I really do love baking whole cakes. There are not many chance where I get to bake. Bake as in a proper layered cake with frosting and all. We do have lotsa gathering and potlucks but there are a handful of people who also loves to bake among us so I don't wanna be the only one always shining through and showered with praises.
We decided for lunch in Aaron's workplace again, simply knowing we'll get discounts. I quite like Kwik Stix really, they make pretty good steamed chicken rice, makes me miss Malaysia. Other than that, nothing else is authentic. But they taste good.
It was so weird because none of us remembered Eghosa's birthday. He texted me and the conversation went as follow:
Eghosa: Hi, what you doing?
Quinn: Hi Eggie! Nothing much, just catching up with stuffs. You? Glued to the TV again?
Eghosa: Yeah, watching TV now and it's my birthday today.
Quinn: Oh....okay....Happy Birthday Eghosa! Many happy returns of the day!
It was weird, simply just weird. I felt bad when I don't remember people's birthday. Eghosa, I've been very nice to you really. I lied to you when I said I needed to go have dinner when it was almost 8pm. I went to the kitchen, opened up the fridge. Great, no butter, all gone for pineapple tarts. I simply can't use lard for banana cake and there's not much lard anyway. I don't wanna use shortening for a whole cake. Think Quinn.....Think!!!!!
I glanced across the worktable and saw a bunch of black, almost rotten bananas. It's AUD2.50 for a bag of a kilo or more. The cheapskate in us bought it when it was on special sale. Those of you who live in Aussie will know how expensive bananas get sometimes, drives me crazy because we're both banana lover. Me not so, but Aaron, my cute little monkey yes. Banana freak!
I decided on banana cake to be the base. I haven't got much in mind yet. I guess I'd use oil. Canola...mmmmm....no taste and odourless. When you ran our of butter, really, try using oil. It gives the cake a moist and fluffy texture that you can't get from butter when you chill the cake. Butter give fragrance but it always yield a more firm and dense cake for me. I'd like something moist for the day! Not like I have a choice since I have no butter!
I bake 2 rounds, simply because the oven is too small to even fit 2 seven inches round cake and I've only got one 7'' pan anyway. Jeez.....indeed the best banana cake ever. So good it fit mother of all monkeys! I do like steamed banana muffins but baked banana cake....the fragrance, my whole kitchen smelled of cekodok pisang for the night. I kept sniffing the cake like for minutes!
When one came out, I quickly put together the other one, spray the base with more canola oil and pour in the batter again. It was in the oven baking a second layer in less than 10 minutes. That's how easy the recipe was! It was 11pm by the time I was done. A thorough shower and Monkey is back from work. Had dinner, supper, whatever you call it when you eat at that kind of hour. Wrap up the 2 layers of cooled cake in plastic wrap and chuck them into the fridge for the night. Sleep! Very unhealthy, I know.
This morning, I got up at 7:30am! I've never gotten up this early before to frost a cake. I was getting a little panic because I didn't know what frosting to use. I open up shelves and food cabinet and decided on peanut butter frosting. And it's gotta be chocolate and peanut butter one because they are a perfect pair and because a chocolate colour frosting would contrast my yellow banana cake damn well.
I didn't wanna pull out any electric mixer and start whisking away like mad and wake my neighbour's dog up. I throw together chocolate, leftover chocolate chips here and there, peanut butter and icing sugar and bain-marie that. I've never tried anything like that before but I couldn't care less. Birthday lunch is set at 12noon. I better get it done earlier than never.
The frosting turned out to be really really good! I like it that it's not sweet. Monkey's favourite smooth Kraft's peanut butter has salt in it, I guess it takes away the sweetness. And I reduce the sugar in the cake a fair bit. No one wants to eat an overly sweet cake really. I don't definitely!
I fix the frosting, grab an offset spatula, took out the cakes and a serving plate. I was sleepy but I was in a mood to make use of my new camera. Sunlight and shadow at 7:30am, you really don't wanna miss it.
Smear some of the frosting on the middle of the serving plate. Place one layer of cake flat side down on plate and press it gently. The smeared frosting act as a glue. Your cake won't budge an inch now and makes frosting a lot easier for you.
Dollop heaps of frosting over the cake and smooth it over. My frosting is as smooth as tofu, that is the cake crumbs. Doesn't matter, it's gonna be sandwiched with another layer of cake anyway. Smear more frosting towards the side of the cake and form sorta like a dam.
Now, place the other layer of cake over and press it with your palms, even pressure please. You'll see the extra chocolate frosting you smeared more on the sides oozing out. When glued together, grab that spatula and run it around the sides of the cake, especially in between the two layers of cake, making sure you patch up each and every corner, crevice, cleft, opening, crack, whatever you call it! Just make sure it's smooth and the cake look as if it's one piece!
Dollop all leftover frosting on top of the cake. Smooth out the top and let leftover frosting dribble to the sides. Roughly frost the sides now. Make sure you get the desired smoothness you want for the top of the cake first. Worry about the sides later. Anyone smarter than Einstein would have place pieces of plastic wrap or baking paper around the corner of the cakes to ensure a clean and tidy plate. I didn't.
That's the top of my cake and no, I'm not happy with it. But that's the best I could do, considering it's 8 in the morning and I skip the crumb coating stage. If you wanna be perfect, smear just enough frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Doesn't have to look good. Pop that in the freezer for 10mins, make yourself a cup of Chai and soft boiled eggs with soldiers. Remove the cake from freezer and continue frosting like mine. The crumbs would have all been glued to the cake by now. Easy peasy. But at 8 0' clock in the morning, I have no 10mins to spare. Neither was I hungry.
I didn't move, I just stand there and frost. The sun changes direction as it rise. Blame the sun for the bad photos, not me. For the effect above, grab a teaspoon and place the back of it on the side of the cake. Use an upwards stroke and drag the frosting vertically upwards. Repeat at every interval and you get that old-fashioned look.
I heard neighbour's house playing Starry Starry Night by Don McLean. Straight away reminds me of 'Starry Night' by Van Gogh. What???? You don't know who's Vincent Van Gogh and you've not heard of Starry Starry Night? Jeez....what kinda planet are you from? Here....take it. It's from Quinn. Say thank you. Can anyone tell me why artist only get famous when they die? Van Gogh didn't make it big time when he was alive. Da Vinci was famous for so many other things but painting wasn't the main reason he became famous. Neither did Picasso. Sad.... And I really like the picture above. It looks better than the first picture in this blog post...The chocolate frosting looses its glossiness once it's chilled in the fridge. I'll serve this unchilled next time and I'll frost 30mins before serving time.
Anyway, Van Gogh is the reason I swirl the top of the cake like that. And I swirl it with a clean index finger, which I found to be just of perfect diameter. Swirl like Van Gogh and clean up the sides of the plate. That's Eghosa's hand, couldn't wait to dig in!
An upclose of the sides of my cake and yes, we're done!
Sorry...but a hideous looking photo of my cake when sliced. I just wanna show you how even the cake layers are and how even the frosting is spreaded out, a neat even layer on the sides, top and centre.
Best Ever Banana Cake
(yield one 7-inch round cake)
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup vanilla castor sugar (If you won't be frosting the cake, use 6 tbsp)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
1-2 bananas, mashed
Sift together the flour and baking soda, like 10cm off the bowl to aerate it. Add in the sugar and briefly whisk to combine. In a 1 cup capacity measuring cup, pour in the oil and egg. Top up with mashed bananas to come up to one cup full. Pour that into the flour mixture and whisk until combined. Pour into a well greased 7'' round baking tin (you can line them if you want but I have no problem releasing them from the pan) and bake it in a preheated oven of 160°C for 20 to 30 mins or until golden brown. Run a skewer through the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done.
Repeat the above recipe again to yield two layer. If you have only one pan, I'd recommend you don;t double the above recipe and leave the batter to stand while you're baking the first layer. The recipe contains baking soda and if you let it stand, you'll get banana hive cake instead. It's gonna be holey and won't look good.
10 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
100g dark chocolate
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder,sifted (use good quality one please)
Combine everything in a large bowl and place it over a double boiler. Whisk until well-combined and very smooth. Cool to room temperature and frost the cake.