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Food Friendly May: Let Us Eat Cake | Manolo for the Big Girl

Food Friendly May: Let Us Eat Cake

My friends, this is the final weekend of this particular May, and so tomorrow will mark the end of my Food Friendly May posts. That means it’s definitely time to roll out the desserts! I’ve had cake on my mind a lot of late, so I thought today I’d share one of my favorite cake recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. This is the recipe that makes me dance gleefully in the fruit and vegetable aisle of my friendly neighborhood grocery store when really, really ripe bananas go on mega-sale. In fact, it’s been known to produce drooling of a Pavlovian nature when I tell friends ‘bananas were on sale today,’ because they know what wonders lie in wait when they come to visit.

Cordon Rose Banana Cake:

(all ingredients should be at room temperature before you start)

2 large, ripe bananas (approximately 1 Cup, mashed)

2Tablespoons sour cream (for extra moistness, you can actually use as much as 1/2 Cup, and I tend to be generous on this because I like my cake moist)

2 Large eggs

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 Cups sifted cake flour

3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine banana and sour cream until smooth (Beranbaum specifies using a food processor, but I don’t have one. I’ve found that simply using a fork or even a hand held potato masher produces perfectly good – nay, excellent – results). Add eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and blend gently.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds just to blend. Add the butter and 1/2 the banana mixture. Mix on low speed just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and strengthen the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining banana mixture in 2 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the mixture into a prepared 9 inch by 2 inch baking pan or 9 inch springform pan (greased, bottom lined with parchment or waxed paper, greased again and dusted lightly with flour) and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should only start to shrink from the sides of the pan after it’s removed from the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Then using a small, metal spatula, loosen the sides and unmold or remove the sides of the springform pan. If freezing, allow cake to cool completely before wrapping airtight. May be frozen for up to two months.

Of course, most of us – being of sound mind and eager taste buds – will probably want to frost and serve this one right away. Luckily, the very same book contains a recipe for the world’s easiest frosting, which just happens to compliment the banana cake above perfectly.

Sour Cream Ganache:

(ingredients should be room temperature before you begin)

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 2/3 Cups sour cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or (easier and a lot less fussy) in the microwave. Remove from heat, add sour cream. Stir with a rubber spatula until uniform in color. If the mixture feels warm, transfer to cooler bowl. Frost cake…though this frosting can be kept for 3 days at room temperature, 3 weeks refrigerated, or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Serve on pretty plates like these I found over at cooking.com:

Peggy Karr Pansy Dessert Plate

6 Responses to “Food Friendly May: Let Us Eat Cake”

  1. Theda Bara May 24, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this and for including the oh so helpful hints. I have this book on order and am dying for it to arrive; this will help tide me over. Cheers!

  2. Twistie May 24, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    You’re welcome, Theda Bara! I know you’re going to love this book. It’s the first place I turn if I want or need to make a cake for any occasion. I’ve never had anything fail to turn out beautifully, and all Ms. Beranbaum’s hints have been invaluable in figuring out where I can and can’t make slight alterations to recipes. I’m a notorious tinkerer with recipes. Now I understand better why some tweaks on cake recipes work better than others.

    Now go commit banana cake! It’s beyond delicious.

  3. Theda Bara May 24, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    Thanks for the encouragement! It has been drummed into my head that cooking is an art while baking is a science. I passed my science classes only because I guessed correctly on enough multiple choice questions to pass with a flying D. I spurn baking like a would a rabid dog. However, I have set a goal for myself to learn how to make Strawberry Napoleons and figure I have to FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY, as the book says.

  4. Catherine May 24, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    I completely agree with Twistie–The Cake Bible is an amazing cookbook–I’ve been using it for years, and with consistently successful results!

  5. Leah May 27, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    Has anyone tried replacing the sour cream with yogurt? It’s just that I always have yogurt in the fridge, but rarely sour cream. I would think it’s fine in the cake recipe, since it’s for moisture and probably extra protein, but I’m not sure about the icing.

  6. Twistie May 27, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    Theda Bara, my feeling is that baking is an art where the science cannot be completely ignored. There’s still plenty of wiggle room once you know what the rules are and why they work. Feel free to experiment with things like an extra dash of spice or cocoa powder in nearly anything…but learn how the structure works before you start replacing one thing with another. It’s rarely impossible, but sometimes it means tweaking more than one thing before it will work out correctly.

    Leah, I think yogurt would work just fine in the cake – particularly if it’s full-fat yogurt. The sour cream is part of the moisture, but it also provides part of the fat. Of course, at a couple tablespoons it’s not that critical that it be fat. In the frosting, however, I think it might be a little thin in texture. You could wind up with a less firm ganache. Still, I do find the biggest negative about this particular ganache recipe is that you must work quickly when frosting the cake before the frosting gets too stiff to work and has to be warmed up slightly in the microwave. If you try it out, do give a shout and let us know how it worked.