Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TWD - Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake

It’s my turn to pick the TWD recipe! Yeah me! I feel like I get to be princess for a day! Many of the bakers in our group wait until the last minute to carefully make their pick. Me? I’ve had my eye on this recipe for months! Each time a new round of picks was announced, I would cross my fingers and whisper “please, please, please no one pick the banana cake”. When I saw the email asking for my choice, I jumped on it in about two seconds. No joke. I’ve made this cake a bunch of times in lots of ways. I love this cake so much that I wanted to share it with everyone. I hope you love it as much as I do!
This weekend, I made the cake as written and frosted and filled the cake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting but more often, I’ve used this recipe to make cupcakes. I get about 36 regular sized cupcakes which are super moist and full of banana flavor.

I vary the basic recipe for the cake and some of my favorite toppings are Cashew and Coconut Frosting (German Chocolate Cake-like Frosting), Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting and a Banana Slice with a Caramel Drizzle, and Cream Cheese Icing and Toasted Coconut.

But my all-time favorite is this one…

Caramelized Banana Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Coconut
I used some of the brown sugar and the rum from the recipe along with an extra tablespoon of butter to caramelize three and a half ripe bananas. I let them cool a bit and added them to the batter as the recipe directs. I made sure to scrape up some of the caramelized sugar from the skillet – you can see them in the batter …
This cupcake was banana-y and caramel-y and yummy. Over the top delicious. No joke. One of the great advantages of cooking the banana before had is that you can use ripe bananas! No need to wait around waiting for brown spots to appear on your prized fruit.

Here’s the recipe, which can also be found on pages 204-205 of Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”.

Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake

The inspiration to bake a banana cake always seems to strike when a bunch of bananas are mottling on the counter. But just because you’ve got the fruit doesn’t mean you have all the other stuff you need, which is why I created this amazingly flexible cake. No coconut? Skip it. No brown sugar? Use white. No coconut milk? Use milk, buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. You can serve the cake as a single layer or a double (the recipe makes two layers, plain, frosted, filled or frosted and filled. Take a look at Playing Around for some ideas.

If you make the cake with the ingredients listed first below, you’ll get a consistency that isn’t heavy but not featherweight either. It has enough substance to chew on, but its light enough to entice you to go back for a second serving … or a third.
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum or Malibu coconut rum (optional)
About 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (you should have 1 ½ - 1 ¾ cups)
½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, regular (stir well before measuring) or “lite” (or whole milk, buttermilk, sour cream, or plain yogurt)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, preferably toasted (or an equal amount of moist, plump dried fruit, such as currants, raisings, chopped apricots, cranberries, blueberries, or halved cherries, or a combination of coconut and dried fruit)

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9x2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and rum. You’ll have a beautiful satiny batter. Now lower the speed and add the bananas-the batter will curdle, but that’s fine; it will come together as you add the remaining ingredients. Still on low speed, add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately, adding the flour mixture in three portions and the coconut milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix just until everything is incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the coconut. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cakes are a deep golden brown. They should start to pull away from the sides of the pans and a thin knife inserted into their centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold and invert onto another rack to cool to room temperature right side up.

Playing Around
To frost one layer or to fill and frost both layers, consider Sweetened whipped cream to which you’ve added vanilla, a splash of dark rum or Malibu coconut rum and toasted coconut, Marshmallow frosting (p. 247), Chocolate Whipped Cream (page 457) and just for fun, a crown of chocolate shavings (p. 471) or Bittersweet Ganache (p. 453).

Rum Syrup: If you like the flavor of rum, you can douse the cakes with rum syrup as soon as they come out of the oven (see page 226 for the syrup recipe-give these cakes the same treatment you’d give the Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes).

One-Layer Cake: Serve just one layer, lightly sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder, and accompany it with lightly whipped cream and/or ice cream (chocolate, coconut, vanilla, or coffee) and/or Hot Fudge Sauce (page 465).

Grand Banana Sundae: You can cut one cake into small cubes and make a sundae. Toss the pieces of cake with some cubes of fresh banana and a little rum and top with ice cream, hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. Why not go all the way and add some toasted coconut too?

Thank you for visiting my blog today (please come back soon) and be sure to visit the rest of the TWD bakers to see lots-of-versions of this fantastic cake!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD - Brrrr-ownies

Karen of Welcome to our Crazy Blessed Life selected Brrrr-ownies on page 103 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours" for this week's baking assignment. Please visit her blog to find the recipe. I had some trouble with these guys! I think I underbaked them a bit and they stuck to the aluminum foil lining the pan like crazy. Eventually, I had to scrape them off the foil which resulted in a crumbly gooey minty mess, although I did manage to salvage a few for pictures! I stuffed the crumbly gooey minty mess into a ziploc bag and plan to make Crumbly Gooey Minty Mess Ice Cream in the next few days - watch for it!

Some of the pieces that I extracted from the pan vaguely resembled brownies and they tasted delicious.
A tall glass of milk would definitely make a complete package!

Please visit the rest of the TWD bakers to see how their brownies came out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD - Tarte Noir

This week, Dharmagirl of bliss: towards a delicious life chose Tarte Noire for our baking assignment. Please visit Dharmagirl's blog for the recipe and/or you can find it on page 351 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours". I made a full recipe of the tart crust and the chocolate ganache but baked up mini tartes. The baby's a super smooth and delicious and very easy to make! I followed the recipe as written but after the fact I started second guessing myself and think I should have squeezed in a layer of peanut butter somewhere ... or perhaps a peanut butter shortbread crust? Mmmmm - next time!

My son had a friend visiting while I was baking and his friend was pretty insistent on trying a piece of "chocolate pie". I knew he wouldn't like the "grown up" chocolate (bittersweet) but finally relented and let him have the nearly empty ganache bowl. He disappeared into the living room thinking he was going to lick the bowl clean. Two seconds later he was back gagging like he had swallowed turpentine. Boys do not listen. Ever.

Please visit the rest of the TWD Bakers to see how they did. I'm SURE someone found a way to get peanut butter in the tarte!