Saturday, April 24, 2010

For When Next Time is Now

If your house is like my house, the most difficult part about baking anything with bananas is keeping bananas in the house long enough for them to become over ripe and perfect for baking.  It doesn't matter if we buy a bunch of four (two to eat plus two for baking) or six (four to eat plus two for baking) or eight... they are always gobbled up in their prime which results in an inevitable "oh well, next time."  If you are somehow able to manage keeping the banana munchers away from the bunch and 'next time' actually occurs, this scrumptious cake is a great way to celebrate the achievement.

Banana Streusel Cake

As a non-baker (who seems to be baking an awful lot lately), I always assemble and prepare all of the ingredients prior to mixing the wet and dry.  I am not entirely sure of the reason, but I think that somewhere deep in the back of my brain I actually learned this in Home Economics - something to do with the baking powder activation - anyway... whatever it was, it is something I just always do.  Please keep in mind that the only thing I really remember about Home Ec. is the time our entire class played indoor frizbee-tag with a massive stack of rubbery pancakes and making our teacher break down in a fit of frustration and cry (if you are reading this Ms. Walters - I'm sorry) so it might just be a self imagined baking "rule".  If you usually bake on the go, just ignore the assembly part and use your own method.  Again, I am not a baker.

First, I begin by coarsely chopping a 100g bar of milk chocolate into random sized bits.  You may choose to use chocolate chips or chunks or dark chocolate or white chocolate or no chocolate at all; whatever you prefer is right (yes, even nuts or raisins).  Set aside.

chopped chocolate

Next I cube 180g (3/4 cup) of softened butter.  I always remove the butter from the fridge the night before I need it, or first thing in the morning if I will be baking later in the day, which I suppose makes taking out your butter to soften the real first step in this whole banana cake baking process.  I find that cubing the butter makes it much easier to mix.  Place the butter in a bowl, along with 165g (2/3 cup) sugar and 150g (2/3 cup, packed) brown sugar.  Set aside.  In another bowl, combine 300g (2 cups) flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.

To prepare the streusel topping, which makes this cake extra fabulous, combine an equal amount of sugar and flour (a couple of heaping soup spoons should do) in a small bowl and add a couple shakes of cinnamon.  Stir to blend, then add a tiny splash of water and a teaspoon-sized scoop of softened butter.  Use your hands to squish it together and then flail your fingers through it until it becomes a bowl of loose crumbles (you could also use two forks, but i find fingers more efficient).  Set aside.

over ripe bananas | mexican vanilla

Finally, and most importantly, mash three (medium sized) over ripe bananas with the back of a fork.  Stir in one egg and one tsp vanilla.  Set aside.

prepared ingredients | streusel crumbs

Now that everything is assembled, it is time to mix the contents of your bowls together.  Cream the butter and sugars, then add the banana egg mixture and beat until well blended.  Gradually add your flour/baking powder/salt, continuing to mix thoroughly to a proper batter consistency, then fold the chocolate pieces in with a spoon.  Spread the batter into a greased 9x13" pan and cover with the streusel crumbs.  Bake at 175C (350F) for about 35 minutes - or until a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cake comes out clean.  Fill any holes left by toothpicks with random streusel crumbs and allow to cool completely before cutting (I know, it's hard, but so worth the extra wait). 

banana streusel cake

Your Banana Streusel Cake will be moist and dense, but not quite so much as a brownie, and the crispy crumbly topping contrasts the cake texture nicely.  This is exactly, in my opinion, what a coffee cake should be.  I've given up on ever trying to save bananas for the cause, but when I go to the store and find a bin full of over ripe bananas at a reduced price, I know that my "next time" has finally arrived.

banana streusel cake

4 comments:

RnR said...

Ha ha, no matter how many bananas we buy, we never ending up eating them before they go brown and mushy, so I always have some in the freezer for baking! Unless Dad's here visiting ... did you know THAT'S how her prefers bananas and thinks when they are firm and yellow they aren't right for eating?!?!? Ew.

RnR said...

Oh, and thanks for the recipe - I will make it for the boys soon!

H W Romero said...

Yum!..I was so inspired I made a strawberry, apple, pear cobbler type thing with streusel topping and it's in the oven now. It was a typical used up the wrinkled fruit in the bottom of the fridge and then realized half way through I was out of white flour so used wheat instead, couldnt find a proper measuring spoon so I just flung the stuff together affair. You know you can take the girl out of the Kootenays but you just cant take the Kootenays out of the girl :)Your stuff looks so great Han...I think you have far surpassed me in the chef-ing department these days!

pollysplayground said...

@RnR: Ew on dad... that's like eating banana wine from the peel.

@HWR: I love your empty the fridge cobbler thinggies... I remember them quite fondly. And actually, whenever I need to make a substitution for something I always ask myself "what would HWR do?" and then imagine you telling me its ok ;) You are my kitchen god(ess).

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