Saturday, May 2, 2009

Finding My Marbles!

This week was a very emotionally charged one for many of my friends - not only did I finish exams (and the accompanying school year), say goodbye to my friends and professors, and take a great trip to Yorkville with my mom today, but I had the chance to really brighten a few people's days too! Of course, I opted to bring the smiles with sugar and chocolate (is there anything better?).

This was actually the second cake I was commissioned to make this week, though it was due first so got prime ranking in our (already overburdened) fridge! It was a cake that served a double purpose, as it turned out... both as a celebratory gesture for my friend Magdalena's work anniversary and a sorrow-drowning tactic for the team as they had to say goodbye to my mom, who was shuffling jobs (and therefore offices). While it's depressing to think that I won't be able to drop by and hang out with everyone at once as easily as I used to, at least we don't have to move across the province for her new position (or out of province - that would really suck). In fact, mom's the only one who's doing any moving at all, since her new office is a grand 15 minutes down the street!

Magdalena (who the cake was actually ordered for - by my mom no less!) is a huge fan of my banana bread, and I had also heard through the grapevine of women at the office that there was a call out for something chocolate too! I knew the combination was already a winner... heck, banana chocolate chip bread was one of my absolute favourite snacks as a kid... the trick was how to combine them into a somewhat fancy cake-like object that would serve the horde, decorate it and transport it in one piece! I wound up deciding on marbling the two flavours - I've always adored marble cake! - and figured a double-decker sheet cake would fit the bill nicely since I had the perfect filling in mind!

Nicole at Baking Bites (as seems to be my go-to source these days) gave me the perfect inspiration for a recipe: her Black and White Marble Sheet Cake looked just what I was after. After flipping back and forth to the recipe a couple, oh, dozen times, it occured to me that it was basically only the method that needed to remain the same. I ditched the notion of sheeted layers for a triple-decker round instead, with a base of chocolate instead of the vanilla in the original. That part was fairly simple, since all I had to do was remove a smaller portion of plain batter to flavour / colour with banana before making the large portion chocolate. The fun part (speaking as someone who abhors math in any way, shape or form) was realizing that everything needed to be multiplied by 1 1/2, not simply doubled as I thought before. Sigh! I guess that's what calculators are for, right??

At any rate, the cakes came out beautifully, smelling to high heaven of caramelizing sugar and rich cocoa (as I HOPE heaven smells like - really, if I can't bake in the afterlife I'm not too sure I'll strive towards nirvana, thank you very much!). A simple peanut butter buttercream filling glued the works together, before I got down to work smearing gratuitous amounts of espresso-fudge frosting over the body. Two hours after starting that little endeavour, I chucked it into the fridge to firm up, then later I finished it up by making a gorgeous (if I do say so myself) banana-chip sunflower with a dash of sanding sugar for sparkle. It may not have been the fanciest cake I've put out, but it was one of the most special to me.


Marbled Banana Cake
Serves 20
3 cups flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter, use 1 1/2 tsp)
1 1/4 cups sugar
5.5 oz salted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup full-fat, Greek-style vanilla (or plain) yogurt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp banana extract
1 tsp yellow food colouring (optional)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
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Filling
2/3 cup buttercream icing
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (preferably unsweetened)
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
---
Chocolate-Espresso Frosting
2 cups buttercream icing
3 tbsp unsweetened (preferably Dutch process) cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp instant espresso powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, grease two 10" springform pans well and line the bottoms with parchment.
  2. Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until light.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and yogurt.
  5. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to creamed mixture, ending with flour, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Scoop out about 1 1/2 cups of the batter and put into a separate bowl. Add banana extract and food colouring if using.
  7. Combine brown sugar, cocoa powder and water in a small bowl, then stir into vanilla batter, beating well.
  8. Pour chocolate batter into pans.
  9. Top with dollops of the banana batter, then drag a skewer or knife through to create a swirling pattern - don’t over marble.
  10. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until tests done.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing, filling and frosting.

Filling:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until thick and rich-textured. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Frosting:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, beating until thoroughly blended.
  2. Mask and finish cake as desired. Store in fridge.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 423.6
Total Fat: 17.2 g
Cholesterol: 51.7 mg
Sodium: 157.3 mg
Total Carbs: 64.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 6.7 g

The guys at the office got the honour of hacking dividing it up, but I don't think the women minded at all! I only wish I could have been there to watch the sugar comas that ensued!

1 comment :

Cate O'Malley said...

You can't go wrong with chocolate - the cake looks fabulous!