Banana Cake for My Little Monkey

First order of business is this: I’ve decided I am no longer waiting until I have a decent picture to post to the blog. I am going to snap a photo of whatever meal/dessert I have made and document it. Too many great recipes have gone undocumented and too many weeks have past between posts because the photos are blah. In an ideal world I would be able to spend more time learning the ins and outs of my camera as well as make/buy a light box and stage the meals perfectly. Until then I will commit to posting whatever I have.

Now back to regularly (hopefully more regularly!) scheduled programming. ūüėČ

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Wow. Here we are again. Another year has passed since my daughter was born. Her second birthday was a couple of weeks ago.  I barely remember life without her, yet I feel like I just had her.  All of those cliches are cliches for a reason. Time flies.

She has¬†shiny blond curls that I would have never predicted. She is particular about which shoes and clothes she wears and whether she would like a barrette or “two ponies” in her hair. Certain words/phrases make her laugh into a tizzy, like “coconut” and “sour feet.” (Don’t ask!) When she is overtired she giggles so hard she nearly chokes.¬† She loves playing with her baby dolls and she changes their diapers, puts lotion on their tushies, feeds them little bottles of milk and water then¬†wraps them in blankets tenderly before tucking them into the tiny doll crib. She also loves playing with play dough (or “tay-doe” as she calls it, even though she can say the word “play” clear as day.)

She recently learned to put her own shoes on and she likes to ask, “Right foot mama?” Because sometimes she puts them on opposite feet. (And seems even more comfortable that way! ha!)

She loves books–especially Olivia, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Boo Boo, Tikki Tikki Tembo, The Cat in the¬†Hat, The Tooth Book,¬†and Max and Ruby. She has most of them memorized! My heart becomes a puddle on the floor when I peek into her room and see her flipping through books and “reading” them out loud.

More than anything she loves playing with her cousins and friends. The pure joy in her deep brown expressive eyes, full lips, pudgy cheeks and teeny teeth explodes my heart on demand. She bursts with little girl excitement when they are together. Watching them play (splashing in the kiddie pool, holding their hands at the playground, jumping on the bed  in fits of giggles and screeches) is like a drug for me. She brings infinite amounts of joy into my life and I love her more than I ever knew possible.

Her actual birthday was on a weeknight so I planned to make this banana cake. But then I realized I was out of butter so long story short we had this cake the night after her birthday. It is moist and delicious when paired with rich chocolate frosting. It is an Art Smith recipe. I rediscovered his book Back to the Table and I have found so many fabulous recipes in it.

(Her birthday party cake was adorable turned catastrophe after a bumpy car ride. More on that in another post.)

She loved the cake! Success! Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups mashed, well-ripened bananas
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • One recipe of your favorite chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch round pans.

Beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce to low speed and beat in the bananas. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon. Spread evenly into pans.

Bake until a wooden tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Check at 25 minutes.)

Cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove from pans and cool on wire racks completely. Frost with chocolate frosting.

Recipe adapted from recipe found in Back to the Table by Art Smith.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

It’s that time of year! (And believe it or not, I’m not referring to pumpkins. Not yet, at least!)¬†I have APPLES on the brain!¬† Boy am I loving these crisp cool mornings.¬†I’ve officially made the switch to hot coffee, which is a big step given the iced coffee addict that I am.

I always welcome the¬†transition to fall with open arms. The season seems¬† briefer and briefer each year, which is all the more reason so savor it. The pressure of filling the long days of summer is behind us and we can retreat to the house for warm dinners, red wine, and pumpkin beer. And the season is all the sweeter now that I have a little pumpkin’s birthday¬†to celebrate each fall!

I attended a Rosh Hashanah dinner party this weekend and I was asked to make a dessert containing apples. It’s my understanding that apples (and honey) signify the sweetness of the New Year. (If anyone would like to elaborate on this in the comments, please do.)

I always enjoy being tasked with a specific request! I contemplated an apple tart but ultimately decided on this apple cake because it gave me a reason to purchase a Bundt pan. I can’t believe I didn’t already own one! It’s green,¬†of course!

This cake turned out great! While it worked well as a dessert, it would also be appropriate to serve with tea and coffee as a coffee cake. I decided to take a short cut using the caramel candies instead of making caramel sauce from scratch because it was so. much. easier. While making the sauce from sugar might have been fun, it would have required me to find my candy thermometer and would have taken much longer. This “fake” method tasted fantastic and I am not sure it would be worth my time to make it from scratch. (Feel free to convince me otherwise!)

I poured the sauce into a squeeze bottle and drizzled it over the cake until it dribbled down each corner and crevice. Mmmmm. Apples + CaramelРa duo that is in the rankings of Peanut butter + Chocolate, Tuna Salad + Potato Chips, and Crusty Bread + Cheese in my book.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce:

  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground
  • cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set
aside.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs; mix on high speed until combined.

With mixer on medium speed, gradually add dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Using a wooden spoon fold apples into batter and mix to combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with
a few moist crumbs attached, about 60-65 minutes. Note: Ovens vary drastically so this cake could take as long as 70 minutes. Begin checking it at 55 minutes. My oven is hot and this cake took about 60 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack. Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack, and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Easy Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 bag of caramel candies
  • 1/2 cup of cream or milk

Place unwrapped caramel square candies into a microwave safe bowl. Add cream or milk. Microwave on high for one minute at a time stirring after each minute until melted.

Recipe adapted from Butter + Cream blog, originally from Martha Stewart.com.