Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hello, and a Recipe for Banana Cake

I'm sure you all thought I'd dropped off the face of the planet, but the truth is that I took a vacation from blogging for awhile. Sorry that I didn't give you any notice. Ever have those times where you just want to break free from all the Internet expectations? Disappear from the web world? Not check your email for days at a time? Forget you have a blog? Ignore facebook updates?


I wasn't brave enough to do all those at once, but the blog dropped to the sidelines for awhile.

Now I'm back, and feeling more inspired than ever! I have a list of posts to write, and an idea for a new series, once I finish the last post of my "Starting a Web-based Business" series. (See - I didn't forget!)

My fingers are feeling awkward. I can tell it's been awhile since I blogged. Thoughts aren't flowing in a logical manner. Give me a few posts, and I'll be back to normal.

Let's stick with an easy post to break me in again; a recipe.

Isn't it beautiful? I think so, anyway. It was delicious, too. This is a banana cake, with peanut butter cream filling, and real whipped cream and walnuts on top.

Peanut butter and banana, you say? Don't tell me you've never heard of that combo. It's deLIGHTful! We eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches all the time. (Spread a slice of bread with peanut butter, add a banana in the middle like a hot dog, fold up the bread slice like a bun...mmmmm!)

The cake is from scratch, of course, and is one of the nicest from-scratch cakes I've ever made. It's SUPER easy to throw together. This is an old family-favorite (is 5-6 years old?) but we usually make it in a 9x13 pan, and eat it plain or with a bit of cream cheese frosting, if we're feeling extra sweet-hungry.

But, if I remember correctly, the last time I made this cake (and took pictures) the day was two of my sibling's spiritual birthdays, and I wanted to do something special. So I made it like a "birthday cake."

The cake is a little moister when made in a 9x13 - either because it's slightly thicker that way, or I over-baked the circle pans by a few minutes. Not sure which reason is correct. But it was still mighty good stacked in layers! The filling and frosting were yummy.

It's been awhile since you read one of my long-winded recipes, with all my little comments and rabbit trails. Are you ready?

Banana-Nut Cake - the best! (title copied exactly, from my faded recipe card)

2/3 cup shortening or softened butter (I prefer butter, for health reasons.)
2 1/2 cup flour (measurement is for unbleached white flour. If using whole wheat, use slightly less flour, or your batter will be too heavy)
1 cup packed brown sugar (would you believe you could make a cake with one cup of sugar? Of course, the original recipe called for more...but I tweaked it, and I think it's still great - 'specially if you use really old bananas, which are naturally very sweet.)
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
2/3 cup buttermilk (I used kefir. Remind me to do a post sometime on how much I like that stuff!)
2 eggs (fresh from our chickens!)
2/3 cups chopped walnuts (or almonds, if you want to spend a little more.)
1 tsp. imitation vanilla extract

Whew. Who would have believed a list of ingredients could take so many words? :) :) Now on to the directions.

Stir butter/shortening to soften. Sift in dry ingredients. Add bananas and half of buttermilk/kefir. (By the way, if you thinly slice the bananas before mashing them, it's a lot faster!) Mix well. Add rest of buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. (Don't over-beat the mixture once the eggs and buttermilk are in it, or you'll get cracks in your cake and it won't rise as high.) Mix gently. Fold in 1/3 cup of nuts.

Bake in greased and floured pans (two 9" cake pans, or one 9x13" pan) at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until done in center. Don't over bake.

*Tip: If you use 9" cake pans, wrap a strip of flannel, as wide as the pan is tall, around the outside of the pan, and pin with a clothespin. It is oven-safe, and will make your cake stay level, instead of rising just in the center, and giving you a "mountain effect." Cool, huh?

Frosting and Filling Recipe:

This is hard to recall, because I didn't measure anything. But I think it was something like:

1-2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter

The first thing to do is whip the cream. Put it in a mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar, and whip it until it forms peaks.

Next, put all the whipped cream in a separate bowl, and put the peanut butter in the mixing bowl. Whip it to make it soft. Add a few scoops of cream, and fold it into the peanut butter as gently as you can. It will probably deflate some. Add a little more cream, folding it in again. The whole point is to mix about 1/2 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter, with as little damage to the cream as possible. Once you're done, wala! That's it! You have peanut butter cream filling. The leftover whipped cream and 1/2 the nuts from the recipe are for topping the cake.

Well, that's my post for today. Hopefully you'll be seeing more of me. I'm glad to be back! Did you miss me, with all my lovely word-y-ness? :) :) :)


ConstitutionGirl said...

AMBER GRAY!!!!!! How dare you publish such a delicous post! I need to make that cake! That sounds so delicious! :) It's good to see you writing again! See you Sunday, Lord willing...

Hannah said...

Looks yummy, Amber! I like your explanations with the recipes; it reminds me of the descriptive recipes in Cook's Country magazine.

I'm not sure I knew your family had chickens.

I'm sure you have been busy getting ready for gardening season. :) Maybe we'll see you all at another FEW this year? We considered going to the NC one, but then ended up at another conference.

Amber said...

Thanks, Hannah! I'm glad to know my recipes are readable. :)

Yes, we've had chickens since the fall. My dad was raised with over 100 chickens in his backyard, so he knows what he's doing, but it's new to the rest of us. I love it! Fresh eggs make SUCH a difference in baking! And holding a still-warm egg in the palm of your hand is an incredible experience.

We looked for you at the F.E.W. conference, as well - sorry to have missed a chance at seeing you! But I read about the other conference on your blog, and it sounds like it was a lot of fun. :) :) We might see you at the third conference this year. :)