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A Banana Cake Rich With Spice and a Surprise

April 25, 1985

Ripe bananas, crystallized ginger, molasses and brown sugar combine to make a cake as festive as a colorful fiesta.

Fiesta Banana Cake is dark and rich, laden with pecans and moist with bananas and sour cream. The batter is spread in layers with extra pecans, banana puree and brown sugar for a taste surprise inside.

With Cinco de Mayo, the day that celebrates Mexican independence on May 5, just around the corner now, is the perfect time to prepare this south-of-the-border treat.

It will be ideal served as the grand finale to a sumptuous springtime dinner taken out of doors or as an accompaniement to your favorite Mexican menu. Plan an entire fiesta around this tropical treat featuring a variety of spicy Mexican delights. Then decorate the patio in lavish Mexican decor--pinatas, decorative platters--and invite a few favorite friends and relatives to join in the festivities.

FIESTA BANANA CAKE 2 ripe, large bananas, peeled

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup light molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons chopped crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped pecans

Puree 1 banana in blender (makes about 3/4 cup). Cream 1/2 cup brown sugar and butter together. Beat in pureed banana, eggs, sour cream, molasses and vanilla.

Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Beat into banana mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in bottom of greased 9-cup fluted tube pan or 2 (8 1/2x4 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Spread half of batter in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup pecans. Slice remaining banana evenly over top. Spread remaining batter over filling. Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly before inverting onto wire rack. Makes 12 servings.

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