfriend get-together with women I used to work with – this is the 23rd or 24th annual trip. (We can never remember exactly how many years!)  I wanted to make a treat to bring and thought this recipe looked really good.  And it is!  Here’s what the blogger had to say about it and I agree:  “An addictive spiced, crumb-topped banana coffee cake is a big hit!

So if you have some bananas that are past their prime, this is a great option.  I’ve adapted the recipe slightly.  We all agreed that the original is a little sweet, so I’ve adjusted the amount of sugar accordingly.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1  cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup  (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (add 1/2 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter)

1 cup (2-3 small) thinly sliced overripe bananas

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup plain low-fat  yogurt

1 egg


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Have an ungreased 13 x 9 in baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients (flour through butter) and mix at low speed until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture into the baking dish. Measure out another 1/2 cup crumbs and set aside.

Place the rest of the ingredients in the bowl with the remaining crumbs. Beat 30-60 seconds at medium speed until well blended (this will mash the bananas). Pour evenly over crumb crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumbs.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool before cutting into serving pieces.

COOKS NOTES:  This recipe has an unusual approach in using a crust with a cake.  I was curious how this would work and really like the crunch provided by it.  Don’t worry if the amount of bananas is a little less or a little more than 1 cup.  You can use yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk for the liquid.


Aunt Suzy says . . .

When I saw this recipe, I thought I’d try it because it’s a healthier version of the sour cream streusel coffee cake I’ve known and loved since I was a teen.  This has less fat, less sugar and is made with whole wheat flour – and I think is very good.  I also thought the use of cardamom rather than cinnamon sounded interesting.  And the fact that I had some buttermilk in the fridge needing to be used up didn’t hurt.

Grease a 8-inch square baking pan

Preheat the oven to 350°

The Streusel

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup old fashioned rolled oatmeal

1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or cardamom)

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl except the walnuts.  Use a pastry cutter to blend all ingredients till crumbly. (Or you can pulse a few times in a food processor.)  Add the walnuts and work with your hands until combined and still crumbly.  Set aside.

The Cake Batter

2 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or cinnamon)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom (or cinnamon), baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and brown sugar together until well blended.  Gradually whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla and continue whisking till bubbly.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, 1/2 at a time.  Stir with a spoon after each addition to thoroughly blend the ingredients together.

Spread half the batter in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half the streusel evenly on top.  Spoon the remaining batter over the streusel and gently spread to even out.  Note that it will not cover the streusel completely.  Top with the remaining streusel.

Bake until browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool before serving.

The original recipe said to cool only 10 minutes and serve warm, but my experience was that the cake needs to cool to “set up”.   You can see what happened when I cut the cake while still warm.  Maybe this is what they mean by “crumb cake”!

Margaux says…
Happy Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, I don’t get to host Thanksgiving dinner yet. I suppose I could, but I don’t know that anyone would come besides my husband and son. And that would be a lot of food for the three of us. So until I get the pleasure, which isn’t going to be for years, I will make something ridiculously rich for breakfast (setting us up for a day of rich food, of course!).

This year I made a coffee cake from the November Bon Appetit. I heeded their advice and made it the night before, and I’m so glad I did! Not only was it ready to eat first thing in the morning, but the flavors had melded together into perfection overnight (full confession, we had some tastes last night before bed). This cake is absolutely delicious, and it will feed a crowd! I highly recommend trying it this holiday season for your overnight guests.

We had a hard time getting it out of the pan, and ended up breaking it in half, actually. It’s really hard to get it off the bottom and center tube of the pan. I was thinking that next time I may just leave it on the tube, which won’t make for a pretty presentation, but we won’t have a broken cake. My mom suggested cutting out a cardboard round that is the exact same size as the cake (or maybe an inch wider all around), sliding it onto the center tube, and inverting the cake onto it. I think that will probably work…you’ll just have to have someone help by holding the sides in place as you flip it over. If anyone tries this, let me know how it works!

Brown Butter, Ginger, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake
from Bon Appetit, November 2011 issue

Brown Butter

2 cups plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (possibly more)


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger


Unsalted butter (for pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (or I used sliced)

Grease a nonstick 10″ tube pan with removable bottom with butter. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brown Butter

Simmer 2 cups plus 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned bits form, about 6-8 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup. If needed, add more butter to measure 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (added butter will melt).


Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown butter (reserve remaining butter for cake). Stir until moist clumps form. Stir in ginger. Set aside.


Butter pan generously. Whisk all-purpose flour and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup browned butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and thick, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture just to blend.
Spoon half of cake batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Scatter 1 cup of topping over. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over, smooth. Add almonds to remaining topping; squeeze to form 1/2″ clumps and scatter evenly over batter in pan.
Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides; let cool completely. Store at room temperature in airtight container.