Tags: baking, bread
Happy New Year! Have you made any resolutions for 2014? Normally I wouldn’t, but I have a couple of “situations” that I should get under control STAT. Resolving to use up my current kitchen cupboard and my bathroom beauty products before buying more is something that has to happen. I do not need four eye creams or six bottles of hot sauce open at once. I don’t have the storage space for that, and the clutter on my counters is driving me bananas!
What does Lauren Groveman’s Challah have to do with this? It’s going to help jam population control (five jars open in the fridge, with four more in the cupboard…sheesh). The group made this bread in early December, but I didn’t have my act together that week. I’m glad I got it together, though, because it’s delish. I just made one loaf, which was a half-recipe, and it’s a huge beauty! A three-strand braid is so simple to do and it really looks great, but maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try my hand at five or six. Maybe. Even though I’m notoriously stingy with egg wash (I never want to use up a whole egg for it, and unless I have a bit of extra egg left over from something else, I usually pilfer a tiny bit from the eggs in the recipe), it still came out with a gorgeous crust. And the insides are perfectly soft and slightly sweet. I’m looking forward to challah French toast in a couple of days…topped with jam sauce, of course.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Note that this challah recipe uses melted butter, if that’s a concern for you (although I suspect it could be replaced with oil). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from challah week at the beginning of December!
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.
Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
This was supposed to be a Tropical Crumble with mangoes and bananas, but like I mentioned when I made jam, I have apricots and plums up the wazoo right now. So this became a Stonefruit Crumble instead, with apricots and yellow plums (look, I kept the colors similar!), and a little red plum ice cream for good measure. I tried to keep my version along the same lines as the original, flavoring the fruit with ginger and citrus, but since my fruits were small and soft, I didn’t pre-cook my filling before baking the crumble and I added a sprinkling of flour to the fruit mix to help thicken the juices.
Does anyone know if theree’s technically a difference between a crisp and a crumble?? Maybe there is, because my topping wasn’t as crunchy as I thought it would be. It had pecans, brown sugar and butter (cut back from the original recipe by a couple of tablespoons), so it wasn’t bad, but it did just kind of meld into the smooshiness of the baked fruit.
I had a quick thought of skipping these Devilish Shortcakes and this week’s TWD. Then on Sunday, after the last of our Thanksgiving pie had disappeared, my husband asked what we’d be having for dessert. Seems as though someone’s not worried about putting on extra holiday pounds!
I’d never made chocolate shortcake biscuits before (never even thought about chocolate shortcakes before), and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Fruit and chocolate combos aren’t usually too appealing to me, and anyway the berries right now look downright sad. But then I found a sudden burst of inspiration sitting on my counter– a banana! I caramelized banana slices with a little brown sugar, added a spoonful of peanut butter to my whipped cream, and grabbed a handful of salty peanuts and two baked shortcakes. Bingo!
The photo is a little…well…unappetizng, but these were good. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate, peanuts and bananas, I guess. The shortcakes themselves weren’t very sweet, so I was glad I’d caramelized the fruit. I have a few more shortcakes in the freezer, so I’ll be looking through the TWD Blogroll for some more ideas for what to do with those.
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!
Wow–super-busy week at work. If I hadn’t made this Cocoa-Nana Bread, chosen for TWD by fellow Steph of Obsessed with Baking, early last week, it just wouldn’t have happened for me. The bakery I work for was featured in a segment on national TV a few days ago, and it sent mail orders pouring in all weekend. Terrific for business, but the owners neglected to give the kitchen the heads-up that it was airing! Saying we we’ve been in the weeds would be an understatement, and my arms are about to fall off from so much brownie mixing. Anyway, back to matters at hand…
A healthy dose of cocoa powder makes this loaf pumpernickel-dark. And bananas make it moist. It’s really much more cocoa than nana….and also more loaf cake than bread. Dorie intends it to be for breakfast, but we thought it made a fine dessert. Leftovers are a yummy trifle base, BTW.
To all my Aussie friends–happy Australia Day! I’ll be celebrating here with homemade sausage rolls, a Cooper’s Sparkling and some good tennis!
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!