Sunday, July 8, 2012
the elvis cake.
So.... Let's talk cake.
Peanut butter and banana happens to be one of my favourite sandwich combinations ever. Better than peanut butter and chocolate, and even banana and chocolate. Point is, in face of such an awesome protein-fiber combo, chocolate does not even stand a chance. Anyway, I decided to reincarnate this flavour pairing into a cake.
At first it started out pretty modestly. I thought of baking some moist banana cake and sandwiching and the layers with peanut butter frosting. Then when I found a peanut butter frosting recipe, I freaked out a little because there was so much butter and the yield was pretty small. There's no way I could change this fact, but I could use less peanut butter frosting (sobs). To do that, I had to omit the spread of frosting in between the layers. But I would still need something in the middle to hold everything together right? So ding ding ding! Sauteed bananas!
The sautéing was pretty uneventful apart from me being too timid with the heat and ended up mashing quite a few slices. When I started to pile them onto the bottom layer of the cake, I realized that I didn't have enough to cover the entire surface. I decided to smoosh the caramelized bananas with the back of my spoon and spread it around. It did the job- every inch was covered, but it was a pretty miserable layer. Not wanting to slice up another banana and repeat the sauteing process, I just sliced a fresh banana up and arranged it on top of the banana "jam". Simple cake idea just became a bit more elaborate.
So I frosted my cake and reserved some to do some piping because I was so disappointed with my piping work on my previous cake. I think it turned out so much better this time but I could have made the shells a little closer. I'm really happy with it though!
Unfortunately, the center looked really bare and the ring of shells only served to highlight the empty space in the middle. Since the cake had protein (peanut butter), fiber (bananas), carbohydrates (practically the whole cake), it was lacking fat in an obvious form. So bacon came into play- a balanced diet right?
I baked the bacon strips in the oven until crispy and when I retrieved them, the baking tray was flooding with bacon fat. Ugh. I don't particularly like bacon, or even the smell of it, but I acknowledge that it does go extremely well with some foods. I'll do anything for cake.
So I let them cool and crumbled them into tiny shards before sprinkling them onto the cake. I was worried that when I place the cake in the fridge later on, the moisture would cause them to loose their crispness. I can vouch that for the 4 hours of refrigeration the bacon underwent with the cake, they still retained majority of their crispy texture. But I can't guarantee you for longer though.
I couldn't wait to have my first slice! As expected, the flavours of peanut butter, banana and bacon totally gelled together. The banana cake was a bit underwhelming and I was a tad disappointed because this recipe came from Rose Levy Beranbaum who is to me, a cake goddess. It was moist, but not banana-y enough. Lucky thing that I thought to add caramelized and fresh bananas! Oh and about the filling, the cake didn't hold so well together because I didn't spread a layer of frosting in between. As a whole cake, there was no doubt that the cake would remain intact but as you near the end of your slice, the cake would start to slide around. Of course, you could always place it on the plate lying down but I always like mine standing up. Bottom line is: have some frosting in between to glue the layers together firmly.
Random babble: My backdrop fell on part of my cake as I was snapping one of the last few photos. Graawwhh! My beautiful (I think) piping ruined!
Anyway, that's enough verbal diarrhea from me now. Make this cake. For the sake of your health and sanity.
Banana Peanut Butter Cake with Bacon Shards (a.k.a The Elvis Cake)
makes a 6 inch cake
Banana Refrigerator Cake
mostly adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
Note: This is my lazy way of preparing the batter- in just a blender. I assure you that the original steps are not like this but they do require a few more bowls.
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup oil
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Prepare a 6 inch round cake tin. Preheat oven to 350F.
In a blender (or food processor), blend the banana and buttermilk until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add the sugar and blend on medium speed for one minute. Gradually drizzle in the oil, blending until completely incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and pulse them in, being careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let it cool completely, preferably also chilled overnight, before slicing into two layers.
Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
This should yield more than enough to fill and frost the entire cake.
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream (I didn't need this)
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/8 cups icing sugar
Beat the butter, peanut butter, cream, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and slowly add the icing sugar and beat until incorporated and smooth. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.
Caramelized Banana Filling
You could double this quantity and omit the fresh sliced bananas.
1/2 tbsp butter
1 banana, sliced
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
Place a saucepan on medium high heat. Add the butter and when it melts and starts to sizzle, add the banana slices. Ensure that the banana slices are spread out in one layer. Cook until one side of the banana is caramelized before flipping. When the second side is almost done, add the brown sugar and stir it around to coat the bananas. Remove from heat. It's okay if some of your bananas end up mushy.
Banana cake layers
Peanut butter frosting
Caramelized banana filling
1 banana, sliced
Bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled (I used 3 strips)
On the bottom layer of cake, spread a thin layer of peanut butter frosting. Add the caramelized banana filling on top. You will need to smoosh it around in order to cover the surface. Add the fresh banana slices. Pipe a ring of frosting along the outer edges and press down the second layer of cake on top. Frost the cake with the remaining peanut butter frosting. Sprinkle over the bacon shards. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to set the frosting before serving.