Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cleaning the Freezer Part 1: Banana Cake with Caramel Espresso Frosting

banana cake2

As anyone who have moved before can attest, moving to a new place is a hassle. It often involves lots of packing and cleaning.All the clothes,books and other stuffs that one may have well forgotten their existence until being confronted in the most unlikely places. I have to confess that we haven't done much on the packing part. Mostly because we think (1) We still have time (2)We don't have many things to pack (3) I may still need to use that pan/book/CD or wear that jeans/sweather/coat/shirt.

However, I have certainly made some progress with the cleaning part. Cleaning out the freezer that is. There was some scone dough that I baked for OCT to munch on during his busy lab day, and chocolate hazelnut sables dough that I sliced and baked to bring to a dinner party. As I reached deeper into the freezer, there was a bag of bananas. I know I am going to make a batch of my favorite banana bread to bring with us to Atlanta. And the rest would have to be used in other recipes.

banana cake

Like the banana cake with caramel espresso frosting from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book . I have made so many recipes from this book that makes the purchase worthwhile! If you may kindly divert your eyesight from my horrible frosting, I would love to tell you more about this cake.

Moistened with 3 large bananas and 1/2 cup of non-fat yogurt, and flavored with ground cardamom and ground cinnamon, this banana cake is wholesome on its own, without the frosting.

Having said that, the frosting is definitely one not to be missed! Imagine caramel made from scratch, combined with espresso powder and lots of butter using the french buttercream method. I was full of anticipation as I watched eagerly at the candy thermometer as the temperature rose to the desired degree. And then the caramel was slowly poured into the egg mixture in the mixer. A few seconds of mixing, followed by more caramel pouring, and more mixing later, the kitchen smells like a candy store. Some sticks of butter later, it turned out to be a luscious caramel espresso buttercream that gild right down one's throat.

banana cake with caramel frosting

Honestly, although the cake is great, I think the buttercream is the reason one should give this cake a try. Unfortunately, for the same reason, I decided to use as much buttercream on the cake as possible. Hence explains the catastrophic appearance of the cake. Can you tell from the piping that I was trying to squeeze in all the buttercream onto the cake?

I was really happy when I learned from one of the tasters that the cake was devored within 5 minutes when it made its appearance in the meeting. That shows I am not the only one who doesn't care about the apperance of food, as long as it tastes nice! :D

Want more recipes with bananas?

Banana Chiffon Cake
Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze
Hummingbird Cake

Banana Cake with Caramel Espresso Frosting
adapted from The Cake Book

for the banana cake:
2.5 cups cake flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
0.25 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
0.25 teaspoon ground cardamom
1.5 cups mashed bananas, from about 3 large bananas
1/2 cup nonfat yogurt (the original recipe uses sour cream)
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
0.5 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnut/pecan (i used walnut)

Caramel Espresso Buttercream:
(This recipe yields 5 cups of buttercream, I halved it to save some calories and it has enough frosting to cover the cake)

1.25 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown, because that's what I have on hand)
1.25 cups (300ml)heavy cream
0.5 cup light corn syrup
0.25 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

To make the banana cakes:
Position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pan, and dust with flour.

Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom into a medium bowl, whish to combine and set aside.

Combine the yogurt and mashed banana in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, and add in the oil, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat at high speed until creamy and light, about 3 minutes. At medium speed, add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract. At low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the banana mixture, and mixing until blended.

Stir in the walnut/pecan by hand and divide the batter into two prepared pans. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Note: The cake can be made in advanced and store unfrosted at room temperature, covered with foil for up to 5 days.

To make the caramel espresso buttercream:

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup and salt to cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and increase the heat to high.

Meanwhile in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with te whisk attachment, begin beating the eggs at medium speed. When the sugar syrup reaches 225F on a candy thermometer, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 238F.

Remove the pan from the heat and with the mixer off, immediately pour about 1/4 cup of the hot syrup over the beaten eggs. Beat at high speed until blended, about 10 seconds. Turn the mixer off and add another 1/4 cup syrup. Beat at high speed for another 10 seconds. Repeat this process until all the syrup is used. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat at medium high speed until the egg mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes. When you touch the mixing bowl, it should be cold.

At medium speed, beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla extract and coffee mixture, increase the speed to medium high and beat the buttercream until it is smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes.

The buttercream can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 hours, or refrigerate for up to a week; bring to room temperature before using.


test it comm said...

That cake looks so good! I have a bunch of ripe bananas in my freezers just looking for a new home.

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Omg! Could your cake look any more beautiful?? I think the frosting is really pretty, and sounds addicting!

Piggy said...

wow!! the cake looks very yummy indeed. And the making of frosting part sounds exciting!

Anne said...

The cake is beautiful!...and since it's from Tish Boyle then it must be delicious! The Cake Book is my ultimte reference for cake...I'm an avid fan of Tish Boyle :) Since you love chocolate I think you should try Brooklyn Blackout Cake...I assure you you'll love it :)

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

this sounds like a lot of work but tt caramel frosting must be so soft n heavenly. n yes, i can see u used all ur frosting:) those lucky ppl who got to eat this cake..!

Anonymous said...

don't you love finding baking possibilities in your fridge?! banana cakes are one of the best kinds because they are never dry and work well with many kinds of frosting.

Finla said...

Wow beautiful cake and delicious too

Mari said...

I've had banana cake on the brain recently, but the caramel espresso frosting, takes it to a whole new level. De-lish!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I can help you out cleaning your fridge if you need it. ;)
What a wonderful cake, Mandy!

Anonymous said...

I wish a cake like that comes out of my freezer when I clean it ;)
It looks so delicious!

Cecilia said...

I think that the cake looks yummy, especially with all of that frosting. Once I get some bananas to stay in my house long enough to really ripen, I'll have to try out this recipe.

Deborah said...

Oh, your decorating skills are miles better than mine!! What an amazing cake!

cakewardrobe said...

I usually have a pretty good hand but trust me, when it comes to frosting, I'm like a kindergartener writing letters for the first time. People would surely forget about the appearance once they take a bite into that delicious looking cake of yours! :)

Dwiana P said...

caramel espresso frosting, wow that sounds delish!! speaking about packing and moving, oh no... I hate that so much! I always think that I don't have a lot of stuff but when I start to pack it ends up with tons of boxes:(
anyway happy moving:)

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Coffee and banana in a moist cake? I'm there!! If that's what comes out of your kitchen when you clean up, I'd like to be your neighbor for sure!

Helene said...

Moving sucks but in your case it makes me happy because we are going to be real close....just a skip and a hope from Charleston lady!!
The cake sounds so good, coffee and bananas are a great combo! Looks awesome!

Mandy said...

It will be interesting to see what you do with the bananas. :)

thanks!I feel better about that frosting now.

yes! I enjoy making the frosting, feel like doing experiment in the lab. :p

same here, love her recipes.

hahaha, I think my effort was not wasted. The buttercream was delicious, but definitely not for daily consumption.

I 100% agree.

happy cook,
thanks! the piping is not as good as yours! ;p

mevrouw cupcake,

thanks Sweetie!I wish you stayed next door.

hahaha, i am sure you can make it happen.

let me know how it works for you if you try it.

thanks! But I don't think mine is miles better than yours!

kindergarten handwriting is the essence of my piping skills. luckily the recipients didn't seem to mind that. :)

thanks for the well wishes, i will try my best to be happy in the packing and moving process. chocolate helps.

I want to be your neighbor too. I suspect I would lost the motivation to bake if I stayed close to you, since there's always desserts around!

YES! We are going to be real close after the move. :)

Anna said...

Huh, I didn't even know you could freeze bananas! I'll definitely be making this, it looks yummy.

Tish Boyle said...

I just read your blog entry about my banana cake with caramel espresso frosting, and it really cracked me up--I think your cake is just beautiful and I'm thrilled that it was a hit at your meeting. Keep on baking!! Best, Tish B.

Mandy said...

thanks Tish! I am really honored by your visiting my blog. Love your recipes!

Anonymous said...

First of all, I think you did a superb job frosting the cake. I came across your blog when looking for ways to decorate a cake using fresh bananas (I've got a banana fosters cake I make that I'm trying to make pretty and I was looking for ideas). Google picked you up on bananas and cake - the caramel is a coincidence. Anyway, I thought how pretty your cake was in the thumbnail which is why I clicked in the first place.

Secondly, it's time consuming but successful - when I didn't have time to do a crumb coat I used a piping bag to pipe the basic layer of frosting around the cake, up the sides of the cake. Slowly but surely you get it done. Then, with a very delicate touch you smooth it out, removing some of the icing that you've piped on. Anyway, it works very nicely and uses more frosting than your average icing job would. Just thought I'd mention it since you'd said you were TRYING to use all the frosting you could.

Anonymous said...

Hello, the banana cake part turns out really good. I have trouble, however, at the part when adding the butter. It starts to curdle... is this due to the temperature difference between the mixture and butter? I tried twice and got the same result. But your icing turned out amazing, very nice.

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