Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake: Doctor’s Orders

There are many perfectly lovely blogs out there that extol the virtues of healthy eating. Page after page will be filled with photos and recipes of jazzed up salads and low-calorie sweets, all nudging you to at least try to live a better life.

This blog, dear readers, is not one of them.

Yes, there has been the recent issue of the doctor’s concern. But when this concern has somehow led to an untouched mound of rapidly browning bananas sitting on the kitchen counter (because the doctor has ordered the consumption of a banana a day), something has to be done.

Not that this leads to any bananas actually getting consumed, mind you. Instead, a recipe is found — one that calls for ripe bananas that will be turned into a banana cake topped with a thick, hot layer of sweet caramel and walnuts.

The recipe oozes decadence and sin. But it does have a saving grace — there are bananas in there, after all. Isn’t that what the doctor ordered?

The recipe has an auspicious beginning — one stick of butter, mixed together with corn syrup and brown sugar.

The mixture gets melted in a pan and then chopped walnuts are stirred in. This will form the glaze of this upside-down cake.

Note: When making the caramel topping, watch the clock carefully — you don’t want the mixture to simmer too long or the topping could be too hard, making the cake difficult to bite into. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way.

After that, the recipe is simple — cake flour, eggs, rum, mashed bananas and more are mixed together and then poured into the pan. Once that’s in the oven, it’s helpful to have snacks on hand while you’re waiting for the cake to bake — the smells coming out of your kitchen will make you insanely hungry.

As cakes go, this one’s pretty easy — and delicious to boot. The banana base is light and buttery and the caramel-walnut glaze adds a deep, almost-chocolaty sweetness and crunch that gives each bite a nice little kick.

I’d like to think the good doctor would approve.

Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake

(Recipe from Bon Appetit, March 2008)


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves or pieces


  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

For topping:
Spray 8-inch round cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Bring butter, sugar, and corn syrup to boil in medium saucepan, stirring constantly until butter melts. Boil syrup 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread topping in prepared pan. Let topping cool completely.

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then mashed bananas, sour cream, rum, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in 2 additions just until combined. Spoon batter into pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut around cake. Place platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently lift off pan. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

8 thoughts on “Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake: Doctor’s Orders

  1. Oh damn you! Now I have an insane craving to make this!
    But I’m a lazy baker and don’t own an electric mixer (horrors)… Hmmm but I’m so tempted to do this by hand… it has everything I love – crackle caramel, walnuts, butter, BANANA…. darn. I feel a bake coming up!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Caramel-Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake: Doctor’s Orders | A Tiger in the Kitchen --

    • Hi there — I just moved the blog over from Typepad and am still trying to figure all this out. Hang in there…the Facebook “Like” will be on the page as soon as I can get to it! Thx for reading…

  3. I am absolutely in love (with this picture and this blog).

    Saw the article about you on Poynter and you are such a great inspiration for this young business journalist and budding foodie. :)

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