Birthday Cake Bonanza – September and October

I am beginning to get a sense of the likes and dislikes of my work office mates in terms of cakes.  My cakes from the last couple of months have been quite the hits.

Banana coconut cake and mini cup cakes with cream cheese icing, more coconut and walnuts

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Blueberry cake with lemon cream cheese icing and candied lemon slices as a garnish.

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Happy Birthday September & October Babies! =)

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Small Batch Baking – Banana Java Chocolate Chip Cake

“I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon.”
― Charlotte Brontë


Another summer long weekend is drawing to a close.  It was quite productive on my part.  Rejuvenating.  Spiritual. Peaceful.

I am quite excited.  I have developed an affinity for gardening and taking time to nurture my modest balcony garden has brought me much pride and enjoyment.  I am finally seeing some results.  I finally have a flower bloom, the first of about 5 to come.  Not really sure what it is though.  A surprise flower from a batch of seeds planted back in April.

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And I’ve tried my hand at growing herbs that I hope to use in my cooking at some point.  After a slow start and some mishaps – my attempt at basil failed after my little pot fell over and a strong wind carried off the contents of the pot – I finally have some parsley and dill showing. I’m hoping to use the parsley in my morning smoothies at some point and I cannot wait to use the dill on some salmon perhaps with some creme fraiche…

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On to my baking adventure.  Small batch baking is a terrific way to test out a recipe and satisfy a craving without producing dozens of end product.  Sometimes I don’t want a dozen muffins or a giant cake.  Today, I decided to try making a Banana Java Chocolate Chip Cake using a recipe from “Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers” by Debby Maugans with some slight changes on my part.

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Batch-Baking-Chocolate-Lovers-Maugans/dp/0312612249

This is essentially a muffin recipe that produces three jumbo muffins or 5 standard muffins.  I decided to make two mini cakes instead. This cake has a streusel topping and pairs bananas, nuts and chocolate together.

For the topping:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pinch of cinnamon (I used pumpkin spice)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I went with 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

2 tablespoons milk or semisweet chocolate chips (I used chips)

Combine the ingredients together using your fingers until you get a crumbly mixture.  Set aside.

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For the cake batter:

1 really ripe banana

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp (I used 3 tablespoons of canola oil)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used all brown sugar)

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 teaspoon instant dark coffee or espresso powder (I used 1 teaspoon) because I like coffee

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips ( I used chocolate chips)

1 tablespoon of buttermilk (I added this on my own)

I didn’t use a mixer and threw everything into one big bowl and mixed by hand.  If the banana is super ripe, everything mixes up into a nice thick batter.

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I used two mini spring form pans.  I probably should have lined them with parchment or at least greased them first, it would have been much easier to remove the cake after.  So, line your pans!  Divide the batter evenly.  Don’t forget to pre-heat your oven to 350.

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Remember the streusel topping?  Time to sprinkle it on top. I ended up adding more nuts and chocolate chips to each. IMG_8679 IMG_8682

These will need 15 – 20 minutes to bake.  If you like a crispy brown top, you can use your broiler for about 4 minutes to achieve that.  Make sure to watch it so the nuts don’t burn though.

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A nice twist on the typical banana muffin/loaf.  I loved the textures.  Soft, moist cake, sweet chocolate chips, nutty pecans, slight hint of coffee and crisp brown sugar streusel.  Just the perfect size too.  Enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without make me feel bad for doing so. =)

Cake Challenge

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child

I had not intended to spend two nights baking. But as I am slowly learning, some things may not happen as planned.

I was again asked to bake a cake big enough to feed 40 people. This time it was a manager at my workplace looking for a cake for a member of her team. I thought what the hell, why not? I did it once and it turned out ok, so I would try it again. I like a challenge. I always said I wasn’t one to bake cakes. I’m more a cookie or cupcake girl. You know what? I think I am a cake girl.

What batter to fill this baking pan with?

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Ingredients…

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Mix them all together…

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Bake it and you have…

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It’s a big banana cake. Made two layers, albeit not willingly but out of necessity…

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Coconut buttercream in between the layers…

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Let’s glaze with the standard dark chocolate glaze. It was getting late, it was easy…

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Congrats Larry on your wedding. Man, I SUCK at letters!! Must practice more…

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Boxed and ready to be eaten tomorrow! Hope the team likes it!! =)