I must admit there was a lot of hand-wringing and fretting as I whisked, combined, simmered, and baked each step of this dessert. You see, I am not a big sweet-eater nor baker by trade. But in the end, my family loved it and so did I! Especially with a big dollop of vanilla bean ice cream on it. —anotherfoodieblogger
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe has everything we love in upside-down cakes (fruity sweet caramel over a spongy cake), but is amped up with a rich coffee flavor. Coffee is infused in three different ways—a coffee-flavored caramel spiced with cinnamon and vanilla, ground coffee in the batter, and a coffee/brown sugar syrup soaked into the cake. The bananas end up with crusty edges and have sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the bitterness of the coffee. —Catherine Wyffels
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a deep-sided cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the brown sugar, coffee, and cinnamon stick. Stir continuously until it starts to boil, then reduce heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Meanwhile, slice the bananas on the diagonal, then mix them and the lemon juice gently into the coffee syrup in the skillet. Arrange them in one layer on the bottom. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks and granulated sugar until it is thick. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground coffee, and salt. Add it to the yolk mixture until blended. It’s pretty thick at this point, but the next step loosens it up. Stir in the melted butter and milk and mix until blended.
Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites in another bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the yolk batter. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites until combined, but don’t over-mix it.
Pour the batter evenly over the bananas and syrup. Place skillet in preheated oven, and bake for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Meanwhile, add the cup of prepared coffee and brown sugar to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Set aside until cake is done, and reheat slightly just before removing the cake from the oven.
When the cake is done, remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Pierce the top of the cake all over with a skewer. Pour all but about a half cup of the coffee syrup evenly over. Now comes the scary part. Using oven mitts, place a large platter over the skillet, then quickly flip the platter and skillet upside down.
Serve slices of the warm cake with vanilla ice cream, pour some of the extra coffee syrup over it, and dig in!