Banana Cake with Coffee Buttercream Cake of the Month
6th January 2014
The holiday season is full of yummy delights. This year was no exception as I experimented with a butternut squash galette, brioche buns, an amazing (and amazingly simple) Pinterest chicken dish, and turning left over bread into dessert.
This past year I can attribute my happiness all to my husband. Without him I could not have accomplished what I have today. He doesn’t ask for much, so for his birthday we celebrated with breakfast at Blue Star Diner, had a visit from his sister, nieces, and nephew, and finished the day with a quiet dinner at our place with his folks enjoying his favourite: ham, dauphinoise (scallop potatoes), and veg.
His cake this year was chosen inadvertently by him. Last month when deciding on a cake for December I’d chosen a few and asked for his opinion: should I choose the chocolate based cake, the ginger based cake, or the banana based cake? Now, sometimes when you ask someone for an opinion it helps you settle your gut choice; this was that sort of situation. He chose the banana based cake when deep down I wanted the ginger based cake as I felt it best suited the season. So instead I decided that this was to be his birthday cake. Sneaky? Maybe.
We always have bananas in the freezer. Once they start going a bit too brown I freeze them intact, that way we can make pancakes, bread, and smoothies whenever we want. Unfortunately they are sometimes stored there a long while before they are used. I’m sure there’s a limit to how long you can safely store them, but I’d prefer not to waste them. So when I stumble upon a tasty treat needing bananas I always save it. This one came from Saveur.com as The Manor Born Banana Cake with Coffee Buttercream. The cake itself is simple to make, the icing on the other hand was a little more complicated than I thought it needed to be, but in the end it turned out great. I feel I’m still a novice when it comes to icing, so at the moment I can’t recommend an alternative that will lend the same light airy taste that the following buttercream recipe provides.
Banana Cake with Coffee Buttercream
Adapted from Saveur.com
For the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 2 medium bananas)
Scant 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup shelled unsalted pecans, coarsely chopped
For the coffee buttercream:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp instant espresso powder
6 egg yolks
2 cups unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
Preheat oven to 375°F (350°F on convection). Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom of each with parchment paper, and set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl or onto a sheet of wax paper and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand up mixer (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer) on high speed until fluffy. Add bananas and beat on medium speed until well combined. Add eggs one at a time beating until incorporated, then add buttermilk and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl then add the flour mixture, mixing at low speed until just incorporated, then fold in pecans with a spatula. Divide batter equally between prepared pans, smoothing tops with the spatula. Bake until cakes are golden brown and spring back when touched, 10 to 20 minutes. Cool cakes in their pans for 5 minutes before removing them from their pans, peel off parchment, and allow cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
Meanwhile combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. DO NOT STIR, instead gently swirl the saucepan to combine. Boil until the sugar dissolves and the syrup reaches 238°F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage), about 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tsp of boiling water and set aside. Beat egg yolks in the bowl of a stand up mixer (or in a medium bowl with an electric mixer) on high speed until pale yellow. Gradually add the hot sugar syrup to the yolks in a slow steady steam down the side of the bowl, beating constantly on medium speed. Continue beating until the mixture cools to room temperature and any sugar clumps dissolve. Add the butter one piece at a time, beating thoroughly on medium speed after each addition. Beat in the espresso. Once all the butter and espresso has been incorporated, continue beating the buttercream until light, fluffy, and stiff (this takes longer if your butter isn’t soft enough — like mine).
To assemble the cake place one of the cakes on a serving plate. Spread a little less then half of the buttercream on the first layer, quickly icing the side and top. Place the second cake on top and ice with the remaining buttercream making sure to coat the sides of both cake layers. For fun, decorate the cake with coffee beans. Refrigerate the cake until the buttercream has set, but make sure to bring cake to room temperature before serving.