Saturday, October 22, 2011

Light Banana Cake

The only recipe you need for your old bananas! Lighter than banana bread, this banana cake bakes up beautifully as cupcakes, sheet cake or a layer cake.

Hands up if you’ve had this experience: You buy a bunch of bananas. The family eats them all, every last one, in about two days. You buy another bunch of bananas. These remain largely untouched until they are deemed too speckled-brown to eat. Yeah, I figured I was not the only one.

When my girls were little, I made banana bread out of the old bananas. It suffered a similar fate to its main ingredient. Fresh out of the oven, everyone LOVED banana bread. Everyone wanted a warm slice or two. The next day, it might as well have had a poison label attached. Outcast, has-been, rejected. Until I discovered banana CAKE. It’s lighter, fluffier, more desirable apparently, than banana bread. This one they’ll eat for a couple of days, until it’s gone.

2 1/4 cups or 280g flour
1 cup or 225g sugar
1 1/2 cups (3-4) well-ripe bananas
1/2 cup or 115g butter or canola oil
2 eggs, preferably room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda or bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' or powdered sugar to serve

Preheat oven to 375°F or 190°C.

Grease and flour the bottom and sides of your baking pan/s. (Two 8-in round, one 9X12-in rectangle or one 12-muffin tin plus one 6-muffin tin)

Into large bowl, put your peeled bananas. Give them a quick whirl to mash.

Now measure all the other ingredients (except the powdered sugar) into the bowl.With mixer at low speed, beat until well mixed, scraping the bowl often.

Now beat on high for five minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape the bowl again.
Pour batter into pan/s and bake for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake or muffins comes out clean.

Cool cake/s for 10 minutes and then turn out of pan/s.

Serve sprinkled with confectioners’ or powdered sugar.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cranberry Cake with Cranberry Glaze

Beautiful buttery Bundt cake made with sour cream and filled with whole cranberry sauce and topped with bright red cranberry glaze.

One of my favorite parts of travel is poking about in foreign stores and markets and lusting over the available ingredients and cookware, only some of which I can bring home in a suitcase. Other people, I hesitate to say normal people because with my new addiction of reading foodie blogs, it appears I am in good company, tend to bring home trinkets and fabric and souvenirs of a more personal or mass-produced nature. Eiffel Tower paperweight, anyone? I went to Switzerland in April and, aside from some chocolate, this is the one thing I bought. From an antique store.

I adore its shape and its potential. I also love that it will always bring back memories of a perfect day in the Swiss countryside, making new friends and reconnecting with one dear friend from many years ago.

Today I am using it to make a delicious, moist cranberry cake – the perfect use for any leftover cans of whole cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving – but good enough to buy a can of whole cranberry sauce, just to make it.  I did. Many thanks to my friend, Lizann, for sharing this great recipe with me!

For the cake:
1 cup or 227g butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz or 240ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup or 200g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups or 250g flour
1 can (14 oz or 397g) whole cranberry sauce (3/4 for the cake, 1/4 for the glaze)

For the glaze:
1/4 can whole cranberry sauce
1 heaped teaspoon cornstarch or corn flour
1/4 cup or 31g confectioners’ or powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  

Still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time.  

In a separate bowl or in the measuring cup, add your vanilla to the sour cream.  Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter/sugar/egg bowl, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla.  

First some dry ingredients.

Then some sour cream. And so on. 
Beat until all is mixed well.

Spoon half the batter into well-greased AND FLOURED tube or Bundt pan.  (If you have a vintage one, perhaps a gift from your grandmother or great-aunt, or a trip to Geneva, take a few moments to recall fond memories while you butter it good! Do not skimp on the butter. You do not want this cake to stick.)

Smooth it out and make a sort of very shallow trench in the middle. 

Mash the cranberry sauce with a fork, just to break up the jelly part.  Whole berries are fine.  

Spoon in 3/4 of the can of cranberry sauce on top of the batter.

Top with remaining batter and spread it around.

Bake for about 55-65 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it loosely with a piece of foil. 

Meanwhile, the glaze!  Add the cornstarch to the rest of the can of cranberries and stir until it is dissolved.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and stir again.

Put the mixture in a pan on a gentle fire and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken.

Take the pan off the fire and whisk in the butter.  Allow to cool until the cake is ready.

When the cake is done, take it out and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  It should pull away from the sides slightly here.  You can run your toothpick or wooden skewer around the edge of the cake to encourage it to turn loose when turned over.

Turn pan upside down on platter and remove pan while still warm.

Drizzle on the glaze after the cake has cooled a bit.  A too-hot cake will make the glaze melt right off.   Enjoy!


What do YOU bring home from your holidays?  Leave me a comment.  I’d love to know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Roasted Corn-Off-The-Cob Shrimp Cakes

Yesterday I found a new blog. Truth be told, I found a few! But this one in particular caught my fancy because the very latest post, and therefore, the first one I read, spoke eloquently of corn, freshly roasted on the cob, scenting the afternoon air of northern Paris.  Then the recipe that followed was for some delicious corn cakes, but not using the roasted corn!  I was so surprised that I left the author a comment.  How could she resist the roasted corn?! I simply could not, so then I had to try it my way.  Somewhere along the recipe path, I also ended up adding fresh shrimp and cayenne pepper.  See what you think.

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup low-fat milk
3 medium cobs of corn, shucked and cleaned
2 eggs
1 tablespoon softened butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 1 good tablespoon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 bunch of scallions or green onion tops, chopped finely
105g or 2 3/4oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
285g or 10.5oz shrimp or prawns. (Weight after peeling and deveining.)

In a medium bowl, stir together the corn meal and milk and set aside.

Heat your griddle pan really hot and put the cobs of corn on it. Weigh them down with a filled kettle or some other heavy item that can tolerate heat.

Keep turning the cobs and replacing the kettle until all the sides are nice and charred.  Remove from the pan and let cool.

Cut the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife.

Pop them into a food processor,  add in the eggs and the softened butter and chop them up a little.  Do not completely pulverize. You want to still see char and corn kernels.  Spoon this mixture into the bowl with the corn meal mixture and stir together until combined. 

Chop your shrimp into little pieces and add them to the bowl.

Stir in the green onions and cheddar cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cayenne.  (If you are not cooking and serving immediately, put the egg/shrimp mixture into the refrigerator and wait until you are ready to go before continuing with the next step.) Gently mix these dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and oil with oil, butter or cooking spray.  Cook the cakes on both sides until done, just as you would normal pancakes.

 The original post suggested topping the cakes with seasoned Greek yogurt and I concur. (Do check out the link! I really liked her blog.) However, I discovered at the last minute that my yogurt was sweetened and that just did not go.  So I substituted sour cream.  Sour cream is hard to come by regularly in Kuala Lumpur so I make my own by mixing 1/2 cup whipping cream with 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice.  Works a dream. 

Cream, lemon juice, green onions, salt and pepper. 
The lemon juice thickens the cream beautifully. 
Serve each set of cakes with a dollop of the seasoned sour cream and a leafy green salad simply dressed in vinaigrette.