Thursday, April 28, 2011

Best Ever Banana Cake

Crumb Coat Cakes: Going Bananas, Again!


The Best Ever Banana Cake recipe makes such a beautiful layer cake, that this isn't quite the way I envisioned sharing it. But, I guess that's how I roll...anything goes!

Thrown together last minute, this cake was my response to the indecisiveness of one of the dear teenagers in my life.

Nothing decorated, I'll just have a cookie cake...no...an ice cream cake...no a chocolate cake...no...hmm...maybe a banana cake.

Banana cake? I'll give you a banana cake, and a monkey to boot!


OK, are you ready?

I'm about to change your life...well, that's if you like banana cake of course.

The following recipe is one of my "secret recipes", that a little part of me hates to share (oh c'mon, we all have a recipe or two that we would love to keep to ourselves, letting everyone think that no one can make it quite as good). But the thing is, it's not really a secret considering I found it on the internet a few years back. Unfortunately, I can't give credit where credit is due, as I've had this recipe for so many years now. However, when googled, it can be found on many different websites, including Food.com.

Best Ever Banana Cake
1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
walnuts (optional)

Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 275°.
2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
5. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
7. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
8. Stir in banana mixture.
9. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
10. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.
11. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
12. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
13. Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
14. Spread on cooled cake.
15. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top of the frosting, if desired.


No adjustments needed. Trust me, it's perfect!




  • Enjoy!




  • Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Crumb Coat Cakes: Happy Easter


    As mentioned in my Teaser Post, I fully intended to post the infamous banana cake recipe this week. But, plans change...


    "I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." ~Jimmy Dean


    Monday evening I received a text from my 15 year old nephew, "Can you make me a cake for Spanish class on Wednesday?" Um, sure. What do you need? "Chocolate and vanilla, for 30 people." Ok, how about cupcakes (the quickest, and easiest solution)? "No, I need a cake. Something 'Spanishy' or 'Eastery'. And can I pick it up Tuesday afternoon, after soccer?" 

    Plans change...well, Tuesday's did anyway.

    At your service! Four 1 layer Easter eggs covered in Fondarific...picked up Wednesday AM...I'm good, but not that good! ;) 


    Felices Pascuas everyone!

    Enjoy!



    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Call To Action

    Do you ever feel like you could do more? Ever feel the need to make a difference?

    I do!

    And I'm proud to say...


    Last summer, a non-profit organization with a fairly simple, yet impacting mission, caught my attention. Icing Smiles Inc. provides custom celebration cakes to families of critically ill children. 
      
    So many of us have it in our hearts to make a difference, but don't act on it due to the lack of time and resources. Me included. But that can't be said for Tracy Quisenberry, founder of Icing Smiles. Tracy, realizing the importance of bringing a smile to a child's face when he/she needs it the most, made it happen. As a working mother of two, with an already full plate, she made the time and found the resources to bring a little bit of happiness to some well deserving children. It's that simple, and with this, I knew I could help.

    9 months after learning of this great cause, I have been called to action! Now I have the opportunity to offer a well-deserving family an Icing Smile!
      
    Let this be your call to action! Donate, bake, or simply spread the word! And if nothing more, follow Icing Smiles on facebook and see for yourself the impact of an Icing Smile! 




    Sometimes it's the little things in life that make a huge difference!




    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    George Clooney, Bobby Flay, Duff Goldman, and Alton Brown's Lemon Curd...All In One Post!

    Fresh Lemon Curd

    My name is Alexandra, and I am a Food Network junky!

    Now, I'm not really the "starstruck" type...umm, well, except for George Clooney...yeah, I'd definitely be "starstruck" if I had the chance to meet George...but as great as it sounds, that'd be bad, really bad! You see, we'd meet, it would be love at first sight, he'd end up asking me to leave my husband, and then I'd really be stuck between a rock and a hard place...I do have 4 kids you know! (SIGH)

    Anyway, back to Food Network...

    So much to learn from so many talented chefs. To meet any one of them would be an awesome experience, but would I be "starstruck"?

    Yes, yes I would...at least when it comes to Bobby Flay (love Throwdown!) and Duff Goldman (I mean, have you seen his cakes?!). Oops, sorry! I'm getting side tracked again, because it's neither Bobby nor Duff's recipe that I'm featuring today. It actually comes from Alton Brown.

    Fresh lemon curd, yum!

    I have to admit, I typically pass right by Alton's show Good Eats. But every now and then, during some late night channel surfing, his quirky demeanor and scientific explanations pull me in. Turns out, I've come to find some great recipes and picked up quite a few helpful tips. Thanks Alton!

    Fresh Lemon Curd
    5 egg yolks
    1 cup sugar
    4 lemons, zested and juiced
    1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled


    Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


    So fresh and Springy, don't ya think! 

    Hang on to this one...you just might need it next week ;)

    Enjoy!


    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Chocolate Mocha Minis

    I am certain that each and every one of my faithful followers reads each and every entry that I post (Oh c'mon, just let me live in my little fantasy world, no harm no foul!)...which means you all must remember my faschnaut post, in which I mentioned 3 golden rules as learned from my mother. Well, today we'll touch on #2...chocolate and coffee.

    Antioxidants anyone?

    Antioxidants....what are they exactly? Let's just say, in a nutshell, they slow the aging process. Chocolate and coffee (red wine too, of course) may not be the best examples of an antioxidant, but they're definitely my fave! Which explains why I'm the picture of health (fantasy world again, leave it alone!).
      
    It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake.
    A simple recipe, moist and delicious every time! And though it needs no modification, and is "Perfect" as is, I do make one adjustment. I use hot brewed coffee in place of the boiling water for an added kick. Doesn't get any better than that!


    Actually, it does...coupled with a mocha buttercream, it's true perfection! 

    Mocha Buttercream
    1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
    4-5 tbsp cocoa
    1-2 tbsp milk
    4-5 tbsp brewed coffee
    1 tsp vanilla
    4 cups confectioners sugar

    Mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy, adding more or less confectioners sugar to reach desired consistency.

    *I typically don't follow exact recipes when it comes to buttercream. I judge by taste and consistency. Amounts above are close estimates, adjust as needed to reach your own desired taste and consistency.

    Here's to a healthy lifestyle! Stay young and...


    Enjoy!



    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Teaser Post



    Ever have one of those weeks? Or two? Seems they're coming more frequently for me these days...not bad, just busy! Very, very busy!!

    With birthdays (March was filled with them), sports (my son plays too many), day trips (some work, some play), laundry (oh, so much laundry), a photo shoot (you'll have to wait for more on that...just praying for no crow's feet or double chins), lots of baking (of course), and best of all a visiting Grandma (hereinafter referred to as Vovó) from Portugal, who has time to blog??!!


    Well...I'll find the time! Who needs sleep? But for now, here's a little something to look forward to (in no particular order)...

    ~ Aletria:Portuguese Noodle Pudding (inspired by, you guessed it, Vovó)
    ~ Chocolate Mocha Minis
    ~ Crumb Coat Cakes: Going Bananas, Again (including the "Best Ever Banana Cake" recipe)
    ~ Rice Krispie Treat Fun

    Stay tuned! And remember, things can get crazy sometimes... 

    So, when life hands you lemons, just whip up a batch of Lemon Meringue Cupcakes and...


    Enjoy!