Thursday, January 28, 2010

Even More Cake!: Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

New Year's weight loss resolutions be damned! I mean, it's almost February, right?

Pretty much all the credit for this cake goes to my friend, Meredith. She came up with it after having the Banana Cake at Momofuku Milk Bar, and decided to make a birthday cake out of it for her friend Cricket (best name ever). I was, at most, a consultant on this project, and yet, in the grand consultant tradition, I was richly compensated (in bourbon). Good deal.

The cake we made was a "trial run" for the actual birthday cake. This kind of thing is important when you're just making something up, or are intending to present your baked goods to someone else as a gift. No one likes an busted cake on their birthday.

To make the cake, Mer and I complied two recipes from Epicurious and made some changes:

For the cake we started with a Banana Layer Cake recipe from 1997, and for the frosting we started with the icing from a Hazelnut Cream Torte.

In what can only prove that a trial run is important, the banana cake recipe was entered incorrectly on the website, because, once we had added all the ingredients in, the "cake" was essentially had bread dough. Now, I do love banana bread, but Mer and I wanted a light, fluffy cake--a ladies cake if you will--and the tough mass staring up at us from the bowl was just not going to cut it (ha! get it! :(). We ended up adding an additional cup of buttermilk to the thing before the batter looked right. Amazingly, no one in the recipe comments even mentioned that a cup of buttermilk was missing! They must have all wanted dense, chewy lumberjack cakes.

Something I didn't realize until the cake was already pretty much eaten was that we were supposed to have put some liqueur in the frosting. Whoops! The truth is that by the time it was time to finish the frosting, we were a couple of Old Fashioneds deep (made with a splash of apricot brandy instead of sugar, yum!)so...I think we had the liquor taste covered.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Creme Frosting

2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; dust pans with flour.

Combine cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Mix mashed bananas, buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla in another medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Add dry ingredients alternately with banana mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter equally among prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tops are just beginning to color and tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Using small knife, cut around cakes to loosen; turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

For filling and frosting:
1 cup peanuts
2 cups chilled heavy cream
3 1/2 tbsp confectioners sugar
bittersweet chocolate, shaved, for toppings
1 banana, sliced, for decorating.
Make filling and frosting

Grind nuts in a food processor until they are chopped finely.

Beat 1 1/2 cups cream with the confectioners sugar with electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Chill until ready to assemble cake.
When you are ready to ice the cake, fold the ground nuts and remaining cream into the chilled mixture. Ice the cake, using half the banana slices on top of the icing between the layers. Decorate top with banana slices and chocolate shavings.

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