This blog post is sponsored by Almond Breeze. The content and opinions expressed here are mine. I’m especially excited to partner with Almond Breeze; their almondmilk is a weekly staple in my household. As I’ve grown older, my stomach has gotten more sensitive to traditional dairy and I’ve switched to nut milks for dietary and health purposes. I especially love the nutty, toasty flavor their almondmilk brings to my morning coffee, cereal, and desserts like this one! As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own; thank you for supporting Hummingbird High and the sponsors that keep the lights on!
Greetings from London! I mentioned last week that Erlend and I were on a much-needed vacation—we’re doing a mini-Eurotrip tour with stops in London and Copenhagen. So far London has been a whirlwind of us hanging out with some old friends and eating a ton of delicious food and drink. I also expect no less from Copenhagen; we’re leaving for Denmark tonight! I’m especially excited since it’s Erlend’s first time there, and I haven’t been to Copenhagen for a few years now (the last time I went was in 2016, with Adrianna and Yossy for the Copenhagen Cooking and Food Festival, which was uhMAZING). Before I left Portland, however, I lined up some recipes for y’all on Hummingbird High (you don’t think I’d leave you guys hanging without anything, did you? ????). Like this banana tres leches cake!
Truth be told, this banana tres leches cake is the result of a happy accident. I’d foolishly purchase a large bundle of bananas a few days before our flight to London, only to realize that we wouldn’t be able to finish them all before we left. Naturally, I decided to bake them into a dessert—I’m always game to try a new banana bread recipe, and I still dream about this triple chocolate banana layer cake that I made years ago. Except, of course, I immediately ran into a problem. Most banana recipes require you to wait until the bananas are SUPER ripe, to the point where their peels are completely spotted and almost black. Those spots mean that the bananas are incredibly sweet, soft, and flavorful; using bananas that are yellow (or worse, green) will result in mild and flavorless desserts. My bananas, of course, were solid yellow—they were perfect for eating, sure, but not so much for baking. I didn’t have time to wait for them to ripen before our trip, but I knew if I’d baked them into a banana cake right then, the cake wouldn’t be banana-y enough for my standards… unless I somehow found another way to infuse more banana flavor into the cake, like through a tres leches soak.
Traditional tres leches cake is made by taking three different types of milks and creams (usually a combination of cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk), mixing them together, and pouring them over a light and airy sponge cake. The sponge cake then absorbs the milks, resulting in wonderfully moist, decadent, and creamy slices of cake. Almond Breeze recently released a new flavor that I thought would be perfect for my banana cake’s soak: Almond Breeze Almondmilk Blended with Real Bananas. It’s their Unsweetened Original Almond Breeze Almondmilk, but blended with real banana puree to give the milk a thick and creamy texture similar to regular cow’s milk. Each serving has half a banana, loading the almond milk with just the right amount of banana flavor (and adding a ton of potassium too!) without going overboard. It was just what my cake needed to really amp up the banana flavor and take it to the next level. It was so good that we just started eating the cake out of the pan by the spoonful—enjoy!
Some baker’s notes:
- Because I had a ton of bananas I was trying to use up before our trip, I ended up accidentally making a LARGE cake to use up all the bananas. Each slice, while tasty, was a bit of an epic journey. If you’re not feeding a crowd, I suggest halving the recipe’s ingredients quantities and reducing the recipe’s bake time for 25 to 30 minutes. If you’re committing to the full recipe, be sure to use a 9 by 13-inch pan with sides that are at least 3 inches tall.
- Traditional tres leches cake is made with no butter, oil, or other fats to keep the sponge as light as possible in order to soak up the moisture and prevent the cake from getting overly soggy. This recipe’s banana cake base, however, uses both (AND buttermilk!) to provide structure and support for the recipe’s large amount of bananas. To make sure I didn’t end up with soggy cake, I used less soak than what’s traditionally used in a tres leches cake. It’s also especially important to source Almond Breeze Almondmilk Blended with Real Bananas for this recipe — almond milk is lighter than cow’s milk and will help prevent the cake from getting too overly soggy. In a pinch, you can substitute with Unsweetened Original Almond Breeze Almondmilk.
- To allow the cake to fully absorb the soak, I actually let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. I find that the chilling time in the refrigerator also helped prevent the cake from getting too soggy. However, it’s important to soak the cake BEFORE it’s been refrigerated, while the cake is either still warm from the oven or a few hours later at room temperature. If you try and soak the cake after it’s been refrigerated, the cake won’t be able to absorb the soak completely and the soak will end up pooling on top of the cake in the pan.
Banana Tres Leches Cake
For the Banana Cake
- 2 ⅔ cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (4 ounces) canola oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (16 ounces) mashed bananas (from about 4 large bananas, the riper the better)
For the Tres Leches Soak
- 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) Almond Breeze Almondmilk Blended with Real Bananas
- 1 cup (8 ounces) evaporated milk
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) heavy cream
- ¼ cup 1 ounce confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 1 large banana
- Chocolate shavings, for garnish
For the Banana Cake
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine ¾ cup unsalted butter and 2 cups granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add 2 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg when the previous one is incorporated and scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1 cup buttermilk, ¼ cup canola oil, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, pour in the liquid ingredients. Increase the mixer to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is practically white in color and doubled in volume. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add 2 cups mashed bananas a heaping spoonful at a time. Beat for 1 minute, until the bananas are broken up and evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Gradually add the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step) and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl one last time, and beat for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate any stuck ingredients.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden, slightly puffed, and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with few crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then use the wooden skewer to poke the entire surface of the cake with many deep holes that reach the bottom of the pan. Cool completely before soaking and assembling.
To Soak the Cake
- Make the soak: in a medium bowl with a spout or a large pitcher, whisk together 1 ½ cups Almond Breeze Almondmilk Blended with Real Bananas, 1 cup evaporated milk, and 1 cup sweetened condensed milk.
- Pour half the soak over the banana cake—the holes should absorb the majority of the soak, but work quickly to use an offset spatula to spread the soak evenly across the cake. Wait 15 minutes, then repeat with the remaining half of the soak. Wait another 15 minutes to allow the cake to absorb as much of the soak as possible (don’t panic if you see some excess at the sides of the pan or a tiny bit still on top of the cake—this is normal!), then cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or until ready to serve. The soaked cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To Serve the Cake
- Right before serving, make the whipped cream topping: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine 1 ½ cups heavy cream and ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar. Whisk on medium-high until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Peel the banana and slice into ½-inch thick coins.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Use a spoon to scoop the whipped cream over the cake, then use an offset spatula to spread the whipped cream evenly over the cake to cover all the holes. Garnish with sliced bananas and chocolate shavings; serve immediately.