This smooth operator is a far cry from the usual banana cake: luscious yet delicate, intensely moist yet elegant. In fact, if you didn’t tell, nobody’d know it was a banana cake. There are no dark fibre streaks, and no strong banana flavour — thanks to the smooth silky batter, the lovely lemon zest and huge helping of of the alluring vanilla. The Cordon Rose Banana Cake is definitely a magnificent banana cake — the flavour, aroma, texture and taste are delicately refined and enhanced.
You can see that a lot of effort has been put into the development the Cordon Rose Banana Cake by the queen of baking, Rose Levy Beranbaum. She gave it the name after her school Cordon Rose. In her book, The Cake Bible, she takes great pains to help us home bakers to understand better the nuances of cake making and baking. Like for this cake, she explains why we use what we use: like the addition of extra butter to soften the cake, as both the fibre from the banana and the sugar tend to toughen the cake, like how the acidity of the sour cream and banana are tempered by the baking soda, and like how the addition of extra sour cream will not weaken the structure of the cake thanks to all that fibre from the banana.
You know, when ever I eat this cake I love using my tongue to gently crush it against my palate, and it simply melt and glides down my throat. It’s that silky and exquisite! While the Cordon Rose Banana Cake holds its own unfrosted, you could add a simple dusting of powdered sugar. Or better still frost it with the indulgent sour cream ganache — this cake was made for this topping and it simply divine when paired together.
Don’t lose heart if you have ripe bananas but don’t have sour cream, for both the Cordon Rose Banana Cake and the indulgent sour cream ganache, you can make your own sour cream at home from the recipe found here. The sour cream and the lemon zest give the cake a tangy kick, proving that bananas and lemons marry well.
No, I’m not discounting the deliciousness of a scrummy moist classic banana walnut loaf. I love a good banana cake since I get the goodness of the fruit and get to add less sugar, and the banana definitely adds moisture. But Cordon Rose Banana Cake is in a different league altogether. It’s definitely a smooth operator, working my heart into a flutter!
Also, you’ll see from the pictures that there are two shades of sour cream ganache. Well, I mixed one with a spatula and that let it stay dark and thick, I beat the other with a hand-held mixer which rendered it lighter in colour and texture. Do let me know how your Cordon Rose Banana Cake turned out — tag me on Instagram using #notjustspice or on Facebook @notjustspice.
- 2 large ripe bananas (1 cup or 227 g or 8 oz)
- 2 tablespoons sour cream you could use up to 1/2 cup — it’ll make your cake extra moist
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon or lime zest
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups sifted cake flour 7 oz or 200 g
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons soft unsalted butter 5 oz or 142 g
Grease and flour a 9-inch (23-cm) by 2-inch (5-cm) round cake pan, after you line the bottom with parchment paper, and pre-heat the oven to 176ºC (350ºF).
Add all the wet ingredients: bananas, sour cream, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla, to a food processor and blend until it’s a smooth paste.
Add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, to a bowl and use the hand blender to blend it all for about 30 seconds. According to Rose, this is much better than sifting all the dry ingredients, as this way they are mixed well.
To this, add the butter (soft and squishy, not warm and melted), and half the banana mixture and beat on low speed until you cannot see any dry white bits and you see that the batter is smooth. To give the cake more structure and aerate it, increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 and 1/2 minutes.
Then, add the remaining banana mixture and beat until the batter is smooth and silky — about a minute.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake come out clean, and the cake when pressed lightly in the middle springs back.
Let the cake cool for 10-15 on a wire rack while in the cake pan.
Unmould the cake onto a greased plate or wire rack after gently running a thin palette knife around the cake (to loosen it). Turn it back the right side up and allow it to cool completely before you frost it with it’s perfect mate: the indulgent sour cream ganache.
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