Saturday, April 10, 2010

Well, I could've been at a frat, but I decided to bake a cake instead


I've been throwing out bananas a lot lately. It's really a shame. On top of it being a waste of perfectly good bananas, it's also a waste of money. Usually I have the foresight to throw ripe bananas into the freezer, but in falsely believing that "I'll just use them tomorrow," they get to be too black to even consider saving.

After a delicious three-course meal last night, courtesy of a very friendly family whose daughter is trying to decide where to go to school next year, my roommate and I returned to our room a bit after ten. And I saw the bananas.

I was going to make banana cookies, but there were three bananas. And I don't really have the patience to make a triple batch of cookies by myself. All that scooping would get old awfully fast.

So I decided I'd use my bundt pan, and some of the bananas already in the freezer. I picked out a recipe, started to defrost 5 bananas, and made a grocery list of things I could get on campus (plain yogurt, however, is not a possibility, but sour cream is!), and got to work. Well, sort of. Along the way, I was given the offer of going to a fraternity party, which has been on my to-do list for a while, but those bananas were calling my name. It'll just have to wait until another night.

And this cake is tasty, so I'd say worth the alone time. Granted, someone walked in on me dancing around the kitchen to All Time Low at 2 in the morning in an effort to keep myself awake, but hey, it was the awesome smell wafting down the hall that attracted them, so I'd say that's always a good sign.

Nutella-Swirled Banana Cake
heavily based on this
makes 1 large bundt

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 6-8 bananas)
1 cup (8 oz container) sour cream
1 1/2 cups chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan, set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until the sugar is incorporated and it's nice and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the bananas and sour cream.

In a 4-cup microwave safe bowl, warm up the nutella for about 15-45 seconds, depending on your microwave, until it's easy to stir. Stir in about 2 cups of the banana batter.

To make a more swirled cake: Alternate between adding the banana and nutella batters to the pan; gently swirl batters together by running swirling a knife through the batter after it has all been poured into the pan.

For a less swirled cake: Pour the banana batter into the pan. Pour the nutella batter on top of it.

Bake for 70-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted not near an edge comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

You may need to cover the top of the cake with foil to prevent it from overbrowning. If you have a 10-cup bundt pan, like me (I think), it's going to come up over the top of the pan, making for a less pretty cake that bakes slightly less evenly, but it still delicious.

Alternatively, you could use 2 loaf plans; reduce the bake time to 60-70 minutes.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Drunken Birthdays


So today is my RA's 21st birthday. One of my floormates told me this fact last night around 10 pm. Which gave me limited time to think: Nutella Brownies for which I have all the necessary ingredients; the omnipresent banana oatmeal cookies; or, I could be "cheeky" and go with a bourbon cake. I was originally aiming for a bourbon pecan cake, since I love bourbon pecan sauce, but I couldn't find one that would be easy enough to make. And it seemed like most bourbon cakes called for bundt pans, which until 6 hours ago, I didn't have.

But with my heart set on making a bourbon cake, I made one. Even after the floormate who was going to make the cake with me had a sudden schedule conflict, I was undeterred, leading to a conflict of my own (oops!). I hung out in the kitchen alone, blasting my iPod and keeping track of the number of songs were by bands I'd seen live (62% of them were, in case you were wondering.) Once the cake had uneventfully made its way into the oven in my new pan, I settled down to read an article for my writing class as the lounge began to smell like a warm and comforting combination of whiskey and chocolate. I think I may have violated Redd Flag policy, with the wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get in trouble for it. I mean, my RA did seem to like her cake...


This cake is boozy, quite so. There is no doubt that it's a bourbon cake, not at all. I think I sort of shocked my RA with it. She did call me "cheeky" for making a bourbon cake, and, in the e-mail that she sent out to the floor, made sure to note that this is the only time she'll ever be offering us something with alcohol in it.


So without further ado, here's the link to Elise's recipe. I didn't mess with it, except for not sprinkling the cake with bourbon after removing it from the pan. I used 72% cacao chocolate, and instant coffee. And so far, the cake has had a positive response. You just might not want to "taste" the batter. But really, this chocolate bourbon cake is definitely worth giving a try.

Oh, and those nutella brownies? Hold tight, because I plan on trying those out soon. And who knows, now that I have a bundt pan, I might just have to make another bundt cake sometime.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Springtime and Easter


My friend's mom sent her easter cookie cutters and colored sugar, among other things, in the mail. So of course, she had the perfect excuse to make sugar cookies. A bit of planning, some distressed phone calls to her mom, and five people in a small dorm kitchen later, magic happened. Well, if sugar cookies can be considered, that is.


Sugar Cookies
recipe from Ashleigh's mom, we halved it, as reflected here, for a small and manageable amount of cookies

2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in flour. If dough is too sticky, add slightly more flour.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface to about 1/4" thickeness. Cut out into desired shapes. Reroll scraps.

Place on cookie sheet about 1/2" apart. Bake 7-12 minutes, or until edges are a light golden brown. Be careful, they can go from pasty looking to sunburnt really quickly.

Let cool. Frost or ice as desired.