Birthday Banana Rum Cake

As mentioned in my previous post, Sara's 19th birthday was this week.  I've been cruising along pretty well busy with my new job, tennis, yoga, gardening, cooking, cleaning and all that I do basically trying my hardest not to think about the day when Greg and I drive home from North Carolina to a house that's too quiet.  Telling myself and anyone that I make listen; there's nothing to be done about it and that no, it will not be good for me, but it will just "be" and I will get through it.  Then please tell me why, when I drove past a group of kids with their backpacks on in front of the Jordan Y on Sara's birthday morning I just burst into tears?  Uh-oh.  

Her birthday day was spectacularly beautiful.  We had a fun lunch with Quinn at 3Sisters Cafe, which really is more of a "chick" thing but he played along nicely.  The two of them have the same birthday (really, what are the odds?) which means the party is always at Quinn's because they have a pool and a hot tub and that combination always wins at the end of June.  Since it was only Sara and I at home this week the cake I had to bake (I have to bake a cake for your birthday, it's just a rule and maybe just because I really love cake) went to the party.  So I went too.  Many thanks to Christine and Joe for hosting at least 5 birthday parties for my daughter!  

birthday boy and girl sporting their presents to each other
(jersey and Vibrams)

friends singing "Happy Birthday" at the pool party

Sara's favorite cake is rum cake.  Only really lucky children, like my own, who have made trips to St. Thomas, St. John, St. Kitts and St. Croix (think that's all the Saints we've visited so far) truly appreciate the deliciousness of a good rum cake.  This year in St. Croix I had the most amazing banana cake at our favorite pizza/calzone restaurant in Cane Bay.  Had to be soaked in some run of some kind.  So yesterday I got behind the bar and pulled out the Captain Morgan.  It's going to be a good day when you pull out the rum around 4:00.   Feeding cake to hungry kids is a win-win.  They love it and there are never any leftovers.  

In case you are wondering, dinner was grilled romaine, baked kabocha squash, roasted cauliflower and chicken with Tuscan seasoning on the grill.  Sara and I are keeping the new grill working hard this summer.  Banking up all the meals she loves at home.  My favorite job.  

It's going to be okay.  :)

Banana Rum Cake

1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (2 large, 3 medium)
2 tsp lemon juice
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
(1/4 C King Arthur Flour cake enhancer, very optional)
1 1/2 C lowfat buttermilk

Rum Syrup
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 C dark rum
3/4 C sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 x 2 pan with cooking spray and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.  In a small bowl, mix the mashed banana together with the lemon juice and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla.  Turn the mixer down to very low speed and alternately add the 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of the buttermilk until everything is well-incorporated.  Stir in the banana mixture.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Smooth top.  Bake 50-60 minutes until a tester in the center comes out clean.  
While cake is baking, make the rum syrup.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Stir in rum and sugar and raise heat to medium high.  Bring mixture to a boil and stir frequently until slightly reduced and thickened (8-10 minutes).

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  Using a bamboo skewer or toothpick, poke holes throughout the entire cake.  Pour rum syrup evenly over the hot cake.  Cool completely or serve a bit warm (really delicious warm).  

mashing banana with lemon juice

the entirely optional, but ingredient that does exactly what it says,
King Arthur Flour cake enhancer

creaming butter and sugar (there is a lot of sampling right about now)
I've told you before that my babysitter made me
butter and sugar sandwiches when I was really little 

buttermilk alternating with the flour mixture

pouring of the batter into the prepared pan (see the flour dusting?)

syrup before it boils

boiling rum syrup

batter ready for the oven

poking the holes for the syrup to soak into the cake

here we go (sideways picture, oops)



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