Jul 13, 2009
This cake turned out just fine, and was the hit of our neighborhood Friday Happy Hour, which we do every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But allow me a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself first. It seems impossible for me to make a cake without making a few stupid mistakes. So far, the cakes have been excellent, even with the mistakes--but I want a PERFECT cake, not just a good one.
I decided on this cake because I had a supply of overripe bananas.
As a somewhat crotchety aside, I don't understand why fruit has to have cute labels on it, as if the fruit is talking to you--almost stalking you, really. This banana is supposedly saying, "Psst! I'm full of vitamins." I don't like to pretend that fruit has speaking capabilities and, at the same time, is begging me to eat it.
This banana cake is in the "quick and easy" list, and this is a legitimate placement. I won't say that you can just whip it up with items that you always have on hand, unless you always have creme fraiche, turbinado sugar, white chocolate containing cocoa butter, and cream cheese on hand, but you don't have to special order anything either.
You mash the bananas.
Then process them with creme fraiche, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Then transfer it to a mixing bowl, and add the sugar. Easy enough, but here comes my first mistake. "Gradually add the [canola or safflower oil]...."
I emptied my bottle of canola oil and still needed a bit more neutral-flavored oil. I pulled out my jar of vegetable oil and added enough to get to the required 108 grams. When I pult the bottle down, I realized I had instead used olive oil. Now, I realize that on a scale of global catastrophes, this is not even on the chart. But still.... And then I yelled at poor Jim, who was innocently standing by with his camera. "Did you know I was using olive oil?" I demanded. "Well, uh, sure," he said, "the bottle says olive oil. I figured you wanted to use it." I was in no mood for that kind of reasoning, I can tell you.
And when I smelled the batter, I could smell only olive oil. It overpowered the bananas. Once again, I was on the verge of tossing everything and starting over, except that I had already run through my supply of ripe bananas. I had to just hope there were no super-tasters in the crowd.
It's a very thin batter, and I wasn't sure that it would actually turn into anything resembling a cake.
But it did. It was not quite as tall as the cake in the photograph. Maybe the olive oil? But it looked respectable.
Next came the "dreamy creamy" white chocolate frosting. That name is just a little too cute for me. I'd be OK with dreamy white chocolate or creamy white chocolate, but not both. So I just said it was white chocolate frosting. With the crowd I was hosting, calling something "dreamy creamy" would get you nothing but ridicule.
This frosting is another of the super-easy food processor frostings, like the peanut buttercream from the first recipe. All you do is mix melted white chocolalte, cream cheese, butter, creme fraiche, and a dab of almong extract in the food processor. Let me just say that unless you have the steady hands of a surgeon, you should not measure 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract over the mixing bowl. As you might surmise, if your hand slips, you may end up with considerably more than 1/8 teaspoon. As you might also surmise, my hand slipped. I probably added about a half-teaspoon to the frosting--not a killer amount, but about 4 times more than it should be. Oh well, I thought, maybe the almond extract will cover up the taste of the olive oil.
My Tasting Panel was my entire neighborhood, who first chastised me for "breaking the first rule of Happy Hours." "What rule?" I said. "The 'no baking' rule," they replied. "There is no such rule," I protested. Then, after they were done chastising me, they wanted more: "Why didn't you bake two, as long as you were baking?" These are difficult people to please.
They were extremely enthusiastic about both the cake and the frosting. When I said I wanted quotes to use in my blog, they said things like, "It's delicious." I asked for something more quotable. Joe looked thoughtful and said, "It is delicious, but if I were going to critique it, I might say there's just a touch too much almond flavoring in the frosting." I couldn't argue with him.
On a roll, Joe continued, "And, although it's very moist, I detected a slight note of chalkiness in the cake." The rest of the neighbors turned on Joe. "Are you crazy? Do you think she's going to bake more cakes for us if you tell her they're chalky? This is not a chalky cake!"
I was with Joe on the excess almond, but not on the chalkiness. Still, maybe he's another super taster. Or maybe my olive oil tastes like chalk.
Posted by Marie at 8:29 AM