04 December, 2009

Blizzards, Banana Cake and Builder Men

December 4th and we're finally getting a good snowfall.  Indeed, it is a full on blizzard of white out there.  The weather folks might call it a winter storm, but we all know that the wicked wind, sandy snow, and a cold that makes you never, ever want to leave your house means that it is a blizzard.  If you're me that means you bake.

Today's recipe comes to you courtesy of The Monster.  When I suggested we bake she informed me that we must bake a birthday cake.  Today, however, is not the birthday of anyone on this house.  That perfect three year old mind remembered that it was her cousin's birthday a few days ago and therefore we must make him a birthday cake.

Now, I have no idea what kind of cake my nephew would have liked, but The Monster decided he wanted a peanut butter cake.  I talked her into a banana cake with peanut butter icing. So we dug through the cookbook shelf and found a recipe for banana cake in the Favorite Family Recipes of Holy Cross Parish cookbook. It's one of those cookbooks where everyone submits the pride and joy of their kitchens. That means it is really hit or miss depending on the recipe instructions. We got ourselves a hit here!

The girls got aproned up, we turned on the Toopy and Binoo Christmas album (oh, thank-you Grandma), and we set ourselves up for a messy old time.  We mashed bananas, creamed butter and sugar, sifted flour, and licked, licked, licked everything. You know, I'm convinced that if I put liverwurst in the Kitchen Aid they would devour it.

This is your basic cake recipe.  There isn't anything fancy about it except for the fact that it calls for the baking soda to be added to the wet ingredients. It bakes in a classic 9 by 13 pan.  In reality it is a simple weeknight dessert.  It isn't overly sweet and it is wonderfully moist, with a good crumb as they say.

While the girls napped I set to making the icing. I'll be honest, it was a bit of a challenge because it turns out I need a few groceries. Did I mention there was a blizzard going on? So I hoped for the best with the bit of peanut butter and icing sugar I had.  I had my fears, but damn, it is good icing! Not at all sweet and as creamy as it can be when you only have natural peanut butter in the house. And just the right amount for a sheet cake.

This is the kind of cake you want after trudging home from a day at school (or work).  It is a cake that makes you feel loved.  It is a cake that mom can feel pretty good serving and also enjoy with a cup of tea.  Ahem, let me refresh my cup.

And tonight it will also be our dessert as we treat our builder men, as The Monster calls them, who've been helping Hubby out with digging, pouring concrete, and framing in the basement. Sunday dinner on Friday night.  Mayhem, new friends, and cold weather comfort at the table.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Icing
Makes 1 9x13 pan

Banana Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large, ripe bananas
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a 9x13 pan. 
2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, mixing well after each addition.  Scrape down sides.
4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
5. Mash bananas well.  Combine with milk and baking soda.
6. Add 1/3 of the banana mixture of the butter/sugar/eggs.  Add 1/2 flour mixture.  Continue alternating wet and dry ingredients, ending with wet. Mix until smooth.
7. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool completely.

Peanut Butter Icing
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups icing sugar
5-6 tbsp milk

1. Cream together butter and peanut butter.
2. Add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.  Alternate with a tbsp of milk until all the sugar is incorporated.  Mix well until light and fluffy.  If you want a softer icing add a touch more milk.
3.  Frost cake and enjoy.