I'll admit I felt a little left out when everyone but me was making the banana cake, especially when I remembered that I wanted to try it again without the almond extract in the frosting. I dumped too much in the last time, giving it way too almond-y a flavor, and I decided it wasn't essential anyway. I was reminded by Nicola, because she insists that "almond essence is the work of the devil." I was struck with how everyone made this simple and delicious cake uniquely their own. In fact, Jenn was one of the few who made it exactly as written.
Lois added some banana extract to "bump up the flavor." (Nicola will have to weigh in on whether she also considers banana extract the work of the devil.) Katya doubled the recipe to make a two-layer cake and piped rosettes around the bottom and middle of the cake.
Monica used special Manzano bananas, and also added lime peel to the lemon, part of which she sprinkled on top. Please go to her blog and look at the last photograph in her post--if that doesn't want to make you eat this cake, there is nothing that will. Vicki used coconut white chocolate for the frosting, and thought it worked quite well; she also has a good hint for ripening bananas if you've got some that aren't quite ripe enough. Hanaa frosted hers with caramel whipped cream instead of the dreamy, creamy stuff. Much as I like that white chocolate frosting, I'll admit the caramel whipped cream sounds mighty good. Jennifer skipped the frosting entirely, and just served the cake with ice cream. Omitting the frosting would make this cake super easy--and a good breakfast cake. (Jennifer is always looking for breakfast cakes). Raymond, on the other hand, gussied his up with sliced almonds and bananas on top, and with the frosting piped instead of just swirled.
Kristina and Nancy B. both had cakes that were slightly underdone and sunk a bit in the middle. Each one solved the problem in her own way, and loved the cake--at least the parts that were done.
I am naming Saira the FEATURED BAKER of the week. "What!" I hear you say. "That makes no sense. How can she be both Guest Host AND Featured Baker?" I guess I agree in principle, but I've already admitted to being arbitrary and capricious in my selection process. But I wanted to acknowledge Saira's great step-by-step instructions and really beautiful photography! (I kept scrolling back up to the picture of the bananas and sour cream.) Also, I was impressed with the way she just up and decided--at the very last minute, without even planning it--to make a whipped white chocolate frosting instead of the dreamy, creamy etc. As I believe I've mentioned ad nauseum, I am a rule follower, and am therefore awed by people who go around willy-nilly breaking rules. (Saira has been advised to try the prescribed frosting, and I hope she does, one day when she's in more cream cheesy kind of mood). Saira said that this will be her "go to cake" for light entertaining, given its combination of ease of preparation and deliciousness. And welcome back to the fold, Saira!
Next week is the Whoopie Pie. Nothing special needed here, and a sneak preview from Kristina, who calls them the Best Thing Ever.
After that, the coffee chiffonlets, which are supposed to be made in mini angel food cake pans. I don't have those yet, and if I can't find them, I think I'll use the mini Mary Ann pans that I do have, and which we'll use someday to make Chocolate Bull's-Eye Cakes.
We have another baker this week--Jinene (or Jaye, as she's called). She's a student at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, although she's not a Southerner by birth.
By the way, I've counted up the cakes that I've already made and the ones I have yet to make, and I'm over the hump! Fewer in the to-do list than in the already-done list. That makes me feel like baking through the whole book is a possibility--for all of us!