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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Banana After-School Cake

Here's a picture of all my cookbooks. I mean, it's not bad. Only two shelves. But as you can see there is no extra space. So out of necessity I am very discriminating about acquiring new cookbooks. They have to be either very worthwhile, or they have to be obscenely cheap. I am a sucker for a bargain.

So when I was at Border's last week, and everything was 70% off (or more) for their last 10 days, I gave the cookbook section a look-see. I knew it would be picked over, and it was. But sometimes that's how you find the gems. So when I found Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids by Jill O'Connor (list price $19.95, Amazon price $9.43) for a whoppin' $1.60, I took the plunge. It was so cute looking, so inviting. I did flip through quickly, to make sure there was at least one interesting recipe, and I found at least five on one skim - sold! Sometimes "treats for kids" books are full of lame shortcuts and store bought frosting, so I just wanted to make sure these were real recipes. Oh, yes, I lucked out.

So on a recent afternoon when Ginger said she was bored and couldn't wait for Hazel to come home, I said, "Let's make a snack!" It was rainy and unseasonably cool, and a perfect warm-comfort-food day. So I took a quick inventory - browning bananas - and remembered something banana-y from SCMGTfK. Just so happens she calls it "Banana Montana After-School Cake." Perfect. I left out the "Montana" for obvious reasons.

But despite the book's title, Ginger and I found this cake...a bit too plain. So we added cinnamon chips. And chocolate chips. And heck, a few marshmallows. You know. And it was awesome. And we ate it for after-school snack the rest of the week. The End.Banana After-School Cake (print recipe)
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 3)
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup diced toasted pecans, optional
A couple 4-yr-old-size handfuls of cinnamon chips and/or mini chocolate chips, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch square cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer set at medium, beat together until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla, bananas, and buttermilk, just until combined.

4. With the mixer set at low speed, beat the flour mixture into the banana batter, in two additions, just until combined. Do not overbeat the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the pecans and/or chips if using.

5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan in an even layer and bake until firm and golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and cut into squares. Serve warm.Recipe adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids by Jill O'Connor

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