Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Banana Cake with Nutella Buttercream

After a while you get sick of making banana bread all the time. Since I'm baking a lot of cakes this summer to get practice for my mom's wedding cake in a few months, I decided to turn my overripe fruit into cake for a change. Just another step in my self-imposed cakemaking bootcamp.

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to play with the butter-to-Nutella ratio in the icing, let me know if you do.

Banana Cake
2 1/2 cup flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas, slightly mashed
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350º.
Beat bananas with a hand mixer (because it's more fun than using a fork). In a separate bowl, beat sugar, eggs, baking powder, and butter at medium speed about four minutes until fluffy. Add banana mush, beat 30 seconds. Sift flour over the mixture and beat in at low speed for 30 seconds. Pour into two 8" round greased cake pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before assembling.

While the cake is cooling, make the buttercream.

Nutella Buttercream Icing

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 cup Nutella
pinch of salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp milk (or more as needed)

In a medium bowl, cream butter and nutella until smooth. Add salt and sift the powdered sugar over the butter mixture, beat in until smooth. Add the milk and beat at high speed until fluffy. Add more milk or powdered sugar if needed to achieve the thickness you want.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Black Forest Cake

This is all that remained of the cake after Blaine's birthday, and it was all I could do to smuggle it out of the bar to get a photo. He asks for black forest cake every year, but last year I made it with canned cherry pie filling, and this year I used fresh cherries and even bought myself a new toy for removing the pits.
If you want a darker icing, you can get fancy and melt a square or two of semisweet baking chocolate and add it to the butter *after* the chocolate has cooled to room temperature. Use a double boiler or microwave according to the package to melt it, otherwise you'll burn it! Chocolate burns easily and tastes like tree bark when it does. I have tested this theory dozens of times.

This is the same cake recipe as the chocolate mint cake a few months back, only I left out an ingredient (the milk!) on the original post. Sorry! This version of it is complete, and has the added bonus of delicious drunken cherry syrup to make it nice and moist. It got rave reviews at the bar party. :)

Drunk Cherry Syrup
4 cups fresh dark cherries, pitted and sliced in half
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp + 2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup kirschwasser or cherry vodka

In a medium bowl, coat the cherries with sugar and a sprinkle of water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for an hour or two until there is juice in the bottom of the bowl. Set in the fridge overnight to continue juicing. The next day, while the cake is in the oven, pour the juice into a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the water and cornstarch and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until clear and thickened. Set on a wire rack to cool. When cooled, pour about 2/3 of the glaze into a bowl and whisk in the kirschwasser. Use this, the boozed up portion, to pour into the cake layers later. The un-spiked portion of the glaze can be poured on top of the cherries on the top of the cake.

Black Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
2 1-oz squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling strong coffee

In a sauce pot on medium heat, melt the baking chocolate and butter, stirring often. If it starts to bubble, turn down the heat or it'll burn. Set aside and let cool.
Heat oven to 350º and grease two 9" round cake pans.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, buttery chocolate, and vanilla and beat with a hand mixer on medium for about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the boiling coffee and stir it in. Pour into cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from the pans and letting cool completely on wire racks.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 to 6 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

In a medium or large bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the confectioners' sugar, the cocoa powder, and salt, then add to the butter along with the vanilla, and 2 tsp of the milk. Mix until combined. Add more confectioners' sugar, milk, or cocoa as needed to get the consistency/chocoholic level desired.

To Assemble:
Place a glob of icing on the cake plate, lay one layer of cake on it. Pour half of the drunk cherry glaze into the first layer, then cover with icing, then a layer of cherries. Place the second layer of cake on top of the cherries, pour the drunk cherry glaze, then icing, then cherries, then glaze.