Banana Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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I made a cake and layered it and frosted it! This is a slightly adapted recipe from the larger KitchenAid Cookbook, not the one that comes with the mixer. I bought this one for $12.99 quite some time ago. The copyright date is 1992. Sister had just baked the pumpkin bread from this book which made me get my copy out to peruse.

I have a large bag of slowly browning frozen bananas. I have never cooked with frozen bananas. I am never sure as to why they turn brown if I have supposedly frozen them in airtight bags. So I used some of them and now have half a bag of slowly browning frozen bananas.

Cake:

  • 2 1/3 cups flour; I used 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour in this amount.
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened or at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 frozen bananas to be about 1 1/4 cups mashed
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk; I only had 1/2 cup so added water to top it off
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped walnuts

I used the directions with the speed and timing for the KitchenAid stand mixer. So basically, sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl. Make a well and add the butter, banana, and 1/3 cup buttermilk. Beat to mix (Stir Speed for 30 seconds). Stop, scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 4 (high but not too high) and beat one minute. Add remaining buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs. Speed 2 for 30 seconds; stop and scrape; Speed 4 for one minute. Add 1/2 cup of the nuts at Stir Speed just until blended.

Pour batter into two 9-inch cake pans. I prepared the pans with parchment paper and sprayed that with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks.

Thoughts while making this…I often think that I should use my 8-inch cake pans in order to get taller layers. But the recipe said 9-inch. Sister told me she always doubles the nuts in her recipes so I did too. But I decided to put the extra nuts on top. While this was baking I hunted for my stash of cookie cutters thinking I had a maple leaf. I don’t. I was thinking of flavoring the frosting with maple syrup. I did not. I have always just used Speed 2 for mixing cake batters. But now I can go higher. Interesting.

For the frosting I also used the Speed and timing. This is very important for making fluffy frosting. Who knew?

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the butter at Speed 6 for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Sift powdered sugar into bowl. I got out my sifter and actually did sift the sugar into the bowl. I do not use the sifter very often at all. Add vanilla. Speed 2 for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape. Then Speed 6 for two minutes. Voila, fluffy, spreadable frosting. Frost cake after it cools. I found some prepared icing gel tubes and thought I would be fancy. I dream of decorating fancy cakes. Not the most intricate of designs, nor was it as easy as I thought it would be.

But the test is in the taste. And this was very tasty and moist. I took a large portion of it to work so as not to eat a whole cake this week. Everyone raved about it. This recipe will be marked as a keeper.

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Banana cake: baking season returns!

September has brought cooler weather. At least for a day or two. Never mind that the forecast shows 90s by the end of the week! Meanwhile I turn on the oven and bake a cake.

Ohiocook sends us over to the diabetic living website to check out dessert recipes. And there is this cake first thing: cinnamon banana cake with chocolate ganache: Cinnamon-Banana Cake

I have frozen bananas, cinnamon, whole wheat pastry flour, so here goes. I follow the recipe exactly except for the dark chocolate in the ganache because, for some reason, I don’t have dark chocolate in the house. Oh well, life in my kitchen must go on.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup mashed bananas; I used 2 whole frozen bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup non-fat milk; I used cashew milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the dry ingredients. Mix all the wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients all at once and mix till combined.

Oh, you would have preheated the oven to 325 F  and have generously greased a Bundt cake pan. Spread evenly in the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. Mine took 50 minutes. I thought it would take longer because of the frozen bananas but it was a good looking cake at 50 minutes. Let cool completely and then frost with ganache.

I had to rescue the ganache! The ganache was made with 3 ounces German sweet chocolate and 1/4 cup half and half. Melt the chocolate and stir in the half and half. Well, this was a grainy mess. Very unappealing! Somewhere I remember in my cookbook rambling that chocolate could seize and there was something the cook could do about it. The internet is a life saver for modern day cooks. In the olden days one could call up the grandmother or even ask a neighbor over the back fence what to do, but not in these times. So I put “rescue the ganache” into the search engine and voila! First aid arrived. All the sites said the same thing: heat up a low fat milk and slowly incorporate that into the split ganache. Something about water molecules, etc., would solve the problem. And it did!

Here’s the final product. It looks very much like the picture from the recipe website. How often does that happen?

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This cake is not too sweet and Hubby and the ganache complements it well. Yum!

Banana Muffins

I was reviewing the variety of foodstuffs I have blogged about and did not find any on muffins. I have a whole section in one of my recipe notebooks devoted to muffins. This is because I used to always have a batch  of muffins baked and ready to be grabbed for a quick bite to eat as family members started their day. When I was “dieting”, the recipes I would try would be low-fat, chock full of vegetables, made with applesauce, made with whole wheat flour, etc. But now that it is just Hubby and I in the mornings, I haven’t really made muffins on a regular basis. Shall I remedy that situation?

There are two cookbooks that I use for a basic muffin, my Betty Crocker Cookbook and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. In Betty Crocker the muffin recipe is on page 199. Bittmans’ is almost the exact same recipe but giving suggestions for using melted butter or oil. The amounts of milk differ by 1/4 cup.

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On this day I have two very ripe bananas that need to be used. I have never used frozen bananas in baking, just in smoothies. These bananas will need to be used or frozen. I decide to make muffins. I use the Bittman recipe, page 832, using the variation for Banana-Nut Muffins.

  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil (Oh my! As I am writing this it occurs to me that I left this out COMPLETELY!)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • scant 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 very ripe medium sized bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I did not have regular milk in the house and did not want to open the new carton of half-and-half and did not think that chocolate cashew milk would be appropriate. But now that I think about it, hmmm?)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. I whisk these around with a whisk. Mash bananas in another bowl. Add milk to equal 1 cup. My two bananas were just about a cup as they were. I added a bit of coconut milk at that time and then a little more to the batter because it looked so dry. See note above about the melted butter to know why!

To the dry ingredients I added 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/4 cup chocolate chips. I like stuff in my muffins! I put the egg in the wet ingredients and mixed that up. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once and stirred until incorporated. This looked dry so I added a splash more of the coconut milk.

I sprayed the muffin pan with cooking spray. Preheated the oven to 375 F. Portioned the batter into the muffin pan. This made eleven, not twelve. Baked these for 20 minutes. They smelled nice and came out of the pan perfectly.

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I  serve two for Hubby and me. They are light and fluffy even with whole wheat flour. And they look nice and taste good, too.

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Conclusion: I think the banana acted as an adequate substitute/replacement for the fat in the original recipe.

Lesson to learn: Mise en Place

Dream job: test kitchen cook!

Here’s a picture of the cats. banana bars 008

Just a random picture I decided to throw in.

I have gained 3-4 pounds since I have been back to baking and not deliberately thinking about calories, portion control, healthy foods, and not eating what is enjoyable. I will just have to start giving away the baked goods.

I finally found something enjoyable. I have been baking but have not been completely satisfied with the outcomes. I made that coffee cake and although it was nice right out of the oven with coffee on the lazy morning, it sat on the counter the rest of the week. Well, part of it did. I took half of it to work and my coworkers ate that half. But the rest just sat there. I admit I nibbled at the Crumble (topping) and sent pieces to work with the hubby but that was more like obligation. I baked bread which is fabulous right out of the oven spread with butter, eaten with dinner, but any leftover sits there in the breadbox. I was not happy with the sourdough bread that I made the other weekend, other than freshly baked. The loaf or boule did not rise well. I baked “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” and this was fabulous right out of the oven too. But hubby and I did not gorge ourselves on it and now there is a small piece of this boule sitting along side the sourdough in the bread box. They are not light enough to use in a bread pudding type dish. I may just throw them in the freezer for breadcrumbs or croutons at some future date as long as I don’t clean out the freezer and dispose of them.

I HATE to throw away food!

Banana bars: This is another effort to bake through the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook. These are on page 356. Not willing to leave well enough alone, I use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat, and I add walnuts and leave out the poppy seeds.

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I chose this recipe because I had three over ripe bananas providing their fragrance to my kitchen. I am not sure what it is about KAF but here is another banana recipe that adds cornmeal to the batter.

So I mix all this up and spread it in the pan to bake. Just for fun, I sprinkle some Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Chips on top.

banana bars 010Voila, banana brownies! And these are tasty. I send half of them to work with hubby to prevent me from eating them all and gaining even more pounds!

They are tasty with a glass of cold milk.

This is all well and good but as I mentioned earlier I do not leave well enough alone. I am thinking “pumpkin”. I have about three-quarters of a can of pumpkin in the fridge. This is leftover from a pumpkin smoothie trial earlier this week. I can substitute pumpkin for the banana. Why not? I would need to add spices too.

So here’s “my recipe”. (There may be some pumpkin bar recipe out there so I am not really claiming to invent this. It is my adaptation of the KAF recipe.)

Cream one stick butter with 2/3 cup packed brown sugar and one egg. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and the pumpkin. (an entire can or 3/4 of a can).Whisk dry ingredients together in separate bowl: 1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour, 1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 Cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Stir in dry ingredients and mix just til blended. Now stir in 1/2 Cup raisins and 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts. Spread in 10 x 14 jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

This batter was dryer and more difficult to spread and smooth than the banana bars. But with patience I managed to get it spread. I sprinkled it with chocolate chips and baked it in a 350 oven for 22 minutes.

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These have a slightly lumpier appearance and chewier texture. They turned out pretty good. Cool!