Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Banana Poundcake (at high altitude)

Baking cakes at high altitude is interesting. I've managed to get bread and cookies and even cheesecakes to behave. And I've made a truce with boiling water.

But cakes are still iffy in my kitchen. It doesn't help that I'm usually experimenting.

This cake was a bit worrisome when it was baking. The sides rose first and the center looked like a crater, but by the time it was done, the center had risen to meet the sides. Not a nice domed top that I would have expected in a sea-level cake, but it was flat instead of being collapsed.Some days, I count that for a big win.

It also took a lot longer to bake than I expected, but then again, that's not uncommon when I bake any cake. The outside browned nicely, and there were some really brown "ears" on the loaf that were completely unintentional, but were addictively munchy.

The cake itself was moist and had great banana flavor. Not too sweet, but sweet enough. I'm calling it a half-pound cake because the original pound cake used a pound each of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. and I used a half-pound of three of those.

It's still a little bit of a work in progress. I'd like to get it to rise a little better, but hey, if it doesn't, that's fine too. A flat-top pound cake is fine. And if I ever move back down to sea level it'll probably work just fine. If you happen to live at sea level and you give it a try, I'd be curious to see how yours works out.

Banana (Half-) Pound Cake

8 ounces (by weight) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
8 ounces (by weight) sugar
2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a large loaf pan with baking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the banana, eggs and vanilla.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and beat (slowly) with an electric mixer to incorporate the butter. Add the wet ingredients, increase speed to medium, and beat until well combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees until it springs back when touched in the center, and a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes.