Chocolate Ganache Banana Cake

As some of you know, I love to bake. I find it relaxing and a nice chemistry challenge. Along with my chocolate chip lavendar spearmint cookies, this cake is a big hit amongst my neighbors and circle of friends.

This cake baked in the ‘kaiser hat’ pan (a birthday gift from Einah). The recipe (originally from America’s Test Kitchen’s banana nut muffin recipe) is one I’ve modified and perfected over the last six months or so. I prefer the whole wheat flour and the Masa corn flour combination over the traditional bleached all purpose flour. Additionally, the use of fat-free yogurt doesn’t make a difference in consistency or taste. As such, I prefer to use the fat free kind (why add extra calories or sweetness?).

The cake is a perfect combination of flavors without being overwhelmingly sweet or heavy. The thin layers of chocolate ganache are easy to do, add a nice touch, and seals in the cake’s moisture.

Recipe:

Makes one 9 inch loaf or kaiser hat. Preheat over to 350 degrees. In lieu of a double boiler, I use a stainless steel bowl nestled over a saucepan. I find this to be far less troublesome than a traditional double boiler.

Dry Ingredients:

1 and 1/2  c whole wheat flour

1/2 c Masa corn flour

3/4 c sugar

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

1/4 c plain fat free yogurt (may substitue vanilla ff yogurt)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

6 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Grease pan and dust using the Masa corn flour; tap out excess.

2. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a double boiler or microwave. Set aside until cool

3. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and cooled melted butter with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl.

4. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry mixture with a wooden spoon just until all the ingredients are wetted and mixed. Do not over mix (this will prevent the cake from rising properly).

5. Bake until golden brown and a pick comes out clean (approximately 55 minutes). Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan, place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes or until cool to the touch. If any of the masa dusting is on the cake, simply wipe it off with a pastry brush before moving to the next step.

Chocolate ganache:

Set up a double boiler (as explained above), place on medium heat. Place 4 squares of dark semi-sweet chocolate into bowl and wait patiently for it to melt, occasionally scraping the sides with a spatula. Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and whisk in the 1/4 c of soymilk or 2% milk. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

If the mixture is too thick (a bit of personal preference comes into play here), add additional 1/8 c of soymilk or milk.  Using a 1/4″ paintbrush (dedicated for kitchen use, of course) paint thin layers of ganache onto the cake. Allow a few minutes between each application for the ganache to set up (it will be a semi-firm surface).

Fruit decoration:
10-12 strawberries
1/2 c alternate fruit (blueberries)

Once the cake has been covered with the ganache, thinly slice the strawberries and pack into the center opening of the cake (the kaiser pan has an opening in the center, similar to a bundt pan). Alternate with blueberries, packing tightly (but not too tight as to crush the fruit).  Cover with layer of ganache before decorating with blueberries. Place the remaining strawberry slices around the base of the cake.

Allow the cake to chill in the fridge for at least two hours so that the ganache forms a semi-hardened surface.

postscript:  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided the cake would photograph better in natural light, and so I took it outside on the back patio. I looked up from shooting the above picture and to my surprise, there was Siddhartha right in front of me, staring at the cake. You must admit he looks quite adorable. He isn’t after the cake persay— but the blueberry and strawberry topping. He’s a big fan of fruit in general but loves these two types in particular. Notice in the second picture, his tail is blurred— he was sitting pretty and anxious for a reward.

After the pics were taken, we went inside where he enjoyed a late afternoon snack of strawberries, blueberries, carrots and a bit of yogurt. I didn’t start out having a veggie/fruit dog, but it’s his preference to eat these things, so I indulge him…

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