Banana Coconut Cardamom Cake – Mixed Review

SONY DSCSo lately I’ve been on this mini bundt cake kick.  My siblings and I are in the midst of planning our parent’s 50th wedding anniversary party and I have volunteered to make the desserts.  I am not exactly sure what possessed me to sign up for this, and I admit I am rather nervous about the whole thing, but I am having a fabulous time testing recipes.  I recently purchased some mini bundt pans and I been playing around with some fun recipes for the past couple of weeks.  I have seriously never had so much fun baking cakes in my life!  And the petite little cakes are just so stinking cute!

Baking baby bundts has opened up a whole new world of creativity for me.  (I know, like I needed another one.)  There is just something about baking these little gems (and eating them) that is just so fun.  And I must say that the cakes I’ve made in the last couple of weeks are among my all-time favorites.  Sadly, I didn’t document any until now, but rest assured I will… eventually.  My favorites were the Orange Cardamom cake and the Ginger & Lemon cake.  Oh, my!  So good!

Today I decided to experiment with some new flavor combinations.  I poked around my pantry to see what I had on hand and I grabbed my trusty Flavor Bible.   (If you don’t have this book and you like to experiment with different ingredients, I cannot recommend this book enough!  It’s one of my top favorite cookbooks, though it’s not really a cookbook at all.  It’s more of an encyclopedia of ingredients.  If you ever wanted to know what flavors compliment pistachios or salmon, for example, this book is the book for you.  It really is worth its weight in gold.)  Finding some overripe bananas during my kitchen exploration, I decided this would be my first flavor component.  I consulted my trusty Flavor Bible and discovered coconut and cardamom both compliment banana beautifully.  I had a can of coconut milk in the pantry and I wouldn’t even think of being without cardamom as it’s one of my absolute favorite spices.  So the flavor profile was in place.  I just needed to get the recipe figured out.

When I started down the baby bundt baking path a couple weeks ago I discovered a terrific book called Kiss My Bundt.  After reading the reviews I knew I had to have it.  I purchased the Kindle version and I absolutely love it!  The Orange Cardamom cake and Ginger Lemon cakes, that I believe my be among the best cakes I’ve ever made, were also adapted from Ms. Wilson’s book.  She really sort of demystified the whole cake baking process for me.  I love how the author explains the why’s and how’s of cake baking and exchanging ingredients in a recipe to come up with your own recipes.  So I used the Banana Cake recipe from Kiss My Bundt as a guideline and added a couple of my own twists.  Instead of using whole milk like the recipe called for I used coconut milk, as well as an extra half teaspoon of vanilla, and a teaspoon of cardamom.

The resulting cake was really quite good.  I really like the hint of coconut flavor, and the cardamom added a unique twist to ordinary banana cake.  So then I started thinking about how I would dress the cake further.  I decided to go with a cream cheese glaze.  Sounds pretty good, right?  But I couldn’t leave well enough alone just go with a traditional cream cheese glaze.  No, I had to add one more creative twist to my banana cake adventure.  With just a few tablespoons of coconut milk still left in the can, I got the brilliant idea to swap the milk for coconut milk in the glaze.  Pure brilliance, right?

Okay, not so much.  I can’t quite put my finger on what I didn’t like about it, but I just didn’t like it.  The cake by itself was pretty good.  I’d probably give it maybe 3.5 stars.  But the addition of the coconut glaze sort of ruined it for me.  But, well what can I say?  I tried.

So, take the rest of this post with a grain of salt.  If you’re into trying a new banana cake recipe, go for it!  But I’d probably suggest a plain cream cheese glaze or better still, a buttercream frosting.  I think the buttercream frosting would put this cake into a 4-5 star rating in my book.

Okay, here we go….

The ingredients.  (Check out my homemade vanilla in the big bottle between the sugar and flour.  That is some seriously good stuff and a first for me.  Perhaps a blog for another day…)

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I creamed the softened butter for a few minutes and then added the sugar and creamed it a bit more.

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Next, I added the vanilla and the eggs.

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I measured out the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.

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Yes, I seriously did sift the dry ingredients.  I don’t think I have ever done this before when making cakes until the last couple weeks.  But hey, 50 years of marriage is serious business!

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And into the mixer it went.  I alternated between mixing the dry ingredients and the coconut milk.

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Next,  the bananas.

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My creative juices were seriously going full throttle today.  Since I purchased my mini bundt pans a few weeks ago I’ve struggled with getting the batter into the pan nice and neat and tidy.  Invariably I had a big sloppy mess of batter all over the pan so I decided to try a new method today.  I put all of my batter into a big zippy, snipped a bit off the corner, and piped it into the pan.

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The verdict?  Well, it worked out quite nicely actually.  I was able to get most of the batter where it was supposed to be and I had better control over filling each well with the right amount of batter.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best method I have found as of yet.

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All that white stuff on the pan is flour.  I keep forgetting to pick up a baking spray at the grocery so I am using my Misto and a Pampered Chef duster to prepare my pan.  Just pretend you didn’t see the cakes in the background.  I didn’t think to take this shot until they came out of the oven.  So much for the big reveal.

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I just have to mention that I am finally getting around to learning how to use the convection bake option on my oven.  I was so excited to have this available to me when we built our house, but I never took the time to learn how to use it.  But if I am going to be baking 14 kajillion cakes and cookies for this party I decided I better get it figured out.  It’s so cool!  I can bake two pans at once on a lower temperature and for a shorter amount of time than my conventional bake option and they bake quite evenly!  Love it!   (My first two pans were already cooling on the counter and I was finishing up the last of the batter so that’s why there aren’t two pans pictured here.)

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Now, can I get a drum roll for the best photo of the day?  While the cakes were baking my little one decided he needed to get in on the photo action too.  He grabbed daddy’s phone and started snapping tons of photos of the cakes baking!  Priceless!

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Ta da!  The big reveal. Oh, yeah.  I already ruined that moment.

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I took some photos of the glaze making process, but I won’t bother sharing those as I just can’t recommend the glaze.  I think the cake is really tasty, but it still lacked a bit of something.  The banana cake recipe from Kiss My Bundt recommended adding a bit of banana extract, but as I didn’t have any on hand I went with 2 bananas per the author’s recommendation instead of just one.  Still it just didn’t quite get it and I do think the banana extract might be the key with the cake recipe.  Also, I really do think the cake would be really delicious with a big dollop of buttercream frosting.  I will probably try that some day, but for now there are just too many other flavors to experiment with before the big day in June!

So, my take-aways for today are:

 1. Swapping the milk for coconut milk was an interesting choice but maybe I will try something like Greek yogurt or sour cream next time.

2. Adding cardamom to banana cake is a must… like always!

3. Using a zippy to pipe the batter into the pan is a splendid idea.

4. Taking too many creative leaps at once might spell disaster!

And now for the recipe as adapted from Kiss My Bundt by Chrysta Wilson:

Banana, Coconut & Cardamom Cake

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
2 overripe banana, mashed

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium sized bowl sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder and salt.
3. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until soft, about 2 minutes.
4. Add the sugar slowly to the butter and continue beating until it’s light and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs one at a time incorporating after each addition. Once the eggs are incorporated, continue beating for about two more minutes.
6. Add vanilla.
7. Beginning and ending with the flour,  mix 1/3 of the flour into the wet mixture,
then 1/2 of the coconut milk, alternating until all ingredients are mixed.
8. Gently mix bananas into the batter.
9. Transfer batter to cake pans that have been greased and floured and fill to about ½ to ¾ full.
10. Bake baby bundts for about 17 minutes in a regular oven, or at 325 degrees in a convection oven for about 14 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
11. Invert cake(s) onto a cooling rack or serving plate.
If cake resists, cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting.
(If cake still resists, cool an additional 15 minutes in the pan.)

Finally, after the cakes have cooled top with your favorite frosting
or glaze and enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Banana Coconut Cardamom Cake – Mixed Review

  1. Thanks, Donna. It was a fun experiment, but not one of my best outcomes. The orange cardamom and ginger lemon cakes were truly out of this world. I am on to strawberry cake this week. Hopefully I will have time to blog about it.

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