Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's A Boy! (not my boy though)

Not the best pictures (it was late at least for me). Not the best decorating job either. Again, it was late, what can I say. Actually, the cake was kinda cute the next day. I think the lighting the night before was bad and the colors looked harsh. But I was pleasantly surprised the next day, after a good night's sleep. I made it for a girl at work who will soon be going on maternity leave. I almost forgot that I was making the cake. Well, not almost, I did forget. But I did manage to remind myself with enough time to produce this. It's a banana cake (her favorite) with a marshmallow type buttercream. Both came from Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours. The book finally came in the mail the day I remembered I needed to make this cake. So, I flipped thru and was happy to find a banana cake recipe. And it was a great recipe. But then, it's Dorie. And everything I've read about Dorie is wonderful and positive. So the banana cake was lighter than banana bread, as it should be. But definitely denser than the banana cake you normally get at some bakeries or from a box, I imagine. I really liked it. And I loved the frosting. It's the frosting that went with Dorie's Perfect Party Cake, which I plan to make soon. It was really fluffy and was downright luminous. And at first I thought it was too sweet and I'd have to adjust the sugar when I make it again. But that sweetness really mellowed so I don't think I'll change a thing.
So, here's the rub....part of my reason for not being super excited about this creation is that I was defeated once again by chocolate. I had planned on filling two of the layers with a chocolate ganache because I love chocolate and banana. So I used another one of Dorie's recipes. I know! Another one from 'the book'. You really need to get this book. Well, since it was late and I really needed to get this cake together and decorated and I couldn't wait for the ganache to thicken up naturally, I decided to speed up the process. I placed the bowl of ganach inside a bowl of ice water and kept stirring. It was taking awhile, but it finally started to thicken to almost spreading consistency. I took the bowl out of the ice water, continued to stir for a bit and everything seemed to be coming off without a hitch. I set the bowl of ganache aside to gather the cake layers and frosting to start assembling. When I returned to the ganache it was a solid mass with these air bubbles in it and it seemed to be separating. It was a mess. Not the beautiful dark ganache I was hoping for. Completely me anyway. So my quest to master chocolate continues.....

Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake
from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours"

  • 2 2/3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg ( i didn't use freshly grated)
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar, or granulated sugar (i used dark)
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Rum or Malibu Coconut Rum (optional)
  • About 4 Very Ripe Bananas, mashed (you should have 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup Canned unsweetened Coconut Milk, Regular (stir well before measuring) or "Lite" (or whole milk, buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt) [I used Stoneyfield Farm's Vanilla Yogurt)
The following is optional:
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, preferably toasted (or an equal amount of moist, plump dried fruit, such as currants, raisins, chopped apricots, cranberries, blueberries or halved cherries, or a combination of coconut and dried fruit) [I didn't use any of this]

Center a rack in the oven an preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2 inch round cake pans, dust the sides 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 bater. 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 3 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 evenlybetween 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.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
  • [I substituted heavy cream for the lemon juice]
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate -- just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice (cream), waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then vanilla. you should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. [and you will!] Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercrream and set side briefly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey neighbor! I live in NW IN also, St. John to be specific. Welcome to the Daring Bakers.