For the banana fans

During this desolate time in the produce season, I reluctantly turn to the banana since I have already done the citrus to death.  I say reluctantly because I’m not the biggest fan of banana flavored things.  I like bananas as they are, and still slightly green.  I like the banana bread recipe I use and I will occasionally enjoy bananas foster (mostly because brown sugar and butter make anything palatable).  Other than those cases I have no interest.  I think strawberry-banana is a travesty.  However, since banana cake is sort of like banana bread, I can do it.

Banana Cake

Here I’ve adapted Alfred Portale’s banana cake recipe from his 12 Seasons Cookbook.  I’ve taken out the ground nuts (because I have another nut-tastic dessert on the menu) and changed the mixing method to the high-ratio method because the weight of the sugar exceeds the weight of the flour.  I know, far be it for me to counter Alfred Portale— but hey, it worked and makes it easier to mix and get in the oven in quickly.

Banana Cake
makes nine half-cup ramekins
6 oz flour
9.5 oz sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6.25 oz soft butter
6.5 oz sour cream, room temp
6.5 oz banana purée
2 eggs

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and butter and mix with the paddle attachment until crumbly (but not creamed to a paste).  Whisk the sour cream, banana purée and eggs together.  Add a third of the liquid to the dry and mix for one minute.  Repeat with the other two thirds of liquid.  Grease nine half-cup ramekins and spoon 4 oz of batter into each cup.  Bake at 325º about 30 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.  The cakes may test done with a toothpick, but may still be under done in the center, so bake until the tops are well browned and firm to the touch.  The cakes will deflate slightly during baking and deflate more upon cooling.

I serve the cake with a coconut cream, bruléed bananas, cashew coconut brittle and candied lime zest.  The coconut cream I used is out of Johnny Iuzzini’s Dessert Fourplay.  It is kind of fussy and contains a bit of gelatin, but it is quite tasty and the perfect consistency without having that cornstarch gumminess that would come from a coconut pastry cream.

Coconut Cream
For the coconut curd...
126 g butter
100 g sugar
112 g coconut milk
8 egg yolks
3/4 tsp gelatin

To finish the curd...
1/2 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp rum
75 g heavy cream
150 g coconut curd from above

For the curd, combine the butter, sugar and coconut milk in a saucepan and bring just to a boil.  Whisk the yolks and temper in the coconut milk mixture.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil (yes, I know, but just do it).  Lower the heat a bit to avoid searing hot splatters, and sprinkle the gelatin over the curd and whisk constantly for one minute.  Strain the curd into a bowl a mix with a stick blender until totally smooth and well emulsified.  Transfer to a container and place plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill in the fridge to set.

To finish the cream, pour rum into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it.  Heat gently only to melt the gelatin.  Whip the cream to stiff peak.  Fold in the rum and coconut curd gently but thoroughly.  Transfer to a container and chill in the fridge to set.

I have learned that one should never underestimate the power of banana.  This dessert has been flying this week.  At a previous job we did a banana cake that flew out the kitchen too.  One of my first wedding cakes was a banana cake wedding cake and people couldn’t get enough of it.  Who knew?

I know my platings have a tendancy to look like controlled chaos.  I like it, though.  I decorate my cakes the same way— a seemingly haphazard display of tastiness.  This one however seems a little too haphazard? Perhaps not.  While doodling around, I have tried the more refined platings with dots of sauce and rails of crumbs and balanced cookies, but they never turn out right for me. More and more, I'm liking just the casual swipe and mound. I think it looks more delicious than the nothing-touches-the-other-thing style. And I think it keeps the savory cooks from complaining!