Friday, October 12, 2007

Banana Caramel Cake

This week was DH's bday, and, as usual, I baked him a cake. I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, and he chose banana caramel (gave him a few recipes to choose from). He loves bananas; I swear he's a monkey.

The cake turned out great, a bit time consuming, but well worth it. DH and his family and friends loved, loved, loved the cake. And I too enjoyed it (not a huge fan of bananas); it isn't over powering as I thought it would be.

The cake is easy to make, but time consuming; lots of steps. For those of you interested, here you go:

1 ½ sticks plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 2/3 cups of all purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed, plus 3 ripe bananas, sliced lengthwise, for filling (I actually cut them in small circles because it is easier)
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups, plus ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs
Mascarpone frosting (recipe follows)
Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x2 cake pans; line bottom with parchment. Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside.

Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 ½ sticks butter and 1 2/3 cups sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in tow parts, beating until combined after each, 2 to 3 minutes. Using rubber spatula, fold in the reserved banana mixture, being careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes, and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup sugar into large skillet; cook over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until sugar is caramelized. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 3 tablespoons butter until melted. Return pan to medium heat. Add the sliced bananas; cook until slices start to turn brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Gently turn the bananas, and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 2 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, trip tops of layers to make level. Place one laker on cake plate; arrange caramelized bananas on top. Place remaining layer on top. Using a large offset spatula, spread Mascarpone frosting over entire cake, swirling to completely cover. Drizzle with Caramel sauce over the top of the cake, or serve some alongside each slice. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered with a cake dome, for up to 3 days.

Mascarpone frosting
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, cream, and confectioner’s sugar on medium speed until medium-soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat. Use immediately.

Caramel Sauce
½ cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream

Prepare an ice bath; set aside. Cook sugar in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it starts to melt around edges; then shake pan to melt remaining sugar. Continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden amber, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stirring constantly, add cream in a slow, steady stream (it will splatter). If necessary, return pan to heat for a few seconds, stirring until mixture is smooth. Place caramel in a bowl in the ice bath; let stand until cold, stirring frequently.

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