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Maddalena Fuller

Oct
10
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 to 3 ripe bananas, enough to make 1 cup mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 500 ml container of mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup icing sugar
6-7 bananas, not too ripe
2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup whiskey
This was Rachel’s 31st birthday cake. Because Rachel is a dear friend and beloved ex-roommate, baking Rachel’s birthday cake has become a fond tradition in which I try to outdo last year’s cake. Because I often forget to photograph my cakes, this pictures isn’t quite accurate. I prefer to slice both cakes in half to create 4 towering layers of banana mascarpone goodness. Don’t be intimidated, mascarpone holds everything together very nicely.
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time. In another bowl, mash bananas, and combine with buttermilk and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter.
  4. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  5. When cake layers are cool, whip the mascarpone and the icing sugar until thick and spreadable.
  6. Cut both cakes evenly in half, and spread the bottom lawyer with one quarter of the mascarpone frosting and a layer of bananas. Stack the remaining three layers of cake, reserving at least a quarter of the frosting for the top as well as 3 bananas.
  7. Slice bananas 3/4 inch thick. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When it sizzles, add slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with sugar. When golden brown, turn slices; cook until brown on other side.
  8. Carefully pour in whiskey  (using a measuring cup, never the bottle) and ignite with a match. Cook until flames die down, shaking the pan to toss bananas in syrup. Remove from heat. (I often add 2 tbsp of thick caramel spread to the whiskey and let it melt in on low heat, to add to the nutty caramel flavor, but its not necessary).
  9. Arrange banana slices on top of cake. Pour remaining syrup over cake, letting it drip down sides. Serve immediately.


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Jan
06
P1020120
1/2 cup dark rum
1 cup dried currants (or raisins)
1 cup  room temperature butter
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp orange zest, finely grated
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine rum and currants, cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp rum and save the rest to drink later in the day. Beat butter, sugar, zest with mixer until smooth. Add vanilla and rum; beat to combine. On low speed add flour, coconut, salt. Stir in currants. Form dough into 2 logs, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. Or freeze for a few months. Heat oven to 325; slice dough into 1/4 inch rounds, line on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until just golden.

I enjoy rolling cookie dough into chilled logs, because unlike drop cookies, these delicate slices will bake into perfectly even, round, presentable cookies. Slicing logs of chilled dough is as satisfying as slicing rounds of homemade sushi, only the results are always perfect, and will not fall apart. Chilled log cookies will not swell, dissolve, melt into each other, contort or stick. THey will bake into delicate, stackable shortbreads glinting with candied fruits and rum currents – lovely to wrap and give, or display and eat.


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