Thursday, October 8, 2015
Midweek Roundup: "Aunty Catherine, we're going to make a cake."
Catherine's cake was made by hand. Well, of course it was, you say. No, it was made by hands--little toddler hands. Nephew Parker's hands, to be precise. Hands that really got in the flour and spilled and dumped in vanilla and then noted that the cake wasn't perfect because it had too much vanilla. Baking with toddlers is just too cute for words.
But I'll use more words anyway because Jen also baked with a toddler. In fact, she set up all the equipment on his play table and showed him the magic that is the KitchenAid. She also explained about stiff peaks, which he now loves to discuss. The boy ate the cake plain while the parents "went whole hog"--chocolate and caramel sauces, strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, and toasted walnuts. Plain and gussied-up versions were both good.
Toddlers were not the only ones who got in on the baking this week--there were teens, too. Teens who were entrusted with the job of taking the cake out of the oven when the timer went off. And she did. Out of the oven, out of the pan. Whoops! Well, cakes exiting a tube pan can be a tricky procedure. Fortunately, Rachel had already decided to go heavy on the chocolate glaze, which covered up any mishaps. Add another sauce, and "Mmmm, bananas, chocolate and caramel, who can resist?"
Or, in Mendy's words, "Fabulous!" As in, "This fabulous cake will definitely be made here again." And he even got to use his regular oven to bake this cake in, since it's parve (the oven looks huge compared to his toaster oven). Mendy has frequent pictures of his kids, but this blog is nice because it includes pictures of both Mendy and his blissed-out-looking wife, who has just finished a piece of the cake with the "wonderful combo" of chocolate and banana.
This banana chiffon cake may have been the first baking project that took place in Katya's new kitchen. deep in the wilds of Brooklyn. (Don't you hate it when you can't remember where the light switches are and you feel like an interloper in your own home? But Katya has a Small Appliance Shelf, which will make her feel like she truly belongs in her kitchen). Despite the fact that there were beetles in her flour (of course, she used non-beetled flour for this cake) and despite the fact that her leftover ganache turned out to be a little too leftover-y, the "non-split banana cake holds up well on its own." Welcome back to the fold, Katya!
Aimee shared her cake with her roommates, one of whom hates bananas. But after the banana-hater polished off another piece of cake, she asked innocently, "Are there any bananas left?" A
imee said, yes, there were two. "Good! Then you can bake another cake!" Aimee figured she might as well do it--after she picked up another dozen eggs. Aimee likes chiffon cakes a lot--and this one was no exception. "Super light, moist and full of banana flavor." Not to mention making you an excellent candidate for Roommate of the Year.
And the Stalwart Baker of the Year award might just go to Kristina, who managed to bake both the banana chiffon cake and the banana feather loaf, even though she could barely get her aching body off the couch and into the kitchen. She baked the "yummy" cake in her grandmother's old angel-food cake pan, which has seen many a cake in its lifetime. After she and her husband tried the cake, she took most of it into the office, where one co-worker told her it could use more chocolate and another one reprimanded the "more chocolate" guy for criticizing free cake. But if a cold can't keep Kristina from baking, a little friendly suggestion about more chocolate won't do it.
A cold couldn't keep Kristina out of the kitchen, but Vicki was afraid that the humidity might stifle her chiffon cake plans. Fortunately, the humidity turned out to be a chiffon-friendly 36%, and into the kitchen she went. Her only mini-problem was adding the cream of tartar at the wrong step, but the cake didn't seem to notice. She served it as Rose suggested: a slice of cake topped with the chocolate ganache drizzle, caramel sauce, whipped cream and nuts--and a cherry on top! (It was really a strawberry, but I turned it into a cherry in my mind, as a bow to the banana splits of my youth--always, of course, with a cherry on top).
No cherry or strawberry on top for Kim--for her, it's all about the deliciousness of the plain banana cake. "No fork, no knife, no plate or napkin, just my fingers and the cake." If Kim's cake looks extra high and light, it may be because of the respect she pays the lowly egg. Her advice: "Never take your eyes off of them--ever. Never walk away from them. Handle them gently, never harshly." Probably good advice when it comes to relationships with friends and family, too.
Jenn cut the recipe in half, as she loves to do, and baked it in a small bundt pan. Good idea, yes? Maybe no, says Jenn. While the top and sides browned nicely, the bottom (top?) remained white as, well, as a banana. But without great banana flavor and without the lightness of a typical chiffon cake. Some of us were questioning a few weeks ago whether a bundt pan can be used interchanageably with a tube pan--Jenn's experience seems to indicate maybe not. Perhaps more experimentation is needed.
But not next week, because we'll be baking a tart, not a cake. When I told Jim that I'd be baking a Fudgy Pudgy Brownie Tart, he said, "I don't like that name." "But it's a brownie," I said. "And you love brownies. And it's double chocolate because of the chocolate crust." "I still don't like the name. And you can quote me on that." So I am.