Wow! I know that I hadn't blogged in a while, but my last post was March 30. Sorry guys!! April was really a blur, and May hasn't shaped up to be any less hectic, but I resolve to do better by you! It might mean that I do something a little different -- sometimes not doing actual recipes but maybe blogging about great food I've eaten. Like in Austin, TX, where I just was for a girls' weekend. Of course, being the idiot that I am, I took very few pictures, and really only one of food, but I will put something together on that and make the best of it.
Anyway, I started this one about banana cake so long ago, but I don't even remember what my inspiration was. Possibly overripe bananas, but I really shouldn't assume that, because I am ok just putting those in the freezer to save for smoothies and such. My best guess is that it might have been buttermilk that I needed to use up. Anywhoooo....
This recipe is a lesson in reading comments BEFORE making something you find on-line (I am horribly guilty of reading comments AFTER, which does no one any good at all). So, assuming I needed to use up ripe bananas and/or buttermilk, I found this recipe, which looked delish and fit the bill (Or is it "filled the bill"? One of these days I am going to look up the actual, correct expression) on Food Network. The comments, however, were not really keen on using the coconut custard as a filling and a frosting (which is how the original recipe made it), so I figured I would go one better: coconut custard filling with cream cheese frosting. Sounded good to me!
The only thing I really altered was the coconut custard, because I didn't need the full recipe. The cake turned out really well in general, but if I was making it for myself, I would have added walnuts to the cake batter (black walnuts if I had 'em -- black walnuts and banana are AWESOME!!) and shredded coconut to the custard to up the coconut flavor, but when I make something to share with kids, I always err on the side of caution and just leave nuts out.
Also, don't be intimidated by the idea of a layer cake. It can take some practice getting the layers to line up right, and the bottom layer should have the top of the cake on the bottom (leaving the flatter part of the cake layer facing up), while the top layer should have the bottom of that layer facing the bottom of the top layer. I know, it sounds confusing, but just think of it this way: always have the flat bottom parts of each layer facing each other. Granted, it gets tricky when you have more than two layers, but we won't get into that right now.
My best advice is to never, ever skip lining the cake pans. I know it's kind of a pain in the ass, but better to spend a couple extra minutes on the front end than trying to doctor together broken cake layers. Now I always line the cake pans with parchment, because the few times I thought I could get away with it and skip that step, the cakes always stuck. If only I could learn from my other mistakes so well… ;-)
This cake is pretty easy to make, even if there are a few components to it. The cake layers and the custard can be made a day ahead of time, which makes it a little easier to tackle.
As you can see, everyone liked the results:
Banana Coconut Cake Supreme
(adapted from a recipe on Food Network)
Banana Coconut Cake: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/banana-coconut-cake-recipe.html
Make the cake from the linked recipe
Coconut Custard: 1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
scant 1/4 cup cornstarch (1/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon)
Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch until there are no lumps, then add the eggs and milk. Whisk until combined. In a small saucepan (one or two quarts) heat the coconut milk until small bubbles appear around the edges of the milk in the pan (use medium/low heat). Slowly (about 1/8 of a cup at a time) add the egg/sugar/cornstarch mixture, whisking well after each addition (fancy cooking term: this is called "tempering" the eggs so that they get heated slowly and get fully incorporated with the other ingredients and don't turn into scrambled eggs).
Keep whisking and cooking the custard over low heat until it has thickened. I tried to get a picture of it, but it's hard to do one-handed:
Once the custard has thickened, pour into a bowl, top with plastic wrap (this keeps the custard from forming a "skin"), and allow to cool completely. You can make this ahead and chill in the fridge up to 3 days.
Cream Cheese Frosting: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cream-cheese-frosting-recipe.html
Again, I just made this straight up, no alterations.
Now, the trick is in the assembly. I took one layer and put it on the platter, then spread all of the coconut custard on, then put the second layer on top of that. Then I chilled it for 20 minutes.
As you can see, much plastic wrap gave its life to make this thing. :-)
Then I did a "crumb coat" of frosting (where you put a thin layer of frosting all around to keep crumbs from mixing in with the rest of the frosting). Like this:
If you do a crumb coat, put it in the fridge to set up for a few minutes (10 should be enough), then continue to frost the rest of the cake.
1/4 cup toasted coconut (for decoration) (To toast coconut, preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then put coconut a small baking sheet in a shallow layer. Stir occasionally, about every 5-7 minutes, until the coconut is a light tan)
I then took some of the coconut and decorated the edge of the cake: