I made: Cinnamon swirl cream cheese banana bread

Still catching up on my May bakes.  I found this recipe online because I wanted to make banana bread but I didn’t want it to be boring.  This was a tasty bread that I would definitely make again.  However, I would modify the topping somewhat.  The recipe calls for a simple cinnamon/sugar mix as a topping, which is fine, but boring.  I would add butter so that it gets crunchier and more rich, and also incorporate other spices and nuts as well.  Aside from that, it was great!

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I made: Hummingbird cake!

Hummingbird cake is a Southern classic comprised of a banana/pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting.  Y’all, I’m now up to TWO cakes for the year, which is about as many as I made in the entirety of last year.

I got this recipe from The Kitchn, which is my favorite professional-quality resource for baking.  The recipes from The Kitchn don’t just explain how to do things, they explain WHY they work and they provide very detailed photo step-by-step instructions.  Also, they almost never include dumb personal details about people’s kids that you have to scroll through before the actual recipe.

There are three parts to this recipe: the cake itself, the frosting, and the decorative pineapple “flowers.”  (Sadly, these are not potato chips, as many have thought.)

Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F, coat 2 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper rounds.
  • Mix dry ingredients in large bowl: 3 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Mix wet ingredients: 3 eggs, 3/4 cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, 2 cups ripe mashed banana.  It’s ok if lumpy.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients then fold in 1 cup chopped pecans.  Don’t overmix.
  • Pour the mix evenly into the 2 pans and bake for 35-40 minutes.  (I checked at 40 and felt like it could use another 5 minutes which seemed fine.)
  • Cool the cakes in pans for 10 minutes then flip out to finish cooling.

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(You may recall that in my previous post, I discussed having problems with my 9-inch cake pan.  Well, that’s because I’m a moron and I thought I had a 9-inch cake pan but it was actually clearly a much smaller pan.  I realized this when I went to the store and looked at the actual 9-inch pans.  Problem now solved.)

Frosting:

  • Beat 1 cup room temperature butter for about 1 minute until smooth.
  • Add 8 oz room temperature cream cheese and beat for about 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 pound sifted powdered sugar, about 4.5 cups, gradually adding 1 cup at a time and scraping down sides.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Beat again for 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the cake is cool, frost it.  It’s a pretty simple layer cake frosting.  Put one layer of the cake on the stand and anchor it down with a smudge of frosting on the very bottom.  Then put 1/3 of the frosting on top of the cake.  Then put the other layer of the cake on top and put another 1/3  of frosting on the top layer.  Finally put the last 1/3 of the frosting on the sides.  It’s definitely more than enough frosting so you won’t run out, just mush it on as well as you can.

Pineapple flowers:

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  • Set oven to 200F.  If you just baked your cake, leave the door open for a little bit to bring it down from 350.  Put a rack on the lowest part of the oven and remove the other racks.
  • Take a WHOLE PINEAPPLE, cut off the top and bottom, and peel it.  Trim off the “eyes.”
  • Thinly slice the pineapple into 1/8 inch thick rounds.  The recipe says that it should yield 24-36 thin slices.
  • Pat the slices dry with paper towels.
  • Set up the slices on wire racks on a baking sheet.  The recipe suggested using multiple wire racks stacked using foil balls as spacers so that you can fit all the pineapple on one baking sheet without overlapping them.
  • Bake for 2-3 hours.
  • Once you remove them, you can shape them around muffin tins, glasses, or your hands if you want.  Then put them on top of the cake!

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OVERALL:

  • This cake tasted really good!  It was kind of like banana bread, but sweeter and more cakey.
  • The cream cheese frosting was also amazing and went REALLY well with the pineapple flowers.  If you don’t want to make a cake I recommend just making pineapple flowers and dipping them into the frosting yum yum.

NEXT TIME:

  • I need to order some of those pre-cut parchment paper rounds if I’m gonna keep making round cakes. It’s really annoying to cut them out by hand.
  • The most difficult part of this was the pineapple flowers.  I think my problem was that some of my slices were too thick.  But even the ones that weren’t as thick definitely weren’t ready at 3 hours.  It took about 4 hours for the thinnest slices to get to a consistency I liked for decorations.  I had to get somewhere so sadly I left behind about half the slices in the oven.
  • I would want to get fancier with decorations.  You could do fun stuff with toasted pecans, or piping the frosting on top in prettier ways!

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I made: Banana cupcakes with Nutella frosting

This is a fairly simple, and yet outstanding, flavor combination.  I would totally recommend adding this to the list of recipes to use up extra bananas.  Also, as a person who’s often ambivalent about frosting, I’m OBSESSED with this Nutella frosting and would eat it with a spoon (and may have).

I found a new baking blog (new to me) which is where I got this recipe.  What makes a cupcake a cupcake, rather than a muffin, anyway?

Cupcake recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line cupcake tin.
  • Brown 1 cup butter in saucepan over medium heat.
  • Combine browned butter, 1 cup mashed banana, and 3/4 granulated sugar.  Add 2 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Combine dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  (You can put more cinnamon.  I mean if you’re only gonna put in 1/8 tsp what’s even the point.)
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients together alternating with 1/2 cup whole milk (or buttermilk).  Don’t overmix.
  • Spoon batter into cupcake tin and bake for 20-24 minutes for regular big cupcakes or 15-18 minutes for mini cupcakes.
  • Remove from tin immediately and allow to cool on rack.

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Frosting

  • While the cupcakes are baking…
  • Beat 1 cup softened butter in stand mixer until smooth.  Add 3/4 cup Nutella and 1/8 tsp salt and beat for another 2 minutes or so.
  • Add 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, until sugar is moistened.  Turn up the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2 minutes or so.  Frost the cupcakes once they’re cool.

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OVERALL:

  • I liked these a lot!  The cupcakes are very good.  As hinted above, I went a tiny bit off-recipe by adding more cinnamon than suggested and substituting buttermilk for milk.  This made a good, sweet banana cupcake that wasn’t too banana-y.
  • I thought about chopping up some nuts and adding them in too, but decided against it for the time being.
  • I made mini-cupcakes instead of giant, which was a good call, I think.  You have to keep a closer eye on mini-cupcakes when they’re baking, but the color of these makes it easy to tell when they’re done.
  • The FROSTING on this is killer.  I was a little suspicious of adding 2 cups sugar to the recipe, since Nutella is already pretty sugary, but I’m not gonna pretend it’s not good.
  • I used a large glass to help fill the frosting bag, which made it less of a pain.  I only included the pretty cupcakes in my pictures here but let’s just say I’m still working on learning how to frost.

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NEXT TIME:

  • I would make this recipe again exactly as I did. Some other things I thought about include: adding nuts, making big cupcakes instead of little, adding chocolate bits on top (I actually tried to do this but they didn’t stick easily and I was too tired).
  • I would also put this Nutella frosting on other bases.  It would work well on a plain white or yellow cake or probably AMAZINGLY on a chocolate base.

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I made: Banana buttermilk muffins

You know the drill.  Buy bananas, fail to eat all bananas before they turn black, put bananas in freezer in hopes that someday you’ll be a person who makes banana muffins.  Well, I’m really happy to report that for the first time in my life, I am finally that person.

I used (more or less) this recipe but seriously guys, it’s banana muffins, there are approximately one million recipes and all of them are basically fine.

Steps:

  • Prep: preheat oven to 375 and spray/line muffin tins as you prefer.
  • Mix dry ingredients: 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda.  (The recipe called for whole wheat flour, which I don’t typically have, so I used regular AP flour and it was fine.)  I also added 1/2 cup chopped walnuts at this time.
  • Mix wet ingredients: 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas’ worth, depending on the size of your bananas), 2 tbsp canola oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla.  (This recipe called for low-fat buttermilk, which is stupid.  I use normal buttermilk like a normal person.)
  • Add wet to dry and mix until just blended, don’t overmix.
  • Add 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips and fold, don’t overmix.
  • Fill muffin cups.  Press more mini chocolate chips on top of the muffins if you want.
  • Bake 15-18 minutes.  Now I took mine out at 18 minutes and they were still not done (more below), but use your judgment.
  • Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes then remove to rack to finish cooling.

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OVERALL NOTES:

  • I am noticing a pattern in general that my oven does not tend to cook things within the times recommended.  If it does, it’s always the highest possible time.  I’m mystified because I really have checked various sections of my oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer.  It is possible that maybe one section of my oven doesn’t heat evenly and maybe I missed that section when I was checking.  It does seem like the back half of the muffins cooked okay, and it was mostly the front half that remained slightly underbaked.  Or maybe my oven thermometer is also wonky idk.
  • Another issue I’ve had AGAIN with muffins is that even though I followed the recipe almost exactly, I still had WAY too much muffin batter.  I don’t think this is explainable by the extra 1/2 cup walnuts.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but when I first took them out of the oven, it was basically a solid mass of muffin that had almost spilled over the sides of the pan entirely.  Is it possible that my muffin tin itself is weirdly non-standard?  Like, the cups are just a tiny bit too small?

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  • Regardless, these tasted pretty good anyway so I’m not complaining.  I LOVE the combination of chocolate + banana.  Add some peanut butter and I’m in heaven.

NEXT TIME:

  • I would still make banana muffins to use up frozen bananas but I might like to try another version of the recipe just to see if different combinations are even better.  This recipe seemed slightly inspired to be “healthy” which is not a quality I’m particularly looking for in baking.
  • If repeating exactly, I would bake longer.
  • I’m going to try rotating things in my oven to see if that helps the uneven baking issue.
  • Maybe some peanut butter?

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Gooey slightly underbaked muffins.  Still ate them