Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Peace & Quiet - Caramel Banana Cake

Photo by Brian

While at the river last weekend, I stepped out of the house alone around midnight and walked a few yards away. The moon was just about full, the forest and river were lit just enough to see by it's light. I stood still and listened...total silence and stillness. I couldn't even hear the river.

I can't remember the last time I heard silence like that. So incredibly peaceful.

It's easy to forget that that sense of quiet and stillness even exists when you live in the city, amid the constant hum of fans, air-conditioners, motors, refrigerators, traffic, etc. After having been on the go non-stop for the 3 days prior to our river trip, it was an unbelievable relief to be able to stand completely still, and not hear a single thing. Just peace and absolute quiet.

After a few minutes, I did hear a car drive by on a road not too far away, and then a small splash in the river, and what sounded like a owl in a nearby tree. I can't tell you how peaceful that moment was, especially after 96 hours of being on the go, non-stop.

It was a good weekend. So good that we decided to head up again this Saturday. I can't seem to get enough river time these days.

Have I mentioned that summer is my favorite season?

So, more about that Caramel Banana Cake. A cake I'd never made before, but one that Leah had requested. She was quite specific, Caramel. Banana. Cake. Anything for her 30th! As I said in my last post, this batter would be perfect for muffins. It's like the worlds greatest banana bread. I mean come on, it has caramel in it!

Caramel Banana Cake
2 9-inch layers

3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups caramel sauce (recipe below)

Heat oven to 325. Grease two 9" cake pans.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the eggs and beat until silky and lightened. Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt. Whisk the milk and mashed bananas in a separate measuring cup and add to the eggs and butter, alternating with the flour. Beat just until smooth.

Pour batter into the prepared pans. Pour half the caramel sauce into each pan, and swirl with a knife. The pans will be quite full. Put in the oven carefully and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the centers are set and a knife comes out clean.

Cool completely before serving. Optional, whip about 2 cups of heavy cream with 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Whip until the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Coat the cake in a layer of whipped cream with a flat rubber spatula.

Caramel Sauce
makes about 3 cups

2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
Pinch salt
1 tbsp butter

Warm the cream in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. While it's warming, add the sugar and water to a large, heavy, high-sided pan over high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then leave it alone to boil until it reaches a deep amber color. It's hot, but if you can, taste while you go, you don't want to caramel to burn.

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream. The mixture will bubble and spit while adding the cream, so stand back and go slow! Add the pinch of salt and butter and whisk smooth. Simmer until slightly reduced.

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