One of the things I love most about blogging is
licking the bowl afterwards having the chance to sit down and tell a story. Food blogging in particular trains us to write good content: it gives you brain fuel (i.e. cake), patience (actually waiting for your cake to cool completely before frosting it), creativity (transforming your 5th over-crumbly cake into gorgeous cake balls), and really good storytelling skills (explaining to your parents the philosophical implications of writing your baking blog when you really should be reading Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter).
As I slipped into the final books for my Part I Exam children’s literature list, I’ve been thinking more and more about the relationship between text and pictures. A few of my most recent conference proposals deal with the tension nonsense illustrations evoke when read against nonsense language, as well as the stories that text and pictures tell–collaboratively or competitively–when viewed in conjunction. After all, who could forget the full-page spreads of the gigantic yellow-eyed horned monsters we meet alongside Max in Where the Wild Things Are, or that now-famous red-and-white striped hat when the Cat sallies into the rainy-day room?
In a lovely recent comment that made my heart giggle and feet flutter, a reader wrote that my use of text on photographs was the best she had ever seen (!). I was obviously elated–not only because of the tiny ego boost this prompted, but because I truly believe that the interplay between text and images is a crucial one for storytelling–and I’m glad that it has caught somebody’s eye, both figuratively and literally. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear their murmurs over the incessant buzz of daily life and the roaring internet. In a new year and with new updates around every corner, I hope you continue to find the whispered tales these photo-stories tell worth listening to.
Like the crosswords where food and writing meet, this bananas foster cake has carried me through a-many difficult days of studying and writing as the exam deadline rushes in like a vortex (exactly one month to go–when did this happen?!). In case you’re wondering how I managed to photograph a whole, intact cake with another slice on the side, I was actually requested to make this cake twice, back-to-back–it was that delicious! Even if you hate bananas as a rule (like I do), you’ll find this cake a refreshing delight: filled with bananas drowned in rum or Kahlua, crunchy toffee pieces, subtle smoky coffee frosting, and plenty of moist banana layers, this cake is a whole story in itself.
So I decided to write one for it. And I hope you’ll love it.
Until the next story,
The Best Bananas Foster Toffee Coffee Crunch CakeYield: 1 awesome 9-inch, 3-layer cakeFor the banana cake: (Slightly adapted from this recipe)
- 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed (I used 3 large bananas or 4 medium bananas)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 cups and 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease 3 round 9-inch springform pans (I only have one so I baked the cake layers three separate times in the same pan) and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together bananas and lemon juice. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and white sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes of vigorous hand mixing.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla extract.
- In three alternating batches, stir in buttermilk mixture and dry ingredients mix until just combined.
- Add and stir in banana mixture.
- Spoon 1/3 of your banana cake mixture into each of the prepared springform pans.Coffee
- Bake in preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes (cooking times will vary according to your oven temperature). Your cake will be done when it is lightly brown around the edges and golden on top; a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
- Allow your cake to cool completely before removing from springform pans and assembling.
Coffee Kahlua Frosting
- 1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Kahlua (optional)
- 1 tablespoon instant ground coffee granules
- In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Gently mix in powdered sugar until incorporated.
- Add vanilla extract (use extra if you are omitting Kahlua).
- Pour Kahlua (if using) into a small bowl. Dissolve coffee granules in Kahlua. (If you are omitting Kahlua, you can dissolve the granules in vanilla extract). Stir Kahlua-coffee mixture into the frosting.
Bananas Foster: (adapted from this recipe)
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons rum or Kahlua
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 bananas, sliced into 1/3″ pieces
- In a large pot over the stove, melt butter.
- Add brown sugar, rum or Kahlua, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Bring mixture to a boil. When it begins to bubble, add in bananas and stir until thoroughly soaked.
- Allow bananas to steep in boiling mixture for 30 seconds, then turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. You may want to reheat the syrup immediately before serving with cake.
- 3 9-inch round layers of banana cake (recipe above)
- 1 serving coffee Kahlua frosting (recipe above)
- 1 serving bananas foster (recipe above)
- 1/2 cup chopped saltine toffee cookies (I used homemade ones)or any toffee pieces of your choice
- Place a cooled 9-inch cake layer on a round cake tray. If the top of your cake is not even, use a serrated knife to gently cut across the top (parallel with the base) to create a smooth surface.
- Frost with a thin layer of coffee frosting.
- Top with second cake layer and frost.
- Top with third cake layer.
- Frost completely with remaining coffee frosting. You may reserve 1/2 cup frosting for piping if you wish.
- Top cake with banana pieces from the bananas foster recipe. Reserve the rest for serving with the cake.
- Sprinkle edges with toffee pieces.
- Cut into slices and serve!