Finally! Here is my 34th birthday cake. There were a few minor glitches, a few things I might change, but overall, it had the flavor profile that I was going for. Spice cake with banana cream filling was one of the layers of my wedding cake and it was wonderful. The problem was, I haven’t had it again since then. That was almost 13 years ago and that is a long time to suppress a craving. I almost went for it last year, but I knew certain people in my family (ahem, my sister) don’t necessarily like to try new flavors and I was worried that no one would eat it. This year, I didn’t really care (however, I did have my 8 year old put together another dessert for her and other party poopers) and went for it. I wanted to add another element besides a plain vanilla buttercream and narrowed it down to cinnamon or caramel buttercream. Obviously, the caramel won.
Let’s talk about my issues with the cake. First, the cake ended up just a little dry. The comments in the original post all call to add an extra egg, which I did. One comment suggested using buttermilk instead of sour cream, which I considered, but lately I have been having great success with sour cream in my cakes. I think I will give that a try next time. Also, I was adapting from a 9 inch springform pan to two 9 inch cake pans so there is the possibility that I simply baked it too long. Second, the filling was a bit difficult. I had to do it twice because you are cooking egg yolks, and if you don’t separate them well you will get bits of cooked egg whites in it so, really, just separate the eggs well. I also think I should have halved the whipped cream I added to it, I could have used the rest to decorate it. It made the filling less stable but I wanted it in there as well as extra banana slices. It tasted great though. Lastly, the frosting. I had to attempt this one twice as well. I just am not great with caramel. Both times, it seized up on me (after heating your water and sugar you are adding cooler cream and vanilla and if you don’t keep stirring and if your cream and vanilla aren’t room temperature, your sugar WILL get hard) but the second time I was able to heat it up the hard sugar enough in the cream that didn’t get incorporated for me to melt it back into a caramel consistency. The moment that you add the cream and vanilla to your sugar is one of those moments in baking where you wish you had three hands so you just have to make the best of it. Also, I think doubling the caramel mixture would have been a plus.
Speaking of Saturday evening, yes, that is when the Doctor returned and I did make all my family watch it. It was my birthday party after all. OK, so the menfolk retreated to my daughter’s room to watch baseball and sit in the coolest room in the house (it was about 106° that day) but that is their loss. The episode was titled Let’s Kill Hitler, but Hitler was in the episode all of three minutes and it was not because they killed him. It was basically the origin story of River Song and it was excellent. So for my GeekyLink, here are all of the great River Song moments from the episode rolled into one collage Geek out / I’m Melody Pond. I am giving you a second GeekyLink as well since I was away for so long. The VMA’s (ugh, not a great show this year) were on Sunday and the first look at The Hunger Games premiered on the show. Too be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. I wish it had been longer but also I didn’t like the Gale voiceover (I am way Team Peeta).
I hope to post at least every other day this week. I made lots of food for my party and you will get to see most of it. Also, my Aunt brought over the best looking strawberries and I know exactly what I want to do with them this week!
Spice Cake with Banana Cream Filling and Caramel Buttercream
Cake adapted from Epicurious.com
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed golden brown sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9 in round pans. Sift first 7 ingredients into small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. (I used my Kitchen-Aid with paddle attachment) Add sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in egg yolks. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold into the batter in two additions. Transfer batter into prepared pans. Bake until the top is golden and tester inserted comes out clean about 35 minutes. Cool cakes 10 minutes. Cakes should release beautifully. Cool cakes completely on racks.
Filling adapted from Cake Central
3/4 cup evaporated milk (a regular 12 ounce can will give you two tries if you need it)
3/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon
2 egg yolks (slightly beaten)
3 tablespoons butter
1 mashed banana (I used two. Also, after mashing, I mixed in a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning)
1 sliced banana (each sliced dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning)
2 teaspoons vanilla (separated)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Cook milk, 3/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and butter over medium heat. Stir CONSTANTLY until thick (12-17 minutes). Add banana and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Cool, stirring occasionally until of spreading consistency. At this point, I had to leave so I covered it and put it in the fridge and I would highly recommend it, especially if you do not find your mixture thickening up as quickly as you would like. I would say no less than 30 minutes. While you are waiting, make your whipped cream. Mix whipping cream, remaining sugar and vanilla in bowl of standing mixer and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I left this in the fridge while I was gone also) as well as your whisker attachment or beaters if not using a stand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form and fold into the banana mixture. Here is where you can decide if you want to use all the whipped cream or just half, either way, you won’t use all the mixture in your filling. There will be plenty. Use as much as you would like and place your banana slices into the filling or don’t use them at all, it is up to you. I wanted them. After placing your second layer on top of your filling and evening out any spilling or overage, place your cake in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes while you make your frosting.
Frosting from gimme some oven
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
Stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (just start with a tablespoon or two), stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. (Be careful, as the mixture will definitely bubble up and possibly splatter a bit as you add in the cream.) Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes. Again, for my taste I would have liked the frosting to taste a bit more caramel flavor so next time I will double the recipe.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately (or to harden the frosting a bit). I didn’t need to do this and I am sure it helped too that my cake was already chilled. Frost as you would like.
I had to keep my cake in the fridge because it was blazing hot that night and the next day. It wasn’t covered and it was still lovely. I took it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Also, if you absolutely, absolutely don’t want to make the homemade caramel, you can substitute in some caramel topping to put into the buttercream instead. I wouldn’t do this though because you won’t know how to do it right unless you keep trying.