Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.



Bundt Cake Saturday! (Late again.)

Morning: smoky
Mood: no-bullshit
Music: 311

So we're still playing catch-up on some of these old recipes from the last few months. Today we've got a particularly bizarro character. I was hitting a desperate stretch there for awhile, trying to come up with original recipes after nearly a year of these guys, and this cake was a product of that. After conquering a smoky kitchen, some frantic opening of windows, and a little emergency smoke detector surgery, I managed to scrape all the black crumbs off the bottom of the stove, throw the cake in its caddy and hop on the bus just in time to make it to work.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

There's a certain strain of bizarro desserts that emphasize banana and caramel flavors. Neither is exactly my first-choice confection, but the combination of the two - also known as "banoffee" in other parts - usually results in a pretty stickily-delicious taste. I also had two random boxes of banana cream pudding sitting in my pantry for approximately six months, and wanted to find a use for them, sooner rather than later. So, after a little research, I created a hybrid of a few recipes in order to come up with this eventual

BANANA CARAMEL CREAM BUNDT CAKE

Yup. That's it. Kind of summery, no? It all went swimmingly until I overloaded the pan a little. But before we go there, let's hit the basics:

INGREDIENTS

1 yellow cake mix
2 small boxes of banana cream pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup banana cream or plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water (or milk, if you'd rather)
1 teas. vanilla
2 medium bananas, ripened and chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter
2 T milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour your bundt pan. Combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, yogurt, oil, water, and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Fold in chopped bananas. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.

Next you're going to prepare a simple caramel sauce to layer in as a ribbon of caramel in the middle. To do this, melt 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 T unsalted butter, and 2 T milk in a saucepan until it boils. When it has fully caramelized, pour the sauce on top of the batter and smooth it out; finish by pouring the rest of the batter on top of the caramel layer. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then invert on a wire rack to cool completely.

Now, two key things to note here:

1) You can substitute a jar of banana baby food if you don't have ripe bananas on hand, or if you have recently discarded the small child in your life. It might taste a little more processed, as there will probably have been preservatives added, but in a pinch, it'll certainly do.

2) DON'T PUT TOO MUCH BATTER IN YOUR PAN.

I wish I would've told myself this before baking this puppy. Because as soon as I proudly put the cake in the oven and patted myself on the back for coming up with such an ingeniously creative recipe, I started smelling major burning, only to return to find my kitchen billowing with smoke. The batter had quickly overwhelmed the pan and was oozing over the edges and through the hole in the middle, landing on the bottom of the stove, where it was burning like a middle-aged spinster in Puritan New England.

It was ugly, and I was afraid the cake would be totally smoked out and taste only of burnt batter. I put a cookie sheet under the pan to catch the oozing batter, and watched it carefully after flinging open all the windows and doors in the house. The cake did finally bake through, but it took a long, long time, and the consistency was still much more wobbly than it should've been.

Lesson learned: don't overload your pan. Leave out some of the extra batter if you have too much. It's better to have some extra (which you could easily throw into a mini-bundt pan and make into a few small additional cakes) than to have Vesuvius spouting in your gas stove.

Once it finally cooled, I drizzled a little more caramel sauce on the top and finished it off with some dried daffodils from an old bouquet from some secret admirer (also known as: myself). It was decently cute and summery.

I didn't expect to love the flavor, but the cake was surprisingly delicious. So if bananas and toffee are your thing, get in there, my friend. Just make sure to take out the smoke detector batteries first.

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