I ate way too much cake this week. Like, way too much. This is the first of two cakes I baked for myself to celebrate my upcoming birthday, at which point I will be turning the same age as Frances Ha, and I have to say: I felt like I was her a few months ago. Scratch that, I have felt like I am her for a very long time, in that awkward, oversharing, hopefully endearing, maybe-one-day-everything-won’t-be-a-giant-clusterfluff-of-ridiculousness kind of way.
I’m starting to wonder if maybe it isn’t, to be honest. Mostly, I can see more clearly the parts of myself that are constant, the parts of myself that help me to prevail when difficulty strikes. And recently, when I tried to pull the card I just pulled in the above paragraph-the self-deprecatingly humored kind in which I subtly indicate that I don’t even think I have any of my shit together-I found myself having a conversation with my dear friend and former partner about the language I use to talk about myself and how this is actually the MOST together I have ever been, ever.
Maybe. GAH, there I go. I guess I am starting to recognize that the way we talk about ourselves and our situations shapes the way we understand and interact with the external world. But how do I go about reconciling that with the lessons I have recently learned? Lessons like, first and foremost: regardless of whatever has happened or whatever is happening, you are never immune to the twists and turns and rising tides and hectic, horrible curveballs of life.
How do you reconcile that with the concept of finally committing to this new version of you, with big girl pants on and a studio apartment to yourself and things to get done and places that you’re required to be? How do you admit everything is in a good place when you know like you know like you KNOW that it could maybe possibly kind of slightly or not-so-slightly change?
I think I am finally reaching a point where I learn to check that fear, and where I come to accept that, at those times, the only thing I have control over is whether or not I let it defeat me. Most importantly, I know that any lapse in togetherness I have in response to something like that is okay. I am starting to learn that the practice of togetherness is sort of like concentrating on the drishti (i.e., focal point) in Ashtanga; when you find your attention or your gaze has focused on something other than your thumb or your big toe or your belly button or your nose, all you need to do is return it to the point where it needs to be. It’s a conscious choice.
Easier said than done, perhaps. But I’m telling you–redirecting your focus can also be a response to silly, simple every day things. Like realizing you’re tired and you need to go to bed. Like recognizing that you need some quiet time, or that you need a friend, and then asserting that by seeking it. Or, like knowing in your heart of hearts, that you have eaten too much cake this week, and that you should probably eat some extra vegetables or something to compensate. Goodness, that sounds familiar.
This, here, is the first of two birthday cakes you will encounter this week. I guess I’m making up for lost time by beginning the celebrations for myself relatively early (the big day isn’t until this upcoming Sunday). YOU KNOW WHAT, THOUGH? I DESERVE IT. Especially when it involves dense, peanut butter and banana cake swathed in creamy, light peanut butter icing. Be forewarned, though: it’s this good.
Which totally offsets what a giant, lying, lie-filled LIAR I am, because I totally promised you that we were done making banana recipes. OH WELL, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY WEEK, I WIN*.
*Even if, say, objectively speaking, I am talking like an almost 27 year-old child.
Peanut Butter Banana Bundt Cake
Makes 1 Cake
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tbsp peanut butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease bundt pan. In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, begin to brown the butter by allowing it to melt, then foam and pop until it turns golden, about 5 minutes. Pour brown butter into a small bowl, making sure to scrape the golden goodness from the pan, and allow to cool. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mash together the bananas, buttermilk, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, then set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, molasses, and brown butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg for another minute, then pour in the dry ingredients in halves, alternating with the banana mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, ensuring even distribution. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean with moist crumbs attached. Allow to cool for five minutes in the pan before turning out and cooling completely on a rack.
Icing: Combine confectioner’s sugar and peanut butter, beating to combine. Beat in 1 tbsp of heavy cream, then beat in the vanilla. If needed, beat in an additional tbsp of heavy cream, until icing reaches desired consistency.
Assembly: Once the cake has cooled completely, gently spread icing. Serve. Cake will last up to three days, and should be stored and covered by an airtight container.