Monday, January 2, 2012

Avid Baker's Challenge: Nut-Crusted Chocolate-Banana Swirl Cake

My Avid Baker's Challenge club is beginning a new book for 2012, The Weekend Baker by Abby Dodge. And (exciting!), the author herself is getting us started with our first recipe, Nut-Crusted Chocolate-Banana Swirl Cake on page 288.

The new book is really interesting because it details the recipes in stages so you can get started one day and finish everything a day or two later. I can see this coming in very handy around the holidays! It's not something I've done much of before, but I'm looking forward to experimenting with baking in stages.

The Nut-Crusted Chocolate-Banana Swirl Cake (half of which is sitting patiently on my counter-top, waiting for me to eat it) is delicious! The finished cake has a dense crumb but isn't heavy and the bananas keep the cake really moist. Plus, bananas equals healthy, right? Right! The banana flavor is really only obvious in the vanilla swirls of the cake while the chocolate swirls taste pretty much like pure chocolate so it's a nice combination of the two flavors. And even my husband - who doesn't like banana bread - declared this cake to be fantastic and has already polished of several slices.

The only bundt pan I have is this Nordic Ware Heritage bundt pan and I was a little concerned with trying to press my ground nuts into all the small crevices, so I chose instead to make 2 loaf cakes instead of 1 bundt cake. It was easy peasy to butter and nut the plain pans and I think the loaf shape - wrapped in some clear cellophane and a pretty ribbon - would be great for gifting. With the change in pan shape, I had to bake the cakes for an additional 15 minutes (until an inserted toothpick came out with a few crumbs).

The other change I made was to follow our ABC leader Hanaâ's suggestion of creaming the butter and sugar before adding the banana (I also squished up the banana first). I got a little nervous when adding the banana - as the batter seemed to separate - but all was well in the end. Overall I was very pleased with our first Weekend Baker cake and I can't wait for next month's Glazed Cinnamon Rolls! I'm curious to see how they'll compare to my Overnight Cinnamon Buns (which I loved) from last year's ABC book, Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker.

mise en place

my two loaf pans, generously buttered and "nutted"

hmmm...getting nervous here as the batter separated
when the bananas were added

half the finished batter is separated and the melted chocolate is mixed in

spoonfuls of the vanilla/banana and chocolate batters are marbled together

the finished loaves...the whole house smelled delightful

I couldn't wait for it to cool...

moist, tender...and delicious!

Bye for now...


  1. A great idea to bake this into loaves! I'm looking forward to bake the Cinnamon Rolls too!
    Happy New Year!!

  2. Looks really delicious! Good idea doing the loaves....very cool. Can't wait fo the cinnamon roll also....and like you, I want to see how they compare to Flo's Overnight Cinnamon Buns (which I loved too!:) Happy New Year!

  3. The loaves look great, Alice. What a great idea!! I too am looking forward to the Cinnamon Rolls next month and how it compares to Flo's recipe (which is up there) :o)

  4. Thanks everyone :) Definitely recommend the loaf pan - so fast and easy!

  5. Banana and Chocolate..I call that VERY healthy. I will be making this one again. I am looking forward to baking with you this year. Happy Baking 2012. PS I loved the little owl fabric in your other post. I am a quilter and have a love of fabric. This year in my ornament exchange I made owl ornaments!!

  6. Thanks, Virginia! I'd love to see your owl ornaments - sounds adorable.

  7. I didn't blog it, I was lazy and just posted to FB!! I will put it in my next baking post for you!