Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing
I have a wonderful friend named Katrina.  She is the mother of two, wild at heart, loves all things done from scratch and enjoys nothing more than giving things away for free that she worked hard to produce and for which she should be charging good money.  I try my best to pay her for her amazing pasture-raised, organic eggs, but occasionally she’ll leave a dozen on my porch because “she had too many to use that week.”  Look at these beauties!

free range eggs

free range and all that jazz
So a few weeks ago when I was blessed with an extra dozen eggs on my porch, I decided to sacrifice them to the baking gods and make a chiffon cake.  NOTHING whips up faster than a fresh, room temp egg white.  And when you have fresh eggs (we’re talking hours from the chicken) you do NOT have to keep them in the fridge.  And for baked goods, nearly all recipes will call for a room temp egg.  I was completely shocked the first time I used Katrina’s eggs when making a chocolate mousse and the egg whites beat into stiff peaks in about a MINUTE.  I’m not exaggerating.  Amazing.  This post is really just me bragging that I have a super cool friend who raises really great chickens who lay really amazing eggs.

For the recipe today, I give you a banana chiffon cake with salted caramel icing.  A chiffon cake is kinda like an angel food cake except not so angelic.  It uses both the yolks and whipped egg whites AND has oil.  But the texture is similar to an angel food cake except this cake is super moist.  When I was little, the only cake my grandmother would ever make (to my recollection) was an angel food cake, and I can only imagine that was because it has no added fat.  She was missing out 🙂

Banana Chiffon Cake

 

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing*

For the cake:

10 1/2 oz sugar
5 1/3 oz plain cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs; 2 whole, 5 separated, at room temp
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

For the icing:

1 recipe salted caramel sauce
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese at room temp

 

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk in the 2 whole eggs, 5 egg yolks (reserve the whites), water, oil and extract until the batter is just smooth.

Pour the reserved egg whites into the bowl of a sand mixer; beat at low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Add the cream of tartar, gradually increase the speed to medium-high, and beat the whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry (as little as 7 minutes in a stand mixer and as little as 2 minutes if you’re using eggs that are only 5 hours old) 🙂 With a large rubber spatula, fold the banana mush into the batter, then fold the whites into the batter, making sure to not over mix, but being sure you get all the way down to the bottom of the bowl to incorporate whites into all the batter.

Pour the batter into an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity).  Rap the pan against the counter a few times to rupture any large air pockets.  If using a pan with a removable bottom, grasp both sides with your hands while firmly pressing down on the tube with your thumbs to keep the batter from seeping from the pan during this process. Wipe off any bbatter that may have dripped or splashed onto the inside walls of the pan with a paper towel.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes.  Immediately turn the cake upside down to cool (I’ll admit, this is scary, but have faith).  If the pan does not have prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan onto the neck of a wine bottle or funnel.  Let the cake cool COMPLETELY before inverting.

To unmold, run a thin knife around the pan between the cake and pan wall.  Use a skewer to loosen the cake from the tube.  Loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan with a knife and invert it onto a serving pan.  Hope for the best.  Half of my cake was hollow because I didn’t incorporate the egg whites sufficiently.  This is life.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides.

To make the icing:

After making the salted caramel sauce, leave it in the pan and with a mixer or by hand with a whisk, whip the softened cream cheese until fully incorporated and no tiny lumps remain.  Let it come up to room temp and then beat again before pouring over the cake.

*cake recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook.  This book is endlessly tested and will never steer you wrong.

 

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Chocolate Mousse

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French Kids Eat Everything was the second book I read in my brainwashing of French food culture (the first was Bringing Up Bebe) and it was the best one in the trend of “the French know what you’re doing wrong”, in my opinion.  In the book, the author, Karen Le Billon, describes her struggle raising her two little girls on the streets of Paris, trying to fit in to a food culture so different from our own.  She noticed toddlers sitting in restaurants for an hour meal without making a peep and eating the entire time.  She never saw public temper tantrums in grocery stores over a product not bought, even if desired (kids know they can’t have snacks unless it’s 4 p.m. and even then, most are not used to packaged food aisle-fare).  She wanted to know how the French managed to raise children who ate peacefully and in turn, made having a meal together actually appear fun for the adults, as well!

There are a lot of great take-away tips in this book and one of them is to make the 4p.m. snack (or 3ish, in our case) really good – something a child won’t mind waiting for.  The French have an appointed time for snacks in the afternoon because between noon and 8 is a long time to wait for food (although they expect adults to wait!  Snacks only apply to children – dang it).  So I’ve been trying to find fun things to make and at the back of the book, there are some real recipes found in the daycare systems in Paris, as well as in every day homes.  One of those recipes is for a simple chocolate mousse.  I had procured some amazingly fresh eggs from my dear friend, Katrina, and I thought there would be no more honorable way to consume them than to eat them raw.

I just lost some readers.

Seriously, though, eating eggs from a reliable source, from happy chickens whose eggs are only a few days old – you would more likely get eaten by a goat than get sick from eggs like this.  I’ve never been one to shy away from a raw egg in cookie dough, even with the old eggs from the store, but for a recipe that calls for 6 whole eggs, I don’t think I would have been too comfortable eating them if I didn’t know how old they really were.  And I knew, in this case, because Katrina gathered them from the hen house a day before I took them home.  You all should hook up with a friend who has chickens.  They can never eat as many eggs as they end up getting!  And if you have chickens, this type of recipe is great for using up excess eggs!

This mousse is light, fluffy and has an amazing texture and flavor with the added zing of orange zest.  You must eat it very very cold or the texture gets a little too loose.  But straight from the fridge, they are amazing and Olive enjoyed it a LOT, and I exercised my patience with messy eating and happily took pictures of the chocolate chaos.

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Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6

1/2 pound semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate (I actually used Ghirardelli 60% chips)
4 teaspoons butter (oh, just use two tablespoons)
6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
Zest of half an orange (I also think a 1/4 tsp almond extract would be awesome!)
Pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler on the stove over low heat.  Quick method: melt in the microwave on 30 second increments, stirring gently until melted and smooth.  When the chocolate is melted and cooled a bit, add in the egg yolks and orange zest and stir well. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or in a large metal bowl with metal whisk, by hand, if you know what you’re made of) beat the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks (adding a pinch of salt at the start will help them stiffen).

Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Mix gently, then fold in the other half, mixing very gently.  Spoon the mousse into little serving dishes and chill for 2 to 3 hours or over night until firm.

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