Banana Loaf Cake - with TONS of bananas!

Like every other city, it seems, Starbucks is all over the Rochester area. We're even getting a new one walking distance from my home. While I like the atmosphere of Starbucks, their coffee is too bitter for me, and the lattes vary widely in terms of flavor.

Some of their baked goods are tasty, though. One of my favorites is their reduced-fat banana cake. It is not as dense as most banana breads, but is super moist and has a pronounced taste of banana (which I'm starting to suspect has banana flavoring rather than lots of real bananas).

I wanted to make something like it, and searched the Internet for a recipe. The closest thing I could find was Banana Loaf Cake, from the blog, David Lebovitz ... Living the Sweet Life in Paris. I always thought his blog title was kind of smug -- because after all, shouldn't we all be living a sweet life, whether it's in Paris or Rochester? Then I realized he's a pastry chef, has written lots of book about desserts, and gives chocolate tours in Paris. Duh -- he meant THAT kind of sweet life. (Anyone else humming "This is the Suite Life ... This is the Suite Life"? If so, I'll bet you have kids around the same ages as mine.)

Anyhoo ... I've made this recipe twice and it turned out moist and delicious both times -- although still more "banana bread" than the Starbuck's cake. (Of course I did use some white whole wheat flour, which may have made it a little more dense.) This is now my go-to recipe when I have lots of overripe bananas.

I prefer making sweet breads in mini loaves so that I can share them, but it bugs me that it's hard to find baking directions for small loaves, so I've included those. The first time I made this was one larger loaf and one smaller, and the second time I did four small ones.

Oh, and being the compulsive competitive cook that I am, I couldn't resist entering this in the Banana Bread Bake-off Event hosted by Not Quite Nigella! Check in mid-May to see all of the great entries!

Banana Loaf Cake
Adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim

One 9-inch cake OR
One 8 x 4 - inch cake and one 3" by 5 3/4" cake OR
Four 3 1/4" by 5 1/2" cakes

2 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, and 1 cup white whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large egg whites (I used one egg and one white)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (David's directions call for 4 or 5 large bananas, but both times I made it, it took 6-7 bananas. Maybe the bananas we get in Rochester are puny. I mash bananas with a potato masher.)
(I added some chocolate chips -- maybe a cup)

Spray pan(s) with Baker's Joy, or cooking spray and a dusting of flour. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Stir together the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites to break them up, then whisk in the sugar and the brown sugar. Whisk in the butter and vanilla, followed by the mashed bananas.

Sift the flour mixture over the banana mixture and thoroughly fold it in. (Add the chocolate chips, if using.) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about:
55-65 minutes for 9 x 5 pan,
45 -55 minutes for the smaller loaves (such as 3 1/4" by 5 1/2")

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it and cool completely on a rack.

Storage: Keep the cake wrapped in plastic at room temperature after it has cooled. For longer storage, double wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Weight Watchers information: The Starbucks reduced-fat banana loaf cake with chocolate c hips has 8 points per serving. This recipe, if you cut the loaf/loaves into 12 pieces, has 6 points per serving if you use all whole wheat flour (instead of half and half) and the egg and egg white as directed.