-peek- Oh hi! Phew, it's dusty in here! -brushes off the blog, sneezes- My goodness, it's been a while. Life rather caught up with me, but I've missed you all :)
Let's see, a quick summary. The company I was temping at hired me full time (doubling the hours I was working), boyo and I bought a house, boyo and I got pregnant, boyo and I had twins (!!!), and I quit the full time job to be a stay at home mom. Whew! That's it in a nutshell.
This past year has been all about babies, but my babies have now turned one! To celebrate our success at parenthood ("they survived, we didn't kill them!") we threw a big birthday bash and introduced the girls to the glorious invention called "cake". They were skeptical at first, but after their first bites eschewed all other foods for this amazing sugary concoction. We're corrupting them early, see ;)
The cake is banana with a whipped cream cheese frosting and banana slice layer, covered in marshmallow fondant. It took 3 days to make (because I'm crazy), so plan in advance! The top tier is 10" while the bottom is 12"; for that size I had to 4x the recipe (left as original for you sane people :), but it worked out just about perfectly. Each layer was ~1", and there was enough left over to make little individual cakes for the girls. Tricks and tips at the bottom.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 4 medium bananas)*
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
14 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
1/3 cup salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 9-inch round cake pans with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang of foil on two sides. Spray foil with cooking spray, then dust evenly with flour and shake off excess.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds. Set aside. Mash bananas with 1 tsp lemon juice. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip together butter, 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, granulated sugar and light brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Blend in eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla and mashed bananas.
With mixer set on low speed, slowly add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk in 3 separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until combined after each addition. Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans and spread batter into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 45 - 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely then frost with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. For best results frost within 30 minutes of serving and store left over cake in refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature about 10 - 20 minutes before enjoying.
For the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form, then transfer whipped cream to a mixing bowl and set aside. Replace whisk attachment with paddle attachment and add cream cheese and butter to stand mixer bowl. Whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and whip on medium speed, about 2 minutes longer. Add half of whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and gently fold until combined, then fold in remaining half.
*I tried this with both 1 1/2 cups and 1 3/4 cup mashed bananas and the 1 3/4 cup seemed to make the cake more dense and it didn't really need any of that extra moisture so I'd recommend that you measure the mashed bananas and use 1 1/2 cups.
Fondant recipe was from here (tripled it for this cake).
- When working with fondant/gumpaste - don't wear dark clothes. White white white clothes. There are little bits of lint that rub off of your clothes, especially blue jeans, and these will show up in your fondant/gumpaste. Ew.
- I used this mat while working with the fondant covering the cake, and it saved the cake. I had tried rolling the fondant up on my rolling pin a couple times, but the cake was just too large and subsequently my sheet of fondant - it kept tearing as I was draping it. Instead I rolled it out on this mat then rolled up the mat with the fondant, then unrolled over the cake. I was able to get a super-thin (1/8") fondant sheet that way without any ripping.
- 1/4-1/3" frosting between layers is plenty. I put more (3/4"ish), which accounts for the slight bulging on the sides that you can see in the picture - the weight of the cake was slowly pushing out the frosting.
- LEVEL YOUR CAKES. I didn't do this, and had to do some tricksy last minute engineering to be able to stack them on the day of the party. Save yourself the sleeplessness.
- Make your gumpaste figures in advance. Way way way in advance. You're not going to eat them, and they don't go bad anyway as long as you don't refrigerate them, and they take a long time to dry. Weeks, it turns out. I made mine 3 days before the party and ended up doing some hi-jinks with a hairdryer to get them to hold together.
- Marshmallow fondant is much tastier than store bought, even Satin Ice. Easy enough to make too, save yourself the money (store bought is crazy expensive).
- There's some debate on the internet around whether you can refrigerate fondant. I did since my frosting had dairy in it, and I only had marginal problems (get to that in a second). Overall I would say you can - I didn't have any color blending like the 'net threatened. My fondant did start to melt from the inside though, but I think that was due to the type of frosting I used. The whipped cream-cream cheese frosting was absolutely delicious, amazing stuff, but if covering the cake with fondant I would find a sturdier frosting in the future. I believe the whipped cream was marginally too liquid for the fondant to withstand, as it started slowly leaking from underneath starting the day before the party (also causing me to lose sleep).
Overall - would I do it again? Absolutely. It was a ton of fun making my vision reality, it was delicious, and sharing it was delightful. Give me a few years to recover first tho ;)