Happy 1st Birthday Blog! I cannot believe how fast this year flew by. I also cannot believe I didn't blow up like a whale baking all these desserts. Want to know the secret? I get the sweets out of the house as soon as possible. Sharing is caring. Sharing also means you don't need stretchy pants. I think it may also have to do with the fact that I have become overly exposed to sweets so you tend to lose the 'oh-I-must-finish-this-before-anyone-asks-for-a-bite' mentality. I am also a big believer in moderation. I hate the guilt you feel after consuming large amounts of anything...except alcohol...booze is fine and in it's own category.
To recap, here's a run-down of what I've learned in my first year of experimentation and testing new recipes that I may have never attempted in the past:
Never, ever turn your back on caramel boiling on the stove. That b*itch will turn on you in a second. I still have burned caramel that I CANNOT get off the range. I even tried grill-degreaser...nada. It's with me for life. Or at least until we move.
All chocolate is not equal. Ikea chocolate is bad, bad, news. Ikea is for dorm room furniture and cheap ice cream cones, and that's it. My new favorite brand of chocolate I tested this year is Vivani. Not only is it organic but it had such a pleasant mouth feel and taste. It melted beautifully and really did offer a over-all better quality to my desserts. (If you live in Dubai, you can find Vivani at Organic Foods or Geant in the health foods isle.)
The same goes for high quality heavy cream. President is best. When whipped, this cream will hold for days. And days. And more days. Because of it superior quality often times I don't even add sugar when whipping as its decadent taste and 'fluffiness' stands on its own.
My kitchen scale has now become my BBF. I didn't even own one until I started this blog. Now it's the first thing I pull out when I start a recipe. However I mostly use it to measure out butter as the butter sold here doesn't come in handy 1/2 cup sticks like we have in the US. But I do also use it to weigh chocolate and also when I'm baking layer cakes to confirm the pans are equal.
And some memorable moments of the past year:
I was baking a pie, maybe the Chewy Nut Tart, and had to line the crust with dried beans to do a 'blind bake' before adding the filling. My husband walks in the kitchen as says 'oh, bean pie, huh?' silly husband, he was totally serious.
After spending a day in the kitchen making God knows what, I finally go plop on the sofa next to the hubby to relax and he says to me 'you smell like cake.' Well, it could be worse.
After realizing I was short on chocolate while preparing ganache, I made a quick mad dash to the store to pick up supplies. It wasn't until I was on way home that I realized I had melted chocolate all over my cheek. Nice. Yes, I do lick the spoon. Only once I'm done with it, of course.
My son Mateo, who is now 18 months can say cookie. And cake. I am trying to teach him 'Martha Stewart' but that's probably too many syllables. And lastly, the other day at the grocery store we were next to the bakery counter and he pointed to a cake and said 'mamma.' Damn straight.
Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Filling & Chocolate Ganache Frosting (aka Bananas Cake)
Makes one 8" cake with three tiers
For the Cake:
3 cups cake flour (or 3 cups all purpose flour MINUS 3 tablespoons)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon well shaken buttermilk
For the Peanut Butter Filling:
2 ounces unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (60-72%), finely chopped
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
For the Ganache (to be poured on top of the chocolate ganache frosting):
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Chopped salted peanuts for garnish
To prepare the cake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans.
Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Here is a little trick to help speed up cutting out all those circles. First, trace the bottom of your pan:
Then fold the paper in half, lining up either side of the circle.
Fold into quarters, again lining up the edge of the circle.
Simply cut along this one line and that's it!
Butter the parchment paper and then dust with flour and knock out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Whisk to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (the mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl). Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 10-15 seconds after each addition, until the egg is incorporated into the mixture.
Turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla and bananas, and beat until incorporated. (If the mixture appears curdled, keep beating slowly until the mixture looks like it is coming back together.)
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat 10 to 15 seconds, or until incorporated after each addition.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and use an offset spatula to smooth the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 35-45 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.
To prepare the chocolate ganache frosting, place both chocolates in the bowl of a standing mixer.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil, then remove from the heat and immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes.
Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way to the edges, whisk the chocolate mixture by hand until it is completely smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Returning the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, gradually add the butter to the chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. The frosting should be completely smooth and have a silky look.
To prepare the peanut butter filling, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat on medium low speed until just combined.
Always sift your confectioners sugar. These are the lumps that would have went into the mix had I not sifted!
Beat until smooth.
Assembling the cake
Trim the top of the first cake layer to create a flat surface. I used Wilton's Cake Leveler to do the job. You can control how much to trim off the cake and it guarantees each layer will be the exact same height. Trim remaining two layers before proceeding.
Place one cake layer on your serving platter (however I recommend using a disposable cake board under your cake to allow transferring the cake from the serving platter to a cake saver MUCH easier).
Evenly spread HALF the peanut butter filling on top of the first cake layer.
Top with 1 1/4 cups of the frosting and gently smooth it out.
Add the next cake layer, spread with the remaining peanut butter filling and top with another 1 1/4 cups of the frosting.
Add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as crumb coating and will help to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.)
Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting and refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm it up.
Meanwhile, to prepare the ganache, place the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in the bowl of a double broiler over medium heat. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the water and stir the glaze to release excess heat.
Make sure your taste-tester is never too far away to check for quality control.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cake on a wire rack on the baking sheet. Slowly pour about 3/4 cup of the warm glaze over the cake. Use a small offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Remove from the fridge and slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake. It should run down the edges in a thick stream. You should be able to control the size and length of the streams by how quickly you pour. Garnish with the salted peanuts and chill the cake for about 20 minutes or until the glaze is set.
Serve at room temperature. The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered with a cake dome or in a cake saver, for up to 3 days.
recipe from Baked Elements