"Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music." - Julia Child
We will be moving houses this year. The rental property were occupying at the moment will now be used by the landlord and we're seeking rental properties every weekend. We've anticipated this a long time ago. After the previous owner sold it, and the new owners came in, the inevitable is bound to happen. And we're ready. Somewhat. The property is old and we've managed to keep in tip top shape for 4 years now. But the leaks from the ceiling along the bathroom hallway (evident when it's been raining, which were heavy and sporadic before and after the Christmas holiday) is just not cool anymore. The roofing has been repaired recently, but we've been notified before the holiday break of the owner's plans. So maybe its a blessing.
And while the days we're in this house (we called home for close to 5 years now) are numbered, so to speak... we are taking every opportunity (weather permitting, humidity and all) to cook and bake and roast and grill. After all those years, getting a feel of the oven temperature with its kinks and quirks, we will be parting ways. Ah. Bitter sweet.
Set aside the moving part, we've managed to box some of the stuff we feel will not be used for the next 3 months or so. And that includes pots and pans, new and unused equipments, knicks and knacks and what-have-you's. It's also timing with the new year setting in to clean up the pantry and make use of all (still) edible stuff bordering on their best-before-use-by-dates. And in the midst of all these boxing and cleaning and clearing and organizing, our first cake of the year! The moistest banana cake we've ever tried. Frosted with some adults-only mocha frosting and a signature DL salted and sweet peanuts.
This recipe takes a bit of time management and careful thought and planning to execute. Because there are 3 elements: cake, frosting and topping, it's important that when you decide to make this David Lebovitz recipe, you've got your mise en place all planned out, and your timing as brilliant. Don't be like me. The moment this recipe came to mind, we've packed most of our baking pans so some flexibility had to come in. Instead of two 8cm round cake pans, a square 20cm (and a 5cm loaf pan) was used. Walnuts in the cake were substituted with bitter sweet chocolate bits and instant espresso with coffee essence. But the result was as expected! The cake you'll be proud to serve your family, friends and colleagues.
This took about 30 minutes or more on medium heat (to low) stirring and coating the peanuts. Make the candied peanuts a day ahead. Double the serving if you want. It's also great to keep in a jar for those in between nibbles and snacks. The sweet nuts and the sea salt flakes combo are just sensational!
150g raw or unsalted lightly roasted peanuts
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Using a medium heavy bottomed pan or skillet over medium heat, combine the peanuts, sugar and water.
When the sugar begins to melt, start stirring. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the sugar crystallizes.
Turn down heat to low and continue to cook, stirring and letting the crystallized sugar on the bottom of the pan, melt and slightly turn brown.
Using a heat proof spatula, scrape the melted liquefied sugar on the bottom of the pan and stir to coat the peanuts, tilting the pan when necessary.
Once the peanuts look glossy and coated with the sugar syrup, sprinkle the sea salt and the ground cinnamon over them.
Stir a few times then scrape onto a parchment lined baking tray and cool completely.
To make this moistest banana cake, prepare your ingredients:
(I've highlighted the ones which were substitutes from the original recipe)
5 medium very ripe bananas (2 cups), mashed or pureed
350g plain flour
1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bi-carbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coffee essence
2 large eggs, at room temperature
90ml buttermilk, at room temperature
150g bitter sweet chocolate bits
Preheat the oven to 175*C. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan/s and line with baking paper. (In David's recipe, he used two round 23cm pans)
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract, coffee essence then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly incorporated.
Mix in half of the flour mixture, buttermilk and the mashed/pureed bananas.
Stir in the remaining flour mixture and add the bittersweet chocolates (or nuts if using).
DO NOT OVERMIX.
Pour into the prepared pan/s and bake until golden brown or when a skewer test comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on a rack and let cool completely.
And now for the supporting star of the show - mocha frosting! Prepare while the cake is cooling.
280g bitter sweet chocolate
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
140g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Combine the chocolate and coffee in a medium sized heat proof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water.
Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until combined.
Prior to frosting, esure that the cake is completely cool.
Invert the cake onto a serving plate or a cooling rack. Using a spatula , spread the mocha frosting over the cake beginning with the top and going onto the sides, until you've used up all the frosting.
Coarsely chop 1 cup of the candied peanuts and sprinkle over the top of the cake.
Because these is an adult-only moist banana cake, we've shared these to friends and some made their way to the office. Nothing but rave reviews were received! After all, it is a cake with an impressive resume! You can never go wrong with any of David's recipes! That's a promise!