Lasang Pinoy #16 :Holiday Food Gifts

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I’ll admit, I never made fruit cakes, banana breads or pound cakes in my life. Most of my experiences in baking are in the realm of chocolate desserts like tortes and brownies; I’m also fond of anything cute made in ramekins, but bread pans, that’s a different story.

Then came  Lasang Pinoy #16: Holiday Food Gifts hosted by Ala eh. Thinking about what to make for this food blogging event brought back memories of our restaurant/bakeshop where a lot of fruitcakes and butter cakes (known here as pound cakes) were made and sold during the days before Christmas. Our customers ordered them in bulk; one lady ordered 50 at one time, so the bakeshop had to churn them out pretty fast. Our bakers would work late into the night and the whirlwind of activity reminded me of Willy Wonka and his oompha loomphas.

So what loaf should I make? I do not like fruitcakes, I like pound cakes ok, but I like banana breads the best.  I have received these before especially during the holidays so it could not be that difficult to make. I’m going to venture out of my comfort zone of chocolate and custards and explore the other joys of baking. Another incentive is that both the “hungry” hubby and I enjoy this particularly with tea or coffee, eaten as a breakfast bread or as an afternoon snack.  With overripe bananas a likely possibility every week, this give the fruits a chance to come back as a respectable holiday loaf for gifting; that is if the “hungry hubby” allows me to give it away ;).

Now for which recipe to use? I’ve seen one I would love to try made by Ari  over at Baking and Books , however, I just bought several baking tomes and the stack was growing without a proportional output from the Test Kitchen so I better make something from them quickly to justify buying more cookbooks J. I finally settled on a recipe “Michael’s Banana Cake” from “The Notebooks of Michel Bras”.  Reading his work is quite intriguing and challenging. Instead of mouth-watering pictures, you get amazing line drawings of the finished desserts and procedures; it almost looks like a fashion designer’s notebook. It gives me an idea for my own notebook where I write most of my thoughts and musings, that is, if I could sketch and conceptualize as good as he does. The ingredients are very basic save for Fromage Blanc, which you will need to find at a specialty store (ok this might not be distinctly pinoy either but pinoys are very resourceful ). Someone told me I could substitute mascarpone cheese, which I will try next time. This recipe states that it is a cake and uses a 9 inch pan but I have a feeling I could use two small loaf pans to make it look like banana bread J.

2 eggs

7 tbs butter (110g)

9 tbs sugar (120g)

salt

1 cup flour (150g)

1 tsp  baking soda

5 ½ oz            mashed banana (160g)

3 ½ oz fromage blanc

1 tbs chopped walnuts

Coddle the eggs in hot water.

In the mixer, beat the butter and sugar with a pinch of salt, for 5 minutes. Break and add the eggs,sifted flour and baking soda. Mix with a spatula.

Combine the mashed banana, fromage blanc and chopped walnuts. Fold into mixture.

Butter the pan and dust with sugar. Fill it with the batter, three quarters full.

Baking

Cover with parchment paper and bake at 350 °F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 °F and bake for 40 minutes. Use skewer to check that the cake is done.

COOKING NOTES:  Amateur baker that I am I could not figure out if beating the butter and sugar meant using the paddle or the whisk attachment of the mixer. I surmised since the butter is thick, it might get stuck in the whisk, so I used the paddle. The mixture looked a bit grainy and seemed to bunch up in the paddle too, I found out much later that the butter should have been at room temperature or “softened”. Also, I forgot to mash the bananas after I have already began beating the sugar and butter so I hurriedly did this. I think I will incorporate the banana and nuts first before including it in the mixture. One of the bread sunk in the middle because there was a big piece of banana in the bottom! “Hungry” hubby assured me he liked seeing this big chunks but I don’t think it will bode well with the appearance of the bread if we give it as a gift. Also, I wonder if the baking soda I used was viable. I thought all along that I was going to use baking powder until I was ready to implement the recipe. Baking soda! Good thing I had some left, but it had been open for quite some time. I wonder if that affected the rising of the bread; it looked like it did not rise high enough. Looks aside, the banana bread tasted phenomenal and was the best I have ever had. It was not too sweet and had the greatest texture and moistness. It is even better toasted as the recipe stated. I used two small loaf pans for this recipe and I tell you the “hungry” hubby could eat half of it in one sitting. It was that light and good! 

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