Category Archives: cake

Happy Birthday: Banana & Chocolate Chip Cake

I’m not a huge cake person, and I have extremely high standards for them.  Because of this, we didn’t even have a cake at our wedding.  Instead we had fruit tarts- yes, the mini versions of my annual Birthday Fruit Tart for my birthday.

Since I am a bit picky, it was hard to choose the cake for Ben’s (Sam’s brother) birthday.  We had a little get together last Saturday, a couple of days before his actual birthday, and I wanted to make a little treat.

Ben's Birthday Cake

While Sam made a wonderful dinner for Ben and some friends with our new grill, I attempted a cake.  Lucky for me, I was impressed- this turned out great.  The best part of it was that it continued to taste equally delicious (moist, fluffy) days after it came out of the oven.  This cake has the flavor and texture of a banana bread, although a bit more moist, with the addition of chocolate chips and a cream cheese frosting.

Ben's Birthday Cake 2

Banana & Chocolate Chip Cake
Adapted from: Bakers Royale

I’m not a huge fan of frosting, so I don’t use as much.  If you are a frosting-lover, I would double the recipe.

Cake
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup buttermilk
12 oz mini chocolate chips (1 bag)

Frosting
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer, beat together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until it’s fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time while mixing.  Then mix in the bananas, baking soda and salt, continue mixing.  Next, add in the flour and buttermilk, alternating the two ingredients as you’re pouring it in, continue mixing on low.  Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Grease a baking pan with a little bit of butter, then lightly flour it.  If you have two 8-inch round baking pans, divide the batter between them.  If not, pour half of the batter into the pan, bake the first one.  Allow the first to cool and take it out, then bake the second half of the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  Double check to make sure a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.  If it does, then remove the cake from the oven, and allow to cool.  Repeat with the second batter if necessary.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a stand mixer.  Finally, add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time (otherwise it’ll make a mess).

Once the cake has cooled, add some icing in between the two layers.  Then frost the outside and top of the cake.

Baltimore & a Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake

Two of my close friends from Iowa (go Hawks!) also live on the East Coast.  Beth lives in Baltimore, and Becky lives in Boston (lots of B’s).  When Sam and I went up to Boston in April we visited Becky and her husband Gary, thanks to them we stopped by the Sam Adams Brewery and checked out some great food in Boston!

This past weekend we had a little reunion in Baltimore to run the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K with Beth.  Coincidentally, last week Becky turned another year older, so I thought this would be a great excuse to make a birthday cake!  Of course, I had to find one that was easy to carry on public transportation (the bad part about not having a car!).

Before I get to the cake, which was delicious, I want to tell you about some of the places we checked out while in Baltimore:

Friday night dinner was at Mother’s Federal Hill Grille.  I’ve been here before, and always enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and great food.  Definitely a place to grab a quick burger or a couple of beers.  From my many visits to Baltimore I’ve noticed that there are always people there, but it’s never too crowded!

If you yelp “brunch” in Baltimore, the top restaurant will be Miss Shirley’s Cafe.  And it’s definitely a place everyone should check out just once.  The menu is very creative, as you will find out in just a second!

This was the Key Lime Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast.  Very decadent and can satisfy someone’s craving for key lime pie, although they are nowhere near Key West!

This was the Soft-Shell “BLT” Benedict: poached eggs, corn-meal encrusted soft shell crab, tomato, lettuce and bacon on sourdough rounds with Old Bay.  I did take a bite of this, and definitely enjoyed it!  The only complaint we had was that it was served on iceberg lettuce- it would be nice if there was something a bit more nutritional.

One of us also ordered Eggs, Bacon & an Onion-Potato Hash.  They have gluten-free bread here, so feel free to make the alteration if needed.

Lastly, I ordered a Lunch Combo (1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad).  The sandwich (which I can’t wait to replicate) was a Summer Strawberry Grilled Cheese and it had: goat cheese, strawberries and spinach.  It was perfect with the salad- and a great way to enjoy a lovely Saturday with my friends!

Our last stop, which I really want to share, was at The Abbey Burger Bistro.  I wish I had taken pictures of our food- but that will have to be for another time (I definitely want to go back!).  They have a great selection of beers, and a very relaxed atmosphere.  But what makes this place great (in my opinion) is that you can make your own burger!  They have a great checklist, and you can “build it” any way you’d like.  For example, the meat choices are: bison, black angus, kobe beef, chicken, lamb (shenandoah valley), elk, kangaroo, turkey, wild boar and meat of the month!  Definitely not just your regular burger bar.

Alright, now it’s time for the cake.  I really enjoyed this dessert since it wasn’t overly sweet and the fruit I added to it can be anything you’d like.

Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake
Adapted from: Orangette

Cake:
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
2 cups all-purpose white flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup 2% milk

Topping (this is optional):
8 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 tbsp half ‘n half
fruit
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Then add the eggs, vanilla extract and rose water; mix well before adding each new component.

Add in half the flour and mix well.  Then add the baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cocoa powder and milk.  Beat the batter well, then add it the rest of the flour and mix again.

Pour the batter into the springform.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the middle and it comes out clean.

Optional: Once the cake has cooled off, then prepare the chocolate topping.

Heat water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Once it is boiling, place a bowl on top (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t be touching the water) to create a double-boiler.  Add in the chocolate and let it slowly melt.  Every couple of minutes add in a teaspoon of the half ‘n half.  As the chocolate melts, keep stirring and adding the half ‘n half.  You might not need as much liquid to get it to the consistency you’d like.  Once it’s ready, drizzle over the cake or spread it out (like I did).  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Since my cake had a bit of a dent in the middle, I added some cherries- but any kind of fruit would be perfect.  Also, if you’d like, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.