Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

My dear readers, I come to you today with a dilemma! I have a rather fast succession of birthdays coming up in the next few months, beginning with Andrew's mother at the end of Febuary, continuing along to my mom's a week into March, followed by Martha and my dad's birthdays one after the other. I also get to look forward to my birthday in April and the little sister's birthday 8 days later! Whew, I think I covered them all!

Unfortunately, I'm at a loss as to what I can make for Andrew's mom for her celebration... she's diabetic (which I easily handle, having experience with my stepfather and grandfather) but she is afraid of consuming anything sweet for fear that her stomach won't agree with it. Then of course you have me, with proven stomach issues, who will gorge herself on sushi any chance she gets. Go figure. My mom's birthday party is a large one this year (she's turning 18 again this year, so it's important!) but since some of the Italian attendees are a bit *ahem* basic in their palates, I've been rendered to my (still delicious) but plain Buttermilk Vanilla Cake. With a measured *read: huge* amount of effort, I think I've managed to obtain permission to make a lasagne as well as an alternate to the catered, underwhelming but over-oiled concoction that is part of that afternoon's offerings. We shall see, I have one other sweet treat up my sleeve for the afternoon to do as well for those who like their cakes dark, decadent and pretty much insane, so at any rate the kitchen will still look like a disaster!

Where I'm caught is in my decision for my dad's and Martha's birthday cake. My dad's a banana man (that much I know), but I'm not sure if I should take his birthday as an excuse to have a balls-out caking explosion in my kitchen with an untried (yet undeniably decadent) recipe adapted from a trusted Canadian FoodTV personality, or if I stick to the basics with the cake I made him last year. I'm going to post both of the recipes here for open critique and input, and you... yes you there with the coffee cup and bleary eyes!!... will help me decide the Yummy Smell that marks my dad and Martha's birthday! Let me know in an e-mail or in the comments below!!

So, without further ado...

An adapted version of a decadent Anna Olson recipe (photo of which is below), this first cake is Boston Cream Pie at it’s utmost, filled with nutty flavour and creamy custard and drenched in a chocolate-nut ganache. The custard needs to chill and the cake needs to stand overnight before assembly, so this is a two day affair.

Peanut Butter Banana Boston Cream Pie
Serves 12
2 cups evaporated skim milk
¾ cup low-fat creamy peanut butter
4 egg yolks
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup 1% milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 medium, overripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract (optional)
½ cup cake flour
½ cup brown rice flour
½ tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup low-fat, sweetened condensed milk
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz peanut butter chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate and place in a deep baking dish.
  2. Beat peanut butter, yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and nutmeg until thick and creamy.
  3. Heat evaporated milk to just below a simmer, and pour into peanut butter mixture.
  4. Pour into prepared pie plate and pour boiling water around it.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool to room temperature and chill custard in pie plate completely.
  7. Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan, line the bottom with parchment, then grease again and dust lightly with flour.
  8. Heat milk and butter until butter is melted, and keep warm.
  9. Whip egg, banana and sugar until very thick and pale yellow.
  10. Add extracts and beat smooth.
  11. Sift flours, baking powder and salt, and add to egg mixture, mixing only until blended.
  12. Carefully pour in hot butter and milk, and mix again until barely blended.
  13. Scrape into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  14. Let cool for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate, peel off parchment, then invert (so top is up) onto a rack to cool completely. Chill in fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  15. To assemble, slice cake into 2 layers.
  16. Stir chilled custard smooth, and spread over bottom layer.
  17. Top with second layer and chill while preparing glaze.
  18. Stir condensed milk, chocolate and peanut butter chips over medium-low heat until melted and shiny.
  19. Spread glaze over cake and chill until ready to serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 381.5
Total Fat: 16.6 g
Cholesterol: 100.7 mg
Sodium: 209.8 mg
Total Carbs: 50.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.7 g
Protein: 12.1 g


This second dessert was what I put together for last year's birthday party - a rich, buttery yellow cake that is fragrant with ripe bananas, and topped with a sweet, yet tangy, thick glaze draped over it, this is some seriously delicious cake! Don’t be put off by the low baking temperature or the freezer step, both things keep this cake as wonderful as it is! After glazing, keep this sucker in the fridge, if you can wait that long!

Buttery Banana Cake with a Buttermilk Glaze
Serves 16
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5)
¾ cup cultured, European-style butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease and flour one 9 x 13 pan or two 9” round pans.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
  3. Mix flours, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Whisk cornstarch with 3 tbsp cold water until smooth, then whisk into the egg along with the vanilla
  6. Beat this slurry into the creamed mixture.
  7. Beat in banana mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
  8. Bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours, or until tests done.
  9. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes.
  10. For glaze, combine all remaining ingredients but vanilla in a small pot.
  11. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5-6 minutes until thick and syrupy; add vanilla and allow it to cool slightly.
  12. Turn out cake onto a rack, placing it over a cookie sheet (to catch glaze drips!)
  13. Pour the thickened, cool(ish) glaze over the entire cake (or 1 of the 2 rounds, then stack them and glaze everything).
  14. Allow to set completely before serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 377.2
Total Fat: 15.3 g
Cholesterol: 53.3 mg
Sodium: 40.2 mg
Total Carbs: 57.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 4.1 g Thanks in advance for your thoughts!!!

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

u forgot about keegs b-day on march 29th so maybe we can see him lol

Bellini Valli said...

You are making the decision tough Sarah...but I vote for the second cake...tried and true...it sounds delicious as well unless your dad is a die hard Boston Cream fan.