Thursday, April 24, 2008

Afterschool Special

One of the perks of the job title "stay at home mom" is being close to my kitchen so that I can bake during the day. I can leave the butter and eggs on the counter in the morning, and after feeding the baby lunch, whip up a little something sweet, a smackerel as Pooh says, for big sis when she comes home from school. Darling daughter lives on Fluffernutters, hot dogs and air, and the occasional piece of this cake. She will eat it after school, for breakfast, and as a snack before bedtime. It's the perfect partner for a glass of milk, with its Hostess-like moist texture (without the cottony mouthfeel). Adults go for it, too, I guess because of the melty chocolate chips.

This cake is based on one from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, one of my absolute fave cookbooks (again with the ring-bound thing). I've made similar cakes that use sour cream, which I don't usually keep on hand, so I'm pleased that this version with whole milk can be made with ingredients in my pantry and a few black nanners from the freezer. The ATK cake is made with an electric mixer, but whenever I fire up the Kitchenaid, helpful kidoodles come running. I've discovered that stirring the cake by hand yields a perfect cake and a calm mommy and a cleaner kitchen.

Banana Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 large ripe bananas, peeled & mashed to equal one cup
1/2 cup milk, room temperature (I always have whole milk on hand.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chip morsels

1. Heat oven to 350. Use butter wrapper to lightly grease a 9-inch square cake pan. (I use a Pampered Chef stoneware pan, with excellent results.) Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

2. With a sturdy wire whisk, beat together sugar and butter together until well-combined. Beat in eggs, followed by bananas, milk and vanilla.

3. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over batter. Spread remaining batter over chips. Bake 55 to 60 minutes. (I use convection and it's always spot-on, 55 minutes.) Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes clean or a very clean finger can gently press the center of the cake and the cake pops back up.

4. Let cake cool and then serve in generous squares to happy kids.

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