Grilled Banana Upside-down Cake

Grilled bananas bring a sweet, slightly smoky, caramelized flavor to the “topping” of this twist on a classic, created by our friend and collaborator Kirsten Mikalson. Ground pecans add a little body to the cake’s texture and a rich, nutty taste. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, try serving this warm with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of "Grill It!" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, copyright 2008. Used by permission of DK Publishing. All rights reserved.

Grilled Banana Upside-down Cake

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    1/4 cup pecans 1 large egg white
    1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons baking powder 6 tablespoons whole milk
    1/4 teaspoon salt 3 ripe but firm bananas, unpeeled, halved lengthwise
    Pinch ground cinnamon 1/2 cup firmly packed soft light brown sugar
    10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 1/4 cup maple syrup
    3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 large egg Pinch salt


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    • 1

      Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously butter a 9in (23 cm) cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the  butter. Build a fire in your grill. When the coals are all ignited, the flames have died down, and the temperature is medium-hot, you’re ready to cook.

    • 2

      For the topping: Place the bananas on the grill over the coals, cut side down, and cook until golden brown and slightly charred (2–3 minutes). Set aside.

    • 3

      Combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, 3 tablespoons of the butter, the allspice and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and, on the stove top, bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Cook for 1 minute, then pour into the buttered cake pan. Peel the bananas and arrange them, grilled side down, on the syrup. Set aside.

    • 4

      Toast the pecans in a shallow baking pan in the oven for 5–10 minutes. Grind in a food processor or coffee grinder. Combine the ground pecans, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well.

    • 5

      Combine the remaining butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Add the egg, egg white, and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy (about 1 minute), scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add half the dry ingredients; beat on medium speed until well blended. Add the milk and mix well, scraping down the sides of bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until well blended. Spoon the batter over the bananas, smoothing the surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (about 30 minutes).

    • 6

      Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Set the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and carefully lift off the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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