Cake Fit for the King (AKA Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Candied Bacon)

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Candied Bacon

  • Servings: 2-layer cake
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

    Cake
  • 5 bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Frosting
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • 3-5 Tbsps milk
  • Candied Bacon
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions

Cake Prepare two 9″ round cake tins and preheat oven to 325ºF/165ºC. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, nutmeg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine until just mixed (don’t over-mix). Split between two two cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is set. Let cool and remove from tins. Frosting Whip butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. Add vanilla. Mix in icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Add milk and whip until fluffy and smooth. Candied Bacon Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Lay bacon out onto wire rack. Sprinkle bacon generously with half the sugar. Bake for 10 minutes. Take out, flip the bacon slices, sprinkle with the remaining sugar, bake for 10-15 minutes or until bacon starts to brown and the sugar has melted and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Assemble cake by icing the cake with the frosting. Top with the candied bacon. Serve.

And now for the details…

With a bunch of ripe bananas that needed something done with them, and having reached my fill of banana muffins and loaves, I figured I needed to do something different. But I’d made a banana layer cake a few months ago with cream cheese icing and figured that was a little too… predictable. So when thinking of what goes well with banana, my mind immediately went to peanut butter! Which then got me thinking of the story I’d heard about Elvis Presley’s favourite sandwich: peanut butter, banana and bacon. Why not add candied bacon to this mix? And thus: the Cake Fit for The King was born.

I was originally going to call it the Elvis, and then after doing some quick eu-Googling, I found out there already is a cake named after Elvis, since it was a favourite of his. It involves yellow cake mix, crushed pineapple, cream cheese and a whole lotta sugar. It sounds horrible for you and pretty damned delicious, so it probably needs to be made at some point… but for now, here we are with the banana cake with PB frosting and candied bacon!

Lets start by making our cake. First step that I almost always forget about and delays my process almost always is letting the butter come to room temperature. I enjoy baking, but I don’t bake that often, and somehow I manage to miss this step every time… Ah well, I get it eventually. Make sure that butter has stayed out of the fridge at least overnight so it’s nice an pliable for making our batter.

Before we move on, preheat your oven to 325ºF/165ºC. Next, we start our cake batter by creaming the butter with our sugar until the mixture is fully mixed, and light and fluffy. Next, add your eggs, one at a time, mixing the previous in completely before adding the next. Finally, mix in the mashed bananas and vanilla. This is our “wet” mixture.

Next, we mix together our dry ingredients in a separate bowl: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. I sifted everything together into the bowl, and then gave it a quick mix with a whisk.

Now it’s time to bring them together. Make a little well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients into that well. Stir to combine until just mixed; try to avoid over-mixing. Then split the batter evenly between two prepared 9″ round cake tins. Like I said in my Lemon Bumbleberry Cake recipe, I learned to prepare the tins by buttering the tin, then laying a cut piece of waxed or parchment paper at the bottom of the tin, but you do you, and prepare the tins however you feel comfortable.

Next, of course, is to bake those cakes! Place the cakes into your preheated oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops have turned golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool and remove them from their tins (don’t forget to peel off the waxed or parchment paper if you used it!)

While the cakes are cooling, lets make that candied bacon! Increase the temperature of the oven to 375ºC/190ºC. Lay the bacon out on a wire rack placed over a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the bacon with half of the brown sugar, and then place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Once ten minutes is up, remove the bacon from the oven, turn the pieces over, and sprinkle the other sides with the remaining brown sugar, and place back in the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the bacon has caramelized and become crispy on the edges. Let them cool, then chop into little pieces.

Once the cakes have cooled, it’s time to ice the cake! We’re making that peanut butter frosting next. Start by whipping the butter until its light and fluffy. Then, add your peanut butter and whip the two together until fully mixed and so fluffy you’re gonna die. Next, add the icing sugar in gradually, about 1 cup at a time, mixing the sugar in almost completely until you add the next cup. At this point, the icing will probably be a bit on the dry side. Add the milk to the mix, starting with 3 tablespoons. If you’re using unsalted butter, add a couple pinches of salt to the mix, and the vanilla. Whip these ingredients into the icing, and if you find the icing is still a bit too stiff, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you have your desired consistency. As far as what peanut butter to use, I will leave that up to you. I used a natural, crunchy peanut butter, because I wanted the little bites of peanuts.

Finally, let’s assemble that cake! Place your cake on your serving dish, flat side down. If you want to get fancy, you could slice the puffed part off your cake to make it nice and flat, but to be honest, I’m a little lazy (not mention, what do you do with the cut piece of cake??) and leave the cutting part out and just assemble the cakes as-is. Put the frosting on top of the first layer, sprinkle with about half of the bacon pieces, then place the second layer down, flat-side-up. Because I didn’t cut off the puffed piece, you’ll need to use a little extra icing to fill the edges between the two layers, but are we really going to complain about a little extra icing? I sure won’t. Finish frosting the entire cake, and sprinkle with the candied bacon piece on top. Then it’s time to cut and serve!

Happy eating.

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 2 Tbsps flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
  • 1 1/4 cup pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 115g/4oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 2 cups dry macaroni
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped loosely

Directions


Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk to fully mix. Add the garlic, and continue to whisk until the garlic has turned fragrant and the flour as just started to turn golden brown. Add the milk in 1/2 cup portions at a time, whisking completely before adding the next amount. Add the milk until a cream sauce has formed, but not too thin. Cook until the sauce is thick enough to stick to the back of a wooden spoon. Whisk in the pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream cheese and parmesan and stir until cheeses are completely melted and mixed into the sauce. Set a pot of heavily salted water to boiling. Cook the macaroni according to instructions. Drain the macaroni, then add to the pan with the sauce and mix well. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve.

And now for the details…

This dish could almost be viewed as an adult take on classic Mac and Cheese. Or, if you’re trying to hide fruits/veggies from your kids (or other members of your household… I do know some adults who aren’t fans of veg lol), you could tell them this is Mac and Cheese and not tell them about the pumpkin 😛 Although, if you are going to try and pull one over on your kids, be aware that the texture is a little less smooth than a typical Mac and Cheese because of the addition of the pumpkin, not to mention the addition of spices!

I came up with this recipe after I’d opened a large tin of pumpkin purée to bake muffins for my in-laws, then had a bunch of extra purée on my hands. I didn’t want to do more baking, so I figured, why not do a savoury take on pumpkin, and use it for a pasta sauce instead?

The cinnamon and nutmeg are subdued and delicate in the sauce, just a small addition to bring a teaser of pumpkin spice flavours. Then the addition of the cheeses brings this dish well into the savoury realm. The hazelnuts add a nice texture contrast, and I love their flavour up against the pumpkin cheesiness.

We are going to start out by making a béchamel, or white sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. As soon as the butter has melted, whisk the flour into the butter, and add the garlic. We are going to cook this, whisking constantly, until the garlic has become fragrant and the flour/butter has just started to turn a golden brown.

Next we will be adding the milk. We add the milk in small spurts, about 1/2 cup at a time, and whisking the milk in. The whisk is very important here! This will be hard if you try to using a different stirring utensil. The first couple of additions might worry you a bit. It will be very thick at first, almost paste-like. Fret not! Keep adding the milk a little bit at a time, whisking to fully mix each time, and soon you will have a nice, creamy sauce. Stop at about 2 cups, and see if you need to add any more. If the sauce is quite thick (think yogurt consistency), then you need to add some more milk. If it is closer to about syrup consistency, you’ve got it about right. We are going to cook the sauce for a bit longer after we’ve added all the milk, about 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. A good way to test it? Drop your wooden spoon in the sauce, then pull it out and run a finger along the back of the spoon. If the line you’ve drawn with your finger stays in place without the sauce running back through it, your white sauce is done cooking. Turn the temperature down to medium-low.

Now is about a good time to get your macaroni a-cookin’. Boil some heavily-salted water, add the macaroni, turn down the heat on the pot to medium, and cook according to the pasta package instructions.

As the pasta cooks, let’s get our sauce finished up. Add the pumpkin purée, nutmeg, cinnamon, cheeses, and broth. When adding cream cheese to a sauce, it’s fastest to break it up into small-dish pieces so that it with melt a little easier. Allow the sauce to heat up until the cream cheese is fully melted and the sauce just starts to bubble. By now, your macaroni should be almost done cooking. Steal 1/4 cup of pasta water and add it to the sauce before draining the pasta, mixing the water in. This is going to help the sauce stick a bit easier to the pasta.

Drain your pasta, then add it right into the pan with the sauce. Stir well until every piece of macaroni is fully coated. Do one final taste test here and add salt and pepper to taste. We waited until the last minute for this, since the pasta water, broth, and cheese will have added salty elements, and it’s best to wait until all those are melded before adding any more salt.

Pour everything into your serving dish of choice, and then sprinkle the pasta with the toasted hazelnuts, and serve.

Happy eating.

Radicchio-usly Easy Salad (with Bleu Cheese and Dijon Dressing)

Radicchio-usly Easy Salad w/Bleu Cheese and Dijon Dressing

  • Servings: 1 meal, 2 sides
  • Difficulty: EASY
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 head radicchio, core removed and cut into small ribbons
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 oz. creamy bleu cheese, like Saint Agur
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions

Place the dijon and vinegar in the bottom of the salad’s serving bowl. Whisk with a fork until fully blended. Continue whisking as you pour the olive oil into the mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add radicchio to the bowl and toss with the dressing until coated. Pull the bleu cheese apart with finger into bite-sized pieced and sprinkle over salad. Sprinkle with walnuts. Serve.

And now for the details…

Oh MAN I love this salad. It comes together so quick and easy, I’m almost ashamed to share it. Almost. But it is also one of my favourite salads, so combine the ease of preparation with the satisfying tastiness of this salad, and it would be an absolute shame not to share it.

This salad was inspired by a similar salad we had in Paris at the Bouillon Chartier. Theirs uses endives, but… endives are expensive! The bitter flavour from the endives is mimicked here with the radicchio instead. Mix that bitterness with the salty, creaminess of the bleu cheese, the tang of the dijon dressing, and the crunch of the walnuts, and it is a match made in heaven.

Radicchio can be very bitter. It’s often roasted or grilled to soften the bitterness, or only added sparingly along with other greens for salads. In this case, though, we are embracing and celebrating that bitter flavour in it’s full glory, and pairing it with the other ingredients to provide nice contrasts of flavours and textures.

Without further ado, let’s make this salad! We are going to make everything in the same bowl out of which we will be serving/eating. This is the glorious part about this salad, it comes together so quickly and doesn’t dirty many dishes. It is one of my favourite lunches right now, since I can throw it together quickly, which is something important right now while I am working from home and need something in a hurry.

Start by placing the mustard and vinegar into the bowl, and whisking it with a fork (the same fork you plan on eating with? Why of course!) until the two are fully mixed together.

Next slowly pour the olive oil in with the vinegar and mustard, whisking as you pour, until the dressing is fully mixed and a homogeneous mix. Add salt and pepper to your preferred taste, and mix well.

Cut the core out of the radicchio and discard, then cut the radicchio into small bite-sized ribbons. Add the cut radicchio to the bowl, and toss with the dressing until the radicchio is evenly coated.

Tear the bleu cheese into bite-sized chunks and add them to the salad. This is not a place to be skimpy; use nice, big pieces, and make sure the salad is rife with cheese! Finally, loosely crumbled the toasted walnuts over the salad, and then it’s time to eat!

Happy eating.