Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Cake that Nearly Killed Me

Well, another set of birthdays over and done with (for 12 days at least, then it's my turn!). Whew! For some reason, even though it's been the same round of birthdays for 3 or 4 years now, this go-round seemed to be so much busier! I think it was the major party thing this year for my mom that did it. But no matter! Birthdays are fun, especially when you are the one throwing the parties and making the cakes! Most people that I know would probably dispute that, though, but what can I say - I love cooking for others, and don't mind doing the dishes! My birthdays aren't nearly as fun... I never know what to say when people ask me what I want! It's like Christmas... I don't need anything, and God knows what I like, it changes so often!

This cake for my Dad and Martha's birthdays (one right after the other... can we say soulmates?) could have killed any lingering birthday joy though... a combination of a messed-up cake recipe, hot butter and sugar and my lack of basic chemistry skills could have equalled some serious fire and smoke in the kitchen, not to mention a heck of a mess! Thank God for the small miracles of persistence, chocolate, peanut butter and extra cake pans!

So, here's what happened, in case you were wondering:

  1. I used this recipe, based on the 2 votes I got (thanks Valli and Andrew!), which would have been okay if, you know, it had been written in a format I could have followed and that would have actually fit into the pans it suggested. As it so happens, 2 pans = BIG MESS. Use 3. Cake's good otherwise, though!
  2. Dealing with 3 layers meant that I figured there wouldn't be enough glaze to go around (I was obviously wrong, even with my sorry excuse for glaze that lost 1/2 of it to the sink). Happy ending to this was that I whipped up a chocolate and peanut butter ganache to sandwich between each layer (and yes, I'll pass on the recipe). Need I say yum?
  3. Ah, yes... the infamous glaze. Apparently there was a reason I flunked the Grade 10 Chemistry unit in my science class... forgetting that baking soda + buttermilk will foam, and when you add heat = BIG FOAM. Lets throw in some melted sugar and butter to that, shall we? What do we get... BIG FOAMY BOILING SUGAR SCARY MONSTER. Can you tell hot sugar scares the sh*t out of me?? I couldn't even do it for our Creme Caramels in Baking Class... my awesome partner did that part for both of us!

Really, when all was said and done, the cake was a huge hit... moist, buttery, and perfect with the ganache layers too. My favourite thing was the photos though... they look like syrup drenched pancakes! Enjoy this unusual, if insanity-inducing, cake - and with luck you won't have any mistakes like mine to learn from!

Buttery Banana Cake with a Buttermilk Glaze - Take 2
Serves 16
1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup cultured, European-style butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ tbsp cornstarch
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla


¾ cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
½ teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease and flour one 9 x 13" pan or three 9” round pans.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice and buttermilk, 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 flours.
  8. Bake for 1 ¼ hours, or until tests done.
  9. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes.


  1. For glaze, combine all remaining ingredients but vanilla in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil (it will foam a *lot*), and cook for 5-6 minutes until thick and syrupy.
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and allow it to cool 10 minutes.
  4. Turn out cake onto a rack, placing it over a cookie sheet (to catch glaze drips!).
  5. Pour the thickened glaze over the entire cake (or each of the rounds*, stacking them before glazing everything).
  6. Allow to set completely before serving. Keep in the fridge.

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

If you're like me and don't want the glaze in between each layer, wanting a ganache-type thing, here's what I did:

Chocolate - Peanut Butter Ganache
Makes enough filling for a 3-layer cake (16 servings)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp salted butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 -1/2 cup semisweet chocolate

  1. Combine milk, butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat 1-2 minutes on HI, until very hot and peanut butter in runny.
  3. Stir in chocolate, allow to cool and thicken to desired consistency.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 61.4
Total Fat: 4.7 g
Cholesterol: 1.0 mg
Sodium: 28.9 mg
Total Carbs: 4.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 1.7 g


  1. I'm totally imagining you in your kitchen with a big sword and shield trying to fight back the "BIG FOAMY BOILING SUGAR SCARY MONSTER" ACK! Too funny~ glad everything turned out well.

  2. Hey Sarah! The glasses are by Lolita and you can find them on the web just by searching for them - lots of stores carry them and there are all kinds of designs!! :)


Thanks for the feedback!