little banana & caramel cakes
Despite living in Canada, and arriving here with little more than a suitcase of clothes, our bookcase seems to carry a rather large number of kiwi cookbooks.
Some are old favourites of ours, pulled from storage and sent over by Mum because we just couldn’t find a bread book that matches Alison Holsts. Or recipes for ‘flatters’ for when times get tough (slash living off tinned or frozen food waiting for the next flight of groceries to arrive). Edmonds Cookbook has proven to be a winner, saving us scouring (mostly North American) websites for kiwi favourites like date scones, afghan biscuits and pikelets (in this pikelet-derelict country).
This is Auckland cafe Little and Friday’s interpretation of the Edmonds Cook Book Banana Cake. They make little double-layer cakes sandwiched together with gooey caramel and mascarpone, topped with cream cheese icing. Cream cheese is easy enough to find here (if you are willing to dole out $7 for a small block) but certainly not mascapone. I opted to make the cream cheese icing less sweet than usual, seeming as it has a layer of caramel drizzled over.
With Jesse whipping up perfect flat whites (well, close enough) in the Italian stovetop espresso press, we sat down to a cafe date as good as, if not better, than a visit to Little and Friday.
Recipe from Little and Friday (also posted and photographed on All Good Bananas)
Makes 12 small cakes or alternatively one 23cm double layer cake
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
125 g butter
¾ cup sugar
3 cups mashed banana
4 tbsp hot milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Caramel (see recipe below)
Cream Cheese Icing (see recipe below)
chopped walnuts and banana, to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C (350˚F). Spray mini cake tins (or muffin pans) with cooking spray.
2. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter on low speed until light and creamy.
4. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat on low speed until light in colour and fluffy.
5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and making sure to incorporate each egg before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula
6. With the mixer on low speed add the banana.
7. Dissolve soda in hot milk.
8. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three equal batches alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the flour. Lastly add walnuts.
9. Divide mixture evenly between the prepared muffin pans and bake for 25 minutes until the tops spring back when lightly touched.
10. Let the cakes cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.
To assemble the cakes
1. Use a serrated knife to slice each mini cake in half horizontally.
2. Spread cream cheese icing over the bottom half, creating a divet in the centre for the caramel. Spoon a dollop of caramel over top. Spread cream cheese icing over the top half and place on top of bottom half. I used the knife to create a little moat just inside the edge of the cream cheese icing where the caramel could pool without running down the sides.
3. Decorate with chopped walnuts and slices of fresh (or dried) banana.
4. Serve the cakes at room temperature. Left over cakes can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place (not the refrigerator) for up to three days. The banana flavour gets better with age at room temperature.
Note: the timing here is crucial. Both the cream and the sugar must be piping hot when combined. If you do have issues adding the cream (as I did – they would not combine) simply heat over the stove, stirring frequently, until the caramel melts into the cream and thickens.
1 cup castor sugar
1. Put the sugar in a saucepan and just cover with water to achieve a wet sand consistency.
2. Bring to the boil. Do not stir the sugar water mixture. Using a wet pastry brush, clean the sides of the saucepan to remove any stray sugar crystals.
3. Continue to boil until the colour changes to amber. At this point, quickly remove from heat.
4. In a small saucepan heat cream to boiling point. Gradually add this to the caramelized sugar, stirring all the time to achieve a smooth consistency. This may take a while, but will eventually combine.
Cream Cheese Icing
I halved the original recipe (cream cheese is the price of gold up here) and found it made plenty to ice the tops and centres of all 12 mini cakes
250g cream cheese, cut into small cubes
60g butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup icing sugar, sieved
1. Thoroughly cream butter in mixer on fast speed, continuously scraping down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add the cubes of cream cheese. Continue beating on fast speed until there are no lumps, again scraping down the sides of the bowl.
3. Turn the mixer onto slow speed before adding the sieved icing sugar. When fully integrated turn up the speed & continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and has no lumps.
4. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.