I usually have mixed emotions about Valentine’s Day. Yes, it is a lovely idea to celebrate love and all that but why do I have to do it on a particular day, in a particular way and with every other couple in nyc trying to have the most romantical evening over drawn out and outrageously over priced love-themed tasting menu.
There are almost always flowers which, if we are being honest here, stress me out. First, a really beautiful bouquet is not cheap and was mostly likely flown in from halfway across the world (we will save that whole discussion for a rainy day). But what I really stress about is having so few precious moments with my flowers and not being able to appreciate them fully. So, because I am slightly neurotic, I end up carrying the vase around the apartment, from bedside table, to desk, to kitchen – to be able to soak up all that flowery beauty at every possible moment.
In spite of such devotion, I inevitably forget to refresh the poor plant’s water, completely oblivious to its desperate cries until that smell sets in – it is slightly musty, like a damp trail through the woods, but mostly it is just rot and decay. Sooo. Yeah. I thought you should all know just in case you were hoping I would plant sit your ficus or care for your tamagachi over the long weekend.
BUUUUUUT the other, non-debbie downer, pastry chef side of me gets pretty darn excited about the over-the-topness of it all. Mostly because it means I get to bring out my extensive sprinkle collection and have some serious fun. The little hearts are made of marzipan and are stupid easy to make I don’t know why I ever made a cake without them. All the necessary deets are outlined at the end of the post.
What makes this banana cake unique is how sturdy it is – most recipes I have made are way to delicate to layer and dry out so fast. This recipe is more like a banana bread all gussied up for Valentine’s Day. And the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting is unbelievably good – the nuttiness of brown butter gives great depth of flavor without overpowering that cream cheesy goodness.
How To Scale a Recipe –
Knowing how to scale a recipe is an extremely handy thing when it comes to baking. It is something I am asked about constantly so I have put together a visual guide on scaling a recipe based on pan size – I mean how often do you have your heart set on making a cake only to realize you need the one pan size you don’t own!? Given my teeny-tiny nyc apt, that happens to me all the time.
Below is just a teaser because the real deal is quite large and so I have given it a permanent home page that you can find in the “kitchen guide” tab up top (or just click the image!). Happy scaling!!
And Now Back to our Feature Banana Cake Presentation…
- 5 oz (136g) unsalted butter, at room temp
- 1¼ cups (240g) granulated sugar
- 3 (192g) eggs
- 3 (270g) very ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 cups (270g) cake flour, sifted
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup (180g) buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
- 8 oz (227g) unsalted butter, at room temp
- 16 oz (454g) cream cheese, at room temp
- 1 lb (454g) confectioner's sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup (56g) heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (leave out if you want whiter icing)
- Preheat the oven to 325˚F, grease and line two 6" cake pans.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the bananas and mix just to combine - the batter will look like it has separated but don't worry.
- In a separate bowl, sift together cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Mix just until incorporated.
- Divide batter between the two cake pans and bake 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through and testing the cakes towards the end.
- Allow cakes to cool completely before doing any trimming or icing.
To Make the Frosting:
- Place butter in a small pot set over medium heat. It will pretty quickly start to make a lot of noise (this is ok). Let it boil rapidly until you start to see brown bits around the sides and the butter starts to smell slightly nutty (about 5 minutes).
- Strain the butter and let cool to a room temp solid form (about 30min-1hr but you can do this several days in advance and keep the butter in the fridge until ready to bring to room temp).
- Cream brown butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Turn the speed down and slowly add the sifted confectioners sugar, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once all the sugar is in, turn the speed back up to medium and beat until fluffy and a little glossy (3-4 minutes).
- Finally add the cream, vanilla and salt. Beat to combine.
- gel food color
- parchment paper
- rolling pin
- heart-shaped cookie cutters (or whatever shape you want!)
- Divide marzipan into the number of colors you are going to make.
- Put one piece into a large ziploc with a few drops of gel color and knead the color into the marzipan. Add more color as needed.
- Between two sheets of parchment, roll marzipan to about ¼ - ⅛ of an inch thick.
- Cut out as many shapes as you can and reroll the marzipan.
- Repeat with other pieces and colors.
- Allow marzipan shapes to dry out overnight or a few days for best results.