Abby Dodge, is back! We find out all about her newest book, Sheet Cake: Easy One-Pan Recipes for Every Day and Every Occasion. Think you can’t make a gorgeous and delicious layer cake? Think again! Abby has a great system for making these easy. Included below is her recipe for Banana Buttermilk Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.
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BANANA BUTTERMILK CAKE
SERVES 12 TO 16
The banana-chocolate flavor combo continues to be a favorite at Dodge family birthday celebrations. Because it bakes up so quickly, this cake is perfect for weeknight dinners or parties
2⅔ cups (12 oz/340 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup/8 oz/227 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 oz/198 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (3½ oz/99 g) packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 very ripe medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup/9 oz/255 g)
½ cup (4¼ oz/120 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
ASSEMBLY AND SERVING
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Cake croutons or cakes, (recipe below) soft or toasted (optional)
Banana slices (optional)
BAKE THE CAKE
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/gas mark 4). Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the half sheet pan. Line the bottom with parchment and lightly grease and flour the bottom and sides.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars and continue beating on medium-high speed until fluffy and lighter in color, 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Add 3 of the eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add the vanilla along with the remaining egg. Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds. Add the mashed bananas and mix until just blended, about 30 seconds more. Add another third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds. Add the buttermilk and mix until just blended, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just blended, about 30 seconds.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.
- Unmold the cake, let cool, and cut out 3 circles or 4 rectangles.
ASSEMBLE AND SERVE THE CAKE
- Fill and assemble the cake layers, using about half the buttercream on the bottom layers. Top with the final layer. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
- Just before serving, scatter cake croutons and banana slices over the top of the cake, if desired.
Marshmallow Chip Use the Vanilla: Marshmallow Frosting (full recipe, with Chocolate Chips add-in; pages 142 and 153) in place of the buttercream.
Toffee-Banana: Use the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (full recipe, Brown Sugar variation; page 139) in place of the buttercream. Just before serving, gently press handfuls of toffee pieces around the sides of the cake to cover completely.
VANILLA BUTTRECREAM FROSTING
full recipe: makes about 5 cups (4 41⁄8 oz/1.25 kg)
¼ cup (1⅛ oz/32 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1⅓ cups (10 4⁄5 oz/320 g) whole milk
1½ cups (10½ oz/298 g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
5 sticks (2½ cups/ 1¼ pounds/567 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 to 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
half recipe: makes about 2 1⁄2 cups (22 oz/624 g)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
⅔ cup (52⁄5 oz/160 g) whole milk
¾ cup (5¼ oz/149 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt, plus more as needed
2½ sticks (1 cup plus4 tablespoons/10 oz/ 283 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- Place the flour in a small saucepan. Tipping the pan to one side, add about 2 tablespoons of the milk and whisk until the mixture forms a thick, smooth paste. Add another 2 tablespoons milk and whisk until blended. Set the pan on the counter and gradually add the remaining milk, whisking until the mixture is smooth.
- Place the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, continuing to whisk constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the sugar and measured salt, and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl (do not press down). Scrape the underside of the sieve into the bowl and discard the floury remnants in the sieve. Set aside, stirring occasionally, to cool completely. (For faster cooling, set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice and a little water, stirring and scraping the sides frequently until chilled to room temperature.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cooled sugar mixture and 2 tablespoons of the vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes more. If the mixture looks grainy or “broken,” keep mixing until the texture is smooth. Taste and add more salt and vanilla as needed. The flavor should be vibrant.
- Store the buttercream, well covered or in heavy-duty zip-top bags with the air pushed out, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat until smooth and light. Before using, bring to room temperature and whisk until smooth and warm enough to spread.
HOW TO MAKE CAKE CROUTONS
Using a serrated knife, cut the edges of the cake scraps into ¾-inch pieces. For soft croutons, cover and store the pieces at room temperature for up to three days or freeze for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature and refresh in a 350°F (180°C/gas mark 4) oven for about 5 minutes. For crisp croutons, arrange the cake pieces on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan so they aren’t touching and bake in a 350°F (180°C/gas mark 4) oven until the edges are dry, 12 to 14 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. The cake croutons can also be mixed into brownie or cookie dough, used in a bread pudding, layered with mousse, or whipped cream in a parfait, or sprinkled on top of ice cream.
ASEMBLING AND SERVING THE CAKE
Three- or four-layer stacked cakes can be round or rectangular. To make a three-layer round cake, use an inverted plate or cardboard template and the tip of a small knife to cut out three 6¾-inch (16.7 centimeter) circles. To make a four-layer rectangular cake, use the tip of a small knife to cut the cake in half along the 18-inch (46 centimeter) length, then cut again in half along the 13-inch (33 centimeter)length to make four rectangles that are approximately 9 by 6½ inches(23 by 16.5 centimeters). Brush away any crumbs from the sides of the layers. Save any remaining cake scraps to make croutons or cake crumbs (see page 18), if you like.
Put one cake layer, top side up, on a flat serving plate. (To protect the plate from smears during frosting, you may want to slip small strips of foil or parchment between the cake and the plate.) If the recipe calls for a soak, use a small pastry brush to brush the soak evenly over the first cake layer. Pile 1 to 1¼ cups of frosting onto the cake layer and spread evenly to the edges. Place the next layer, top side up, on top of the frosting. Align the sides and gently press down on the layer.
Brush the soak, if using, on the second layer, and spread another 1 to 1¼ cups of the frosting evenly to the cake’s edge. Place the third layer, top side down, on top of the frosting. Align the sides and gently press down on that layer.
If you are frosting the outside of the cake, spread a thin layer of the remaining frosting over the sides and top of the cake to seal in any pesky crumbs (this is a crumb coat). Refrigerate the cake for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread as much of the remaining frosting as you like evenly over the sides and top of the cake.
Just before serving, pile the cake crumbs or croutons on top of the cake, if using. Or, using a cupped hand, gently press some of the cake crumbs around the sides and top of the cake to cover completely. Add any additional garnishes.
Women Beyond a Certain Age is an award-winning weekly podcast with Denise Vivaldo. She brings her own lively, humorous, and experienced viewpoint to the topics she discusses with her guests. The podcast covers wide-ranging subjects of importance to older women.
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