Jul 18, 2010

Chocolate Banana Stud Cake

In The Bread Bible, Rose has a wonderful bread named stud muffin. Now, maybe I just know people with low senses of humor, but after the first time I announced its name, I stopped. I started calling it Italian cheese bread or something. Now there's this stud cake. It's going to be referred to only as a chocolate banana cake in these parts.
This is a wonderfully moist chocolate cake with more than a hint of banana.  The secrets of its moistness are 1) ripe bananas and 2) sour cream. Are any of you old enough to remember the Chiquita Banana song?
It first came out in 1944, making it even older than I am. (But not older than Jim!) If you've ever heard tell of it, you know that you are not supposed to let bananas ripen in the refrigerator. This was imposed on me at an early age. In fact, I thought that something awful would happen if you did. My mother said, "Never put bananas in the refrigerator!!" I thought they somehow turned toxic. But really they just turn black. I had to put mine in the refrigerator for a few days to slow down the ripening, and that does make them turn slimy, black, and distasteful looking. But not toxic.
This is an easy, easy cake. We've been riding a midsummer wave of easy cakes lately, making me think it's about time to crack the whip and get back into some of the dread-inducing cakes. Not quite yet, though.
There are just a few steps.
Start with the standard cocoa/boiling water mixture, and let it cool.
Mix the dry ingredients together and add the butter.
Mash the bananas. They don't look black or distasteful once they're out of their skin.
Then add the cocoa mixture, bananas, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.
Pour into prepared cake pan and bake. That isn't much harder than mixing a cake mix.
37 minutes in the convection oven at 325. I thought it might be a little underdone in the center, but it was perfect.
The ganache is standard for us all by now. Probably because of the heat, mine didn't set up very well, and was quite pourable. I put it in the refrigerator, which helped, but not a lot. Even after an hour, it was still the consistency of pudding.
If it weren't for the final step, this would certainly be on the Quick and Easy list. Maybe it would even be in the top ten Q&E. But the instructions for the painstaking decorating with a bag of chocolate chips take it out of that category.
I was actually kind of looking forward to this decorating, because it looked like it didn't require a lot of skill. The more I thought about it, though, the less I liked the idea of the cake completely covered with chocolate chips. I thought it would interfere too much with the other textures, and it would just take over the cake, so that all you'd remember would be a mouthful of crunchy chocolate chips.
So I decided to take the easy way, not the hard way.
I envisioned a really cool spiral pattern. But I got this.
I told Jim it wasn't what I had in mind. He told me that you couldn't see the pattern because the chips were too far away, and he volunteered to fill it in. I think he could tell I was about to get huffy, and perhaps do damage to the cake. We ended up with this:
At least you can tell it's a spiral. Unfortunately, now I have discovered that I'm no better at chip-decorating than I am at piping. Fortunately, neither of those skills is an essential desert-island talent. (To be honest, I can't start a fire without matches, build a raft, or sneak up on a bird and strangle it with my bare hands, all of which could come in handy if I were stranded on a desert island. I'm hoping it doesn't come to that).
Somehow I thought that this was going to be a banana cake with chocolate ganache, and I was really looking forward to that cake. It wasn't until I started reading the directions--always a good idea--that I realized it was a chocolate cake with a subtaste of bananas. I had my doubts about how that was going to work, and I had my doubts even when I tasted the first bite of cake. After the second bite, though, I decided that the flavors did work together after all. The ganache was delicious, but I think it made the cake too overwhelmingly chocolate. I also don't think I'd add the chocolate chips the next time. I actually enjoyed the textural interest they added, but, again, I thought it put the nicely meshed flavors of the chocolate and banana out of balance.


Mary: "Really delicious!"
Jim: "Moist, with a good chocolate flavor. I really liked the texture of the chocolate chips."
Karen: "Love the cake--so moist. I'd lose the chocolate chips, though."
Doug: "Nice and moist. Chocolate and bananas are a good flavor combination."


gartblue said...

*still rolling on the floor splitting my sides reading your super-hilarious post*

*wipes tears off eyes, otherwise, can't seen the screen*

gosh .. this is really funny, marie .. and I agree with you .. stud shouldn't be used to describe any cake ..

I have my bananas ripening in the fridge right now and yes, they're so black and slimy, I'd thrown them out in a second pre-HCB days, but not now. I've already enlisted the girls to to the "stud-ding" of the chips .. lest I turn huffy too.

faithy said...

LOL! Marie, i love reading your post in the morning..always brightens up my day and makes me laugh!

I'm really envious how your cake is so flat top! Mine always has this vocano top..no matter what i do.. (lower oven temp, wrap with baking strips ..etc..all doesn't work at all. Maybe it is my oven's fault.

I can see the spiral now after Jim fix it..lol!

I do like the cake because of it's subtle hint of bananas..i like banana cake but i just don't like the combo of chocolate & bananas..*shrugs*...

Hanaâ said...

Ha ha. Your post is so funny, Marie. How nice (or just plain smart?) of Jim to avoid the appearance of "huffy Marie" and help with the studding. It looks really nice. Glad it was a big hit.

Vicki said...

"Now, maybe I just know people with low senses of humor" had me reeling! Hilarious dancing banana. Doesn't she sound a bit like Doris Day? Your cake looks delicious. I like your mental adjustment of thinking it's a chocolate cake with a hint of banana rather than a banana cake with hint of chocolate. It's 105 degrees out here and I need all the mental help I can get.

evil cake lady said...

so...if you can sneak up on a bird and strangle it with you bare hands, would you consider yourself a master of cake baking?

the spiral pattern is cool--good thing jim was there to fill in the pattern! by the way, that top photo is excellent. i can almost taste it from here!

cocoa and coconut said...

looks very moist indeed

Melinda said...

I couldn't think of a better person to be stuck on a dessert island with.
I have survival training and with your sense of humour we would be just fine on that dessert island!
Your lawyer skills will talk the cannibals out of eating us.

The cake looks good. I would also skip the raw chocolate chips. Too crunchy. But then it would be just a chocolate banana cake,un-studded.

Monica said...

I skipped this cake...(baked something else with the bananas)... I was just not so convince on it.

And gosh I remember the chiquita banana song... I'm THAT OLD?

Katya said...

we sang the chiquita banana song frequently at camp. I am both that old and, apparently, that young.

Jenn said...

Marie, your post is getting funnier and funnier!
I agree it's wrong to name a bread "stud muffin." But Chocolate Banana Stud cake sounds okay to me. Maybe because "Stud" is not the 1st word.
Can you imagine if it's called "Stud Banana Chocolate cake." Ok, I'm giggling just typing this - shhh.. can't giggle, I'm at work!
I love that Jim comes to your rescue. The cake looks very pretty!

Alpha Baker Joan said...

well, I must say Jim has a good eye in spiraling down - It looked very nice. Was Chiquita Banana made popular by Carmen Miranda with all the fruit on her tuban, or am I outdating myself even farther ...

Marie said...

A perfect project for kids! With the added side benefit that if it turns out funny-looking, you can just blame the children (in a nice way, of course), and then people think you're not only a great baker but a super mother. Yet another reason I'm ready for grandchildren.

I took the rest of the cake into the office, where it elicited great praise, so I think the chocolate-banana combo is pretty popular. I don't know what to say about the volcano top.

Jim has much experience in avoiding huffy Marie. I think it's why he travels so much.

I suspect you're reeling because you have a low sense of humor.

No, but I'd consider myself a master of bird strangling.

Yes, that was the most common comment.

I'd want to be stuck on a desert island with you--you have actual practical skills. You could stitch me up if I were unsuccessful in negotiating with the cannibals.

You are not THAT old. You just have a good memory, which proves you're young.

What kind of camp sings the Chiquita Banana song? We sang 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

Yes, no humor at the office! Jim comes to my rescue quite often.

Oh dear, now we're both dating ourselves. You are absolutely right--the very same Carmen Miranda with the fruit on her turban. I could have linked to her, but I chose the slinky banana instead.

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

never has a cake expressed different personalities better! and raymond: i sure read yours wrong--talented baker that you are i would have bet you weighed not measured by volume!

actually i dislike giving volume but since i must i chose the method that is most repeatably accurate.

Mendy said...


After some point bananas go bad outside the fridge. Black or not, at least in the fridge they last longer.

That top picture shows it nicely!