FAIR TRADE BANANA CAKE WITH A SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM

Banana's and caramel is the yummiest combo and takes a humble banana cake to another level. When i make a layer cake i always use separate tins, rather than trying to split the cake. I think i paid $8 per tin so they were pretty inexpensive. The salted caramel recipe gives you a little more caramel than you need (seriously, there are worse problems right!) you can use it to top an ice cream sundae, or i have used it on a pavlova before, with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel and some sliced fresh banana. 

 

For the cake
(makes 2x 23cm round cakes)
230g (8 oz) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups fair trade organic unrefined sugar

2 eggs

2 tspn vanilla extract

4 ripe fair trade bananas, mashed

3 cups flour

2 tspn baking powder

2 tspn baking soda

1/2 cup milk
(optional: 1/2 cup fair trade dates, chopped)

For the caramel sauce 
75 g butter

100g fair trade unrefined organic sugar

50 grams golden syrup or treacle 

125 ml double cream

1 teaspoon kosher or fleur de sel salt

For the salted caramel buttercream (this gorgeous fluffy recipe is from: http://www.goodthymesandgoodfood.com/)

230g butter, softened

2 ¾ cups icing sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons caramel sauce (from the recipe above)

2 tablespoons cream

METHOD 
Cake

Preheat oven to 180°C (
350°F). Grease two 23cm cake tins with butter and dust the inside with flour. Bang out excess flour. Set aside

Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy and then add the eggs on by one making sure that they are incorporated well before adding the next. Add the vanilla and mix until mixed through. Fold in the banana's and make sure that they are distributed evenly in the batter. If using dates, add these in with the bananas.

Sieve the flour and the baking powder into the bowl. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add also. Fold in gently until incormorated taking care not to over mix though (if you over mix flour at this stage in cake making, your cake wont be as light)

Bake for around 40mins. i place mine on the second tray from the bottom in the oven, so they are quite low - if you had one cake it would be in the center, but with two tins, side by side. I set the timer for 20mins then i rotate the tins around. This ensures that they get an even amount of heat from the oven during the entire cooking period, giving a more evenly cooked cake. 

Test the cake by gently pressing the center with your finger, it will spring back. And i also push a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If there is cake mix on the toothpick it isnt quite ready. The tops of the cakes will be golden brown.

Cool on a rack in the tin. Then remove from tins and make sure they are completely cool before icing - otherwise the frosting will melt.

For the salted caramel sauce
NOTE: Iodized salt is really strong for this recipe. I use Kosher salt. If you dont have this or fleur de sel salt, add 1/2 tspn table salt to begin with, and taste. If you need more add little by little until you get the right balance. 


Melt butter, sugar and syrup and butter in a small heavy based pan and let simmer for 3 minutes, swirling every now and again.


Add cream and half a teaspoon of salt and swirl again, give a stir with a wooden spoon and taste – go cautiously so that you don’t burn your tongue – to see if you want more salt before letting it cook for another minute on the stove, then pour into a jug and set aside. Caramel must be cold before adding to the butter cream.
 

For the buttercream 

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. add icing sugar and salt. Beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.


Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla, caramel sauce, and heavy cream. Beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

To assemble the cake
Invert one of the cakes onto a cake stand (so the flattest part of the cake is facing up) Top with 1/3 of the butter cream and smooth over the cake with an palate knife. Drizzle with a little extra caramel. 

Top with the other cake, again, flattest part of the cake facing up. Cover the cake with the rest of the icing. This part always takes me awhile. I pile the frosting into the center and then take down to the sides. Once its evenly distributed, i start by smooth the top off by warming a palate knife under hot water, and drying it, then smoothing. Then I repeat and do the sides. 

A a little more caramel over top of the frosting, letting some drip down the sides. Marble the caramel on top with the frosting. (you should have left over caramel) To get perfect slices on a cake chill for at least 5 hours to let the buttercream set up again, then slice with a warmed knife. 

Enjoy. 

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