Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Mr. Banana Legs" by Cakelove

Here is the second attempt at the Banana Cake from Cakelove; this time i followed the recipe to the letter AND used my NEW KITCHEN SCALE!!! And really, why would you dirty all those cup measures when you could just pour everything into a bowl on a scale?

This cake lived up to the hype- it was lighter and more cake-like than any banana baked good I've ever had. Also, I discovered Rum Flavored Italian Meringue Buttercream, which may be the best thing I've ever had in my mouth. True story.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 min


AP flour: 10 oz (or 2 cups)
potato starch: 1 T (I found this in this "healthy" section of Kroger, near the bulk grains.)
turbinado sugar: 1 T (I used Sugar in the Raw)
salt: 1/2 t
baking soda: 1/4 t
nutmeg: 1 whole (I used ground, not sure how much it is supposed to be)

* Mix these ingredients together and set aside

6 oz very ripe bananas (the book claims this is three, but according to my NEW KITCHEN SCALE, it is not quite 2. I went with the weight rather than number of bananas.)
3/4 cup half and half
1 T dark rum

* Blend or food process these ingredients for 30 sec or until smooth and set aside

6 oz (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened.
21 oz (or 2 3/4 cup) extra fine sugar
4 large eggs
3 large egg yolks


Cream the butter and sugar together at low speed until pale and fluffy, 3-5 min. Add the eggs and yolks one by one, blending fully between each. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients, in three to five additions. Add them quickly, don't bother waiting until each is fully blended. Do it in about one minute. Then blend at medium speed for 15-20 sec to "develop the batter's structure."

Spray the bottom of two 9 in cake pans, and divide the batter between the two. Bake until a skewer comes out clean, and remove from oven. Let cool for 30 min before removing from pan. Let cool completely, and refridge until ready to use.

Meanwhile, prepare the ganache and frosting. For the Ganache, as always, heat one part heavy cream then pour in 1.5 parts chocolate, let melt, and stir til smooth.

Then move onto the FANTASTIC FROSTING. And if you have a mixer, so easy.

1-1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
5 large egg whites
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, softened
3 T rum, or whatever other flavor you want to use.

In a small saucepan with a lid, combine 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water. Stir thoroughly and put the lid on. Heat at medium-high heat while you put 5 large egg whites in your mixer. Whip these up into stiff peaks, which should on take a minute or two.
Keep an eye on your sugar. You don't want it to turn golden, but you do want it to reach the temperature of 245. I don't have a candy thermometer, so I wait til I think it's about to turn gold. Is it the best system? Probably not. Has it worked so far? Absolutely.
When stiff peaks form in the eggs, add 1/4 cup sugar, while the mixer is running. When the sugar in the pan is hot enough, slowly add the syrup to the egg whites, again, while the mixer is running.
Reduce the speed to medium and run for about 5 min, until the mixture has cooled.
Add the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. When all is added, increase the mixer speed to high again for a couple minutes to make sure the frosting is smooth. Add your flavor, in this case, RUM:) Aaand you're done!

To assemble:
Remove the cake from the fridge, and doctor it up with a knife. You might want to rub off all the brown parts- the overdone crumbs. You might want to cut off the top of on of the cakes for an even layer.

Then brush the tops of each layer with Chocolate Ganache, and put sliced bananas on what will be the bottom layer. Put these in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the chocolate so it's easier to spread the frosting on it without making choco-streaking frosting.

When it's ready, spread a thick layer of meringue on the bottom layer, and then place the top layer. Spread a thin "crumb coat" of frosting over the entire cake, to seal in any troublesome crumbs. Refrigerate or freeze for 5 or so more minutes to harden the coat.

Finally, spread the meringue all over the cake, making interesting textures or keeping it smooth. And you're done!

Final Thoughts:

1. DEFINITELY serve this cake at room temp. The frosting becomes harder and somehow brittle when cold. It is a constant conundrum that the cakes at the restaurant have to be stored in the cold case, and so are not served at the optimal taste temperature.
2. The cake, the ganache and the frosting are all amazing, phenomenal, even when they exist by themselves. When combined, there is somewhat of a disconnect. To me (and Eric, who usually declines to comment on such things), they don't exactly complement each other- the frosting is very light, but does fight for attention with the denser cake. So maybe you and I can find different uses for these delicious elements. That said, it's still a great cake and worth the time and the calories.

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