Friday, May 23, 2014

Hummingbird Cake



Our oldest son turned 30 on May 12th, but with Mother's Day on that same day, and living 5 hours away, I didn't get to bake a cake to celebrate.  Since the whole family is going to meet over the Memorial Day weekend at our Cocoa Beach timeshare, Robert asked for a cake, homemade and not vanilla and not chocolate...a SPECIAL cake. Read: the more difficult, the better!

I didn't want to shred carrots for carrot cake and he doesn't like the texture of coconut, so my choices were narrowed down a bit.  Then I came across Southern Living's Hummingbird Cake with Browned Butter Icing. Instead of putting coconut flakes in the mix, I substituted half the vegetable oil with coconut  for a very mild coconut flavor. I also chose to put 1/2 cup chopped pecans in the mix. I only had two bananas ( maybe a cup and a quarter) so I chose to use the whole 20 oz can of pineapple chunks, tossed with juice into the food processor with the bananas to make into crushed.  The mix came out a bit runny, so I added another cup of flour, an egg, 1/2 cup sugar and a little more salt and baking soda.   The mix seemed more normal consistency and this too is why it took longer to bake. I baked in a sheet cake pan and it took about fifty minutes to bake. I just kept doing the toothpick test until it didn't come out wet.  The cake is big and beautiful, fragrant and heavy.  It has been cooling for over an hour and is still not cool enough for icing.

Here is the printed version from Southern Living:
Hummingbird Cake
Cake Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon table salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
2 cups diced ripe bananas (about 3 medium) 
large eggs, beaten 
1 cup chopped toasted pecans 
1 cup vegetable oil
(8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained


Cake Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in bananas and next 5 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into 4 greased and floured 9-inch square or round cake pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).


Browned Butter Frosting

Ingredients

1 cup butter
(16-oz.) package powdered sugar 
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Preparation

    1. Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.
    2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.


    The icing seemed loose and so I added about a cup more powdered sugar.  Also, I didn't have milk and used half-and-half in its place. It tasted fabulous!

    I didn't want to add the cream cheese custard filling that is commonly used between layers of this cake because, first of all, mine is one layer, and secondly, I don't want to have to refrigerate it.  The cooling time for my big cake is long. It has been an hour and a half and I just flipped the cake over to cool the other side of this dense cake.  I hope it is good as it smells.

    Here is Southern Living's cream cheese custard filling that goes between the layers of the cake:
    Cream Cheese Custard Filling
    Ingredients
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
    large eggs
    1 1/2 cups milk
    (8-oz.) package cream cheese, cubed and softened
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Preparation
    Whisk together first 2 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; whisk in eggs and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture reaches a chilled pudding-like thickness. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese and vanilla until cheese melts. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Place plastic wrap directly on mixture (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 6 to 24 hours.









    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    Happy Mother's Day!

    What are you making today?  I am fixing dinner to bring to my mother and father.  Momma asked for a baked hen. I plan to stuff it with sliced lemon and fresh herbs, give it a rub down with butter, then pop it in a searing hot 450F oven for ten minutes to crispen the skin, lowering the temp to 365 for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the legs move easily.

    The starch is our old standby that's everyone's favorite, peeled and mashed yukon potatoes with homemade gravy.

    The vegetable will be mandolin sliced French concoction called ratatouille.  Here's a recipe with lots of pictures that is similar to mine. On the stove top, cook chopped onion and garlic in some butter/olive oil until caramelized, then add a small can of tomato paste, stir that around, sprinkle a little pepper and fresh thyme. Slice tomatoes, green and yellow squash, an eggplant, and a red bell pepper, alternating and spiraling the colorful vegetables into the pan. Add some more thyme (just a tiny bit - it will overwhelm!), salt and pepper, then drizzle on olive oil.  This bakes about 45 minutes, covered, then another 30 minutes uncovered.  Finally, a little vinaigrette sprinkle and under the broiler for a quick edge browning.
    For the vinaigrette: 1T olive oil, 1t. balsamic vinegar, a whisp of thyme, kosher salt & black pepper.

    My sweet husband Mark will make his famous (well, famous to us!) homemade biscuits, using Pioneer Brand Biscuit Mix from the grocery store.

    I baked TWO lemon supreme cakes this morning.  The first one STUCK LIKE GLUE to the prepared bundt pan. Failure! We enjoyed a piece with coffee while the other one baked. The second one slid from the pan like it was the law. The failure cake pan was prepared with my regular Crisco and flour, and in the second one I used Bakers Joy (an oil/flour spray) and had success. Go figure!
    Identical cakes, same recipe, same preparation.
    Flops sometimes just happen. 

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