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.

Advertisements

Rum-scented Marble Cake {ModBak}

I was all set to make this recipe the other day when my friends Kayte and Margaret tweeted that they were making it, too. So we decided to have a Twitterbake and make it “together” in our separate kitchens (and separate States). It’s always more fun baking with others, even if you are baking and tweeting from far away.

This is the third recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. After starting with a delicious, if fussy, pound cake, I was looking forward to trying this recipe.

As impressive as it looks, this cake was really easy to put together, although it did dirty quite a few bowls. The base batter consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter (three sticks!), seven eggs, and dark rum. After making a heavy paste of the dry ingredients and butter, I whisked the eggs and rum, then added them to the butter mixture.

The chocolate swirl layer consisted of dark rum, milk, baking soda, bittersweet chocolate, and two cups of the base batter, all mixed together until blended.

To assemble the cake, I put half the base batter in the pan, smoothed the top, then topped it with the chocolate layer.

I covered this with the rest of the base batter, smoothed the top, then marbled it by dragging a knife through the batter from the center to the edge all the way around the pan.

I baked the cake for 75 minutes, until it was done through but still moist.

Pardon the pun, but the cake smelled intoxicating while it baked. The chocolate and rum combined to give it a rich, heady aroma, and I couldn’t wait to cut into it. I let the cake cool, then sprinkled the top with powdered sugar (although it really didn’t need any adornment).

My daughter and I decided to sample it for a bedtime snack.

I was planning to take the rest of it to work today, but after tasting it, my daughter announced that I would be doing no such thing. The cake was rich, but not overly sweet, and had a great balance of flavors. Calling it “rum-scented” is quite apt, as the rum adds more to the aroma than the flavor.

This was another great recipe from The Modern Baker and has me looking forward to the next seven months(!) of cakes.

Check out Kayte’s and Margaret’s posts to see what they thought and to get a look at their beautiful marbling.

Banana Walnut Tart {ModBak}

The third recipe I made from the Sweet Tarts and Pies section of The Modern Baker was another easy and delicious tart. I had sweet tart dough left over from when I made the bourbon-scented pecan tart the other night, so this tart came together really quickly. In fact, I mixed this recipe up this evening after work — something I rarely do — and it was less than 20 minutes from the time I got the dough out of the fridge until I was putting the tarts in the oven.

I used my 4 1/2-inch tart pans and had enough dough for three tarts. I wasn’t sure how much filling to make, so I opted to halve the recipe. After rolling out the dough, I measured walnuts and brown sugar into the food processor and pulsed them until the nuts were finely chopped. Then I added butter, an egg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking powder, and flour and mixed everything into a thin batter.

I cut up two bananas and arranged them in the tart pans, poured in the batter, then topped the tarts with chopped walnuts. 

I baked the tarts at 350°F for about 30 minutes. The recipe doesn’t give a baking time, so I started with 20 minutes and kept an eye on them until they were done. Other than the crust, the tarts looked almost like a cake.

Now came the hardest part — waiting for the tarts to cool. I left them in the pans for about 15 minutes, then took them out and let them cool the rest of the way while I distracted myself by watching Jeopardy.

I sliced into one of the tarts. The banana looked almost like a custard filling.

I know some of my fellow Modern Bakers were a bit skeptical of this recipe, mostly because of the cooked bananas. While I understand their reluctance, having tried this tart I can tell you it is delicious, bananas and all. Nick is right when he says the bananas cook to a sweet, jam-like consistency. And the flavors of the bananas, walnuts, brown sugar, and rum all compliment each other, making this tart sweet, nutty, and hard to resist.

While I liked most of the savory tarts and pies in the last section, I think sweets are definitely Nick’s forte. And I’m looking forward to the rest of the recipes in this section.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake {FFwD}

The final recipe chosen by Dorie Greenspan for the premiere month of French Fridays with Dorie is, appropriately enough, a Fall dessert. This recipe, as with all of the FFwD recipes, comes from Dorie’s newest book, Around My French Table. Having just made our annual autumn pilgrimage to Patterson Fruit Farm, I was flush with apples, so Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake came at a perfect time. Dorie recommends using apples divers, that is different kinds of apples. I had four varieties — Jonathan, Jonagold, Macoun, and Granny Smith — and I used them all.

This recipe sounded so good that I decided to make a double batch so I would have an extra cake to take to work. I prepared the pans, got out my ingredients, and set to work.

After mixing the dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, and salt — I whisked together eggs, sugar, rum, and vanilla. I stirred half of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, added four tablespoons of melted butter, mixed in the rest of the flour, then four more tablespoons of butter.

Finally I folded in the chopped apples.

As you can see, the mixture is more apple than cake. There was just enough batter to hold the apples together.

I baked the cakes at 350°F for 55 minutes, until they were golden brown and set.

I turned the cakes out of the pans and let them cool a bit. We ate the cake while it was still warm with whipped cream.

To say this cake was delicious would be an understatement. It had an amazing depth of flavor, from both the apples divers and the dark rum. If you don’t believe me, ask my friends at work. They never got a chance to try it. One cake just was’t enough for us at home.

Marbled Chocolate Brioche Loaf {ModBak}

The second recipe in the third section of The Modern Baker is another brioche loaf. The basic recipe is similar to Quick Brioche, with the addition of rum and lemon zest. After making the brioche dough, it is divided into three pieces, and one of the pieces is then enriched with bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon.

I patted one of the plain pieces of dough into a five-inch square and set it aside. I did the same with the chocolate dough, then stacked it on top of the plain dough. Finally, I patted out the last piece of plain dough and added it to the stack.

After pressing the dough together, I cut it into three pieces.

Then I cut each strip into about 10 pieces, which I put into a bowl and tossed together.

I added a teaspoon of water, squished the dough into a ball, then pressed it into a loaf pan.

I allowed the dough to rise for two hours. Even though it hadn’t crested the top of the pan, it was ready to bake.

I baked the bread in a 350° oven for 40 minutes. The loaf smelled so good baking, with the chocolate, rum, and butter begging to be tasted.

I cooled the loaf on its side to keep it from deflating.

I sliced into the loaf and liked what I saw. It had a nice even crumb and the marbling looked like the picture in the book.

This was a really delicious bread. The chocolate gave it a wonderful flavor without being cloying sweet. It was good plain, toasted, and with a little marmalade. And after a few days, it made great chocolate bread pudding.

Stolen Stollen

The 36th recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is Stollen, a German holiday bread. Never was a bread so aptly named. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Stollen is traditionally made at Christmastime. The shape of the bread is meant to resemble a blanket in a manger. And the color (studded with candied fruit) is supposed to remind us of the gifts brought to the baby Jesus by the Magi.

Before I started this bread, I made a quick trip to the store to stock up on ingredients: candied fruit, almonds, candied citrus peel, and golden raisins. I decided to take PR’s recommendation and soak the fruit for several days before making the bread. I measure out the dried fruit, raisins, and peel (I decided to add some citrus peel); added lemon, lime, and orange oils; and then reached for the brandy.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was no brandy in the house. And no rum, either. It was a dark and stormy night, and I didn’t feel like running back to the store, so I decided to use something I had on hand. And the something I reached for? Scotch. Single malt scotch. Expensive single malt scotch. It’s not that I mind using expensive ingredients when I bake. I just wasn’t sure how fruit soaked in scotch would taste. But, it was what I had, so I decided to use it. After adding the whisky to the fruit mixture, I stirred it up and covered the bowl. I stirred the mixture several times a day for the next few days.

On baking day, I made the sponge. Since I don’t bake with milk, I mixed the sponge with warm water, flour, and yeast.

After an hour, it looked like this:

I mixed the dough and sponge for a few minutes in the Kitchen Aid (substituting buttermilk powder for the milk), let it rest for about 10 minutes, then added the fruit a little bit at a time. After kneading the dough for another 4 minutes, I put it in an oiled bowl to ferment for 45 minutes.

I patted the dough into a rectangle and sprinkled it with almonds, raisins, and dried fruit.

Then I rolled it into a batard and placed it on a baking sheet, curving the ends slightly.

I let the dough rise for about an hour-and-a-half, then baked it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. I removed the loaf from the oven, turned it for even baking, then inserted a probe thermometer into the dough and let it bake for about another 25 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 190 degrees.

Then I removed the bread from the oven and immediately brushed it with vegetable oil.

And finally sprinkled it liberally with two layers of powdered sugar.

I went off to do something else for an hour or so while the bread cooled. After about half an hour, I heard my daughters laughing and yelling at the dog (never a good sign), and I walked into the dining room to see Bailey standing on the table, licking all the powdered sugar off the bread. Here’s what it looked like when he was done:

I will say that dog saliva gives the bread a nice shine. Unfortunately, it’s not too appetizing. My mom and I were the only ones brave enough to try it (without the top crust). It had a really good flavor from the spices and nuts. And the fruit in whisky wa s interesting combination. The scotch mellowed a bit with the soaking and baking, but it still had the distinct taste of the bog where it was produced and the peat harvested there.

It really was a beautiful bread, and had it not been a sugar lick for the dog, I think it might have made an excellent bread pudding.