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Buckwheat Banana Cake

By Martine Polycarp

Looking to add a bit of personality to a beloved dessert like banana cake? Here’s an idea: try making it with buckwheat flour. This lends an almost woodsy note to the flavor of this cake. Rustic and earthy, this nutrient-rich and moist banana cake is perfect with tea or on its own. Serve it plain or with a dollop of cream cheese frosting slathered all over it. I promise, this cake will make it hard to keep from cutting it slice by slice every time you see it. It’s really that good.

Buckwheat Banana CakeBuckwheat’s reputation for its earthiness—an acquired taste for some—is often associated with Japanese soba noodles, Russian blinis, French crêpes, and the Jewish dish kasha (toasted buckwheat). However, adventurous chefs and home cooks have expanded the use of buckwheat to include a variety of simple to sophisticated (shabby to chic) dishes and baked goods. As buckwheat has an assertive flavor, its flour is often combined with another flour like whole wheat or rice flour.

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Buckwheat’s reputation for its earthiness—an acquired taste for some—is often associated with Japanese soba noodles, Russian blinis, French crêpes, and the Jewish dish kasha (toasted buckwheat). However, adventurous chefs and home cooks have expanded the use of buckwheat to include a variety of simple to sophisticated (shabby to chic) dishes and baked goods. As buckwheat has an assertive flavor, its flour is often combined with another flour like whole wheat or rice flour.

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If you’ve never tried buckwheat, here are some reasons to give it a try: Buckwheat is not a type of wheat, therefore it’s not a true grain. Since its seeds are cooked like cereal and also made into flour, buckwheat is really related to greens like sorrel and rhubarb. Buckwheat is a gluten-free power food! As buckwheat is not a grain, nor is it related to wheat, it’s gluten-free, making it a great choice for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Having buckwheat in your diet can help you stay fit and healthy. It’s high in soluble fiber; it’s high in potassium, zinc, copper and other minerals; it also provides a very high level and quality of easily digestible proteins.

Buckwheat makes a robust and nutty addition to any meal.

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These lovely little handcrafted, modern French enameled tags, here used to beautifully label brown sugar and wrap my cake, were given to me by Brass + Ink. A mother and 6-year-old daughter team create and make every tag out of their kitchen in Gearhart, Oregon. Perfect for small hands, my little one was quite pleased to find a variety of ways to help me put them to use

Buckwheat Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly Adapted from Bon Appétit

  • Cake
    Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour or whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • ⅔ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • ½ cup olive oil
    ½ cup sour cream

Cream Cheese Frosting
8-ounce package cream cheese or mascarpone, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake | Preheat oven to 350°. Coat an 8½ by 4½” loaf pan with nonstick spray, then line with parchment, letting it hang over on both of the longer sides. Whisk whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Mash bananas and brown sugar in a large bowl until virtually no lumps of banana remain and brown sugar is dissolved. Mix in eggs, oil, and sour cream. Add dry ingredients and mix in with a rubber spatula. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake cake until the top springs back when gently pressed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–65 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan, 30 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack and let cool completely.

Do Ahead | Cake can be baked 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Cream Cheese Frosting | Combine cream cheese and butter in a mixer, then carefully add powdered sugar until smooth. Next, add vanilla extract.

I’ve often just made cream cheese frosting with only cream cheese, omitting the butter, and that works fine too—just add a little more cream cheese or less powdered sugar.

Check out these other great recipes using Buckwheat:

Hazelnut Buckwheat Granola Bars
Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Tart
Buckwheat Polenta Fleurettes with Tapenade Noir
Warm Buckwheat Salad with Roasted Squash
Peach Buckwheat Porridge
Teff and Buckwheat Porridge

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