Banana Cream Cake

So, guess what?

In last week’s post I said that rather than wait for the autumn weather to kick in before I started posting ‘autumn recipes’ and comfort food, I would just start baking & posting autumn recipes and let the weather catch up to me later.

This week, the temperature dropped around 10-15 degrees in our area.

Iiiiiiiii would like to think I had a thing or two to do with it.

(Probably not, it’s likely due to some natural–or rather unnatural, because, global warming–causes but I’m claiming the credit for it anyway.)

The weather is cooling down because it’s trying to align with my autumn baking. What can I say except, you’re welcome?

This week’s recipe happened because of a tale as old as time.

Girl goes to store. Girl buys green bananas, thinking she has plenty of time to eat them. One days passes. Bananas are still green. Two days pass. Bananas are just barely starting to yellow. Three days pass.

Bananas are ripe. Too ripe to eat. Girl is now stuck with four overripe bananas.

I guess ‘stuck’ is a little harsh. Bakers know that overripe bananas are really a blessing in disguise–they give you an excuse to put a healthy fruit into a not-as-healthy baked treat. Oftentimes, that treat is banana bread. Banana bread is great and easy, as are banana muffins. This time around though, I decided to try to go with something a bit different than what I was used to. It’s not too much more difficult than the bread or muffins, but I’ll tell you what: it IS a good deal greater.

One of the reasons that I love using bananas in cake is that they lend themselves really really well to cake batter. Why? Because the fat and moisture content in them helps keep the finished cake INCREDIBLY moist. So long as you’re using overly ripe bananas, it’s going to be quite difficult to overbake/dry that sucka out. This is a perfectly delicious banana cake all on its own. It’s then made even more delicious by a ribbon of vanilla cream cheese filling that gets poured on top of half the batter, then the other half of the batter is poured on top of that. The smells alone as it bakes are glorious. As for the taste…you can probably guess.

What can I say except…you’re welcome?

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Banana Cream Cake

Recipe Adapted from NordicWare

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed ripened banana
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, to thin

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt or tube pan and set aside. In a measuring cup or small bowl, pour the milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice together and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda and salt. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yellow disappears. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even mixing.

Add the mashed bananas, stirring just until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat dry ingredients and milk mixture alternately into batter. (Start and end with the flour mixture) Beat for 1 minute. Remove batter to a bowl.

Beat the cream cheese in the standing mixer bowl until it’s smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, stirring just until combined.

Pour half the batter into the tube pan. Use a teaspoon to spoon the cream cheese filling evenly around the center of the cake batter. Carefully spoon remaining cake batter over filling, covering completely.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and springs back lightly when touched. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto cake plate.

For the icing, combine the powdered sugar with enough milk until it forms a smooth but still somewhat thick icing. Use a fork to drizzle over the cake. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes, until hardened.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #247, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Last week was really hot in my area and I went on a mini-rant about how over it I was. I shared a recipe that was geared towards warmer weather.

This week, it’s a tad bit cooler, but still warm. But you know what? I’m gonna go ahead and share a recipe that is right up the alley of autumn anyway, because I just can’t wait any longer.

Maybe if I put out autumn foods more, it’ll attract more autumn weather to where we are–or not, but I can at least try. And even if it doesn’t bring the autumn vibes my way, I’m still sending good food vibes y’alls way no matter what the weather looks like in your part of the world.

That way, everyone wins.

I know at this time of year everyone loves to throw pumpkin into everything. Personally, I think pumpkin spice is overrated. And when it comes baking, I actually like to take a recipe that calls for pumpkin and swap it right out for sweet potato.

When they’re roasted & mashed, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, and even butternut/kabocha squash take on a very similar consistency. The flavors are different, but they function the same way scientifically during the baking process.

So, what I did here is incorporate a roasted/mashed sweet potato into a pound cake recipe, then added a lot of the autumn spices that are usually given to pumpkin baked goods. The orange zest is there to give it a boost of freshness. If you prefer to use pumpkin, butternut or kabocha squash instead, that’s fine. I promise it won’t mess anything up.

You should know that I originally intended to give this cake a glaze. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you know that I usually do. But by the time the cake was done cooling and I had gotten out all of the ingredients for a glaze, I hesitated, looked at it for a long moment and thought, “You know what? Nah. It’s fine.”

Apart from the flavor, the sweet potato keeps the cake itself really moist. The spices complement the sweet potato and give your taste buds a hug. They don’t need any help from a sweet icing and I’m glad that I followed my instincts and didn’t try to give them any.

This is autumn in one delicious bite. Or several, depending on how much of it you eat. And I think you’ll eat plenty.

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Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan (or two 9 inch cake pans) and set aside.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together. Stir with a fork until combined, then set aside.

In a glass measuring cup combine the milk with the vanilla extract and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yellow disappears. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even mixing.

Add the mashed potatoes and orange zest, mixing just until combined.

Continue to mix at a low speed as you add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. (Start and end with the flour.)

Spoon the batter into the cake pan(s). Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan and allow to cool completely.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #246, co-hosted this week, by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Mila @ Milkandbun.

Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Y’all, can I half-way complain about something? Just for a few minutes. I promise I’ll make this quick.

I’m in my third year of living on the West coast now. I’m well aware by now that the weather here is much warmer, for much longer than it was in the Mitten at this time of year. I know that we don’t get to really see the seasons ‘change’. I know that corn mazes, apple orchards, and sweater weather aren’t really a ‘thing’ outchea.

I miss all of the above, but I’m still fine with going without all of that. There’s just one thing that is really starting to bug me.

I am so sick of the heat.

Seriously. I’m not just over it, I’m overBOARD it. I kinda expect those summer temperatures to carry into September, but by the time October rolls around, I’m kinda ready for them to move along on their way. And they haven’t. They haven’t gone ANYWHERE. Like I said, I’m not exactly expecting sweater weather but I’d at least be able to walk home without getting sweaty.

AND ANOTHER THING. This weather is really putting a damper on my autumn appetite.

Y’all get autumn appetites too, right?

Much like in the summer, I have a massive appetite for things like charcoal BBQ, lots of fruit and whipped cream and lemonade. But as we roll into October, my summer appetite starts to fade and my autumn appetite starts to rev its engine.

And suddenly, all I want is comfort, stick-to-your-ribs food: stew, chili, pot roast, cornbread, apple cider, cinnamon sugary stuff. All of the things that warm you up from the inside out and make you want to take a nap.

But guess what? I’m not really in the mood for food that warms me up on the inside when I’m already too hot from the weather outside. That’s my half-complaint. It’s autumn and I’m not in the mood for autumn food because it still feels like the dead of summer where I’m at. ‘Kay, that’s it. Now onto the food.

Since it’s still too hot outside for autumn food where I’m at, I figured that I could just make something that catered more to the summer weather. Lettuce wraps are right up there so far as I’m concerned. They’re light, they’re refreshing, they’re lower in carbs than tacos. (I don’t really care about that last part, but whatever, they’re still yummy and summery).

Hoisin sauce is like an Asian style ketchup–except in my opinion, it’s much tastier. Hoisin, soy sauce, minced ginger and chili sauce forms the base of the sauce that the pork in this dish is braised in. All together it makes for a sauce that’s salty-sweet, and given a punch of spiciness from the ginger and garlic. Make sure you get lettuce that’s going to hold it’s shape when you place the meat and toppings inside–Boston Bibb or butter works best. I drizzled Sriracha on top of mine to make it extra spicy. It may not be summer anymore, but if you’ve got summer weather where you’re at, maybe you’d like to try this yourself.

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Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • Pepper, Onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, cut into chunks.
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Sesame seeds
  • Butter or romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Season the meat all over liberally with the pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over high heat. Sear the meat until browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and stir to coat the onion in the browned bits. Allow to saute until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and allow to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the soy sauce, hoisin, brown sugar, fresh ginger, chili sauce, five spice and chicken broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat to a low simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the pork back to the pot and stir to combine.

Cover tightly with lid or alumnum foil. Bake in the oven until the pork is softened and easily pulled with a fork, 1 1/2-2 hours. Serve the pork with the lettuce leaves, shredded carrots and sesame seeds.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #245, co-hosted by Liz @ spadesspatulasandspoons.com and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

Honey Sugar Cookies

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: I have a mild obsession with sugar cookies.

I use the term ‘mild’ rather loosely. The reality is, I adore them. I think they’re the best dessert that there is. I could eat them every day (I don’t, but I could). I’ve shared more than a few recipes for them on the blog already. I do have my favorites, but there’s honestly something about each one that makes them different and delicious in their own way.

Take it from someone well practiced in eating them: all sugar cookies aren’t created equal. They don’t all come out the same way. Part of this comes down to personal preference. Part of it comes down to the ingredients. Some people are on Team Crispy Sugar Cookies. Others (like me) are on Team Soft Sugar Cookies. Some prefer them unfrosted/un-iced and others won’t take them any other way.

While I do like a good hardened glaze, I will say that I’ve found that a truly good sugar cookie won’t need it. It just won’t. The cookie texture itself will be soft enough to where it doesn’t need the moisture from frosting or glaze. The flavor of vanilla, almond or citrus will be strong enough to not need the added sugar in a frosting or glaze to make it sweet enough to taste like something besides flour.

(And you would be surprised at how often that happens. Like I said: they ain’t all created equal.)

Typically I only try new sugar cookies recipes if there’s something about them that appeals to me. I was flipping through Food Network Magazine one day and I saw this one. It appealed to me, not just because the cookies were pretty, but because they included an ingredient that I had never used in a cookie dough before: honey.

I’ve used honey before in gingerbread. It functions as both a sweetener and a way to keep the final product moist. Because I liked the results with gingerbread, I thought it would be worthwhile to see how it would affect sugar cookies, which are typically sweetened with just…sugar. These do have sugar too, but they also have about 1/4 cup of honey.

Because it’s autumn, I decided to use a pumpkin cookie cutter for these. They hold their shape very well so just about any cookie cutter you wanted to use will work great.

I really, really liked how they turned out. The honey gives them a special sweetness and flavor–you can definitely tell the difference between this and regular sugar cookies. They’re soft and slightly chewy. They’re delicious. Have a good weekend, everyone.

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Honey Sugar Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the honey and egg, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla.

In a small bowl combine the flour with baking powder and the salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie cutter into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess and transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.*

Freeze cut out cookies for 10-20 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little bit more sugar. Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Allow to sit on the pan for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #244, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes.