Not A One Says Fall



This was my first cookbook. I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old, and I don’t remember if it was mine or shared between me and my sister and brother. What I do remember is my infatuation with the book’s recipe for Peanuts’ Peanut Brittle and my determination to make it. I enjoy the nut fresh-cracked from its shell, roasted and salted, as butter, in Asian dishes, combined with chocolate, banana or both. But to have it in candy form, hard, crunchy and sweet made right at home was something I had to experience. I vaguely recall the outcome of my first batch from the recipe; it was the late 60s after all, but a foggy image of something gloppy, chewy and dismal surfaces. Through the years I’ve nailed the skills to making brittle, thankfully, and I’ve since developed a recipe of my own.



What hasn’t changed is my habit of thumbing through cookbooks and food magazines. Periodicals are a timely reflection of trending ingredients and they can be an ideal way to stay on top your culinary game. Inspiration from the beautiful, stylized photographs can be hard to fend off—especially (for me) if the depiction is a glorious cake.


Fall is a homecoming for comfort food. Heartier fare heats up just as outdoor temps cool down. Squash, roasted fowl and casseroles take their rightful places on the glossy covers in newsstands. Such is the case for this month’s issue of Bon Appétit. The October 2012 publication features two gorgeously browned chickens in a roasting pan with equally attractive roasted potatoes all golden with crusted bronze edges. It’s enough to send your olfactory system into overdrive cued solely by the image.



My perusal of the magazine moved at a good clip. Of particular interest, being a baker was the article titled Layer It On, a piece dedicated to five celebratory cakes. Suddenly, the thumbing stopped dead in its tracks. There it was on page 124—a double-layer doozy in banana, chocolate and peanut butter. “So curious,” I thought. “Not a one says fall at all!” I sat silent for a moment, gazing at the warm earth tones of the cake’s crumb dotted by chocolate chips resembling the spots on a cheetah’s coat. A warmth emanated from the creamy peanut butter frosting as it nestled the chocolate kiss garnishes on top.

The maverick in me riled up. “It’s early in the season,” I rationalized. “There’s plenty of time for squash, roasted fowl and bread puddings. I must try this triple-threat cake now!”


Adapted from Bon Appétit│Recipe by Janet McCracken & Alison Roman



Yield: Makes one 8 or 9-inch double layer cake, serves approximately 16


This cake was everything I thought it would be—a trilogy of fabulous flavors, aromas and textures to enliven the senses. What’s more, the authors’ promise of a “moist, forgiving and easy” cake comes together with the beginner in mind. The next time a bunch of bananas goes dark, don’t ditch them, utilize their deliciousness with this gem!


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 10-oz. bag mini chocolate chips
  • Frosting
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips, and chocolate kisses for garnish
  • Special Equipment
  • Two 8x8x2-inch square cake pans (per recipe as written), or
  • Two 8×2 inch round cake pans or two 9×2 inch cake pans*


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment; coat paper.
  • Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in vanilla.
  • Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend. Add bananas and sour cream; beat just to blend. Fold in mini chips. Divide batter evenly among pans; smooth tops.*
  • Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment and let cool completely.
  • For the frosting
  • While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Using an electric mixer, beat first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until a light and fluffy frosting forms, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Assembly
  • Place one cake on a platter. Spread 1 1/4 cups frosting over. Place remaining cake on top. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with chocolate chips and kisses. Store the cake covered and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.


*As I did not have the 8x8x2 square pans readily available, the cake depicted in this post was baked in 8×2 inch round pans, however, the yield of batter from the recipe would have been better suited in 9×2 inch round pans. That said, the fill in the 8×2 inch pan was rather high, nearly 3/4′s full. The batter did not overbake out of the pans. Consider using the recommended pan size per the authors, or the 9×2 inch round for assurance. Most importantly, be sure the sides measure a full 2 inches. My only other adjustment to the original recipe was a decrease of the kosher salt from two teaspoons to one.


  1. Oh you wonderful man! Now I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the screen. I have this issue and even have that cake tabbed since I thought both Hubby and Dudette would love it. Now that I have your blessing on its flavor, I’m going to move forward. Mine won’t be anywhere as gorgeous as yours, but it’s a done deal now. Thanks for the gorgeous cake and the tip on the pan!

    • You’re welcome Christiane, give it a test run in your kitchen and see if yours gobbled it up like mine did. Don’t forget, the blacker the banana, the better!

  2. My birthday is in a few weeks and this very cake was in the running for Crowning Glory of Birthday Party. I think you certainly made up my mind for me. Peanut butter, chocolate and bananas, here we come.

  3. I have that magazine; I saw that recipe and it didn’t do it for me like this post has done. NOW I want. Bad. Lovely photos!

  4. Another stunner, Brooks! And perfectly autumnal in color…I love it. That Peanuts cookbook is floating around my parents’ house somewhere…I’m going to have to hunt it down next time I’m home…must have been from a Scholastic book order back in the day 🙂

  5. oh my gosh – I had that peanuts cookbook when I was little – I totally forgot about that!

    That cake is amazing!!!!

  6. Brooks,
    Your cake is stunning in all it’s PB. Banana and Chocolate glory. You make it sound and look so simple:)

    I love Peanuts and my kids grew up with them. The cookbook cover looks familiar, but not sure where it is now:( I’ll just have to watch Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.

  7. ummmm this is SO exciting

  8. I too love looking through magazines for recipes Brooks. I will say I do it far less now but the upside of that is many that I tore out and stuck in a binder are from magazines that are no longer published with the recent wave to written publication demise. I love making them now feeling I’m resurrecting their former glory! This cake is beyond fabulous (as all that you make are). It sounds like the best of my favorite childhood sandwiches (PB and banana). Love the Peanuts reference too! Beautiful job as always.

  9. awww i love the peanuts cookbook!
    this cake looks so gorgeous! and i’m sure the taste is even better.

  10. Sharon says

    I’m making my granddaughter a monkey shaped cake for her birthday later this month, this will be the perfect batter. I only need one 9 inch cake but I’m also doing cupcakes. Perfect timing. Your cake is beautiful.

  11. I clicked over here because of the amazing look & sound of that cake (yes please someone make this for me) and then fell in love with that cookbook!!!

    I will have to ask my mom if she ever had it, I love it (my first show I ever did was Charlie Brown & it started my love for theatre, I need this book).

    GREAT post & yummy recipe 🙂

    • Thanks, Rachel! The cookbook is a nostalgic gem. We had the hardcover one (it may have been part of a set), but a paperback print is out there too. Take a look around, it’s available on the web.

  12. My jaw literally dropped when I saw this cake. Gorgeous, Brooks. GORGEous! And I’m betting it tastes even better than it looks. You’re a cake god. -jeanne

  13. It says the cake makes 1 round cake pan worth, so did you double the amount to make 2 layers? This looks amazing, I’m definitely going to look for an excuse to make this soon!

    • Hi Aimee, Thanks for visiting and I’m glad you asked. The recipe yields enough batter to fill two cake pans, so no doubling is necessary. To clarify, see the Special Equipment list under the ingredients. Happy baking!

  14. Brooks, now you’ve done it! That is truly the what I would call the ultimate cake. All my favorite flavors together in one perfect bite! You executed it perfectly, and the photo is gorgeous as well.

  15. Brooks, that’s a real beauty! I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but it would be easy enough to leave out the chocolate chips. Of course, my husband would consider that a HUGE mistake!

  16. Fall is the time for so many good foods, starting with the comfort of stews and hearty pastas, than moving inevitably to the delicious world of baked goods, cakes, pies and then in to Christmas goodies. Your cake, of course, is another torturous temptation, just looking at it makes the mouth water and you know it’ll be on this year’s list of desserts. As for Peanuts, while he never saw the cookbook you reference Adam probably read every other Peanuts related thing that was ever published when he was growing up. Always a perennial favorite especially this time of year when the Great Pumpkin rolls around!

    • Cheryl, I love the imagery of your words…thank you my friend. I knew Adam is an ardent Peanuts fan. I’m certain he’d get a kick from the cookbook should one cross his path.

      My kids’ favorite line from The Great Pumpkin? “I got a rock!”

  17. I saw your photo as CJ’s and just had to come over. What a cake! Not only is it beautiful it sounds delicious! All of your pics are fabulous!

  18. This cake looks just gorgeous! I love everything about it.

  19. Hi! This cake looks fabulous! I’m planning to make it for a friend’s birthday! However do you think I can substitute the peanut butter in the frosting with Nutella? Would I have to make any changes? Thank you!!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Hello Angela, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t make the switch…Nutella is similar to the consistency of a creamy peanut butter. Once the frosting is made and as long it allows a nice spread, go for it. What a fun, new flavor profile it would bring too. I’d love to hear how it goes. Best wishes!

  20. Mom loves cupcakes says

    Love this recipe! The cake was more like a banana bread and the frosting was thicker than I’d like, but the kids loved helping me mash the bananas and decorate the cake! Will make again with a few small adjustments!

  21. Alicia says

    Do you think this would work for a bear mold cake? My daughter loves bananas and I was thinking of making this recipe for her birthday cake!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Hi Alicia, I see no reason why the cake wouldn’t work in a bear mold pan. Be sure to use a toothpick test to check for done-ness at the deepest part—especially if the mold you use has varying depths. Best wishes, and thanks for stopping by!

  22. I can understand why you HAD to make this recipe. After all, there is plenty of time for fall recipes and it is criminal to let bananas go bad when there is something soooo good to make!

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