Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm Happy to Help

A friend of mine always answers the phone, "Hello, how may I serve you?" I think that's pretty risky. After all, you never know who might be calling or what kind of favor they might ask of you. Sometimes favors can be painful, expensive, or just annoying.

Imagine my pleasure then on being asked by Beth Lipton (aka CookiePie) to help out with a virtual cookbook tour. Now that's my kind of favor! I got a copy of her new book, You Made That Dessert? - Create Fabulous Treats, Even if You Can Barely Boil Water and I was supposed to pick one thing from it to bake and blog. Tthe hardest part about it was selecting just one thing. I gave it to my husband to let him pick what sounded really good to him and he returned the cookbook bristling with bookmarks. They all look good!

I love this cookbook. It's geared toward folk with kitchen phobias, giving very clear directions, straightforward steps, and any term which might be confusing is defined. Although it's aimed at beginners, the recipes are far from mundane and boring. They're elegant desserts that call for real ingredients. A pet peeve of mine is recipes that call for a boxed cake mix or a boxed pudding mix as an ingredient. (There is one recipe that calls for a boxed brownie mix, but since she includes several brownie recipes in the book, I'll give her a pass on that one.)

The cookbook is not enormous, but it fits in so much practical information, Beth must have used a shoehorn to get it all in. There are conversion tables, a glossary of terms, a short compendium of kitchen tools and ingredients, as well as baking tidbits scattered throughout the book.

Each recipe is clearly presented with all of the ingredients and all of the tools required listed in a side bar. Helpful for a kitchen newbie who doesn't know what her springform pan from her springerle mold. I think this is a perfect wedding or shower gift. What a great start to a marriage to know how to make your sweetie's favorite sweeties!

I have made more than one recipe from the book, but the one I'm sharing with you today is a gem. It's super simple, amazingly tasty, and it uses up 4 bananas. The amazing caramel frosting is irresistible. I sat my son down to do his handwriting next to the covered cake and when I returned 1/2 an hour later, about 1/4 of the cake was denuded of frosting. Yeah, irresistible.

Still not convinced you need to get your hands on this book? Check out what some other bloggers have made from it:

Two Peas and Their Pod
Recipe Girl
The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
Eat Me Delicious
Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Banana Snack Cake
- from You Made That Dessert? by Beth Lipton

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus 2 Tbsp for preparing baking pan)
1-1/2 cups (6.4 oz) all-purpose flour (plus 3 Tbsp for preparing baking pan)
1 cup (4.5 oz) whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large ripe bananas
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (8.4 oz) packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Tools needed:
9x13-inch baking pan
Small bowl
2 large bowls
Electric mixer
Flexible spatula
Wire cooling rack

1- Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Coat a 9x 13-inch baking pan with a thin layer of butter. Spoon 3 tablespoons of flour into the pan and move the pan all around to coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of flour. Tap out and discard the excess flour.

2- In a small bowl, mix together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a fork. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, leaving some chunks, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla.

3- In a separate large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula and beat again for 30 seconds. Add 1 egg, beat until incorporated, then beat in the next one. After adding the second egg, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with the spatula and beat again until uniform.

4- Using your flexible spatula, stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, mixing until the two are nearly combined. Stir in the mashed banana mixture, then add the remaining flour and walnuts (if using) and stir until completely combined, taking care to scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the flour. Try to mix the batter as little as possible.

5- Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top with your flexible spatula, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Let it cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Dust the top with powdered sugar, or frost the cake with Rich Caramel Frosting.

Rich Caramel Frosting

1-1/2 cups (11.5 oz) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry measuring cups
Liquid measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Large bowl
Electric Mixer

1- Combine the brown sugar, cream, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until the butter has melted, the sugar is fully moistened, and the ingredients are combined, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, whisking more frequently, until the caramel reaches a full boil (that is, even when you whisk it, it still boils). Once it reaches the full boiling stage, let it boil for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking vigorously and constantly. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. (Be careful: The caramel might spatter a bit, and it is extremely hot.)

2- Pour the hot caramel into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until cooled to lukewarm, and frosting has thickened to a spreading consistency and lightened in color, about 6 to 8 minutes. Use the frosting right away.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Love the caramel icing here, so excellent choice from what sounds like a wonderful cookbook.

Debbie said...

I always have so many extra bananas on hand so this is a great recipe for me! I will keep this and I know I'll be making it in the near future.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Haha! Your friend is DEFINITELY taking a risk by answering the phone like that ;)

I'm so excited that Beth's cookbook tour is taking place right now - that banana cake looks phenomenal!!

Barbara said...

Looks like a good, basic banana cake (love the sour cream in it)and then the caramel frosting... oh boy!

Dolce said...

From the first picture, I would have guessed peanut butter, but this is more original and definitely sounds enticing!

Shelby said...

The frosting here is absolutely delicious! I loved it- yes, I did make this one too! :-)

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Yum, out of all the recipes I've seen so far I think this is my fave. Of course I haven't seen the whole cookbook yet.

Maria said...

Great way to use up bananas! I almost made this one! I will have to try it soon. I linked to you:)

Unknown said...

it's official--i NEED this cookbook

Marysol said...

Lynn, you're about to help me clean out my freezer of a monkey's year supply of bananas!
Great pictures; I particularly liked the moist crumbs in the last photo.

grace said...

i'm not kidding when i say i would take a spoon to a bowl of that frosting and eat until i felt sick. i absolutely cannot resist caramel frosting. luscious. the cake's pretty nice, too. :)

Melinda said...

I think I have said before that I always seem to have over ripe bananas and know I have 6 tubs of them in the freezer...
A four banana cake recipe is brilliant! I will be making this for the gals at work.
P.S. I know I am owing you 3 emails...will write tomorrow to you.

Sheila @ The Deliberate Reader said...

Sounds delicious - does the book provide the weights or did you add those?

Katrina said...

I'm loving this book of Beth's!
I love all things banana and wow, caramel frosting! GREAT, Lynn!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sheila - I tried to present the recipe exactly as it is in the book, so you can see how clear Beth's instructions are. The weights are hers.

Aimée said...

Just beautiful, Lynn! I saw this recipe in Beth's marvelous book and was very tempted. I'll be trying it out soon.

CaSaundraLeigh said...

Speechless!!! :-D

eatme_delicious said...

I'm not usually one for banana cakes but I think the frosting on the cake definitely convinces me I must have it!! I can see why your son couldn't resist.

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Hi. I just came across your site. You have some great recipes here. This cake looks yummy!

Bunny said...

You are so right, choosing was the hardest part! Your cake looks wonderful!!

Unknown said...

I tried this cake, and it was great. The crumb was fairly dense without being dry, and the frosting. . . I've never had caramel frosting. I ate this cake more for the frosting than the cake, tho the cake is good - for breakfast- 3 days in a row. That frosting is wonderful.

LyB said...

Oh, this is my kind of cake! Bring on the caramel! :)