Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Food: Banana Coconut Cake

When Jonathan's parents were in town a couple of weekends ago, I decided to bake them a birthday cake (his Mom's birthday was on St. Patrick's Day and his Dad's birthday was right before Easter). I had originally planned to make this, but didn't realize chocolate had been given up for Lent. So I decided to whip up something a little more tropical...and (selfishly) make a recipe that had been taunting me for weeks sitting at the top of my literal stack of things to try.

Regarding the fully assembled cake, if you want a little less raw banana flavor, I'd recommend finding a recipe for caramelized bananas and use those in the middle instead of raw slices (they were a little tart tasting since they were raw). Also, I didn't have two cake pans so I cooked one layer and then the other, trying to make sure the batter was about equal. It worked out just fine...only took a short time longer than baking both layers at one time. And make sure your custard is cooled completely before applying. A spatula/"spoonula" like this works great for scooping and then spreading. Putting the coconut on the cake will make a mess all of the countertop...but when you see how pretty the finished product turns out, you won't be complaining. Besides, the countertop coated with toasted coconut is relatively easy to clean up (luckily it's not sticky).

Banana Coconut Cake
Adapted from the Food Network


  • 7 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/3 c all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/3 c roughly chopped hazelnuts
Filling (Coconut Custard)
  • 1, 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 c skim milk
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 5 egg yolks (MM Tip: You can freeze the egg whites to save them for another use...thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to use)
  • 1/3 c cornstarch
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • Zest from one orange
  • Fresh juice from one orange
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 bag unsweetened coconut flakes, gently toasted on the stove top until golden brown (be careful not to burn)



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Butter and flour one 9-inch cake pan
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition, and continue to beat until very light and fluffy
  • Add buttermilk and mashed banana and mix well
  • In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder), then add to batter and mix at low speed on the electric mixer until moistened
  • Fold in hazelnuts and pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared cake pan (If you have two, 9-inch pans, you can bake both of these at one time)
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  • After removing the cake from the oven, allow them to cool for five minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack
  • Repeat with second half of the batter
  • Assemble cake when thoroughly cooled
Coconut Custard
  • Combine the coconut milk and milk and stir together
  • In a bowl, mix 2/3 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup cornstarch and stir with a fork until free from lumps
  • Mix the sugar and cornstarch together with the egg yolks and 1 cup of coconut milk mixture; Whisk until smooth and set aside
  • In a heavy saucepan, bring the remaining coconut milk mixture to a boil and then pour it into the bowl with the egg yolk-sugar mixture, whisking constantly
  • Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium and continue stirring, cooking until small bubbles start to form on the surface - you have just made custard!
  • Remove from the heat and pour into large, wide bowl
  • Cover the top of the custard with a sheet of parchment touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming
  • Cool completely in the refrigerator
To assemble the cake
  • In a large bowl, gently toss banana slices with the orange juice, zest, and sugar
  • Place one cake layer on a serving dish or cake plate
  • Spread over the top of the layer with a thin coating of custard
  • Place bananas completely over bottom layer, so that no cake is showing
  • Spread with another layer of coconut custard over the top of the bananas
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the first and generously cover the entire cake with coconut custard
  • Garnish liberally with toasted coconut flakes

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