Tennessee Banana-Black Walnut Cake with Caramel Frosting
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped black walnuts*
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more as necessary
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 (16-ounce) box confectioners sugar
- 2 cups finely chopped black walnuts, for garnish (optional)*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans.
For the cake: In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in black walnuts.
Pour into prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare frosting. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add brown sugar and 1/3 cup cream. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.
Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in confectioners' sugar a little at a time until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time until consistency is right. Sandwich 2 layers of cake with frosting. Frost the outside of the cake. Press chopped black walnuts on the sides of the cake, if desired.
*Cook's Note: DO NOT substitute English walnuts for black walnuts.