Cake.... I can honestly say I don’t like cake. When I was a kid, and it was birthday time, I enjoyed cake and ice cream, but I always mixed the melted ice cream with the cake, pushing the greasy fake colored frosting to the side. Actually, I ate the cake and ice cream mixture, for the ice cream. I do now and have always loved ice cream….actually any kind, yogurt, fat free, low fat, full fat, doesn’t matter, if it’s frozen and dairy or non-dairy product, I’m on it. That being said, this post is actually about cake. My opinion is that if you’re going to consume the calories, by all means whatever you do, don’t waste it on plain white or chocolate. Over the years the cakes that stand out to me, are a few I make, like Coconut cake or Sweet and Salty Chocolate cake or (Craig’s) Red Velvet. Now I have another to add to the mix, Bohemian Banana Cake.
A few months back, my niece, who was graduating, turning 18, and had just been voted by her peers to be the representative from her high school (and my Alma-Ata as well) to be their Portland Rose Festival Princess, asked me to make the cake for her party. When we talked about what I would make, I told her about the cakes I had made in the past. She said whatever works for you. I told her, that’s not the way it works, that she had to choose. And she chose Banana Cake.
Now, I have never made banana cake, so I had no recipe for a cake like this, but I have a few fond memories of an incredible Banana Cake . When I was working in Portland back in the late 90’s, there was a grocery store called Kienows. They had a bakery in store, The Bohemian Bakery. They specialized in delicious pastries, Black Forest cake, as well as a plethora of other delicious treats. But as we all said, “you know you’re loved if you get a Bohemian Banana Cake”. This was a soft banana cake, with Bavarian crème filling and fresh sliced bananas, covered with whipped cream and sliced almonds. Too-Die-For! So after some research, and google searching I found an incredible recipe, I just have to share.
So, because Cassie is so loved, I made this incredible cake, and let me tell you, it was so good. I’m not sure there was a piece left at the end of the party. Remember, I am a baker, not a decorator!
Bohemian Banana Cake
2 cups sifted cake flour (not all-purpose flour)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 large or 3 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon artificial vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup granulated sugar
4 medium bananas, sliced thin
Cake crumbs, or Sliced Almods for decoration
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
To make cake: In a large bowl, sift together sifted cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
Add oil, mashed bananas and both kinds of vanilla. Beat 1 minute with electric mixer.
Add buttermilk and egg yolks and beat another minute.
To make meringue: In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat egg whites lightly. Add cream of tartar and, while continuing to beat, add sugar gradually. Beat until a stiff meringue forms. Fold the meringue gently into cake batter. (Underfolding will leave white streaks; overfolding will make the cake tough.)
Pour into prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Cool on cake racks. Split each layer horizontally to make a total of four layers.
Place 1 split layer on a plate, cut side down (the bottom, browner side up, is easier to frost than the cut side). Place wax paper strips under the edge of the cake so the plate will stay neat.
Using a round-tipped steel spatula, spread with a layer of filling; Top with sliced bananas. Top with second cake layer (the baked, brown top facing up). Frost second layer. Frost sides with remaining frosting. Remove wax paper strips. Refrigerate until serving.
Note about vanilla: Using a combination of real and artificial vanilla gives a better texture.
Note about cake crumbs: The Bohemian Bakery apparently used dried, ground cake crumbs -- not necessarily banana cake -- pressed onto the outside of the frosted layers. You can skip this step or you could buy a couple of muffins, toast broken-up pieces in a toaster oven and process them to crumbs in a food processor.
Bavarian Cream filling
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whipping cream
INSTRUCTIONS: Preparing the gelatin: Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water; stir to blend.
Set aside to soften for 5 minutes.
(It won't hurt to let it sit longer.) Mixing the ingredients: Put the yolks in a bowl and, using a whisk or fork, stir briskly to blend.
Slowly add the sugar and continue to stir until well mixed.
Cooking the custard: Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
Stand right by the stove and watch for tiny milk bubbles to form around the edge of the pan.
The milk should be hot, but not boiling.
It is better to underheat than to boil.
As long as the milk is hot it will work fine.
Pour the yolk/sugar mixture into the hot milk, then add the softened gelatin and stir with a large spoon or whisk to blend well.
Cook, stirring slowly, but constantly for 3 or 4 minutes.
Tilt the pan until you can see the bottom.
If there is a thin coat of custard on the bottom that doesn't flow as readily as the rest, it's ready.
Remove from heat.
Do not let the custard boil; it will be fine if you remove it too soon rather that too late.
Stir in the vanilla.
Pour the custard into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or just long enough for it to begin to gel.
It should be thick but pourable.
This last step is the secret of a fabulous Bavarian Cream: Beat the cream only until it holds soft peaks.
If the cream is too stiff, the dessert will be too firm.
Fold the whipped cream into the custard.
Spoon into a 2-quart mold or bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate several hours, to allow the dessert to gel.
Swiss Meringue Banana Buttercream
12 oz egg whites (10 large egg whites or about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cups granulated sugar
3 lbs unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp lemon extract, almond extract, orange extract, or pure vanilla extract or up to 3 fl oz (90 ml) light rum, framboise, pear William, or kirsch
1 banana, mashed up
1. Lightly whisk egg whites and sugar together over simmering water until egg-white mixture is hot to touch or a candy thermometer reads 140°F.
2. Pour hot whites into a room-temperature bowl and whip with a wire whip until double in volume on MEDIUM-HIGH speed. When the mixer stops, the meringue should not move around in the bowl. Meanwhile cut up butter into 2-inch pieces. (The butter should be slightly moist on the outside but cold inside.)
3. On your mixer, remove the whip and attach the paddle. Add half the butter (1 ½ lbs) into the bowl immediately and pulsate the mixer several times until the meringue has covered the butter completely. To pulsate the mixer, turn it on and off in a jerky motion. This forces the butter on the top to the bottom of the bowl. Add the balance of the butter (1 ½ lbs) and pulsate mixer several times. Slowly increase the mixer's speed, starting with the lowest speed and increase the speed every 10 seconds until you reach a MEDIUM-HIGH speed.Sdd tgulsr banana btrsdwwwww
Continue beating until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Reduce speed to LOW. Add flavoring and continue to beat on LOW speed for 45 seconds. Then beat on MEDIUM-HIGH speed for an additional 45 to 60 seconds.
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts