April 12, 2010

Recipes - Banana Cake and Chocolate Ganache

I absolutely love this banana cake recipe.  It is super moist, very delicious and goes perfect with chocolate ganache…yum yum!  The cake recipe is doctored and uses a white cake box mix as its base.  The chocolate ganache is a 50/50 mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips.  I've used this recipe to make both the Ferrari Cake and Baby Shower Cake shown.  Here are the recipes...

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One box mix of cake, makes about 4 Cups of batter.  A doctored cake, makes about 7 Cups of batter.  The recipe below uses 2 boxes of cake mix which will be enough to bake 2, 6" round cakes and 2, 9" round cakes (in 2" high pans).

I have created some neat charts breaking down the number of servings each cake shape and size yields.  It also shows the amount of cake batter needed to fill each cake pan size, and the amount of frosting needed to fill and torte:  It's AWESOME!  I keep a printed copy in my recipe binder to refer to easily.  Get my charts HERE, Serving Sizes and Baking Charts. 

This cake recipe has been adapted from MacsMom Banana WASC (CakeCentral.com).  She uses 1 box of Banana Cake mix and 1 box of White Cake Mix.  I had a difficult time finding "banana cake mix" so I modified the recipe to include 2 boxes of White Cake Mix and to increase the banana flavoring, I added Banana Extract and an extra banana.

Doctored Banana Cake Recipe
Yield:  14 Cups

2 boxes white cake mix
6 large eggs
2 ¼ cups cake flour
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces (1 package) banana pudding mix
12 ounces banana flavored yogurt
1-1/3 cups vanilla coffee creamer
1-1/3 cups water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Banana Crème LorAnn Flavor Oil (if using extract, increase amount to 1/2 teaspoon).
3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2-2/3 cup)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven 325°F (162°C).  In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients by hand using a whisk.  In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients just until combined.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat on low speed for 2 minutes.  Fill cake pans and bake as per below.

Baking Times:
Cupcakes bake for about 18-20 minutes
Cake Pans bake for about 25-30 minutes

For the chocolate ganache filling and crumb coat, I prefer the flavor of mixing bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate together, but you can use one type of chocolate.  The chocolate to cream ratio is 2:1 for dark and white chocolate, and 3:1 ratio for milk chocolate.

Chocolate Ganache Tips:
Use a good, quality chocolate for better taste and workability.  Generic brands tend to have substitutes, lower cocoa, high oil and water content, and just don't taste that good.  You also want to use a cream with at least 35% milk fat; less fat will yield a less stable, and sticky ganache that may not set.

Semi/Bitter Sweet Chocolate Ganache Recipe
24 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
24 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
24 ounces Heavy Whipping Cream - if measured, it's about 2.8 cups (662 ml)

To make the chocolate ganache, it's best to weigh the ingredients instead of measuring it.  A digital kitchen scale is one of the most used gadgets in my kitchen and it makes baking so much easier.

Pour the chocolate chips into bowl and set aside.  In a pot, heat the cream until it just begins to boil, then pour it over the chocolate chips.  Let the chocolate and cream mixture sit undisturbed, for about 5 minutes to allow the hot cream to heat the chocolate chips.  After 5 minutes, mix the ganache until well blended and smooth.  I like mixing the ganache with an emulsifier, or immersion blender.  It blends up the ganache beautifully and very smoothly.  Cover the ganache with cling wrap (or pour it into an an airtight container) and allow the ganache to set for at least 4 hours.  For best results, let ganache set overnight at room temperature if you will be using it the following day, or put it in the fridge until you need it.  When you are ready to use the ganache, stir up the mixture until it's creamy and easy to spread.  Depending on the temperature, you may need to reheat it a little bit so that it has the smooth, spreadable consistency of peanut butter.

To make a quick, mousse filling, using the whisk attachment on a mixer, whip up the ganache until it lightens in color from the air being incorporated into it.  If needed, add a drizzle of heavy whipping cream to make it creamer.  You can also add flavorings such as rum or vanilla to it. 

If you will be covering the cake with fondant, you need to ganache crumb coat to set first before laying fondant over it.  I like to let the ganache covered cakes set overnight, but you can speed up the process by popping the cake into the fridge for 2-3 hours or until the ganache is no longer tacky to the touch.

Ganache Volume:
With this recipe, I made about 7 cups of ganache and was able to fill and cover one 9" round cake plus one 6" round cake.  Each cake was 4 inches tall and had 3 layers of filling.  See the first photo on this page of the Safari Themed Baby Shower Cake.

How Much Ganache Do I Need?  One of the most common questions I hear is, how much ganache do it need to cover a cake with?  It really depends on how many layers you will be filling and how thick you will torte or crumb coat the cake.  Check out my Cake Batter and Frosting Amounts Chart for the amount of icing you need for each cake based on size and shape, and use that as a starting point to calculate what you need.  When making something for the first time, it's best to add an extra cup or two, just to be safe.  If you need 7 cups for filling and a crumb coat, you'll need to measure out the heavy cream and chocolate so it fills up a 7 cup container (remember to make note of the weighted amounts of each ingredient so that you use the correct ratio of chocolate to cream).  Make notes to ease the guessing for the next time you have to make it and then make adjustments from there.  Extra ganache can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.  To defrost, let it sit at room temperature or heat it up slowly over a double broiler or in the microwave at 30 second intervals.  You will need to stir it well or whip it up again to get it back to a spreadable consistency.