25 Sep 2017

Caramel Banana Layer Cake | Bake Off Bake Along

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

I think it's safe to say that Caramel Week has been my favourite so far. It had me craving some millionaires shortbread from the start, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing but not great when there's none of it in the house.

I loved the technical challenge, because who doesn’t like stroopwaffles? They are delicious, especially with a cup of tea. Liam and Kate were definitely my favourites this week – that toffee apple cake and Liam’s ginger drip cake, wowza. But Liam is shining through as my top favourite currently. I don’t know how he hasn’t been star baker yet? And how has Paul not heard of drip cakes? How is that even possible?


So with no special waffle maker to hand and not wanting to tamper with the classic (and best) millionaires shortbread, I chose to take on the showstopper and the dreaded spun sugar. 


Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Spun sugar was definitely an experience... not to mention messy.

Thankfully, I took some lessons and tips from my Dad, who was a former chef. Apparently there isn't a precise amount of sugar and water needed to make the sugar mixture. It's all down to watching it carefully and waiting for the water to evaporate (the steam to disappear) and for the mix to turn an amber colour, or a dark colour if you would prefer. 

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Spun sugar is messy. Let's just get that out of the way first. Remember to lay lots of newspaper down on the floor, and I mean a lot! You don't realise how far you end up flicking the sugar around the room. 

You have to work quickly too, dipping two forks facing away from each other into the pan and spraying the sugar mix over two well greased wooden spoons. Then after it has cooled for a few seconds, pull the bits of spun sugar between the spoons together to create a shape. I opted for a simple ball. (Proof it actually worked above!)

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Another thing to remember with spun sugar is that it will shrink with oxygen in the air. Which is why my ball went a bit sad looking and flat. Once you've made a spun sugar nest or ball, you must serve it immediately. Because no amount of putting it in a tupperware box will preserve it clearly.

Overall, I'm glad I tried it and learnt a new skill for decorating... however, I wouldn't go out of my way to make it again. Except maybe for Easter nests. 

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

This cake is made up of three fudgy banana layers, sandwiched with a caramel buttercream and a small dollop of homemade caramel. I opted for a ‘naked cake’ effect and a caramel drip, because who can say no to more caramel? I can’t, which is why I dipped the banana chips in it before putting them on top.

The process of making caramel isn’t that scary, but you have to watch it carefully and not get distracted by anything... because it will burn. This was my second caramel made, because I made the mistake of getting distracted and looking away for a minute and getting my first batch burnt. Yay me.

For this caramel, It is a simple sugar, butter and double cream recipe and unlike some, I use a whisk because I find I can work quicker to combine the ingredients than compared with a wooden spoon or a spatula. 

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

The banana layers are super fudgy, thanks to the mixture of sugar used and have a subtle banana flavour that just works perfectly with the caramel. It’s definitely one of my favourite flavour pairings and I’m sure I will be whipping this cake up again. 

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Caramel Banana Cake | Bake Off Bake Along | Hungry Little Bear

Caramel Banana Cake

Adapted from: Life, Love and Sugar

Ingredients:

For the cake:
100g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
100g dark brown sugar
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
175g creme fraiche (I used half fat)
45ml vegetable oil
4 medium eggs
1 medium egg white
325g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium ripe bananas,  roughly 1 cup

For the caramel:
200g granulated sugar
90g unsalted butter
125ml double cream

For the buttercream:
250g unsalted butter
500-575g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp double cream (or milk)
2 tsp Monin caramel syrup (can sub for dessert sauce or switch for vanilla extract)

Spun sugar and banana chips to decorate

Directions:

For the cake:
  1. Grease, line and lightly flour 3 20cm/8 inch cake tins and set aside. Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/180C/350F. 
  2. Cream the butter until pale, roughly 3 minutes, then add all the sugars and beat again for another 3-4 minutes until fluffy and well combined. 
  3. Next, add the vanilla, creme fraiche and vegetable oil and mix. 
  4. In two additions, add the eggs, mixing well after each one. 
  5. Then in a bowl, you can either mash the bananas with the back of a fork, or you can whizz them until pureed, which is what I prefer to do as you get a smoother result in your cake. 
  6. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl before adding half of the dry mixture to the bowl and beating until just combined. Add all of the mashed bananas next and mix well after. Then add the second half of the dry ingredients and beat until combined. 
  7. Split the batter between the three tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Check at the end to see if a skewer inserted comes out clean before removing from oven. Then set aside on a wire rack to cool, turning out after 5 minutes to cool completely.  
For the caramel:
  1. Place the granulated sugar in a pan on a medium heat. I keep mine towards the lower end of medium, purely because of previous experience burning caramel.
  2. Using a whisk, keep the sugar moving, being careful not to let it burn. Gradually over a period of about 10 minutes, the sugar will clump together, first small then larger, but don't worry, just keep the sugar moving in the pan over heat. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, add the butter straight away, being careful as it will bubble up. Keep whisking the mixture together to keep smooth. You will notice the mixture start to turn a light amber colour. 
  3. Once the butter and sugar are fully mixed, add the cream slowly while continuously mixing to maintain a smooth caramel. Once combined, take off the heat, and set aside to cool slightly before using. 
For the buttercream:
  1. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. The longer you beat it, the whiter the buttercream will be. 
  2. Then sift in the icing sugar in multiple additions. Once all mixed, add the double cream and caramel syrup and beat on high for a few minutes until smooth. Then set aside for filling. 
For assembly:
Sandwich your layers together with a dollop of frosting and a bit of caramel, before coating your cake in frosting. Using a piping bag filled with caramel, pipe small drips down the side of your cake. Then pipe swirls of frosting on top, before placing banana chips and spun sugar on top for decoration.
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