Banana Coconut Cake with Whipped Cream Icing

Tomorrow is the last day our landscape architecture studio is meeting (hopefully!). Its finals week here on campus, so classes are finishing up and projects are being completed. I decided to make a cake and take it to our studio since I’m always looking for a reason to try new baking recipes.

Today I made a banana cake with whipped cream icing topped with coconut. I have tons of frozen bananas in my freezer, so it gave me a good reason to make this recipe out of my Modern Baker book (I love this book!) He has all kinds of recipes for baking sweets and savory dishes.

Yes, you can freeze bananas. It’s a great way to use them when they’ve gone past their prime for regular eating. I usually buy bananas every week, but sometimes they go brown before I get to eat all of them. To freeze bananas, simply put them in the freezer as is, with peel and all. When you want to use them, just defrost them.

Mashed bananas from the freezer

I’ve found a good way to do this. Simply cut off the stem part of the bananas and defrost them in the microwave 1-2 minutes, depending on how many you have. I had three. Then I take a cutting knife and split the skin down the middle on one side. Then I peel back the skin. That’s it! They’re perfectly good. I like thawing them this way because they seem to become less watery, which is what happens when you thaw them in the refrigerator. It is still okay to do this. You can use the liquid in your baking, but you can also drain it if you want to.

Bananas have a high fat content, which is why they freeze well. If you want to use them in baking, make sure you let the bananas get really brown before you freeze them. This creates more of the banana flavor in the baked good. You can also use frozen bananas in smoothies.

BANANA COCONUT CAKE

BANANA CAKE

  • 2-1/3 C all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2sticks butter
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 1/3 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 C mashed bananas (about 3)
  • 2/3 C milk

WHIPPED CREAM ICING

  • 2 C whipping cream (1 pint)
  • a little less than 1/4 C sugar
  • shredded coconut

TO MAKE CAKE:

  • In one bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  • In another bowl, combine butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.
  • Beat until light in color.

  • Beat in eggs, one at a time.

  • In another bowl, combine milk and bananas.

  • Add 1/3 of flour mixture to the mix of butter, sugars, and eggs.
  • Add in half of the banana mixture, and alternate 1/3 flour, 1/2 banana, and then 1/3 flour.

  • Prepare baking dishes to your liking.
  • Either butter, spray with oil, and/or line with parchment in bottoms.

  • Bake cake in two 9 inch round pans, or one large square 9X13 baking dish.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.
  • Cool the cake in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely (so icing won’t melt).

TO MAKE WHIPPING CREAM

  • Combine heavy whipping cream and sugar.
  • Whisk until thick, about 10 minutes by hand (or let a mixer do it for you!).

*To stabilize the whipping cream, use a chilled metal bowl for the mixing. You may also purchase a whipping cream stabilizer packet at the store, or add in a teaspoon of cream of tartar. I used a packet of whipping cream stabilizer. This prevents the whipping cream from getting watery while sitting.

Frost the cake and sprinkle with the shredded coconut.

I like icing the bottom of the cake because it is rougher in texture and allows the icing to stay on better.

*For an even more sophisticated cake, add in a tablespoon of dark rum to both the cake and icing mixtures. This is called for in the original recipe.

Carrot Cake

>I haven’t been really cooking that much lately because of being busy. Wednesday was our last community meeting with Scott County. Our project is finally wrapping up and our final book and products are being put together. They will soon be on the web!

A few photos from the meeting in Scott County:

Paul developed a comprehensive greenway
James studied the Horsey Hundred bicycle trail
Mike looked at a county wide land-use vision

This weekend is going to be pretty eventful. It looks like the weather isn’t going to cooperate though, so some of the things we planned may not happen. For this busy weekend, I’m fixing a two layer round cake, which I haven’t done before. Since Easter is coming up soon, I decided that it should be a carrot cake. I’m always up for a baking challenge! Here is my adapted recipe from Alton Brown’s.

If you didn’t want to use the round cake pans, I think a 9X13 pan would work well. If you do, you may want to cut the frosting recipe in a third since you will only be frosting the top! It was a little too much frosting as it was!

Mixing the white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt
Buttering the pans
Let’s hope everyone likes it!
Final cake!
I have a sugar rush just by making it!

CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
CAKE

  • Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
  •  2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots, medium grate, 4-6 medium carrots
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces honey Greek yogurt
  • 6 ounces Canola oil
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows


CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together until smooth.  
Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Makes about 2 cups

DIRECTIONS

Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Grate the carrots and set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl.
Add the grated carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.
In another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.
While mixing, drizzle in the oil.
Add a third of the flour mix at a time to the wet mixture and fold in until just combined.
Pour half into each of the cake pans and bake for 16-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan.
After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely.
To Frost:
Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.
Frost only the top of one cake layer
Top with finely crushed toasted walnuts
Add second layer, then continue top and sides

Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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Meyer Lemons

I’ve seen Meyer lemons in the grocery store, but wondered how they were different and why they cost more. I recently came across some recipes using them, so I thought next time at the grocery I’d get some. They’re sweeter than normal lemons, which makes them good to use in desserts. I zested the lemons and made some Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies, and made lemonade from the juice. The cookies have a very light lemon taste. But, these sugar cookies remind me of the Girl Scout cookies! These are healthier too than the boxed cookies.

Lemon Cheese Tart

One of my favorite baking books is “The Modern Baker” by Nick Malgieri. I like this book because it shows you methods of baking with all different types of doughs and how to make different icings. I’m not a huge fan of lemon desserts, but this one looked really good. It’s cold outside right now, so I think a lemon dessert might help with my dream of summer. This is a different dessert, so I think at a potluck it would stand out. Garnish with lemon zest or thin slivers of lemon peel and I think people will know it’s lemon.

Crust Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 stick cold butter
Whisk flour, salt and baking powder together.
Cut the cold butter into 8 pieces and add to mixture.
Pinch the butter into the flour until it is all broken up and mixed in.
Add in the sugar and one egg, mix. Then add other egg, mix.
Keep folding it over until it begins to stick together enough to take out and form a ball.
(An alternative method is to do all this with a food processor with the metal blade attachment)
Because of the sugar content, the dough can be kneaded about 15 times to make it form nicely.
Roll out into a circle 1″ larger than the pie/tart pan, about 1/2″ thick. Roll mostly from the center out with each pass, trying not to touch the edges too much.
Grease the pan and lay dough over, then form the edge to look nice.

Lemon Filling Recipe

  • 16 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (I’m going to add more next time for more lemon)
The cream cheese will need to be at room temperature. It will take a few hours to do so.
Add cream cheese to mixing bowl with sugar until soft and blended.
Add vanilla and lemon zest, mix.
Add one egg at a time, mixing after each one.
Add sour cream, mix.
Fill tart/pie pan with the lemon filling.
Set oven rack on the lowest position and pre-heat oven at 325 degrees. Bake 30 minutes.
While the tart is cooking, make the glaze.

Glaze

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
After the tart has cooked 30 minutes, add the glaze on top and cook an additional 10 minutes.
Garnish with thin lemon slices or zest.
If you are using a pie pan (like I did), cook longer (mine took an additional 20 minutes because the pie pan makes the dessert thicker than a tart pan.) It may still ‘wiggle’ but it will set once it cools. Don’t worry if the lemon filling looks like it is going to spill over, it will lower and set once it has cooled too. I figured mine was done once the lemon filling was beginning to brown and crack at the top edge.
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