Maple Banana Walnut Cake

My daughter LOVES bananas. The first thing she does when she comes downstairs in the morning is ask for a banana. More often than not, she has more than one banana a day.  We typically have an abundance of bananas in the house.  Madeleine usually ends up eating them all, but we occasionally have a few that reach the very ripe stage.  I tend to make some sort of banana bread with them, but every once in a while I pull out this next recipe.  While bananas aren’t my favorite fruit, I love this cake.  Now, some of you may be tempted to use real maple syrup in the frosting, but it isn’t the same flavor or intensity as the imitation maple flavoring. It is quite strong and I can smell it almost every time I open my pantry.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks (1 stick)
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 mashed very ripe bananas (approx.. 1 ¼ cups)
½ cup rice milk (first add 1 ½ tsp. lemon juice and then fill up to the ½ cup mark)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
·      Preheat the oven to 350° F.
·      Grease (with the margarine) and flour 2 8 or 9-inch round cake pans.
·      In a medium mixing bowl, combine and whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
·      In a large mixing bowl, beat margarine and both the brown and granulated sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
·      Add mashed bananas and mix.
·      Add 1 egg at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg.
·      Combine the vanilla extract with the rice milk.
·      Add the flour mixture, alternating with the rice milk. Beginning and ending with the flour.
·      Gently stir the walnuts into the cake batter.
·      Divide the batter between the prepared pans.
·      Bake for 30-35 minutes
·      Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks
5-5 ½ cups powdered sugar (sifted)
3 tsp. vanilla extract
·      Sift the powdered sugar.
·      Place the margarine in a large mixing bowl. Begin mixing, adding a little powdered sugar at a time.
·      Add the vanilla extract.
·      Remove 1 cup of frosting and mix in 1 tsp. imitation maple flavor.
Assembling the cake:
·      Place the first layer on a large plate or cake stand.
Insert 3 strips of parchment or wax paper under the cake. This will help keep the plate clean while frosting.
·      Frost the first layer with the maple frosting.
·      Place the 2nd layer on top of the 1stlayer.
·      Frost top and sides of the cake.
·      Remove the parchment paper (If you are coating the sides walnuts, then keep the parchment on the plate until finished).
Optional: Finely chop toasted walnuts (approx.. 1 ½ – 2 cups) and coat the sides of the cake
Another Option: Add 2-3 tsp. to the frosting (in addition to the vanilla) and frost the whole cake with maple frosting.