I wanted to be a teacher

banana cake with cream cheese frosting | the merry gourmet

When I was little, maybe between the ages of five and seven, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I loved my teachers at school, and because of them (or maybe just because of me) I loved school. Also, my mother was a teacher, and I thought she was pretty great, so I would become a teacher, too.

Later, when I was a little older, I wanted to be a veterinarian. We always had lots of animals, mostly cats and a dog or two. The cats lived outside and were called the Outside Cats. I was partial to the cats, and I still am. I used to name them very clever names, like Blackey and Whitey and Pumpkin, based on the color of their coats. There was also Mama Cat, and you can guess why she was named that. The first cat that I considered my own was called Mindy, named after a character on my then-favorite television show, Mork and Mindy.

One day, I went with my mother to take one of the cats to our veterinarian. I don’t recall which one, but I’m certain he or she must have been very ill – regular checkups were not a thing with our family back then (neither for animals or humans). I watched the vet take the cat’s temperature, using a rectal thermometer. I no longer wanted to be a vet.

During my high school and college years, I became convinced that I would be a clinical psychologist. Silence of the Lambs came out in 1991, during my first year of college. I was intrigued by Jodie Foster’s character, and I thought that maybe I would study forensic psychology. I liked the idea of delving into the minds of people who needed help, figuring out why their minds worked that way, and hopefully helping them in some way. I stuck with this plan, and I graduated from college with a B.S. in psychology. I was pleased with myself for knowing what I wanted to do and doing it.

It was only when I was halfway through a Masters-level graduate program in psychology that I realized I really did not want to spend the rest of my working years as a psychologist. I wanted to help people in a different way. I wanted more science and less theory. I wanted to be a medical doctor.

Let’s now flash forward twenty years – wow, that sounds like a long time – and here I am, an academic hematologist-oncologist. Not only do I get to see patients, but I also get to do some research, I get to write (academic stuff, sure, but sometimes it gets published!), and I get to teach the next generation of doctors and oncologists.

I updated my curriculum vitae last week, something I make myself do every few months, and I was reflecting on my career in medicine. My path to becoming an oncologist was winding and long (so long) but I’m incredibly happy with what I’m doing. As cheesy as it sounds, I really love each aspect of my life in academics – the clinical work, the research, and the teaching. It’s that last aspect, the medical education piece, that I’ve been surprisingly delighted with.

And I remembered that, when I was a little girl, so many years ago, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.

*   *   *   *   *

The story above has nothing to do with this banana cake with cream cheese frosting, of course. But this is a great cake, ad I wanted you to have it.  So consider this recipe a bonus. The icing on the cake, if you will.

banana cake with cream cheese frosting | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 8-10.

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The pairing of cream cheese frosting with banana is a favorite of mine. The cake is wonderful without the frosting, but a top coat of frosting really makes it a special dessert.


For Cake:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons; 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
2/3 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum

For Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, measured first, then sifted


Prepare and Bake Cake:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle position. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line with a parchment round, then butter and flour the parchment-lined pan.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together softened butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well blended. Beat in bananas, yogurt, vanilla, and rum (mixture may look curdled).

With mixer at low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 minutes. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, right side up, before frosting.

Make Frosting:

Using an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

When cake is cool to the touch, spread frosting evenly on top of cake.

Note: Can be made one day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate overnight. Let cake stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.

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12 Responses to “triple citrus bars – lemons and limes and oranges, oh my!”

  1. Dawn@CocinaSavant — June 11, 2010 @ 7:45 am

    this looks heavenly. i may have to go to the store and try to make these right now!

  2. Heather @ The Single Dish — June 11, 2010 @ 11:08 am

    So pretty and they look delicious! Lemon bars are so light (well maybe not on the waistline) and refreshing!

  3. Jason Phelps — June 11, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    My wife makes a triple citrus cheescake that makes magic with the same flavors. So good! Awesome photos.


  4. Cook with Madin — June 11, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

    These looks sooooo good. I have to make these. I like citrusey flavours. Thank you for sharing.

  5. the Housewife — June 11, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

    These look so very heavenly! I love lemon bars and one with triple citrus… mmmm! Great picture!

  6. Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — June 11, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    Like you…love the lemon bars. I’ve been making the same ones for, well, FOREVER! I have a cookbook from the St Louis Art Museum called ‘The Artist in the Kitchen’ with a copyright of 1977 so am not kidding. I’ve not wavered from them until the day I had no lemons and made some lime bars and have thought to try orange too…so of course this combo of all three of those citrus flavors sounds intriguing and yummalicious.

    Have you ever had the lemon bars from Nordstrom Cafe? My daughter and I ordered them one day and was surprised but oh so pleasantly. Made with toasted coconut and a layer of mascarpone cheese frosting…I’ll have to make sure you have that recipe to try one day; love that Nordstrom’s so generously will share their recipes (even if it makes a sheetpan size but who’s counting; they still disappear!).

  7. Chef Dennis — June 11, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    OMG…..you take my breath away!!!! what a decadent display of citrus love…….sigh
    that graham crust was enough to push me over the edge….

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Magic of Spice — June 11, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

    Fantastic to use this combination…looks wonderful!

  9. Jean — June 11, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

    There are so many recipes that I want to try in my Cook’s Illustrated books–this is one of them. I’m glad to see your post so I know what to expect. I like your addition of coconut in the crust.


  10. These look and sound so good!

  11. These are right up my alley! I will have to try them asap!

  12. Megan — April 4, 2011 @ 10:15 am

    I love a good citrus bar no matter what juice you use. I like the addition of the coconut to the crust too.

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