Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Story About Frosting

[The Frosting's story]
Forget about making lemonade with lemons. What does a girl do when she's out of butter and there's an incredible banana cake that necessitates a slathering of frosting? She makes Clever Coconut Frosting and Icing.

My sister is such a confidence booster. When I bemoaned my limited resources, she cheerfully informed me that I could do almost anything in the kitchen. (How sweet sisters are!)

I already knew that I would NOT use Crisco; it makes me gag. I started looking through my cupboard for a good substitute.

My eyes alighted upon a!

My friends, let me introduce you to virgin coconut oil and the frosting that became of it.

I knew coconut oil, like all saturated fats - including butter! - remained solid at room temperature. That was what I needed. Plus, I was using it on a banana cake. Coconut and banana are good pair, a lovely pair. I did have some dairy to use in the frosting which would echo the same dairy used in the cake (sour cream). 

After whipping it up, I was quite amazed at the final product. The coconut oil adding a smooth texture, while lending a slight but discernable coconut note. The brown sugar and sour cream — ya, you already know how delicious they are!

This frosting is delectable. You'll have to hold yourself back from eating it lick by lick and spoonful by spoonful.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4-1/3 cup virgin coconut oil at room temp (it should be solid and about the consistency of Crisco or butter)
1/4-1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Cream brown sugar and solid oil. Add the sour cream, cinnamon and salt, and continue to beat at medium speed until brown sugar is pretty much dissolved. (And yeah, it's lovely stuff on it's own!) Then begin beating in powdered sugar until you reach a proper spreading consistency.

Once the cake is cool and ready for it's elaborate topping
lay it on thick, baby! We also tried it as an warm icing, by putting it on the cake right after it came out of the oven. Like all frostings and icings will do, it got all liquidy and melty, and soaked into the surface of the cake. Heavenly!

[The Cake, with a story of its own]
The banana cake? A knock-out, stellar creation of Lisa Yockelson. I almost didn't make it because I wasn't sure about it, or about Ms. Yockelson. I purchased "Baking by Flavor" earlier this year, and hadn't baked anything from its pages yet.

Nothing about the book struck me. Plus, I am used to recipe books being arranged by the type of baked good, not the flavor. It was a hassle to bake a cake when I had to thumb through it by flavors. The index is helpful, but it's just not the same.

But all this week I've been going through its pages, staring at its photos; wondering why I am being so neglectful of this sugar-glazed volume, not to mention ignoring the praise all over its back cover from all of my favorite bakers, David Lebovitz and Marcel Desaulniers included.

I recant! If all of the recipes from said baking volume turn out this incredible and surreal in their delectable-ness, I shall probably faint from a sugar overdose. (I'm serious.) I am no longer going to neglect it. Its recipes call to be tasted, crumb by crumb.

Behold the banana cake recipe that convinced me. Most banana cakes are like banana bread in texture. The lack the fine crumb, moistness, and softness of a cake. But not this cake. It is truly like a slice of a cake, not a piece of tea bread.

However, though I can attribute the recipe to Yockelson, I made so many substitutions and changes that I cannot say it's really true to the real recipe. That doesn't mean the finished cake is dissimilar from what she originally intended it to be. I kept most of her proportions. The frozen and defrosted bananas is my trick; it gives more moisture to the cake than regular (?) room temperature bananas. Use room-temp bananas at your own risk.

Banana Layer Cake
adapted greatly from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson
2 1/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Inside contents of 1/2 vanilla bean.
1 1/2 cups mashed defrosted frozen bananas, and all of their liquid
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

With a mixer, blend oil, shortening and sugar together on medium speed until well blended; beat in eggs, one at a time, until well mixed. Add the vanilla bean scrapings and give a quick blend. Now, add 1/3 of the flour and blend on low speed until just mixed. Add half of the sour cream and blend on low speed. Repeat process, ending with the last third of flour, using caution and low speed to avoid over-mixing. Be tender to your cake in the bowl and your cake will be tender in your mouth. Finish by mixing in the mashed, defrosted bananas and all of their liquid. Give one final tender but complete stir.

Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350-degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is golden brown (don't overbake it).

Allow to cool before frosting.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, it sounds absolutely yummy. And clever you for knowing all that about coconut (I am a baking and cooking dunce so am always terribly impressed by this kind of thins.) Photos next time, OK? :)