Over New Year's this year I went to Lake Tahoe with my friends Sarah, Kate, and Ashton to visit our friend, and Kate's mom, Katie. There was snow everywhere and it was absolutely beautiful, I even learned to ski! But I have to say that the highlight of the trip was Sarah's bananas foster. Sarah is originally from New Orleans and makes AMAZING bananas foster. Seriously, like, the best thing you may ever taste. When she made it, it was pretty much devoured within a minute or two...and I probably could've eaten even more if there were more cakes available. Traditionally, the bananas foster mixture is served piping hot over cake, usually angel food, and then topped with vanilla ice cream, which melts wonderfully all over everything. I had been craving banana cake like crazy, and remembered Sarah's bananas foster. Like a mad woman, I pestered Sarah for the recipe and she graciously gave it to me, and here it is!
I made it into a layer cake, and used homemade whipped cream instead of ice cream, because it would hold longer without the cake falling apart. However, it must be noted that this cake is very sensitive if you make it with 5 layers like I did, and by sensitive I mean it will fall over pretty easily. I also explain in the recipe how to make it in a normal 2 layer version, if you don't want the trouble. But if you do want to make it with 5 layers for presentation value, when it comes time to serve it, just gently tip it over onto a long plate and serve each person with a layer or a half a layer. The bananas foster by itself is fantastic too, if you're not up for making a cake and whipped cream, just throw the banana fosters over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and I promise you'll swear you're in heaven.
Also, the angel food cake recipe calls for 12 egg whites...which also calls for wasting a lot of yolks. So, I set the yolks aside and plan on making a baked custard with them next week which I will post, so if you want to hold onto yours till then feel free. Then, it will be custard time, the best time of all.
Angel Food Cake
12 Egg Whites
1 Cup Cake Flour
1 and 3/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Mashed Banana (about half of a banana)
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
4 and 1/2 Bananas
1/2 Cup Butter
4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Spiced Rum
Caramel Whipped Cream
1 Cup Whipping Cream (liquid, not already whipped)
2 Tablespoons Caramel Topping
First, make the angel food cake. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Beat the egg whites, salt, and vanilla extract together until they are foamy and full of tiny bubbles, takes about 3 minutes. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until the mixture can hold stiff peaks and becomes relatively shiny. Be prepared, this will take a loooong time, it took me about 10 minutes of constant electric mixing. Do not be impatient, though, as it is key that the egg whites are whipped to this state, otherwise the cake will fall flat.
Once the egg whites reach this stage, gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, mixing well after each addition. Add the mashed banana and the flour mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Pour the batter into either (5) 5-inch greased cake pans or (2) 8 or 9-inch greased cake pans. Bake the 5-inch cakes for 15 to 25 minutes and the 8 or 9-inch cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for at least an hour before you remove them from their pans. This helps them retain their structure. When you remove them from the pans, it helps to use a flexible rubber spatula to loosen the edges.
While the cakes are cooling, begin making the caramel whipped cream. This is wonderfully simple. Pour the whipping cream into a medium-sized bowl and add the caramel. Beat with an electric mixer on high, and try to leave the top two-thirds of the beaters exposed to help whip air into the cream.
Mix until the cream turns fluffy and sticks in the beaters when they are removed from the bowl, like in the picture above. Refrigerate.
Now it is time to make the bananas foster. Peel the bananas and cut them in half lengthwise, then slice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Set them aside. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over low heat. Once it is melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and raise the heat to medium-high, whisking the mixture constantly.
Once the brown sugar begins to caramelize, after a few minutes of heating and stirring, add the bananas and sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top of them. Mix well, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes more, letting the butter sizzle and stirring a few times a minutes to ensure that the bananas cook evenly.
Some of the banana pieces may break apart in the heat, and that is okay, but you do not want all of them to break apart. For the most part, they should soften but hold their shape, not disintegrate. The photo above is a good example. Add the tablespoon of rum and mix well. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
Assembling the cake is very straightforward. Take a layer of the angel food cake and rub the brown crumbs off the side, which should come off easily if you greased the pan well enough. This is just to make it look whiter on the outside, if you don't mind the golden crumbs then feel free to let it be. Using a long knife, cut the golden brown exposed top off the cakes and set them aside for snacking.
Place a cake layer on the serving plate. Put the desired amount of bananas foster on top of the cake, (remember, you will be stacking more layers on top to try so keep the distribution nice and flat and smooth), and then spread your desired amount of whipping cream on top of the bananas foster. Place another layer of angel food cake on top, and start the process over again. It is okay if a little bit oozes out the sides, it just makes it look tastier.
Once you have assembled all the layers, put a nice dollop of bananas foster on top of the cake, then more whipped cream, and then another dollop of bananas foster to top it off. Serve immediately, as bananas don't oxidize well.