It seems like baking one cake from a choice of four each month would be easy. I mean, the hardest part for me is deciding what to make so having a limited selection should make it easier. But then I read about each and they all sound so good! All of the recipes I've made from Maida Heatter's Cake Book have been great, so I knew I'd be happy no matter what I chose. I was really tempted to make the lemon loaf cake, but I did a loaf in November when I did the pumpkin gingerbread. The bull's eye cheesecake looked like fun too, and I always love a good cheesecake. But when I read the description of the frosting for this Star-Spangled Banana Cake, I knew I had to make this one. I was excited to join this group so that I could push my boundaries a bit and I had never made a frosting like this. Plus the idea of a four layer cake with a GALLON of fluffy frosting was definitely intriguing.
The cake itself was pretty straight forward. It came together easily and turned out ok. Honestly we have been so spoiled with Di's Banana Cake, that it had a lot to live up to. It was a fine banana cake, almost like a banana bread baked in 4 round cakes. Had we not been introduced to our favorite banana cake last year, we probably would have raved over it. As it is, it really was quite good.
The highlight of this recipe for me was making the frosting. It is always fun to try something so different than what you normally make. When I read through the instructions and saw that she said this frosting had to be made in at least a 4 quart mixer and even then it might go over the edge if you weren't careful I knew this was the one for me. I LOVE frosting and any excuse to use a whole gallon of the fluffy stuff on a cake is a good one for me. The recipe was slightly intimidating as it started with a hot sugar syrup and whipped egg whites, but it really came together easily. It did completely fill my mixer bowl, but luckily I didn't ever really have to reduce the speed to keep it in. It was so fluffy and a little tacky. It held its shape perfectly. I would suggest getting it how you want it right away though, it gets even tackier as it sits.
Star-Spangled Banana Cake
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large fully ripe bananas (about 2 1/2 cups, mashed)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
- Adjust racks in your oven so that they roughly divide the oven into thirds. Preheat to 350 F and prepare 4 9-in round pans. I just used the baking spray with the flour in it, but use your preferred method.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In your mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.
- Add eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.
- Lightly mash together the bananas and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and mix until combined.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture until completely added. Mix until just combined.
- Divide the batter among the four prepared pans. The layer of batter in each pan will be thin. Smooth and place in oven so that no pan is directly over another.
- Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the tops spring back when gently touched.
- Invert and cool right side up on a wire rack.
3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 large egg whites), at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
14 oz shredded coconut
- Prepare you mixer (it really does need to have at least a 4 quart bowl).
- In a medium saucepan stir together sugar, corn syrup and water. Stirring frequently, heat mixture over medium heat until it comes to a full boil. Turn off heat.
- In the mixer, beat egg whites and sugar until you have stiff peaks. Keep the mixer on high speed and slowly (and carefully!) pour hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. Stop occasionally to turn off the mixer and scrape the sides. You want to be sure it all gets mixed together. If the icing looks like it is going to grow out of the bowl, turn down the mixer speed a bit. (I did not have to do that, but it definitely filled my mixer bowl)
- Once all of the sugar syrup is mixed in, add the vanilla and almond extract. Keep mixer on high (if possible) for about 15 minutes. You want the icing to hold a very stiff peak.
- To assemble, layer a cake round then a generous amount of frosting. Repeat until you place the last cake round on top. Ice the sides of the cake, then spread remaining icing over the top.
- Using your hands, press coconut into the icing on the sides of the cake. Keep adding coconut until you reach your desired coverage.
- Let cake sit at room temperature until ready to serve.
- Maida suggest using a long sharp knife and a deep pitcher of hot water to cut the cake. I don't think my knife was up to the challenge as a lot of the frosting squished out as I was trying to cut the cake. Next time I'll use a bigger knife!
Here is what the other ladies in The Cake Slice Bakers baked this month: