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Week 3: Meh (or The Banana Cake that Wasn’t) January 23, 2012

Filed under: Cake,Recipes — Jen @ 3:02 am
Tags: , , , ,

Smells can trigger feelings, emotions, a state of being even.  I had such high hopes when I pulled this week’s cake out of the oven. The smell of banana bread filled the house. Mmmmmm… was just like being at Nana’s; warmth and comfort and all things good.

Love & Olive Oil(photo from Love & Olive Oil)

I’ve had this cake on my “Someday” List since last summer when I was researching fillings for a banana cake. I never knew there were so many options to be paired with banana: chocolate, dark chocolate fudge, caramel buttercream, cream cheese, cheesecake, cinnamon. I think I’m going to need more than 52 weeks!

Fast forward to January 2012. A friend had a baby, and I offered to take supper to her and her family. #1 I get my baby fix and #2 I can knock out a 52/52 cake. Two birds, one stone. I asked around to see what flavor cake she likes. Lo and behold, she likes banana cake. She does?! Still one stone, but now there’s three birds I can knock out of the park. Never mind the mixing of metaphors. I’m on a roll. “Someday” is here. Banana cake, here I come!

This is supposed to make a 9-inch triple layer cake. (Not sure how thick these layers are supposed to be, but I made 2 8-inch layers and had just enough batter to also make 6 cupcakes. The cake I gave to my friend. The cupcakes were for us to enjoy.)

Banana Cake with Praline Filling and White Chocolate Ganache

As found on Love & Olive Oil, with a few adaptations by me. Original recipe is fromSky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes



  • 3 C. cake flour
  • 3½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ C. milk
  • ½ C. ripe mashed banana
  • 8 oz. softened unsalted butter
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 7 egg whites (I used 1 C. 100% egg whites)

Praline Filling:

  • 1 C. sugared pecans
  • 1½ C. white chocolate ganache

Sugared Pecans:

Let me help you out here. I don’t have time to make my own sugared pecans. If you’d like to try, click above on the link to see the recipe. Otherwise do yourself a favor and go buy a 7 oz. package of glazed pecans. I bought mine at Aldi. You’re welcome.

White Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 2½ C. heavy cream
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla


For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Prep your cake pans with one of the most wonderful inventions ever Baker’s Joy or Wilton’s Bake Easy non-stick spray. Line your pan with parchment paper, as well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. I processed the milk and banana in my blender to make a smooth, light puree. Set aside.

In my large mixer bowl I creamed together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. On medium high speed, beat in egg whites 2-3 at a time until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between egg additions.

With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and banana puree alternately in 2-3 additions, beating until just blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Divide the batter among your prepped cake pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of each cake. (My cupcakes were done in 20 minutes. The cakes took 30.) Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wired rack and remove the parchment. Cool completely for about an hour.

For the Praline Filling: With a large knife chop the pecans and add to the white chocolate ganache. Stir to mix well.

For the White Chocolate Ganache: Put the white chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. Bring ½ cup of the cream to boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Let the white chocolate cream stand until cooled to room temperature.

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, beat the remaining 2 C. heavy cream and vanilla until softly whipped. Stir in the white chocolate cream and beat until fairly stiff. This is very important: DO NOT OVERBEAT. This should only take a minute or two. You can tell when you’ve gone too far because your ganache is a curdled mess. Go ahead and ask me how I know.

To assemble the cake: put one layer, flat side up on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with praline filling, leaving ¼-inch margin around the edges. Place the second layer on top, again flat side up. Frost the sides and top with the white chocolate ganache. Garnish with sugared pecans.

Like I said, I had really high hopes for this cake. It smelled wonderful coming out of the oven. Sugared pecans, white chocolate ganache…what could possibly go wrong with this?! Well….as a whole it was really good. But once you start looking at the individual parts that’s where I started to lose interest. The cake itself was tasty, BUT it didn’t taste like banana. It was just a very subtle spice cake. The white chocolate ganache and praline filling – couldn’t really taste the white chocolate, just a nicely sweetened whipped frosting.

My husband assured me it was delicious, and it was but NOT if you’re looking for banana cake with white chocolate ganache.



Week 2: Divine January 17, 2012

DIVINE. Relating to God, gods or goddesses: connected with, coming from or caused by God or a god or a goddess.

So when one of my BFF’s chose this word to describe these cupcakes I was more than a little flattered. I mean…I’ve never been called a goddess before! (Well, at least not by anyone other than the voices in my head.) What we have here are Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Kisses and White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream. I found inspiration for these cupcakes over at Half Baked. I wanted to include peppermint in a way that did not include making my own peppermint bark (good lord, who has the time for that?) and ended up over at Picky Palate where she used Hershey’s Mint Truffle kisses to add a sweet surprise inside. Then I found a great White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream over at Becky’s Cakes.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes The base for these is, again, this recipe from Cake Central. Feel free to use the chocolate cake recipe of your choice. Just make sure to sub prepared hot chocolate for the listed liquid. Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • 3/4 C. prepared hot cocoa (specifically I used one .71 oz. packet Nestle Rich Chocolate mixed with 3/4 C. warm milk)
  • 1/2 C. canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 24 Hershey’s Candy Cane kisses


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place cake mix, pudding, sour cream, prepared hot cocoa, oil and eggs in a bowl and mix on medium speed until well combined. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full, and then place one candy cane kiss into the center of each cupcake pressing to the bottom. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes. Yield 24 cupcakes

Becky’s buttercream turned out wonderfully. I believe I ended up using 2 tsp. peppermint extract, as well as just a bit more than the 3-4 Tbs. heavy cream asked for. All butter buttercream has always been a favorite of mine. “Everything’ better with butter!” If you’ve not tried all butter buttercream then you’re in for a treat. It’s not as sweet or “heavy” as shortening based buttercream, but it’s also more delicate. The heat of your hands when working with it can soften it enough that you have to put it in the fridge to let it set a bit before using again.

I tried a couple different decorating techniques with these before ending up with the 2-tone swirl above. Becky had striped her icing bag with red food coloring and then piped it on. I tried that, but yeah….didn’t like that.  I tried putting 2 colors of icing (white & red) in one icing bag and piped, but hmmm….still not quite there yet. I ended up sticking with the easiest way I know to do 2-tone icing.


These were first intended as after school snacks for The Middle Child’s Daisy troop; however due to a snow day that was cancelled. Then I thought, “Perfect! New Year’s teacher gifts!” You know…because I was too lazybusy to get it done in time for Christmas. BUT I just couldn’t resist slicing into one of these to show you.



Week 1: Voluptuous January 10, 2012

Filed under: Cake,Recipes — Jen @ 3:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well…the challenge got off to a slow start. I’ve pretty much been sick for the last three weeks, so finishing this cake has been quite the accomplishment. The last several days have been (try to) sleep, cough, drink some coffee, cough, throw in a load of laundry, cough, drink some coffee, cough annnnnd cough some more. In between all that the monsters needed attention, if you can believe that. I guess in Indiana it’s frowned upon when you don’t feed your kids. Go figure. So the cake came together in pieces. One day I baked the cakes, another day I made the buttercream, a third day I made the filling and then put it all together. Low and slow.

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve wanted to combine peanut butter and chocolate for months now, and boy did I ever accomplish it with this cake. I initially found this idea on (gasp!) Pinterest, which led me to Flikr. How to describe this cake? When asked, my husband said voluptuous. I would borrow a much loved phrase from my son: Sweet mamma potato! Dark chocolate cake with a peanut butter ganache filling and iced with a peanut butter buttercream. Ultra rich and ultra decadent, this cake is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I used my tried and true chocolate cake recipe, which is originally from The Cake Mix Doctor, but I found posted on Cake Central. I used Pam’s filling recipe, and the peanut buttercream is one I found on My Cake School. I’m not including the buttercream recipe here since this is a paid site, but you shouldn’t have any problem finding one. As long as it has some variation of PB, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla then you’re good to go.

Dark Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Cake Central

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (3.9 oz) box instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • ½ C. Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup
  • ½ C. canola oil
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare your cake pans. (For this cake I made 2 8-inch layers. Any more than this and you should probably double the recipe. This recipe can yield 1 10-inch cake, 1 9×13 or approximately 31 cupcakes.) Combine all ingredients and blend on low for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides. Increase the mixer to medium and beat 1½ to 2 minutes. The batter will be thick and should be well combined. Pour batter into pans, place on middle oven rack and bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched. The original recipe says this should take 28 to 35 minutes, but for me it’s been consistently 40 minutes. Meh…different ovens and all that jazz.

Peanut Butter Fudge Filling

  • 8 oz. Nestle dark chocolate morsels (Pam’s recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate, but I didn’t have any. The dark chocolate was OK, but if I were to make this again I would go with SS.)
  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • ½ C. creamy peanut butter
  • ½ C. Reese’s peanut butter cups, roughly chopped

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small sauce pan heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts. Whisk in the peanut butter until it’s well combined and smooth. This makes 2½ cups of filling. Set aside ¼ of the mixture (Don’t ask me how long it took to do the math, but that’s equal to 5/8 C.) Once the rest of the chocolate mixture is cooled completely gently stir in the chopped peanut butter cups.

To Assemble:

Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate. I piped a PB buttercream dam, but I’m not entirely sure it was necessary. Fill in with the PB fudge filling. (The filling recipe made much more than was actually needed. I don’t think I even used half of what I had.) Place your second cake layer on top. Using the reserved filling (remember that 5/8 cup? Yup…that’s the one.) spread a thin layer on the outside of the cake, a sort of ganache crumb coat. Refrigerate until the ganache is set and firm to the touch. Once this has set, ice the cake with the PB buttercream of your choice and decorate with any extra peanut butter cups.

I would keep this refrigerated BUT you’ll need to let it set out before serving to give the ganache time to soften otherwise you’ll have a chocolate PB mess on your plate. This is VERY rich, so a small slice will do ya.

My word, I need a glass of milk just looking at it. Enjoy!


Full Steam Ahead January 2, 2012

Filed under: About Me,Intentions,Uncategorized — Jen @ 11:35 pm
Tags: ,

Most people start off the new year with a list of resolutions that (let’s be honest here) usually go by the way side by the end of January. Or if you’re extra tenacious you last until the middle of February. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions many years ago. I’m a stay at home mom with three kids, a part time job, a caking hobby that at times seems to take over the house and a husband who works two jobs. Come on…do I really need the added stress of not keeping my resolutions? With that said, I read over at Cookies & Cups about how she’s made a list of New Year’s Intentions. Resolutions can be broken, intentions cannot. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

So what things are on my list of intentions for 2012?

  1. Move more. Exactly what it sounds like. Move, dance, walk, bend, etc…whatever. Just do it more. I think I might even get to know my Kinect a little bit better this year.
  2. Just say no! I know this may be hard for some of you to hear, but I am not Super Woman. More often than not I have a lot on my plate. I am a mother to my core and always want to take care of people and fix everything I come across. Though I’m sure my husband would argue, I think I’ve gotten much better with this over the last few years. (It would help if my time management skills didn’t completely suck.) But for his sake (and my sanity) I’m adding this here simply because there’s always room for improvement. Right?
  3. Time management. See above. Still working on that one.
  4. 52 Cakes in 52 Weeks. Not eating them, but baking them (though eating them might just be the easier challenge). Reading #s 2 and 3 above you might be asking, what the…? What can I say? I love a challenge, and I’m totally up for it.
  5. Slack With all that said I’m going to cut myself some slack if I can’t be the best mother/wife/sister/daughter/organizer/planner/baker/laundry washer/toy picker upper/bed maker, etc. Sorry, but I’m not Super Woman. And you know what? That’s ok.

52 cakes in 52 weeks may be my biggest intention listed here and is also the main reason I’ve come back to this blog 3 years, 3 weeks, 5 days and some 15 pounds after initially creating it. With the encouragement of family and friends (and my addiction that is Pinterest) I’m jumping in feet first. I’ve got big plans for my first cake of the year, and it involves chocolate and peanut butter. These are two flavors I’ve wanted to combine for many months, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so.

So come along for the ride. I’ll love the company.

Keep calm and bake on,


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