Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love Cake
(Before getting started, you may want to review the posts on tools and ingredients. Or, go ahead and live dangerously and jump right in.)
In honor of the fact that in just a few days, I am going to be visiting the home of one of my all-time idols, Mr. Elvis Aaron Presley, I thought that now would be an appropriate time to share with you one of my all-time favorite cakes – the Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love Cake.
I call it that because:
A. It combines all of Elvis's favorite flavors - banana, chocolate, and peanut butter
B. If you eat too much of it, you'll end up looking a lot like Elvis when he crossed over from hubba-hubba to hunka-hunka, if you get what I mean.
(Remember, Party People, bake with abandon. But eat with discretion.)
I have spent years experimenting with this cake. I started with the banana sheet cake recipe highlighted by Flo Braker in her Simple Art of Perfect Baking, but didn't find it quite banana-y enough. Then I reverted to the banana bread recipe from Cook, My Darling Daughter, which has served me well in loaf form for years. Alas, too dense.
What I was seeking was a very banana-y flavor with an almost chiffon cake-like structure. So I went back to Braker's recipe but doubled the number of bananas, omitted the baking powder, and substituted the sour cream with more than twice as much plain, non-fat yogurt. Another secret to the cake's airy texture is the initial beating of the sugar and bananas together, similar to how you'd make a genoise (which we'll get to later, but if you want some homework: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A9noise_cake)
The frosting is a simple ganache, with peanut butter substituting for some of the cream. The result tastes a whole lot like melted Reeces pieces only more sophisticated because, well, it's ganache (for those of you from the South, you'll want to pronounce that gah-nash. The rest of us, guh-nosh.)
But however you pronounce it, unless bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter are, like, totally not your thing (in which case, what planet are YOU from?), this cake is going to knock your socks off.
Pre-heat your oven to 350º F. Butter and flour two 8" round cake pans or spray with nonstick baking spray.
4 medium (3 if really large) bananas, overripe
1/4 cup non-fat plain yogurt
2 cups cake flour (or double sifted regular, unbleached)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
One recipe Basic Chocolate Ganache made with 1-1/2 cups cream
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Set aside.
Roughly mash two of the bananas together with the yogurt and set aside.
Place remaining two bananas and sugar into another mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, fit with the wire whisk attachment. Mix on high until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted butter, eggs, and vanilla, mixing well well for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl after first minute. Mix in dry ingredients just until incorporated – no need to over beat. Fold in the mashed banana/yogurt mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into middle of the cake comes out clean. Don't worry if top of cakes crack.
Cool cakes on wire rack for 10 minutes before un-molding onto rack to let cool completely, about 2 hours.
To make the peanut butter ganache:
Follow recipe for Basic Chocolate Ganache, only reduce amount of cream to 1-1/2 cups and add 3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter to the chocolate pieces. Cool to frosting consistency and frost cake. Serve at room temperature.
Cake will keep for three days at room temperature. Or refrigerate for up to 7 days, but both frosting and cake will be more dense.
You can also frost the cake with plain ol' unflavored chocolate ganache or do something entirely different and add the zest and juice of one whole lemon to the original banana/yogurt mixture and frost with a lemon butter cream, but you'll have to wait until I get around to giving you the recipe for that one.