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Banana crumb cake

Makes one 9-inch square

This cake has a light, tender crumb and crunchy topping. "Family Baker" author Susan Purdy writes that it should not be confused with a dense, moist banana bread. If you like, add 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini-chips along with the nuts.

CRUMB

Butter (for the pan)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut up
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. Pinch them together with your fingertips or mash them with a fork until they form crumbs. Part of the mixture may still look granular.

CAKE

2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup wheat germ, preferably toasted (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut up
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and wheat germ, if using.

2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and mashed banana. Scrape down the bowl.

3. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in the flour mixture and the nuts just until no pockets of white show.

4. Transfer the batter to the pan. Spoon the crumbs evenly on top.

5. Bake the cake 45 to 50 minutes or until the topping is golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack, cut into squares, and serve from the pan. Adapted from "The Family Baker."

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