Here in Colorado we are in the thick of winter. Most other years, lucky us, we have spent my February birthday in the tropics and cut our winter short by a few weeks. Not this covid year. The weather has been very cold with lows below zero. We can only dream of Hawai’i while listening to Gabby Pahunui play his melodious slake-key guitar. Here on Blue Mountain Road, the insulated shades are drawn and I listen to jazz and the blues on KUVO – the ‘Oasis in the City’.
I like to bake and we often have cookies for our lunch dessert. But sometimes, cake is just the thing to cheer us up with delicious baking aromas and the satisfying flavors of lemon, banana or vanilla. In these pandemic times, I’ve read that folks have eaten a lot of bananas, in banana bread and muffins and on breakfast granola. In Hawai’i, I celebrate a friend’s birthday with a banana cake, made with the small apple bananas we love. I recently fancied it up with walnuts and chocolate for a mid-February Colorado treat. This cake is also delicious on its own, simply topped with the lemon glaze. I call it ‘Everyday Cake’ in my book.
Preheat oven to 350°
Grease and flour two 8-9 inch layer cake pans, a fluted pan or a 9 inch springform. I used heart shaped layer cake pans in honor of Valentine’s Day.
Cream together 1 cup unsalted butter and 1 cup brown sugar (packed). Add 2 large eggs, then 1 cup mashed, ripe banana (2-3 medium-sized).
In another bowl or on a piece of wax paper, combine 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a cup, combine 1 teaspoon vanilla and 5 tablespoons buttermilk, yogurt or soured milk (1/2 teaspoon lemon juice in 5 tablespoons milk. Let sit a few minutes until curdled.) Add to the butter mixture alternately with the flour mixture.
Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, 35-40 minutes if using a tube pan or springform. Check doneness with a toothpick.
Let the cake sit in it’s pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Unmold. When cool, spread bottom layer with 2-4 ounces of melted dark chocolate. If you used the springform or fluted pan, split the cake horizontally and proceed with filling
Pour glaze over top layer ─ combine two teaspoons lemon juice, 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and some grated lemon zest. Sprinkle with toasted, chopped walnuts.
Roseanne brought me luscious, juicy lemons from her folks’ tree in Phoenix. Of course I had to make a lemon cake. I searched my cookbooks and came up with a hybrid recipe using olive oil.
Lemon Loaf Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 8-9 inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving extra on the long sides for easy unmolding.
Stir together 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1 cup sugar. Add 2 large eggs and the zest from a large lemon, about 1 tablespoon. Stir in 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then add 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/8 cup (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) yogurt, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Spread in prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness.
Glaze while warm. (Combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and some grated lemon zest.) Cool on a rack.
So, I wish you were coming ’cause I baked a cake! One day…..