Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cake


I love this recipe. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another and then mix the two. The ganache was to be whisked too, for a fluffier frosting, but I couldn't wait. Besides it was one of those times when I wanted a gooey shiny dark frosting. This cake is soft without being chiffony, very moist,  devilishly chocolaty and wonderfully scented with the natural essence of bananas.  I served it as an American sheet cake, one layer with frosting. It was a big hit even with my Fussy Eater.

The second time I made the cake, everything went wrong. I couldn't get Valhorna cocoa powder or dark Lindt chocolate and I ran out of self-raising flour (the original recipe called for plain flour but I made the first cake using SR flour) because I doubled the recipe last minute as I had a lot of ripe bananas. Then when the ingredients went into the bowl, I found that I didn't have enough sugar too and in the heat of the afternoon, I didn't want to rush out to get it so I carefully removed 1/4 of the recipe amount and prayed for the best. Of course it didn't work, especially when the cake tin was too small for 1 1/2 recipe amount. The cake took 1 hour 20 minutes to cook, resulting in a dry, slightly bitter and coarser cake. And I had to serve it to guests whom I really wanted to impress! I don't know if that happens to you but it does to me, all the time.

What I've learnt: use the best ingredients and the right cake tin and do not reduce the sugar amount beyond 1 1/4 cups for one recipe because the large amount of cocoa powder can make the cake bitter, fine if you like bitter chocolate like we do. As for the bananas, if you can only get those perfect Del Monte bananas, too bad for you. Those beautiful, flawless-skinned but bland and boring bananas are the reason why some people dislike bananas. Grown by the hundreds of hectares and because they need to be shipped out, those perfect bananas are harvested when still very unripe whereas the local bananas are cut nearer to their ripening stage. Most bananas here are grown commercially too but on a very much smaller scale. There are dozens of varieties of bananas here, each with a slightly different flavor, texture and appearance. They are usually mottled and speckled but I think that gives them character.  I love the green-skinned bananas that are extremely fragrant and green even when ripe (the greener the sweeter),  the popular sweet pisang emas (golden bananas), the sweet and smooth pisang raja (king bananas) and the 'powder bananas', which have silky-smooth sweet flesh and smooth skin that look powdered but are less suitable for baking because of the weaker flavor. Berangan bananas are now the most easily available variety of bananas in KK and I dislike them because despite good flavor, they are very dry.

This recipe was from The Joy Of Baking. The recipe makes great cupcakes too and the frosting for that is a butter cream instead of a ganache.

Up: 'Keling' bananas, down: golden bananas

Green-skinned bananas are rare.


Chocolate Banana Cake
1 3/4 cups (240 gm) plain flour*
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 cup (90 gm) unsweetened Dutch-processed chocolate powder
1 1/4 cups (about 250 gm) caster sugar**
1/4 t salt (reduced from 1/2 t)
1 cup (3 to 4 local bananas) very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 (120 ml) cup fresh milk
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or corn oil
2 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract

*I used self-raising flour and 1 t baking soda
**original recipe called for 2 cups

1. Oven at 180 C. Grease a 9" x 11" or 9' x 13" rectangular pan. 

 2. Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder into a medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.

3. Put the mashed bananas, milk, water, oil, eggs and vanilla into a large bowl and whisk with a hand whisk until well-blended. 

4. Put the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. The mixture will be very runny.

5. Pour into the baking pan and bake about 40 to 45 minutes for the 9 " x 13 " pan or 50 to 55 minutes for the 9" x 11" pan. Stick a wooden skewer into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, cake is done. Do not overbake. Cool completely in the tin and turn out when cooled, or you can leave it in the tin and frost it that way. 

The Ganache Frosting
 6 oz (original was 8 oz/227 gm) quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
 140 ml (original was 3/4 cup/180 ml) dairy cream
1/2 T butter (original 1 T)

--Put the choc into a heat-proof glass bowl and place the bowl over a small pot of boiling water. When the choc begins to melt, add the cream and the butter, stirring until all the chocolate is melted. Remove from the fire. When still warm but not hot, pour over the cake. If you want a fluffier and more voluminous frosting, cool the ganache completely and then whisk until light and fluffy. Spread over the cooled cake.

Choc Fudge Frosting for Cupcakes
3 oz (90gm) unsweetened dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (113 gm) butter, room temp but firm
3/4 cup (90 gm) icing sugar*, sifted
1 t pure vanilla extract

*original recipe is 1 cup/120 gm.

1. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Cool.
2. Beat the butter with a hand-held whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate until smooth and glossy, about 2 -3 minutes on medium speed.


fishm0i said...

looks yummy!! I saw Mona posted this out in FB few days ago saying its made by her aunt first thing in my mind was you! :D

ArtiSands said...

wow yum!! looks totally sinful =) what kind of bananas did you use? my mum has an abundance of green bananas and this would be perfect way to catch-up with the supplies.

btw, mum said she met this wonderful lady at church the other week (I was in KL and she took my kids to church) and described someone resembling you =)...thanks for making her feel welcomed.

Food so delicious! said...

OMG!! this looks so yummms! I gotta try this. Hehehe.. add on to my collection of chocolate cakes.

Yes, I love those green bananas too but for some strange reasons, I dont seem to be able to find them around KL anymore. Very sad. I usually use pisang raja from my garden for cakes as I find them sweet and fragrant.. holds its shape well too! And yes, berangan is one of my least like bananas.

terri@adailyobsession said...

aggie: :D i'm a good aunt:D

plainjane: oh she's welcome:)

food:i forgot about pisang raja! i always search for them but they are rare here. so sweet n smooth, love them. (updated my post to include them).

Chocolate Cookies & Candies said...

I've got to try this. I hate bananas but I don't mind them in a cake.

Laura said...

Hi Terri!!!
That's look really good!!!
I'll try it!!
How are you?
Hope you and Yi are ok!!

TeaLady said...

Your first photo is enough to get me into the kitchen to make this cake.

With all the bananas in the freezer this would not take much planning.

terri@adailyobsession said...

ccc: it always surprise me when ppl say they don't like bananas...why ever not??

laura: hi dear! i'm ok, having some problems with my youngest:( and yi's doing great in shanghai, loving her job. she's doing mega projects and buildins and you shd apply for a job with her company bc they are hiring architects:)

tealady: i was told bananas kept in the freezer are easy to mash. must try tt.

Laura said...

Hi Terri!!
I'm happy to hear that Yi is fine and loving her job!!
I would like to apply for her company, but it's really too far from here, and I'm not ready for such a big step!!
Hope everything will be fine with your son!
Take care!

Summer said...

Hi, this looks really delicious.
For making this into cupcakes, do you have recommendation for temp and time required?

terri@adailyobsession said...

summer: yes, it's 180 C for 20 minutes for muffin-sized cupcakes 3/4 filled. tell me how they turned out:)

the lunch guy said...

chocolate and bananas, always superb!

your cake looks so deliciously moist!

whether its something like your cake, in a banana split with vanilla ice cream and fudge, or simply bananas as part of the fruit selection of a chocolate fondue this combo is always a good one. (if its brownies try adding a bit of peanut butter too.)

i make a version where i lay banana slices on the bottom of a DEEP cake tin that i have coated with butter and granulated sugar (rather than oil and flour). i then add anisette (or anisette extract) to the cake batter and bake it as you would normally bake a deep-dish cake.

when i turn the cake out after cooling, and then turn it over, the bananas appear on the top, and the entire cake is caramelized from the sugar. further, the bananas turn a beautiful shade of violet.

i call it: banana-sette cake.

if its a special occasion, and i want to go further, i will slice the cooled cake horizontally in half to create 2 layers. this is best done after the cake rests in the refrigerator and cools completely.

i then return the layer without the bananas in it to the tin.

NOTE:cut side up and 1st line the pan with saran wrap or possibly a recycled plastic grocery bag to easily remoce the finsihed frozen cake.

next, add a layer of softened ice cream (flavor of choice, its not always the same with me), and then i top that with the layer that has the banana slices showing on the top.

NOTE: the 2nd layer of cake will stick out above the cake tin rim, that's ok.

next i tightly wrap it well in a recycled plastic grocery bag and freeze it.

if you have cut the bananas length wise rather than into slices, and placed them in a "star" pattern like the spokes of a wheel, when you go to portion the slices you will have a slice running along the top of each piece. if you choose to do this do not worry about the slices all meeting in the center because when you slice it it is actually easier to do without some banana in the center of the cake.

needless to say if you are not a fan of ice cream cakes, or it does not suit the occasion, try layering the cake with a good stiff whipped cream or possibly a custard filling.

also, if it is ice cream that you use, you can cut all the slices, individually wrap them and return them to the freezer for your family and freinds to snack on at will.

FINAL NOTES: if you ever choose to keep a stock of ice cream cake in the freezer you can bake the cake in a long bread loaf pan. this will give you a configuration where you have very nice uniform slices that are the same size of a slice of thick bread. easy to portion and also very easy to decorate on a plate with raspberry sauce, saboyan sauce, or whatever you like. possibly caramel or peanut butter suace.

work fast when slicing and portioning the cake. place each piece into a plastic sandwich type bag, and freeze in a plastic tub with a tight fitting lid. you never know when unexpected guests, or the mid-night munchies, will attack ..............


Sharmaine said...

Argh, the cake looks so good.
I'm thinking of trying to make it this week! Just a few questions...

-Is it ok to halve the recipe? How deep does the mixture fill the cake pan? Is it meant to be a short-ish cake?


- Do you think it's ok to reduce the amount of cocoa powder (for instance from 90g ->70g)? 90g is so much, I might need to buy more...

Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! I've been stalking your page recently and really liking the types of cakes you bake.

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