Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anything-But-Bland Birthday Cake

I'm starting to realize that, unintentionally, a lot of the foods I cook and then choose to blog on this site are rather bland in color (like this and this and this, for starters). And it doesn't help that the plates on which I serve and photograph the food aren't remarkably colorful themselves. As far as the plates go, I'll try to work something out. But where the appearance of the food is concerned, don't let a limited color palate influence your perceptions of tastiness; they simply are not related.

Case in point: this cake I made for my dad's birthday. Yes, color-wise it doesn't look that interesting. But I've tasted all the constituent parts (various shades of white to taupe), and they are yummy. The color does not make the cake, the flavors do. And this one is a winner.

Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

for 3 9"-cakes:
3 c cake flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c milk
1/2 c mashed ripe bananas
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 c sugar
7 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9" round cake pans, lining the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper and buttering that as well.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
Blend the milk and mashed bananas in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and banana puree alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until just blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Divide the batter among the cake pans.
Bake 20 -25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

for white chocolate ganache:
8 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Put the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 c cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, letting it stand for 1 minute before whisking to a smooth consistency. Let the white chocolate cream stand until cooled to room temperature.
In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, beat the remaining 2 c cream and the vanilla until softly whipped. Stir in the white chocolate cream and beat until fairly stiff, taking care not to overbeat the mixtures, which would cause the ganache to separate.

for praline filling:
1 c pralines
1 1/2 c white chocolate ganache

Chop the pecans with a food processor or large chef's knife. Set aside about 1 tbsp of the chopped pralines, adding the rest to the white chocolate ganache and stir to mix well.

to assemble the cake:
Put a dallop of white chocolate ganache in the center of the cake stand or serving plate to keep the cake in place. Place one layer, flat side down, on the cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with half of the praline filling, leaving a 1/4" margin around the edges. Place the second layer on top, flat side up, and cover it with the remaining filling. Place the third layer on top, flat side up, and frost the top and sides of the cake with the white chocolate ganache. Sprinkle with the reserved tbsp of chopped pralines.


Amy's Mom said...

The cake was delicious. So good that we had to leave the leftovers at Grandma and Grandpa's house! We'll have to bake another.

Mike Dodaro said...

Ah...wait for it, wait for it...mazing

Anonymous said...

That looks fantastic. I'm going to try to make Mary make me one.

Or maybe I should just make it myself.