A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law Ryder winged a banana coffee cake that had me drooling — alas, Rusty refused to share. So when the Pie requested a spice cake for his birthday I figured I’d wing something similar of my own devising (it’s actually his birthday today, but we celebrated on Saturday). For the basic cake, I used this one from Dinner with Julie, and it’s excellent. As for the rest … well, you’ll see.
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and butter two 8″ round cake pans.
In a bowl (or a measuring cup, as I prefer), stir together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter with 1 1/4 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in 3 large eggs, one at a time, and keep beating.
Stir together 1 cup buttermilk and 1 tablespoon vanilla.
Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the eggs and sugar, beating on low speed. If you don’t beat on low speed you will get flour in your face. Consider yourself warned.
Add in half the buttermilk, followed by another third of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour.
In a separate bowl, mash 2 large ripe bananas. In another, mix 2 tablespoons instant coffee in with 1/2 cup water (or cold coffee as I used here) and 1/3 cup Nutella (or hazelnut spread).
Divide your batter in half and mix one with the bananas and the other half with the coffee.
Pour into your prepared pans in bits, and give it a bit of a swirl with a fork to combine but not fully mix.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until solid on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set those aside to cool completely.
While that’s on the go you can make this truly amazing icing. It might be my new favourite. I doubled it from the original to enable me to do what I had to do and only had a little bit left, but I’ll give you the real proportions here.
In a small saucepan melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat.
Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, until it gets all nice and foamy, and when you look beneath the foam the butter has turned the colour of caramel (this is, of course where the colour in caramel comes from).
Pour that into the bowl of an electric mixer together with another 1/4 cup butter and set that aside for now.
In the same saucepan, still over medium, combine 1/4 cup half and half cream with 1/2 cup brown sugar.
Dissolve the sugar in the cream and keep stirring.
Remove the mixture from the heat when it gets smooth and foamy, like this:
Pour that in the mixer bowl too, and let the whole thing cool a bit.
Slowly mix in 2 cups icing sugar, give or take, until you achieve a consistency that you like. Now, if you’re a normal person, you can go ahead and just ice your cake to your specifications and enjoy it for what it is. Me? Nope. I had to go and make a Spider-Man themed cake for my husband, because I like him a bunch.
So I divided up the icing into four batches. One was my control, and would go in the centre between the two halves of cake. The others were getting dyed with gel paste food colouring.
I like to do this in glass containers because then I can look through the bottom to see what I’ve missed. Glass is also way less likely to stain on you.
The finished concoctions. Euch.
Here’s a trick I learned on the internet somewhere for when you need to pipe different colours of icing and don’t want a huge mess. Not that I’m capable of doing anything neatly. But anyway. Plop your icing onto a sheet of plastic wrap.
Roll the ends of the plastic wrap together, making a tight seal.
Keep rolling until you run out of wrap to roll.
Grab the ends of the wrap and swing them around so the icing twists further into a tight little sausage. Because it was hot as Hades’ hoo-ha in my kitchen I chucked these little sausages in the fridge while I put the cake together.
Icing in the middle …
Now you take your sausage of icing and tie a knot in one end of your wrap.
Then you shove the other one into your icing bag and cut off the end. Screw on your tip and ice as usual.
At the end you just pull out this wizened piece of plastic and you are good to switch! No fuss no muss!
I think I put too much icing sugar into my icing, so I ended up pressing the top part on with my fingers.
Then I piped on the best approximation of the Spider-Man logo that I could do with my unsteady hand. Not bad!