Friday, February 15, 2013

Bananas Foster Layer Cake

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I have a confession. When I surf online and come across gorgeous pictures of cakes, I have this desire to make them... but the amount of work involved in baking, cutting cakes in layers, frosting and decorating just makes the whole ordeal so overwhelming. So I end up bookmarking the cake recipe for eye candy versus any intention of making it. Well, that is until now. Now, after learning about a faster, easier and more efficient way to make a cake, I'm going to need to shuffle through those links of cakes and actually make them... like really make them! But before I go on to share my 'cake making revelation,' let me just say that this Bananas Foster Layer Cake was amazing. I made this cake to take to my friend's Cajun inspired potluck a couple weeks ago. Layers banana cake are kissed with a touch of rum that's topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting, drizzled with caramel and garnished with toasted almond slices. Let them eat cake I say! Let them eat cake!...

So let's just cut to the chase. Making a layered cake is not hard... that is if you use some shortcuts. From Cook's Illustrated magazine, I found a recipe for an Easy Layer Carrot Cake {which I made but will share in another future post}. Essentially the cake batter was baked on a large baking sheet. Doing so gives you one flat, thin sheet cake that takes less time to bake compared to using regular cake pans. Secondly, having one large sheet cake to work with makes it easy to cut the into 4 layers... by quartering the cake. After quartering, you now have 4 equal sized layers that you can stack and frost accordingly. Voila... Easy layer cake!

After learning and trying this out on a carrot cake, I went on to apply it to a banana cake. After making the banana cake, I brushed on some Captain Morgan rum and began frosting it with cream cheese frosting and a drizzle of caramel topping. It was seriously amazing. The Baron was especially pleased, as was all the guests at my friend's Cajun potluck dinner. But for me, the best part was knowing a different way to approach cake recipes and assembling. Baking the cake in one large sheet cake then cutting it in quarters makes for easy layering!



Bananas Foster Layer Cake
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated
            

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour or 245 grams gluten free flour blend*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar (8-3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups mashed ripe bananas

1/4 cup rum {Captain Morgan's}
Set a rack to the middle of your oven and preheat to 350-degrees. Grease an 18”x 13” rimmed baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and then grease the parchment paper too.  
In a medium bowl, add together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Whisk together until combined.

In another large bowl add sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Use a whisk to combine until smooth. Gently stir in mashed bananas with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed. Finally, add in flour mixture and fold in with your rubber spatula, but only until it is just combined.


Transfer batter onto baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to smooth surface and ensure the batter is an even depth. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating half-way through baking, until the center is firm when touched.


Allow cake to cool for 5 minutes in pan set on a wire rack. Flip the cake onto a wire rack then immediately re-flip back onto a second wire rack. The cake should be resting with the parchment side down. Allow the cake to cool for another 30 minutes and brush the top of the cake with rum.


Frosting ingredients:

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar (12 ounces)
1/3 cup buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces cream cheese (1-1/2 packages), cold & cut into 1 tablespoon portions
1/2 cup caramel topping
2 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted (8 ounces)

While the cake is cooking, toast your pecans and chop them coarsely. Cut your cream cheese into 12 equal-size pieces, but keep it refrigerated until you are ready to use in step 3.


Add the butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla extract and salt to the bowl of a standing mixer. 

Mix using the paddle attachment on low-speed for 2 minutes; scrape down the bowl as necessary.
Increase mixer speed to medium-low, then add cream cheese one piece at a time. Mix for 2 minutes until the frosting is smooth.






To Finish:


Put cooled cake on a cutting board and cut into equal halves cross-wise. Cut length-wise so that you have 4 equal pieces, measuring about 6″x8″ each.
Cut out a 6″x8″ rectangle out of stiff cardboard. Put the first of the cake piece on the cardboard. Use a spatula to spread 2/3-cup of frosting over layer. Drizzle with caramel topping. Repeat with two more layers.


Place the final cake layer on top. Remove any crumbs from your spatula and frost the top with a 1-cup of frosting.
Frost the sides of the cake with your remaining frosting. You just need enough frosting to hold the chopped pecans, not completely hide all the crumbs.

Holding the cake with one hand, use your other hand to gently press the chopped almonds onto the side of your cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving and serve with additional caramel topping if desired.
*Gluten free flour blend:

This is the best combination for my personal uses and has never failed me. I purchased a majority of the ingredients at an Asian market (at less than $.99/lb) and the other ingredients marked were Bob Red Mill brand. Cornstarch was Argo brand.

300 grams superfine brown rice flour (Bob's Red Mill)
250 grams sweet rice flour (Asian market)
150 grams tapioca flour (Asian market)
100 grams sorghum flour (Bob's Red Mill)
100 grams potato starch (Asian market)
100 grams cornstarch (Argo brand)


Whisk together the above flours and store in an air tight container. To use, measure out 140 grams for every cup called for in your favorite baking recipe (NOT yeast bread recipes.) Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for every cup used in the recipe as well to help with texture and binding. Voila! You can bake gluten free with confidence!
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