July 18, 2010

Fresh Banana Layer Cake

Friday afternoon, while O. was napping, I poured out some of the iced herbal tea I had made earlier this week, grabbed a cookbook and headed over to sit in the shade of our apricot tree to enjoy the hot afternoon.   I happened on this recipe and knowing there were ten somewhat overripe bananas in my kitchen I knew it was time to bake cake.

I was a little apprehensive first since I hadn't used a recipe straight from a cookbook for a long time. I mostly rely on online recipe sites and always read the reviews for modifications. I felt a little nervous but at the same time thoroughly enjoyed making the recipe while reading the cookbook instead of staring at one of my messy 3x5 notecards. 

I should do that more often. It was fun!

After some moments of frustrations with the frosting (it was over 100 degrees outside and my kitchen was getting there), I finally got the cake assembled. I couldn't wait for it to settle so I cut a slice right away. It was great, though really sweet. I may cut down the amount of sugar next time. Today, after letting it cool in the fridge overnight the sweetness hasn't been overwhelming anymore. I've tried it multiple times. Just to check.

I had some for breakfast. And for lunch. Oh, and dinner too. 

In fact, I am feeling a little hungry right now. 

Fresh Banana Layer Cake by Gourmet (with slight modifications)

For Cake Layers

2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs

For Frosting and Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (may need more for frosting that holds up)

2 to 3 large, ripe but firm bananas

Make the cake layers:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour cake pans (I used three 9x2 round cake pans, while the recipe calls for 8x2 round pans. Mine worked just fine), knocking out excess flour.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Whisk together mashed bananas, yogurt, and vanilla in a small bowl.
3. Beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Reduce speed to low and add flour and banana mixtures alternately in batches,beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until combined; do NOT over mix. (I used a spatula to fold in the last little bit.)
4. Divide batter evenly among pans and smooth tops. Bake until layers are springy to the touch and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool layers in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks to cool completely

Make the forsting/filling:
Beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt. Beat in sugar a little at a time, then beat until smooth.

Put a cake layer on a platter and spread top with a thin coating of frosting. Cut enough bananas into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices to cover cake and arrange in one layer, overlapping slightly. Top with a second cake layer, spread with another thin coating of frosting and top with layer of banana slices in same manner. Top with remaining cake layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

1. As noted, the original recipe called for 8-inch pans. I only had 9-inch pans and they worked just fine. The batter layer in the pans seems quite thin, but turned out just the right thickness for me once baked. Also, watch carefully so they won't overbake. They may take less time to bake than indicated in the recipe.
2. The forsting was quite runny while I was assembling the cake so I put it in the fridge for a moment to thicken. You could also add more powdered sugar to thicken it up. This would make it sweeter though. 
3. I never have plain yogurt or buttermilk in my fridge, so I usually just make my own buttermilk: 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to make 1 cup, let sit for 5 minutes and you are set! 
(For this recipe I just poured out 1/4 cup of milk and added a splash of vinegar. I didn't bother measuring, and it still turned out just fine)

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