Friday, October 15, 2010
Banana Cream Cake with Cinnamon Caramel Syrup
If you love bananas, this is the cake for you. It’s a bit of a messy cake, meant for people who like to make cakes but may not always have the time to fuss with frosting or buttercream or who simply prefer lighter and more rustic fare. There’s something so infinitely delicious about this easy compilation of light cake, fresh ripe bananas, spiced caramel syrup and slightly sweetened whipped cream that will more than satisfy any dessert dream.
This super luxurious treat starts with a very basic tender and moist yogurt vanilla cake. Whipped cream with a little dash of rum is sandwiched between the layers to provide some silky deliciousness. And last but not at all least, a caramel charged with cinnamon and vanilla complements lots of fresh banana slices that add their own signature goodness to each bite.
If you find yourself with a reason to celebrate and in need of a cake, it doesn't get any better than this very simple and terrific combination of flavors. Bring this cake to your table and enjoy the devouring of every morsel. Sheer banana bliss.
- You can stage this preparation over a couple of days. The caramel syrup will keep stored in a glass container at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
- You will probably have a bit of leftover caramel. You can spoon it over your favorite ice cream.
- I use a 9" square metal cake pan. Glass conducts heat better than metal, so if you use a 9” square glass pan, check to see if the cake is done a few minutes earlier.
- As always with caramel, give it your undivided attention. It will turn on you in a second! Try to take it to a medium dark amber color to avoid it being too sweet. Take it off the heat the moment it begins to reach the right color, swirl the pan a gently until it darkens a bit more and then quickly set the pan down and add the hot water to stop the cooking. And remember, whenever you add an ingredient to hot caramel, it’s going to bubble and splatter viciously. Just stand back and let it unwind. Adding a hot liquid helps to cut down on the reaction. Adding cold ingredients to hot caramel will likely cause it to seize on you. To fix a seized caramel, place it on low heat and whisk gently until dissolved, being careful not to splash any on your hands.
- The rum in the whipped cream really adds a very delicious and subtle flavor to the whole cake without tasting of alcohol.
Banana Cream Cake with Cinnamon Caramel Syrup
1 1/2 C flour
1/8 t salt
2 t baking powder
1 egg yolk
3/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla
3/4 C (6 oz) plain yogurt @ room temperature
1/4 C + 2 T oil
Cinnamon Caramel Syrup
1 C sugar
1/4 C water + 1/2 C very hot water
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla
1 t fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste
1 C heavy cream
1 T sugar
2 t rum
3 - 4 ripe bananas
juice of half lemon
For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 9" x 2” square pan and line the bottom with parchment, leaving about a 2" overhang on two sides. This will help make it easier to remove the baked cake.
Sift the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
Whip the whole egg, additional egg yolk and sugar until the mixture is thickened and tripled in volume. A ribbon tested on the surface should hold for at least a second. This takes about 5 minutes on a stand mixer on medium high speed. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute. Take off the mixer and fold in the yogurt.
Sift a third of the flour into the mixture and fold gently. Continue with the remaining 2/3 of the flour and fold until there are no dry streaks.
Fold in the oil and mix thoroughly.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 – 28 minutes or until the cake is a light golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. Gently lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment overhang to help loosen. The cake is tender so handle carefully. Leave it to cool completely.
For the caramel, place 1/4 C water and 1 C sugar in a saucepan on medium high heat. Cook the sugar mixture just until it begins to turn a medium dark amber color. Watch it closely. Once the sugar starts to color it accelerates very quickly and will darken to a burnt and bitter stage very fast. If it's not coloring evenly, gently swirl the pan just a bit to circulate the darker areas. As it begins to approach the right color, take it off the heat and swirl the pan gently. Let it continue to darken a bit more with a slightly reddish cast. Once it looks like the right color, set the pan down, stand back and add the 1/2 C of hot water. It will bubble up vigorously and spatter, so be careful. When it settles down, return it to the heat and let it come to a boil. If there are any seized bits of caramel, whisk slowly until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and lemon juice. Let it cool a few minutes and then add salt to taste. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.
When ready to assemble, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and the rum until it holds a very soft peak. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.
Slice the bananas on a long diagonal and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
To assemble, place the cake in parchment on a work surface. Using a serrated knife, trim all four edges of the cake, preserving its square shape. Cut the cake in half, gently lift it off the parchment and place on a serving platter. Dollop half the reserved whipped cream on top of the cake, then line with banana slices. Drizzle the surface of the bananas with about 4 tablespoons of the caramel. Place the other half of the cake on top of the bananas and press just a bit to secure. Dollop the remaining cream on top of the cake and line with bananas. Finish with another drizzle of caramel.
Dot the remaining banana slices with a very light drizzle of caramel and add to each serving of cake.