It’s been a week of adjustment as I move from one school building to another and take on my new job responsibilities. I’ll be adjusting for quite a while, but there are some constants in my life that keep me grounded.
My family, of course. My kids are still at that age when they want me around all the time, so I’ve been peeling them off me as I head to the car to go to work. It’s a nice feeling, being wanted. I know they won’t always feel that way, so I’m enjoying that. And Kenny is my rock, the one who listens to me talk endlessly when I’m decompressing after a long day.
But let’s not forget you all! JAB is one of my constants as well, and I love the rhythm of baking for the blog. Nothing is quite so relaxing as mixing things together. This week, I decided that the tired bananas on my counter needed a little more than just the usual treatment, so I got sneaky and put a cheesecake filling into the center. Hello, beautiful!
I’m pretty proud of the fact that when bananas turn brown in my house, my son points them out and says, “Time to bake!” That’s right. He knows! I’m proud. Everyone also knows to ask if I’ve taken pictures of dessert yet before they dig in. Life in the home of a food blogger, people. It’s a party every day.
When you bake this much, you fall into the habit of having really good stuff around. Homemade stuff, the good stuff. So as a result, the packaged stuff becomes the treat. It’s a very bizarre reversal of the norm, where I’ll see a package of machine-made chocolate chip cookies and get really excited. I guess novelty has charm, huh? There’s something about that processed taste!
A lot of it is nostalgia, too. When I was growing up, my source of almost all dessert food was Entenmann’s or those really cheap grocery store brand cookies. To this day, no donut tastes better than an Entenmann’s rich chocolate frosted donut with a glass of milk. It’s like my childhood comes rushing back at me with each bite.
Food is a time machine, people. I think there’s no more reliable way to travel to childhood than to eat those foods you ate way back when. Nothing is quite as evocative or powerful. Maybe it’s because taste is such an integral part of our sensory spectrum, along with the sense of smell.
My love of banana in cake or quick bread also goes back to childhood. Now and then, my mom would take those brown bananas on the counter and make a banana bread. I never understood how a fruit that I felt pretty indifferent about (and now don’t eat as an adult unless it’s baked into something) could be the base of such a delicious dessert. That, in a nutshell, is the wonder of baking, and why I never cease to be fascinated at what a little bit of oven and lovin’ can do.
This snack cake is gluten-free, moist, and filled with a very simple cheesecake filling. It’s just cream cheese, sugar and egg. That’s it! The cake is also simplicity itself, all coming together in one bowl. Like childhood, it’s not that complicated. Oh, wait. Childhood is very complicated. I remember!
No matter how old we are, we can always go through adjustments. It’s important to have those constants in our lives that ground us and make us feel connected to something that represents a greater scheme. Along the path, it doesn’t hurt to have a lovely cake with a hidden layer of cheesecake to make life even more fun!
Hidden Treasure Banana Snack Cake
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used the vanilla flavor)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oat flour (you can use regular flour if gluten isn't an issue)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 oz. block cream cheese (I used light), softened
1/4 cup sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar, mixing until smooth and all the brown sugar lumps are gone. Add the eggs, yogurt, mashed bananas, and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a small bowl, combine the oat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. Set the bowl aside.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the cream cheese, egg and sugar, mixing well until smooth. A fully softened cream cheese is ideal (I leave mine on the counter for an hour) to prevent a lumpy batter.
- Pour half of the banana cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading it out gently to the edges. Pour the cheesecake batter on top, again being sure to gently nudge the filling toward the edges of the pan. Finally, pour the remaining banana cake batter on top, trying to cover as much of the cheesecake filling as possible.
- Bake 30-35 minutes until the a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool completely. Cut into squares. Store covered.