Tags: baking, cake, dessert
I am a master procrastinator. I should be spring cleaning my disaster of a closet right now. Instead, I am blogging about cake…a cake that I made two days ago, when I was also off work and also should have been spring cleaning my closet. Housekeeping gives me the blues, but cake makes me happy!
I always buy too many bananas at once, so I have this perpetual stash of them in my freezer, waiting to be turned into smoothies or baked with. Although I want to make every single thing in the book Vintage Cakes, I figured I’d start with a cake that would put some of those bananas to use. I’ve made one, no two, banana layer cakes here before, so forgive me if I seem like I’m repeating myself. They’re all good….moist, and most definitely cake and not banana bread.
I think banana cake is a good match for lots of frostings…cream cheese, chocolate, peanut butter. I didn’t use the coffee walnut buttercream that is paired with this cake in the book. Instead I frosted it with some leftover chocolate frosting that I brought home from work a couple months ago and stuck in the freezer. It’s actually too sweet for my tastes, and isn’t a recipe I’d make at home (which is why I’m not providing it below), so I had to temper that sweetness a bit by rewhipping it with a little cream cheese and some instant espresso. OMG, wait–I used bananas and frosting from the freezer…doesn’t that mean I did some spring cleaning after all?
Banana Layer Cake- makes an 8″ three-layer cake, serving 8-12
adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Steph’s Note: I halved the recipe to make 6″ rounds. They took a little less time to bake, about 24 minutes. Frost it with your favorite frosting.
2½ cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
-Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 8″ round cake pans and line them with parchment circles.
-In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, then whisk them together. In a small bowl or a measuring cup, combine the banana with the buttermilk.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and the paddle with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time.
-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the banana mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the four. After each addition scrape the bowl well. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.
-Divide the thick batter equally among the prepared pans, and tap the pans on the counter to settle.
-Bake until the centers spring back when lightly touched, 28 – 30 minutes.
-Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Flip them out and let them continue to cool on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature. Leave the parchment paper on until you assemble the cake.
-Fill and frost with your favorite frosting.
I think about the two years we spent in Australia everyday, sometimes for bizarre reasons. For example, when I looked at the recipe for this week’s TWD pick, the first thing that popped into my mind was that when we first moved to Sydney, the country was just beginning to recover from a banana shortage. I let my little trip down memory lane steer me in a particular direction while making this cake…it is called “Lots of Ways Banana Cake” afterall, so I didn’t really feel like I was overstepping any bounds by adding macadamias, wattleseed and chocolate to the bananas and coconut already in the mix.
While I could have chosen to go the layered and frosted route with this cake, that wasn’t what I was in the mood for. I just wanted an unfussy snack cake, so I baked half a recipe in an 8″ square pan and left it at that. (It only took 25 minutes to bake, instead of the 45 I was expecting.) It was delicious– soft, and full of things that taste great together!
I know I’ve told you before that I’ve been turning my nose up at raw bananas since I was a kid. But I try to keep an open mind, and I want to bake along with everyone, so I always give banana recipes a go anyway. Well, guess what. I think I’m starting to accept them…maybe even like them a little. I didn’t at all poo-poo Spike’s choice of Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie for TWD this week. In fact, I enjoyed it! What’s happening to me??
An ice cream pie is what it sounds like– a crust (cookie-coconut in this case) topped with ice cream. I made mine in a springform rather than a pie plate, but that’s a nitpicky detail. Dorie uses chocolate ice cream as the base in her recipe…I assembled this pie at the same time I made that burnt sugar ice cream, so I used it instead. I didn’t want to miss out entirely on the chocolate, though, and made a cocoa fudge sauce to go on top.
Raw bananas make three different appearances here. There’s a layer of them between the crust and the ice cream, there’s a rum-banana smoosh stirred into the ice cream, and there are a few decorative slices for the top. Further proof that I am beginning to appreciate bananas: I thought the burnt sugar ice cream with rum and bananas stirred in was just killer!
This is the second time I’ve made a banana cake with The Cake Slice Bakers. The two are quite different, but my reaction is the same: bananas make for a darn good cake! The cake itself was so moist and flavorful. I can see it being great with a little cinnamon or espresso powder mixed in, or re-engineered as a snack cake. It’s one I’ll make again, for sure…
…The chocolate frosting, though was a different story. It turned super thick after I added the last addition of powdered sugar. So thick, that I couldn’t spread it. Rather than toss it in the bin, I put it over gentle heat until it just started to soften. Then it was use it or lose it time, so I immediately swiped it on the cake in one pass. I think I did a reasonably good job, all things considered, but can you see how the frosting looks a little dry and crackly? It tasted good, and had quite a fudgy consistency, actually, but I think I’ll go with a tried-and-true chocolate frosting next time and save myself the stress.
Here’s a printable link to the recipe. Or get your hands on a copy of Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. Cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers to check out all of our banana cakes this month!
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a publicist about a new cookbook called DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth New Orleans Style by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel. She showed me a couple of recipes…this book is chock full of classic New Orleans sweets (think beignets and pralines), with stories and gorgeous photos to boot. I was drawn to a recipe for Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble…odd, since I’m not usually that into bananas, but I am a “selective appreciator,” and the husband loves nursery desserts.
This is definitely a high-class version of the dessert I remember as kid– all the traditional bits are there, but they’ve been optimized. With five yolks, it is a rich and delicious pudding, and with a nice glug of booze, I made mine decidedly not-child-friendly. Frankly, I wouldn’t use anything but Nilla Wafers in banana pudding, and the crumble is an easy way to jazz them up and keep them crispy. Whether you live in New Orleans or in New York, I think you’ll like this recipe!
BTW, book author David Guas will be hosting a live chat every Sunday morning (starting today!), November 1- December 20, from 9:30-10:30 am. Chatters can log on and ask Chef Guas dessert questions or get advice. If you’re interested, go to his website and click on the Red Velvet Cake.
Banana Pudding- makes 6 servings
from DamGoodSweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel (Taunton Press, 2009)
For the pudding:
5 large egg yolks
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons banana liqueur (or 1 teaspoon banana flavoring)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas
For the crumble:
1 cup vanilla wafers (about 15 cookies)
2 teaspoons sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
-To make the pudding: Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk a little at a time into the egg mixture. Once the bottom of the bowl is warm, slowly whisk in the remaining hot milk. Pour the mixture back into a clean medium saucepan (cleaning the saucepan prevents the pudding from scorching), add the banana liqueur, and whisk over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Cook while constantly whisking until the pudding is glossy and quite thick, 11/2 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the pudding to a clean bowl.
Add the vanilla and butter and gently whisk until the butter is completely melted and incorporated. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
-To make the crumble: While the pudding sets, heat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the wafers in a resealable plastic bag and seal (make sure there is no air in the bag prior to sealing). Using a rolling pin or a flat-bottomed saucepan or pot, crush the vanilla wafers until they’re coarsely ground. Transfer them to a small bowl and stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Use a spoon to evenly stir in the melted butter, transfer to the prepared baking sheet, and toast in the oven until brown and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (The crumbs can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature or frozen for up to 2 months; re-crisp in a 325°F oven for 6 to 7 minutes if necessary.)
-To serve: Slice the bananas in half crosswise and then slice in half lengthwise so you have 4 quarters. Slice the banana quarters crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and divide between 6 custard cups or martini glasses (sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon juice if you like—this helps prevent browning). Whisk the pudding until it is soft and smooth, about 30 seconds, and then divide it between the custard cups. Top with the vanilla wafer mixture and serve. (If not served immediately, the pudding will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, with plastic wrap intact. Sprinkle the crumbs on just before serving.)
At the end of every month, just before the new list of TWD recipes comes out, I do a little dance in the hopes that a Bundt cake will be chosen. My efforts to summon the cake gods have gone unrealized every time, but leave it to Mary The Food Librarian, herself a lover of all things Bundted (seriously, she has made a bazillion of them), to finally chose Dorie’s Classic Banana Bundt. Yay!! (Now I am doing my happy dance!)
I love Bundt cakes, and this banana one is no exception. It’s dense and moist, not unlike a banana bread. It’s full of banana flavor, and the inside is full of those little black squigglies…do you know what I’m talking about? Those fascinate me, and I must study them in every slice.
I made half a recipe of this cake in my treasured six-cup Bundt pan. I switched out a quarter cup of the AP flour for whole wheat, and added in a sprinkle of nutmeg. I also used half sour cream and half yogurt in the batter. The coolest thing about any Bundt is how pretty it is, no thanks to me– it just comes out of the pan that way (provided I spray it well)! I drizzled a quick and easy milk chocolate ganache over this one, because hey– bananas and chocolate are great together!
I’ve had such a busy week, running all over the city after work and on my days off to get errands done for a trip to the UK. I’ll actually be there by the time you read this (so I might not be able to do much commenting on cream pies, unfortunately). I’m Godmother to a friend’s baby boy. His name is Ian, he lives in London and I had lots of bits and pieces to pick up for the Baptism ceremony, which will be at the end of the week. Not to mention that Friday was my birthday, and on Saturday my husband and I went to see a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, which is currently taping in New York. I’ve listened to the show since I was a kid, so it was fun to see goofy Garrison Keillor do his thing live. And Wynton Marsalis was a guest, so that was a pretty good present, I think.
Of course I still made the time to put together this Banana Cream Pie, Amy’s choice for TWD this week. I’ve said many times before that I don’t like raw bananas, but I like to keep an open mind about trying new things. I’ve never made or even had banana cream pie before, so why not give it a go? I had some homemade pie dough in the freezer anyway (it had been there forever, and I was actually itching to use it up), so the hardest part was already taken care of.
Hey, guess what– I thought this was good (and my husband loved it)! I do have a fondness for cream pies…they are tasty and squidgy, especially fresh, homemade ones. I’m not a banana convert, or anything, so I probably won’t make this one again…raw bananas still are a bit slimy in my book. I did really like the way Dorie uses brown sugar in the custard recipe and sour cream in the whipped cream topping. Yum on both counts there! My personal twist was using a little vanilla bean to flavor both.
Ack–I didn’t realize that this post and the TWD one would fall on the same day! So in addition to having to crank out two posts on Monday night, I have also been subsisting on an all-cake diet for the past week!
This Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache happens to be the latest installment of The Cake Slice. I guess the title kinda tells it all, right? You start with a white cake, softly flavored with banana purée. The tall layers are stacked with a white chocolate ganache frosting that has sugared pecans folded through. Then the cake gets frosted with the remainder of the ganache, and decorated with the rest of the pecans. I halved the original recipe to make a six-inch layer cake. Normally, I get six servings from a six-incher, but this cake was so toweringly high that I was able to get eight!
I will admit that I did not make the sugared pecans according to the recipe’s directions, which call for deep frying. I didn’t want to use up half a bottle of oil to fry off a few nuts, so I dry-toasted them in a skillet instead. Then I added a pat of butter, a couple spoonfuls of brown sugar and a sprinkle of salt, and cooked the nuts until the sugar and butter made a glaze. I use this technique to make crunchy candied nuts for snacks and salads all the time, and it works really well.
As someone who is not terribly fond of white chocolate, it surprises me to say that I thought the ganache frosting/filling was the star of the show! The banana cake definitely has the texture of a white cake, rather than something more banana bready, and the flavor is gentle, too. It goes so well with the frosting, which is made by mixing ganache into softly whipped unsweetend cream. The whipped cream really mellows out and tones down the tooth-achy sweetness of the white chocolate, and the resulting frosting is soft, light and decadent. I will definitely be using this recipe again, as it’s super-good and much less rich than a traditional whipped ganache frosting (which I have described here and here).
All-in-all, this was a delicious cake…and one I’m really glad I made! Here’s a printable link to the recipe (better yet, get your hands on a copy of Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne), and cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers to check out all of our banana cakes this month.
I love a making loaf cakes (and Bundts, too…wink, wink, nudge, nudge), so I was glad to see that Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen chose Dorie’s Black-and-White Banana Loaf for TWD this week. Loaf cakes are basically throw together no-brainers, although this one has the extra steps of melting chocolate, mashing a banana and marbling. Still no-brainers, but with a few more bowls to wash at the end.
I also love stuff baked with bananas. I do find this odd, since I don’t like raw bananas at all–ick! But they smell so good baking in the oven, and make for super-moist cakes, breads and muffins. You’ll hear no complaints from me on this cake (it tastes just like you’d expect), although perhaps I could work on my marbling skills…what I did just looks like blobs. Dorie said to make this more white than black, but I paid that no mind and went more black than white.
Did I tell you I found a half-size loaf pan a couple months ago? Really, I don’t even know why I have larger baking pans anymore…they rarely see the light of day. The little guy’s almost as deep as a normal loaf, though, so it doesn’t really shave anything off the baking time.
P.S.: I’m still out of town…back in a couple days!
Well, not my mom’s. I’m guessing Melissa Murphy’s mom’s, since it’s in her new cookbook The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. You know, I really don’t like bananas in their raw form (not even in smoothies), but once they are baked into something sweet, it’s a whole ‘nother story. R does like to have bananas in his cereal, but sometimes he buys more than he can eat. When that happens, I wrap them up and stash them in the freezer…after I’ve accumulated a few, it’s time for banana bread, cake or muffins!
What makes this particular banana bread extra-special are the bits of caramelized apple throughout. Most banana bread has a pretty good shelf life and can even get better after a day of so. This one is no exception, as the sweet apples just meld more into the spiced bread.
Mom’s Banana Apple Bread- makes one 1 1/2-quart loaf pan
from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy. All rights reserved. Copyright © Melissa Murphy, 2008
For the apples:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the banana bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups very ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3)
Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.
To make the apples:
Preheat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and sauté until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To make the banana bread:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
-In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and vanilla.
-Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each flour addition. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined. Then stir in the reserved apples.
-Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool further.
*Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The banana bread keeps well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost (still wrapped) at room temperature.