Banana Rum Coconut Layer Cake {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge cake features one of my favorite flavors. No, I don’t mean dark rum (although I’m certainly not opposed to rum). I’m talking about bananas. Regular readers of my blog know about my obsession with all things pumpkin, as well as my love of apples. But I am equally enamored with bananas.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll eat anything that’s banana flavored. In fact, like strawberries, while I love real bananas, I really dislike “banana flavored” foods. But give me a fresh banana, or better yet a baked good made with ripe bananas, and I’m a happy man.

So this cake was right up my alley. It combines ripe bananas with rum and coconut for a delicious tropical flavor baked into a homey layer cake.

To make the cake layers, I beat butter, granulated and dark brown sugars, and vanilla until fluffy, then added eggs. I mixed flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and mashed bananas, milk, and dark rum in another. I alternated adding these to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

I beat the batter for several minutes to lighten it, then divided it between two 9-inch pans. I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake was well risen, golden, and firm in the center.

This cake smelled good enough to eat right out of the oven. But I resisted and cooled the layers while I made the frosting.

As I’ve baked my way through the Cakes section of  The Modern Baker, I have really come to appreciate the simplicity, lightness, and wonderful flavor of whipped cream as cake frosting. And when you add rum to the whipped cream, well, things can only get better.

Having cooled the layers and made the frosting, which consisted of whipping cream, sugar, and dark rum, I was ready to assemble the cake. I placed the first layer on a cake plate, sprinkled it with about a tablespoon of dark rum, and spread the top with whipped cream. I inverted the second layer on top of the first and topped it with rum and whipped cream. I spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake, then pressed coconut into the frosting.

We enjoyed this cake for dessert, and everyone asked for seconds.

This cake was delicious, with the tropical flavors of banana and coconut shining through. And even though it had dark rum in the batter and frosting, it wasn’t at all boozy tasting.

This is another celebration cake: one that’s simple enough to make for any gathering, but impressive enough to commemorate those special occasions.

Cocoa Banana Muffins {ModBak}

The Modern Baker Challenge will be kicking off in a few weeks. I’m very excited about this challenge for several reasons. I have quite a sweet tooth, so a challenge including cakes, pies, and torts seems right up my alley. And speaking of pies, I’ve never been much of a pie maker, and I’m hoping this challenge will change that.

But the thing I’m most excited about is that I asked my 12-year-old to bake along with me, and she said yes! I love baking with my kids, and the thought of making 150 recipes over about two years with her thrills me to no end. I’m hoping that, in addition to us both developing some mad baking skills, I’m able to impart a few things to her, most especially the importance of using mise en place and of cleaning up as you go. Tall order, I know. But as I said, I have two years to accomplish it.

We are both so excited about the challenge that we started baking out of The Modern Baker about a week ago. So far, we have made Fennel Fig & Almond Bread (the first recipe in the book) and the subject of this entry, Cocoa Banana Muffins.

We started the muffins with our mise en place.

Although the recipe calls for quite a few ingredients, they are mostly things you probably already have on hand. The only thing I had to buy was Dutch process cocoa powder, not because I don’t normally keep it but because I was out. That and a few overripe bananas, and we were good to go.

While Molly mixed the batter, Abby and I prepared the muffin pan. The recipe makes 16 muffins, so we used our 12- and 6-cavity muffin tins. If you only have two 12-cavity tins, remember to fill the unused tins about half full with water to keep them from scorching.

We baked the muffins in a 350 dF oven for 30 minutes, until the cake tester came out with just a few moist crumbs.

The house smelled amazing, and the muffins looked great. We waited until they cooled, then began devouring them.

The dark cocoa made a huge difference in both the appearance and taste of these muffins. They were very moist and tasted more like cupcakes than muffins. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, these muffins would make a great addition to a weekend brunch with friends.