Monday, December 26, 2011

a "first" fest

Here are a few things I learned this year: AP chemistry will kick your ass if you don't study. Sharing baked goods will give you a lot of hugs. Arepas are Amazing, with a capital A. A few good friends is all you need. Instagram is the best app because then you don't have to do a tedious ritual in order to upload pics from your DSLR. Speaking of apps, Temple Run is addicting. You don't need to have a hand mixer to make cake. Your first cake will turn out fine.

Wait, stop. I can feel you judging me. This girl thinks she run a food blog and she never made a cake before? Pft. Yeah, I never made a cake before. Why, you ask? Because, according to my mother, cupcakes are portion sized and easy to transport. So true. But I felt like I was missing out so I made one, complete with frosting (!) , using only a whisk, food processor (solely to puree the bananas), and a rubber spatula. So yes, I'm pretty proud of this cake. And the frosting too! This is my second time making frosting and first time making it without a hand mixer. (My handmixer broke in October. I didn't replace it so I had to make three types of cookies and this cake/frosting without one. I survived.)

This cake is just a fest of "firsts". Seriously. Now only is this my first time baking a cake, it is my first time using toasted coconut as well. I'm excited. My mom never bought shredded coconut because, well, we never needed it. I used to despise coconut until I tasted a Girl Scout samoa. (I also used to hate bananas and yogurt. Ha, look how far I came.) We never have those ingredients in our pantry/fridge until the fateful day I picked up a bag of shredded coconut for coconut shortbread. I didn't end up making it so it stayed in our pantry for a few days. During those few days, our yellow bananas were transforming into dark brown ones. Oh, ripe bananas? Coconut? I scoured the internet for a recipe with these two fateful ingredients and Orangette had the perfect recipe. Of course I made my own additions and subtractions. I added walnuts because I think bananas and walnuts are meant to be. I deducted the rum and cream of coconut from the frosting because I didn't have any. I added cinnamon to give it the oomph it was probably be missing due to the exclusion of the rum and cream. So, I give you my edited recipe of this. Make it, bake it, and eat it. If I don't get to write before January 1st, here are my good wishes to you. I wish you all the best for 2012 , dear reader. However, before we do hit the new year, do "that thing" you've been putting off. For me, it was this cake. Do it and you won't be sorry.

Banana- Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Orangette

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup puréed very ripe bananas
¼ cup sour cream
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
3 handfuls of toasted, chopped walnuts

3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
scant 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
3 tbs milk
2 handfuls of toasted walnuts
2 handfuls of toasted, shredded coconut

Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter or spray a 9-inch round cake pan (I used a springform pan. As did I.), and dust it with flour, shaking out any excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the egg, and beat until well combined. Add the banana purée, sour cream, and vanilla, and beat to combine well. Add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.

Spread the batter in the prepared cake pan, and bake until the top is pale golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-27 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan; then invert the rack over the cake and invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely. (Alternatively, if you are using a springform pan, simply remove the sides and leave the cake on the rack to cool.)

While the cake cools, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add milk and ground cinnamon. Whisk well then add the confectioners sugar.. Mix until combined.

Spread over the top of the thoroughly cooled cake, and sprinkle the outer circumference with evenly with coconut. Sprinkle the inner ring with walnuts.

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