Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Ninety-Nine: Great Coffee Cakes

by Carole Walter

There are so many delectable sounding baked goods in this book (Country Cherry Honey Scones, Apple Walnut Strudel, Pineapple Cheese Braid and Macadamia Fudge Squares), and this would not have been my first choice (more than likely I would not have chosen it at all), except I had a few bananas that desperately needed to be used up.

I was actually looking for a quick banana bread recipe - which I have one that I like a lot, but thought if I could knock out another book from the shelf, I would be a happy camper; enter Banana Chocolate Chip Cake.

I was still in the mind-frame of "quick" as I was pluggin' away with this recipe. This is not quick - not terribly labor intensive - but a bit more than I was hoping for and used up a lot more dishes and equipment.

First you butter and flour your pan, and set aside. Mix your dry ingredients, and set aside. Mix the puréed banana and yogurt (which you use your food processor and a strainer), and set aside. Mix the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer - yep - a lot of dishes.

I loved this batter from the beginning. First I thought, what a pain to add the sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time, but it turned out so smooth and fluffy. Then after adding the dry and wet ingredients (alternately), it had a soft, light, pillowy texture to it.

The recipe calls for banana extract - I have never seen, let alone hear of banana extract. I omitted this, as well as the vanilla extract (in error). Still I thought the cake had a nice light banana flavor. I think if you use really ripe bananas as I did, you don't need the banana extract, unless you want a strong banana flavor.

In no way is this heavy like your typical banana bread. This has a soft, airy, light texture to it. However, if I was to make it again, I would bake it in the middle of the oven, rather than the bottom third of the oven. The bottom of the cake (which is the top when turned out of the pan) was more browned than I like and was a bit dry. I even took it out ten minutes sooner than the lower suggested cooking time. I would probably have taken it out earlier if I were in the kitchen at the time.

Aside from the top of the cake being a bit dry, which is easily fixed with a shorter cooking time, I really enjoyed this, and I hope my sister's co-workers will too.

Success meter (1-3): 3

I also have her Great Cookies cookbook which I love. I'll probably be posting on this book closer to the Christmas holiday. 

She has you sift the flour before measuring.

I did not have mace, so I substituted nutmeg. "Mace is a product of the Myristica fragrans tree - mace is the exterior web-like membrane that surrounds the nutmeg. Mace is normally sold in dried, ground form and used in many cuisines including Indian, Asian and Europe." -(source)

You purée the banana with lemon juice then pass it through a medium-gauge strainer to remove the seeds of the banana. (I'm thinking you can skip the straining part - I would next time- how heavy can they be?)

Butter and sugar mixed until lightened and smooth.

The recipe calls for mini chocolate chips. I was going to use walnuts until I found an opened bag of chocolate chips (very rarely do they make it into baked goods...) and a small block of chocolate from another recipe that I was unable to make (could not find dark chocolate liqueur). I tossed them into the food processor to make them more "mini" like - the block chocolate had no problem breaking up, but most of the chips stayed whole - hmmm.

The "bottom" of the cake looks beautifully golden.

The top, a bit more browned then I like.

Because I like it.

Carole instructs you to spoon the glaze over the cake. I opted to place the glaze in a baggie and snip a corner and drizzle the glaze in as much as uniform lines as I could.

The drippings from the glaze is almost as pretty as the cake!

The center of the cake is delicious. With a shorter cooking time, the whole cake will be delicious.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
Makes one 10-inch Bundt cake/10-12 serving

2½ cups sifted cake flour, spooned in and leveled
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mace (I used nutmeg)
2 large very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¾ cup sour cream (I used non-fat Greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ teaspoons banana extract (I omitted)
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1¼ cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup mini chocolate chips (larger ones will sink to the bottom)
Vanilla glaze (recipe follows)

1.     Position the rack on the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 10-inch Bundt pan, dust with flour, then invert it over the kitchen sink and tap firmly to remove the excess flour. Set aside.
2.     In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and mace. Set aside
3.     Cut the bananas into 1-inch pieces and place with the lemon juice in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 30 seconds, then stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl. Process for another 10 seconds, or until the bananas are puréed. Strain the purée through a medium-gauge strainer. You should have a generous cupful (I had just a tad under). Stir the sour cream and extracts into the bananas and set aside.
4.     Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, taking 6 to 8 minutes. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.
5.     Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the banana/sour cream mixture, dividing the flour mixture into four parts and the liquid into three parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the side of the bowl, then mix for 10-15 seconds longer.
6.     Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon (don’t forget to lick the spoon!) and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when the top is golden brown and firm to the touch, and a wooden skewer inserted deeply in the center comes out clean.
7.     Remove the cake from the oven and let stand on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and carefully lift it off. As the cake is cooling, prepare the vanilla glaze. While the cake is still warm, place a piece of parchment or wax paper under the rack and spoon the glaze onto the cake. The glaze will harden as the cake cools.

Storage: Store under a glass cake dome or tightly covered with aluminum foil for up to 7 days. The cake may be frozen before glazing.

Vanilla Glaze

1 cup strained powdered sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons very hot water (or milk, half-and-half, cream, for a more opaque finish)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup (I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
2 pinches of salt

Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of the hot water, the corn syrup, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until smooth. Add 1 additional teaspoon hot water or more as needed to make a thin glaze. Using a small whisk, for, or tip of a teaspoon, drizzle the glaze over the pastry by moving the utensil rapidly back and forth to create a light coating.

Great Coffee Cakes/Carole Walter


  1. What a shame the top got a little dry but still this looks incredible, i'm sure everybody enjoyed it!!

  2. It is interesting to see the design i first thought it is a pumpkin. But after reading the posts i came to now that it is a coffee cake.

    Finn Felton

    Kopi Luwak

  3. I have got this book too and some of the recipes I have tried are real winners! Will be looking forward to trying this one out.


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