marbled banana bundt cake

marbled banana bundt cake

This baby bundt is so cute! I bought a new six-cup bundt cake pan from Amazon. The six-cupper is ideal when you don’t want to bring a whole cake to the office. Of course, I had leftover batter so that went into a loaf pan. The cake was so tender, moist, and not very sweet.  AJ and I ate two loaf cake slices each! So I wrapped the rest of it up airtight so we wouldn’t finish the entire cake in one sitting.

Marbled Banana Bundt Cake (Adapted from Baking Bites)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours (Today was so cold when I opened the kitchen window. Cooling time was drastically reduced to 20 minutes!)

1/2 cup butter, plus 1 tablespoon, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe, medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup low fat Greek style yogurt (or sour cream)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon flour. Brush this butter-flour mixture inside one 6 cup bundt cake pan and one 8 1/2×4 1/2 inch loaf pan (6 cup capacity). As you can see from the measures, you can also combine and use one 12-cup bundt cake pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: Because I use pans with a dark non-stick finish, cakes have a tendency to over-brown in them. I discovered that pre-heating the oven to 325˚ takes longer to bake the cake and I end up with a crusty brown exterior. I now preheat the oven to 350˚F and reduce the heat to 325˚F just when the cakes are placed in the oven. The result, as you can see in the photo, is a perfectly golden brown exterior.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one by one, until each has been just incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract and mashed bananas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the sour cream or yogurt, followed by the remaining flour mixture, stirring after each addition.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter into a small bowl and stir in cocoa powder. Pour 1/4 of the plain batter into the prepared bundt pan and 1/4 of the remainder into the prepared loaf pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter to the edges and corners. Top each pan with half the cocoa batter. Spoon half the remaining plain batter on top of the cocoa batter. Repeat with the other pan. Run a knife through the batter gently to swirl. Tap pans gently on the counter to settle the batter.

Cake Baker’s Note: I misjudged the plain batter so the loaf cake did not have a plain batter topping. Appearance doesn’t matter because the cake still bakes up “marbled.” Next time I bake this, I will not swirl the chocolate layer in the bundt but let it bake up like a tunnel cake with a chocolate center.

Put the pans in the oven. If they are dark non-stick pans, reduce the heat at once to 325˚F. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Turn cakes out and place them onto a wire rack to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Unmold the cakes and turn them right side up to let them continue to cool on the rack. Wrap thoroughly cooled cakes airtight in plastic if they are not going to be eaten right away. Cooled cake can be stored wrapped airtight in a cake keeper for 2 days.

Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or à la mode–with ice cream.

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strawberry buttermilk country cake

strawberry buttermilk country cake

When I first made a Buttermilk Country Cake, it came with a very unique method. The butter was added to the dry ingredients and the  wet ingredients were added to the butter-flour mixture.  I never had much success with this method so I’ve adapted the method to the more traditional one where the butter and sugar are creamed together. This cake turned out so yummy, so moist and tender. In this iteration of the Country Cake,  there is no buttermilk because I used sour milk. I also added strawberries to the batter. Of course, the fruit can be added last on top of a layer of creme fraiche, too.

Strawberry Buttermilk Country Cake (adapted from: The Cake Bible).

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes

Have at room temperature:
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup buttermilk (I used sour milk: 1 tablespoon vinegar in a measuring cup topped with milk to 1 cup line. Pour off 1/3 of the milk. I’ve never found a recipe for 2/3 cup sour milk!)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour (1 1/2 cups all purpose plus 4 tablespoons cornstarch)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of strawberries, trimmed and sliced

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Use this butter-flour mixture to grease one 9×2 inch spring form cake pan, bottom lined with waxed paper, then greased again.

Cake Baker’s Note: If your pan has a dark nonstick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F and test cake  after 25 minutes.

In a medium bowl, lightly combine egg yolks, buttermilk or sour milk, and vanilla.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk flour mixture to combine. To a large mixing bowl, add butter and sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour mixture in three additions alternating with the yolk mixture in two batches. Beat until just incorporated, scraping down the sides after each addition.

Scrape half the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter half the strawberries on top. Scrape the remaining batter on top. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula. The pan will be 1/2 full. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate air bubbles. Lightly press the remaining strawberries into the top of the batter. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cake Baker’s Note: Hmm. The strawberries sank to the bottom. I read somewhere that if you lightly dust the strawberries with flour they won’t sink… Must try that sometime.

Cool cake in the pan on a rack 10 minutes. Loosen the sides and invert onto a greased wire rack. Remove paper circle and re-invert to cool completely. In my oven, the cake required the full 40 minutes.

To serve, dust with powdered sugar, if you like. If desired, omit strawberries and top with crème fraîche and sliced peaches, strawberries, or bananas. Dip one side of cut fruit in lemon or lime juice to prevent browning. Place un-dipped side down on top of the crème fraîche.

strawberry buttermilk country cake

avocado marble cake

avocado marble cake

Avocado Marble Cake (adapted from Cake Whiz)
There is very little fat in this cake. I think the avocado must replace most of the fats. It has a light, chocolate-y flavor with a moist tender crumb and a crisp baked exterior. The cake is merely pale green after it is baked.

Ingredients
For the avocado cake batter, have at room temperature:
1 ripe avocado (processed into a smooth paste so there are no lumps)
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate batter to create the “marbling” effect:
1 1/2 cup avocado cake batter (same as above)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4-5 tablespoons whipping cream (more or less may be needed to make batter smooth)
5 tablespoons sugar (omitted)

Preparation
Preheat the oven 350˚F. Spray cooking spray inside two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans. Into the workbowl of a food processor, scrape the avocado and puree it into a smooth paste so there are no lumps. Scrape the pureed avocado into a deep mixing bowl. Then add the sugar and blend.

Add eggs, one at a time, to the avocado and blend until smooth. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes until the batter becomes green and creamy. Depending on the ripeness of the avocado, and how fast it oxidizes at room temperature, the mixture may turn from light green to the color of your grandmother’s 70s style avocado-green refrigerator.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix milk, whipping cream, and vanilla. Now add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

On low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture to the avocado-egg mixture until just incorporated. Add half of the milk mixture and mix until just blended. Add half the remaining flour until just blended. Add the remaining milk until just blended. Add the rest of the flour, mixing until just blended. Scrape down the bowl for the last time.

Now, scoop out 1 1/2 cups of this avocado cake batter and put it in a separate bowl. Add cocoa powder, sugar (omitted) and cream. Mix with a wire whisk until the batter is smooth.

Pour avocado cake batter into prepared loaf pans. Fill them a little less than half-way each.

Now, add random spoonfuls of chocolate batter on top of the avocado cake batter.

Run a small spatula in a figure eight through the batter to create a “marbling” effect. Tap pans lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you’re using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat 25˚ and test the cake after 35 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Insert a thin blade around the edges to release the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely right side up on the cooling rack.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you are not going to eat the cake right away, wrap cooled cake airtight in plastic wrap and store covered on the counter top 2 days.

blueberry and yogurt coffee cake

blueberry and yogurt coffee cake

Strawberries and blueberries are now at Westside Market here in Manhattan, and they are for sale! Berries are a great mid-winter treat. We have been enjoying them with yogurt and honey and whipped up in smoothies. The next logical step in enjoying this bounty is to bake them. I adapted this recipe for Blueberry Coffee Cake that I found on Olga’s Home and Garden Blog via Coffee Kingdom. This is a great example of how recipes get swapped on the internet! Because I don’t keep buttermilk on hand, I swapped the two cups buttermilk for 1 cup sour milk and 1 cup yogurt thinned with milk. The original recipe called for a 9×13 inch pan but I swapped it for a tube pan, just to be different! The result was light and not too sweet, with a moist tender crumb. Oh, and one more thing, if you have opened baking powder and baking soda in your cupboard for a year as I have, throw them out and get fresh ones! It’s a new year for baking.

Blueberry and Yogurt Coffee Cake

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 60 minutes

For the cake, have at room temperature:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups white superfine sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour milk
3/4 cup Greek style yogurt (I recommend Fage)
1/4 cup nonfat milk
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I prefer baking with unbleached flour but you can use bleached)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries

For the topping, have at room temperature:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Use one 10-inch tube pan. Do not grease it. Sift together 4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Add 1/4 cup nonfat milk to 3/4 cup yogurt and stir. Set aside.

Cake Baker’s Note: To make sour milk, put 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a one-cup measure. Top up with nonfat milk to the one-cup line. Set aside 2 minutes to curdle.

 In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

First add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add 1 cup sour milk, and 1/2 the  remaining flour. Add milk-yogurt mixture and the rest of the flour. After each addition, beat until just combined. Scrape the bowl after beating.  Stir in blueberries by hand. Pour batter into the tube pan. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup flour and 2/3 cup sugar. Using 2 knives, cut in 6 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle generously over top of batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Test the cake by inserting a cake tester near the center. The tester should come out with a few moist crumbs attached. If there is batter on the tester, bake an additional 5 minutes then test again. Repeat in 5 minute increments, if necessary.

Cool in the tube pan right side up 10 minutes. Insert a thin blade around the sides and remove it. Insert a metal skewer around the center tube. Remove the pan bottom by inserting the blade between the cake and the pan,  pressing away from the bottom. Cool cake thoroughly right side up on a wire cooling rack.

blueberry and yogurt coffee cake

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

This is definitely a keeper. And a work in progress! The cake had a tender moist crumb with the pleasant tang of lemon throughout. The topping was crunchy, sugary, and at the same time, lemony. I think that filling needs some sweet strawberries as contrast with that tangy lemon.  I feel I need to work out the problem with the pan and then I might solve the problem of the crusty exterior.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 12-16

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

For the Cake, have at room temperature:
2 1/4 cups (11.25 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7.75 oz) plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups sour cream

For the Filling, have at room temperature:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Topping, have at room temperature:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Prepare 1 tube pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: the original recipe said to spray the pan with cooking spray. This pan should have “feet” so that it can cool upside down elevated off the counter top. In the ATK video, they were using a one-piece pan with a dark nonstick finish. I have a shiny aluminum 2 piece pan. When I unmolded it, the cake fell out of the pan because of the cooking spray. The next time I make this, I will not spray the pan.

In a large bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and sugar and lemon zest to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add 4 eggs one at a time until well blended. Add vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour to the batter in the bowl, mixing on low speed. Add half the sour cream and blend. Add half the remaining flour and mix. Add the rest of the sour cream and beat together. Mix in the remaining flour. Remove the mixing bowl and stir by hand with a spatula to incorporate the flour. Remove 1 1/4 cups batter and set aside. Don’t wash out the mixing bowl or the paddle.

Place large dollops of the remaining 2/3 batter in the bowl into the prepared pan, evenly spreading the batter with an offset spatula.

Make the cream cheese filling. To the mixing bowl, add cream cheese, 5 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 teaspoons lemon juice. Mix on medium speed 1 minute until creamy. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved batter and blend.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you wish, fold  1/2 cup chopped strawberries into the cream cheese filling.

Add the filling to the top of the cake batter in dollops. Use the off set spatula to spread the filling almost to the edge. Add the last cup of batter to cover the cream cheese filling, spreading it with the offset spatula. Swirl the batter with the tip of the offset spatula using a figure eight motion while turning the pan one-quarter turn until one circuit is completed. Tap the cake pan on the counter firmly 3 times to remove air bubbles and settle the batter.

For the topping, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, with 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Use your fingers to mix the topping ingredients. Spread on top of the cake, lightly pressing the topping mixture into the batter so it won’t fall off after baking.

Bake 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. It might have crumbs on it because of the filling. Another test is to lightly press the top. It should spring back and you shouldn’t see your fingerprint in the top. Invert the cake in the pan over a rimmed baking tray with a cooling rack and cool in the pan 1 hour.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle the pan to remove the sides and bottom–if it is a two-piece tube pan. It isn’t necessary to invert the pan. Cool thoroughly 1 1/2 hours before slicing and serving. If you’re not going to eat it right away, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap airtight and store in the refrigerator. Bring the cake to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the tube pan does not have “feet” stick a funnel in the center tube and invert the pan over the funnel so the cake is elevated off the counter. Cool in the pan as directed.

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

banana bread with rum and almonds and turbinado sugar topping

banana bread

On a whim, I added rum to this recipe. This is my favorite recipe for banana bread that originally came from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. Over the years I’ve tinkered with it and it has stood up remarkably well to the indignities to which it was subjected by an inexperienced baker.  For example, I once reduced the amount of sugar in it by one-third. That was a bad idea because the result was not as tender nor as sweet. One early departure from the original recipe was to use a slightly smaller loaf pan size than the 9-inch pan in the original recipe. I like a taller loaf. Encouraged, I kept experimenting with the recipe. I have used brown sugar when I ran out of white, which was great. The bread simply was a darker color because of the substitution.   I’ve thrown raisins in but I prefer it with dried cranberries, which are slightly tart instead of super-sweet, and bake up plump and moist. This time I’ve splashed rum into the batter, and I added a topping of sugar and almonds. The result of this latest experimentation baked up wonderfully moist with a fine crumb and a crunchy caramelized topping.

Banana Bread with Rum and Almonds and Turbinado Sugar Topping

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 bananas)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries, optional
3 tablespoons dark rum, optional

Topping:
1/4 cup turbinado or brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan or four two 7×4 inch mini-loaf pans. Spray with cooking spray to cut down on calories.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F

Sift together the dry ingredients: flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Cream the shortening, adding sugar gradually. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the rum, if using. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. If using raisins or cranberries, add to the bananas. Add the flour, mixing until just blended, alternating with half the bananas-raisin/cranberry mixture. Mix in half the remaining flour then add the rest of the bananas-raisin/cranberry mixture. Finally, add the rest of the flour. Do not over mix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to mix the topping and lightly press it into the top of the batter. Bake 50 minutes or until done. [40 minutes in a convection oven]

Cake Baker’s Note: If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, test the bread after 45 minutes. If the tester comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven.

banana bread

“where’s the recipe?”

Image

Brandi had asked me this question about the rosemary loaf cake. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to publish because it didn’t have the height or the texture I expected. This is because I tried a new recipe with a new stand mixer. (I’m used to hand-held mixers.) I have always taken my baking tool–the mixer I used–as a consistent part of my baking, not a variable that needs to be controlled. Now I’ve learned that even with a good brand mixer, I need to figure out its quirks and limitations, or it will affect the product quality.

peach cake

Peach Cake (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
The cooks at America’s Test Kitchen maintain that peaches these days do not have the flavor they once had.  They need a flavor boost. Though I agree with them, I did not want to buy a whole bottle of  peach schnapps. I would never bake enough peach cakes to finish it. So I substituted peach flavoring for the schnapps. And I substituted yogurt for the sour cream. The cake came out moist and tender, dense with fruit and a delicate scent of peach that lingered even after baking.

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges
2 1/2 teaspoons peach flavoring
4 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek style yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed in a food processor

Preparation

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. In a small bowl, gently toss 24 peach wedges with 1 teaspoon peach flavoring, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; set aside.

2. Cut remaining peach wedges crosswise into thirds. In a medium bowl, gently toss chunks with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons peach flavoring, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Spread peach chunks in single layer on prepared sheet and bake until exuded juices begin to thicken and caramelize at edges of sheet, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack and let peaches cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cake Baker’s Note: If using a pan with a dark non-stick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F.

3. Brush a 9-inch spring form pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with a tablespoon flour. Whisk a cup of flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and eggs together in second bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add yogurt, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture all at once and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to over mix!

4. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle crushed breadcrumbs evenly over cooled peach chunks and gently toss to coat. Arrange peach chunks on batter in even layer, gently pressing peaches into batter. Gently spread remaining batter over peach chunks and smooth top. Arrange reserved peach wedges, slightly overlapped, in a ring over the surface of cake, placing smaller wedges in center.

Cake Baker’s Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems a little skimpy for the amount of peaches. It will rise on baking and fill in the spaces.

Stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in small bowl until sugar is moistened. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top of cake.

Cake Baker’s Note: I left out the sugar topping on the peaches. Didn’t need it, didn’t miss it!

5. Bake until center of cake is set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Cake Baker’s Note: If using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, check to see if the cake is done after 45 minutes.