Milk Bar Banana Cake

I’m baaack and let me begin this post by saying that if you want to make this recipe you must be a little mad. This popular cake at Momofuku Milk Bar is so labor intensive that even they stopped selling it by the slice. Yes, the Milk Bar banana cake is delicious and it lives up to its reputation with its rich banana cream, hazelnut crunch, and gianduja fudge nestled between layers of moist, nutty banana cake. It’s seven different recipes rolled into one and you’ll have to source ingredients like hazelnut paste, gianduja and feuilletine, equipment like pastry rings and acetate strips, and you’ll need ultra ripe bananas.

I realized that not everyone owns pastry rings so I simplified the technique slightly so you can make it in regular cake pans. It isn’t a difficult cake to make but just make sure you have plenty of free time.

To tell you the truth I’m not even a huge fan of Momofuku Milk Bar. I can see why they’re popular but a lot of their offerings are a bit too sweet for me to the point it makes my pulse gallop after one bite. I make two exceptions for this Banana Cake and their Pistachio cake which are both simple but complex at the same time. 

  • Milk Bar Banana Cake

  • Adapted from Christina Tosi in “Momofuku Milk Bar”
    • Serves 6
    • For the banana cream:
    • 3/4 pound very ripe bananas , cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 3/4 cup whole milk
    • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp. cornstarch
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
    • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • For the hazelnut brittle:
    • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • For the hazelnut crunch:
    • 1/2 recipe hazelnut brittle
    • 1 cup hazelnut paste
    • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 3 cups crisp rice cereal
    • For the banana cake:
    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 pound very ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • For the hazelnut frosting:
    • 1/2 cup hazelnut praline paste
    • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • For the chocolate-hazelnut ganache:
    • 1/2 cup hazelnut praline paste
    • 4 ounces Gianduja chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 3 Tbsp. good-quality hot fudge sauce
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
    • 1/3 cup whole milk
    • For the banana cream:
      • Combine bananas, 1/2 cup milk, and lemon juice in a food processor; process until smooth. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over remaining 1/4 cup milk.
      • Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in banana mixture, egg yolks, and 1/4 cup heavy cream until smooth and well blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula. Reduce heat to low and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in butter and reserved gelatin mixture and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, to dissolve gelatin. Pour mixture into a bowl and set in a larger bowl of ice water; stir occasionally until cool.
      • Whip remaining 3/4 cup cream just until stiff. Fold into banana mixture. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
      • For the hazelnut brittle:
      • Preheat oven to 350°. Spread hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet; bake 12 to 15 minutes until toasted. Remove from oven and immediately rub nuts with a clean dish towel to remove as much of skins as possible; let cool. Spray another baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside.
      • In a small saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat, swirling pot occasionally, until sugar melts and is amber in color. Stir in hazelnuts to coat with caramel, and pour onto prepared baking sheet. Spread nuts in a single layer with fork; let cool.
      • For the hazelnut crunch:
      • In a food processor, grind half of hazelnut brittle to a powder.
      • In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat powder, hazelnut paste, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until blended. Add rice cereal and beat until blended.
      • For the banana cake layers:
      • Adjust 2 oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease three 10″ x 2″ round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment. Grease paper and dust pans with flour; tap out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
      • In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Gradually pour in sugar; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk, and oil; blend until combined. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until blended. Divide batter between prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pans and turn cakes onto racks. Remove parchment paper; let cool.
      • For the hazelnut frosting:
      • In a small bowl, beat hazelnut paste, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread, about 15 minutes.
      • For the chocolate-hazelnut ganache:
      • In a medium bowl, combine hazelnut paste, chocolate, fudge sauce, and salt. Microwave on medium for 60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds. Remove and stir until chocolate is melted. Gradually whisk in cream until blended. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
      • Right before assembling, set bowl with ganache in a larger bowl of ice water and beat with a handheld mixer until ganache is fluffy and thick enough to spread.
      • To assemble cake:
      • Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate; brush top with whole milk. Spread with half the ganache. Sprinkle evenly with half the hazelnut crunch. Spoon half the banana cream over top and spread evenly. Repeat layering once, then top with last cake layer (brush top with milk), and spread the top with hazelnut frosting. Refrigerate cake at least 1 hour, covered loosely with plastic wrap. To serve, break remaining hazelnut brittle into small pieces and arrange on top of cake.

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  • fabiola@notjusbaked

    Hahahaha, this is amazing and humorous. The funny part is, as I am sure you have experienced, we make cakes like this in our pastry classes in school on a weekly basis. SO I may the crazy person that actually makes this. I may make it at school actually where they have all of the crazy tid nits laying around. Because frankly, this sounds and looks incredible. A sort of, make it once dessert!

  • http://willtravelforfood.com/ mayssam @ Will Travel for Food

    I have been crazy enough to make the pistachio cake… twice but I have not mustered the courage to make this one yet. Although I must admit that it looks absolutely delicious! Welcome back! :)

  • http://twitter.com/KaveyF Kavita

    Goodness! I’d never make this. I guess I need to hope someone makes it for me, one day!!!

  • kitchenriffs

    Welcome back! I’ve missed your great recipes & photos. This looks like an interesting recipe but thanks for the warning! Maybe I’ll urge my wife to make it – she’s the real baker in our household. Good stuff – thanks.

  • Stacey Snacks

    I was just beginning to worry about you……and here you are!
    Gorgeous cake, but I am not a fan of Momofu Milk Bar either….that crack pie is so cloyingly sweet……..but this cake looks amazing. Good to see you back!

  • Cynthia

    You were missed. Welcome back!

  • Mary

    ohhhhhhhh. yum.

  • Ben

    I actually made the layered carrot cake from the Momofuku book today and found it way salty and overly sweet (and I have a sweet tooth). I felt the same way about the birthday cake we made as well.

  • M

    Looks amazing, and I am tempted…until i picture what my kitchen would look like after that.

  • http://twitter.com/tasteblog Lori Lynn

    Hello! Welcome back.
    I think I’ll enjoy this one from afar…LL

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    Holy crap….that is one serious ingredient list! I may have to make this one day just to say I did, I’ll be sure to let you know if I do.

  • http://cookinwluv.blogspot.com/ Javelin Warrior

    Wow, this is an incredibly intimidating cake – and I love it! So beautiful and so many different elements working together… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks for the inspiration…

  • Chris Chang

    Great to read another post from you ChefZen! I borrowed the Momofuku MIlk Bar book from a friend and tried some of the simpler recipes but looking at some of them (including this one) they are absolutely ridiculous in the number of components and time they take.

    But this looks great and I’m sure it tastes amazing!

  • http://www.nomnomfoodie.com/ TheNomNomFoodie

    Absolutely stunning photography as usual chef! The final product looks delicious.

  • trystanms

    Zen, long time reader, first time poster. I just tried this today and it tastes fantastic BUT my banana cream is too loose. Any obvious reasons why? Thought i followed the recipe to the letter!

  • dog food

    your food post is great. I am mad about food. I really need to know this.I wish you post this type of things many many times. I have a dog food site all news about any dog food news about their likes, cost, activity are here. that link is http://www.petfood.com/

  • sugarplumblog

    Hello again! This cake is gorgeous!

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    Oh my. This looks so worth the effort. I love banana cake, chocolate and hazelnuts.
    I’ve never been to the milk bar, so I can’t judge. What’s the point of going if I can’t get this cake?

  • Julius

    Stephane, thanks for making me aware of the banana cake recipe. A friend of mine and I decided to cook something a bit more crazy, and ended up with your banana cake recipe.
    The cake is delicious, but I couldn’t eat more than one piece. At the end, we still had a quarter left-over, even after 10 people had eaten from it in between.
    I have one question though, how did you get the cream to be so bright yellow?