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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Banana Layer Cake--We Have a Winner!

As promised, I tried again to make the banana layer cake I was imagining: moist, with a strong banana flavor, but not dense like a quickbread. I wanted something rich enough not to cry out for whipped cream or ice cream or any kind of sauce, and I thought it would be nice if chocolate played a role in there somewhere. Eureka. Today I made the Banana Layer Cake recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook (you know, the big yellow one, with the retarded yellow ink color for the internal titling). It turns out a three-layer banana cake with cream cheese frosting and banana slices in the filling. I made it pretty much by the book, with a little less sugar in the frosting, and added a layer of chocolate ganache in the filling on top of the banana slices. It was divine, if possibly a little too rich. You won't want a big slab of this one.
Banana Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Banana-Ganache Filling
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Ganache Filling:

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or I use chocolate that comes in pastilles, so no chopping required)
6 1/2 oz heavy cream

Put chocolate and cream in a glass bowl and microwave on high for one minute. Stir well, then microwave for 30 more seconds and stir until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and glossy, microwaving for an additional 30 seconds if absolutely necessary. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until room temperature and thick enough to spread easily but not drip or ooze, using refrigerator judiciously to hurry process.

Cake:

2 1/4 C sifted cake flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1/4 C plain whole-milk yogurt (I prefer Brown Cow)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350, and prepare three round cake pans (the original recipe calls for 8-inch pans, but I used 9-inch pans and got thinner layers in less time). Sift flour into measuring cups, then stir together with baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Mash bananas in a small bowl, then whisk in yogurt and vanilla. Set aside both bowls.

Beat butter and sugar at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternate adding flour and banana mixtures, starting and ending with flour and mixing at low speed just to combine, scraping sides of bowl often.

Divide batter evenly among pans and smooth tops. Bake, switching positions of pans mid-way through for even cooking, 18-22 minutes, until just springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean (15-18 minutes for 9-in layers). Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes, then invert layers onto racks to cool completely.


Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
2 1/2-3 C powdered sugar

4 ripe but firm bananas

Beat butter and cream cheese in stand mixture with whisk attachment until light and fluffy, 6-7 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt, then gradually add sugar, scraping sides of bowl often, until thoroughly blended and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, put one layer, top side down, on cake plate. Put waxed paper under edges of cake to keep plate clean. Spread top of cake with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting, just enough to cover. Slice bananas thinly on the diagonal and arrange slices in a spiral pattern almost to edges of cake. Top bananas with half the ganache, and spread to within 1/2 inch of the edge (not flush with the edge as shown in the picture below--I had more ooze out the sides than would have been ideal). Repeat with second layer, then place third layer on top.





Spread sides of cake with a thin crumb layer of cream cheese frosting to contain filling and keep chocolate streaks from appearing. Refrigerate cake 1/2 hour to firm up crumb layer before proceeding.


Spread a nice 1/4" layer of frosting around the sides of the cake using a straight spatula, then scrape remaining frosting onto top of cake and smoothe to edges.


Refrigerate an hour or two to firm everything up, then serve.



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3 Comments:

Blogger Sara said...

Oh, I think I would want a big slab of this cake. Looks good.

April 23, 2009 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Swizzies said...

Looks awesome, aside from all the bananas. ;-P

April 27, 2009 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Cafe Johnsonia said...

Yum. I can't wait to make this!

May 2, 2009 at 7:29 AM  

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