Thursday, May 3, 2007

Banana Walnut Cake

Still on the theme of A Taste of Yellow, I made this cake for my father's birthday on Saturday. We got a bit of a scare last year when he tested for some cancer markers during his annual check-up. Fortunately, an operation took care of that and we're praying that he continues to enjoy good health so he can keep playing his beloved golf.

My father is the quiet type and I take after him more so than my sister. We're both happy to let the other more vocal members of our small family air their views. We both enjoy strong tasting food and game meat. He's a simple man with simple needs so I didn't need to dress the cake up. I know he'll enjoy it with his coffee and he'll toast the leftovers for later in the week.

One of the first recipes I flagged when I got Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours was her Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake (except that the English teacher in me mentally corrected it to Many-Ways Banana Cake).

I was taken by how many permutations there could be given the allowances made in the recipe for the variety of milk (whole milk, buttermilk, coconut milk, sour cream, yogurt) and dried fruit (shredded coconut, apricots, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, cherries) plus the option of adding alcohol.

I adapted the recipe and made mine in loaf pans because they're easier to store in the fridge. The recipe instructs that the dry and wet ingredients be added in an alternating manner, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. I'm not shy to admit that I'm lazy and I haven't been able to detect a discernible difference when doing it my way.

I also take shortcuts like when I sift the dry ingredients directly into the bowl or lining only the the loaf pan only on the long side because its just easier to cut the paper. So far it works and the cake came out beautifully.

Banana Walnut Cake
makes 2 loaves (8 x 4.5 in)

3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 bananas, mashed
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven at 350F. Cream the butter before adding the sugar. Mix in all the wet ingredients and bananas then sift in the dry ingredients and mix. Separate batter into 2 lined loaf tins.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, loosely covering with foil after 40 minutes to prevent burning the top of the loaves.

Verdict: A moist cake, not airy light but not dense either. I love the crusty top and the tasty middle. The next time I will probably make these in muffins so that I get more of the crusty surfaces.

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