Thursday, March 21, 2013


What could be more Southern than coconut cake?  This is my own recipe and it's rich and filling, so two 8" layers go a long way.  Expect to serve 12-14 with this moist, tender and tight-crumbed cake that resembles poundcake.

The French buttercream frosting is silky smooth and ultra rich.  If you've never heard of French buttercream, it's a vintage recipe, and it's not hard to make.  Back in the 60's we used to make it with shortening, and we called it "mock whipped cream frosting," but it's so much better made with butter.  Some people call it "custard frosting," because you make a pudding first, then beat it into the whipped butter/sugar mixture.

Everyone has their own idea of what coconut cake should be.  Actually, I like them all, and I'm throwing mine in the ring as another option.  A perfect Easter dessert....I'm just sayin'.  Get the recipe....

Monday, March 11, 2013


banana nut cake (3)
An old favorite from a vintage Pillsbury cookbook, banana-nut cake would be a hit at any pot-luck you attend or at any family dinner.  Back in the day, shortening was the preferred fat in cakes, and it did produce a fluffy texture.  My current preference is to use butter, or sometimes coconut oil.  I’ve even been known to substitute applesauce for some of the fat in cakes and use some whole wheat flour to add fiber.  This time, I used the full amount of butter with regular flour.  You will love the moist, tender crumb and the full banana flavor.  The nuts add some complex notes.  Topped with chocolate buttercream, this cake is a real winner.
banana nut cake (5)
You can also make 24 cupcakes with the batter, if preferred.  Sheet cakes are so easy, I decided to take the lazy man’s approach.   I’ve included my recipe for Chocolate Buttercream below.  Of course, you can use whatever frosting you want, but, if you’ve never put chocolate frosting on banana cake, please do try it.  You may never go back.
banana nut cake
P. S.  My favorite banana cake is “Ultimate Banana Cake.”  It has my highest rating for best texture and flavor.  It’s also a sheet cake, baked at 275F, then placed in the freezer to cool for 45 minutes.  Weird, but delicious!

Banana-Nut Sheet Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Rating:  9.5 out of 10


CAKE (adapted from Pillsbury):
2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, whisked, then lightly spooned and leveled
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium-large)
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt*
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract  (I used my homemade vanilla extract)
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts or pecans + 1/3 cup for garnish

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.  Line with parchment to fit bottom.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into bowl of stand mixer.  Add butter, eggs and bananas.  Beat at lowest speed to barely combine, then beat on low for 1 minute
(1-1/2 minutes if using hand mixer).  Add buttermilk and vanilla; beat 1 minute on low (1-1/2 minutes if using hand mixer).  Stir in nuts, taking care not to overmix batter.  Turn into pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool pan on wire rack 10 minutes; turn cake out onto rack.  Peel off parchment.  Cool completely, then turn cake back into pan before frosting.  Yield:  12-16 servings

1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 Tbsp. Kahlua or other coffee brandy of choice (or strong coffee)
optional:  1/2 tsp. chocolate flavor
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

In medium bowl, cream butter and salt on medium speed of electric mixer.  Stir in flavorings, 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cream and beat till well blended.  Whisk cocoa powder and remaining sugar in small bowl, then gradually add to butter-sugar mixture.  Add remaining cream, 1 Tbsp. at a time, as needed to reach proper consistency.  When proper consistency is reached, beat on high about 1 minute, or till very smooth.  Frost top of cake and sprinkle with toasted chopped nuts.  Yield:  enough frosting to generously cover a 9x13 cake.