The Cake Slice: Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache

January 20, 2009 at 7:30 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, the cake slice | 40 Comments

banana cake with praline filling and white chocolate ganache

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). 

 banana cake with praline filling and white chocolate ganache

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.

The Cake Slice: Chocolate Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake

December 20, 2008 at 1:31 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, the cake slice | 26 Comments

chocolate hazelnut nutcracker cake

Gosh–hasn’t December gone by so fast?!?  It’s already time for the third installment of The Cake Slice!  This go-round, the group cooked up a very festive Chocolate Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake from the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne. 

You’ll need to fish out your nutcracker to make this one– the batter has plenty of  hazelnuts, ground fine.  It also contains an unusual ingredient…graham cracker crumbs.  I’m wondering if these are there for subtle flavor, or if they really just act as an extender for the nut meal.  The cake is filled and frosted with vanilla whipped cream (a.k.a crème chantilly, if you want to get all fancy-like).

chocolate hazelnut nutcracker cake

While this cake was certainly good, R and I both though it was missing something.  The flavor was predominately hazelnut, and I think, for a cake with the word “chocolate” in its name, it needed to taste of chocolate, too (just a very small piece is grated into the batter).  If I get around to making it again, I think I’ll fill the layers with a dark chocolate ganache, and just leave the chantilly for the outside.  The rum soaking syrup, though, is a must!  Visit Gigi and Katie for the recipe (or get your hands on a copy of Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes), and cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers to check out all of our nutcracker cakes!

The Cake Slice: Sweet Potato Cake

November 20, 2008 at 4:41 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, the cake slice | 30 Comments

sweet potato cake

I just realized that today’s the posting day for the second installment of The Cake Slice!  This month (or yesterday, in my case) we baked up a Sweet Potato Cake from the delicious book Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne.

If you are thinking that this cake sounds a little weird, the sweet potato puree makes the cake really moist (and orange-hued), but I think the flavor actually isn’t so noticeable.  The cake batter has all of the nice, warm fall spices…cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves…and they are what really shine here.

The spice cake is great with the frosting…a chocolate cream cheese frosting, that is!  According to the recipe, the chocolate cream cheese mix is just used to frost the outside.  The cake “should” be filled with an orange cream cheese filling.  I’ve said this a trillion times, but I don’t like fruit and chocolate, so I went chocolate all the way!  I am missing a few kitchen essentials right now, like a scale and a sieve.  I had to wing the frosting, adding powdered sugar and chocolate to taste (which for me means less sweet and more chocolate).  Since I wasn’t able to sift the sugar, I had a few lumpies in there, but that’s not gonna end my world.

sweet potato cake

This is a cake I’m really glad I made– it’s moist, spicy tall and tasty!  Visit Katie for the recipe (or get your hands on a copy of Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes), and cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers to check out all of our sweet potato cakes!

The Cake Slice: Cappuccino Chiffon Cake

October 20, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, the cake slice | 33 Comments

cappuccino chiffon cake

I’ve joined a new baking group, and I couldn’t be more excited!  Gigi and Katie thought it would be fun to actually use the cookbooks they have on the shelves, and so The Cake Slice was born.  The premise is easy: we bake from one book per year, making a different recipe each month.  This year’s book is a great one, covering a subject dear to my heart–Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne. 

The first of what promises to be twelve amazing layer cakes is a Cappuccino Chiffon Cake.   Chiffon cake is light as cloud, and relies on air (in the form of a meringue) to give it a sky-high rise, with a little baking powder mixed in for “insurance” purposes.  Because it’s made with oil instead of butter, it’s not incredibly flavorful in and of itself, but its texture makes it a perfect vehicle for soaking up a flavored syrup.

cappuccino chiffon cake

This cake looks and tastes sophisticated, but it’s really quite basic–three layers of espresso-flavored chiffon soaked in a coffee simple syrup, finished off with heaps of whipped cream.  Wanting to pack as much cappuccino flavor as I could into the cake, I skipped over to the coffee shop on the corner and bought a few shots of strong espresso to use in the cake batter and the syrup.  The only change I made to the recipe was that I switched out the rum in the soaking syrup for Kahlua.

I love the lightness of whipped cream frosting, but I have to admit that I’m always a little nervous when actually icing a cake with it.  It’s so fragile that messing around with it just a bit too much can overwork it in a hurry.  As someone who will muck about with buttercream icing for half an hour trying to get it just so, I had to try hard to just get the whipped cream on there, throw the spatula in the sink and walk away.

cappuccino chiffon cake

I wondered how the whipped cream would hold up, but this cake lasted nicely for a couple days in the fridge.  It became even tastier as syrup soaked its way through the cake layers.  There’s a little cinnamon in the cake batter…I really love it in combination with the espresso.  I don’t allow myself to have an afternoon coffee any more (too many sleepless nights), but I’ll make an exception anyday for a slice of cappuccino chiffon cake!

Visit Gigi and Katie for the recipe, and cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers to check out all of our chiffon cakes!

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