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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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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27 Responses to “my gratitude, and a recipe for key lime cheesecake”

  1. Paula — March 22, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    Hugs and prayers continue for your entire family. Beautiful cheesecake. Enjoy that upcoming and much needed vacation.

  2. Michele — March 22, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    You guys take care of yourselves. I’ll be thinking of you and your family. And that cheesecake!

  3. DessertForTwo — March 22, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    We’re here for you anytime, MJ!

    Your Mom’s blog post hit me in the gut. I’m thinking of her & praying her lots. I hope she has easy days ahead and can heal.

    PS Is your maiden name George? Mine too!

  4. All that Gisters — March 22, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

    I really hope things get better for you, your Mum and Dad, I really hope you enjoy your holiday tpp because I think you deserve it. I absolutely love key lime cheesecake and I haven’t had it it so long, it brings back good memories from when I was tiny.
    from Emily xxx

  5. Gail — March 22, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I haven’t even read your mother’s blog yet, and I’m a weepy mess.

    Sending you big hugs. You know we’re all here for you.

    xo

  6. MJ such a sad, beautiful, hopeful, and articulate post. You are amazing. Sending love and hugs to you all, especially your mum and dad XO As Gail says, we’re all here if you need us.

  7. Kathryn — March 22, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    Thinking of you all, have a wonderful vacation xxx

  8. Cookin Canuck — March 22, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    You have popped into my mind multiple times since I read the post about your dad’s transition to the nursing home. You are in all of our thoughts.

    Key lime in any form has always been a favorite of mine, and this cheesecake looks like a “must try”.

  9. Michelle Ledesma — March 22, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    Continuing to keep you, your folks, and family in my thoughts and prayers. May seem odd, but I feel the need to thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories. It’s comforting to connect with someone who clearly loves her dad and mom, but is moving through a difficult period in life’s transitions. I relate. Many can, I’m sure. Know you, too, are not alone. We’re all out here walking along side, holding you up in our hearts.
    Do get some r & r on your vacation.
    Oh, and that cheesecake looks divine.
    Hugs, Mac

  10. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — March 23, 2013 @ 1:39 am

    Your mom’s post definitely resonated with a lot of tough decisions we had to do in our lives as well. Our thoughts and prayers goes out to her, your dad and the whole family during this trying times. xoxo

    That’s a beautiful cheesecake.

  11. cherie — March 23, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    I’m fairly new to your blog and did not read about the initial surgery until today – what a shock all this must have been for you and your mother.

    Prayers continue for you all – hugs too – I agree you both need time to recover from stress before moving forward with other decisions. I wish there were a way to make this easier – it sounds like you’re all doing the very best you can.

  12. jill lucas — March 24, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    There will be so many good memories mingled with these difficult ones. Try to remember the times he offered his steady hand talked about your babies with knowledge and pride. I learned after my dad’s death that, the day before his heart attack, he was pressing a new snapshot of his toddler grandson – our son, now 22 – into the hands of friends at the post office. I took a lot of comfort in that and choose to remember it over details that have become less vivid with time.

  13. Natasha — March 24, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    Time like these are never easy. I will certainly keep you and your family in my thoughts. And I’m sure cheesecake helps, as I know baking for me certainly does. All the best.

  14. Cheryl Arkison — March 25, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    I love that layer of curd!
    And I’m thrilled that things feel calmer, better.

  15. Nutmeg Nanny — March 25, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    This is such a difficult and heartbreaking time, sending positive thoughts your way. There is nothing like a nice treat to ease things though, this cheesecake looks delicious 🙂

  16. you and your family is in my prayers Merry. I have realized how great it is to be surrounded by blogger community during tough times like this and I am glad baking is your comfort. Take Care.

  17. SMITH BITES — March 28, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    sending much love and prayers your way MJ and i’m grateful for this community who surrounds you with love, am grateful you have this space to share your deepest secrets and fears, am grateful to call you friend (((hugs)))

  18. Donna at NothingChocolate — April 1, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

    Oh my goodness!!! Your images are spectacular! My eyes “taste” the creamy tart-ness of this cake! So wonderful!
    And where did you find that nice, moderately high cake stand?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 8th, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

      The cake stand came from Crate & Barrel a few years ago. I love it and keep meaning to buy another!

  19. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal — April 3, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    Wow , I love that there’s even lime curd in there! Amazing recipe! Pinned.

  20. Lucy Henderly — April 8, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

    I made this on saturday night for some friends birthday get together on Sunday night!!!! it was a hit! maybe one of the best cheesecakes i’ve ever had!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 8th, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Lucy. I’m so glad that everyone loved it!

  21. Lauren @ Dallas Duo Bakes — April 10, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

    Prayers for you and your family! As for your key lime cheesecake…it looks divine. I am a huge key lime fan, and know I will like this recipe.

  22. Aggie — April 11, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    Ok, I’m officially in tears. I love key lime everything. I want a slice of this cheesecake. Love you friend. xoxo

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