Wednesday, May 19, 2010

FNCCC - Final Week - Warren Brown

For my last installment of Food Network Chef's Cooking Challenge I went all out. I chose Warren Brown's Mr. Banana Legs, which is featured in his Cake Love cookbook. I was just going to browse through the cookbook at Borders but after reading it I decided I needed it for myself (I had a coupon and a gift card...). I picked this cake for my husband's birthday, which we brought to my in-law's for Mother's day. It's outward appearance isn't anything special but it's very pretty when you cut into it, layered with fresh bananas, ganache, and Italian meringue buttercream. It was time consuming but perfect for a special event.

It took me many stores to find the potato starch and some websites said cornstarch could be substituted, but in his book Warren said no. I also never buy superefine sugar but luckily Publix carries that.

AND I am officially IN LOVE with Italian Meringue Buttercream. I cannot stress how much you need to try this. It is 87, 000 times better than regular buttercream. I cannot wait to try it again with different flavors.

This cake was fantastic!!!!

Mr. Banana Legs
Yield: one 12-cup bundt cake, two 9-inch-round cakes, or 26 Crunchy Feet*

unbleached all-purpose flour, 10 ounces (2 cups), or 10¾ ounces (2 cups + 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) at high altitude
potato starch, 1 tablespoon
turbinado sugar, 1 tablespoon
salt, ½ teaspoon
baking soda, ¼ teaspoon, or none at high altitude
whole nutmeg, 1

very ripe peeled bananas, 6 ounces (3 bananas) - to get 6 ounces I only used 1 and 1/2
half and half, ¾ cup, or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons at high altitude
rum, 1 tablespoon (didn't use, didn't have)
vanilla extract, 1½ teaspoons

unsalted butter, at room temperature, 6 ounces (1½ sticks)
extra-fine granulated sugar, 21 ounces (2¾ cups), or 19½ ounces (2¼ cups + 3 tablespoons) at high altitude
eggs (large), 4, or 5 at high altitude
egg yolks (large), 3

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (conventional) or 335°F (convection). Set rack in the middle of the oven. To bake Crunchy Feet, place the oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
2. Set out the ingredients and equipment:
Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
Combine the liquid ingredients in a food processor and process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Place in a separate bowl and set aside.
Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
Crack the eggs and yolks into two separate bowls and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture should look white, fluffy, and aerated.
4. With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
6. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter’s structure.
7. Prepare the pans. For a Bundt cake, spray the pan well with a nonstick spray. For 9-inch-round cakes, line the bottom of each pan with parchment but do not spray the sides. For Crunchy Feet, place the brioche pans on sheet pans (16 per half-sheet pan is a snug fit) and spray them liberally with a nonstick spray.
8. For a Bundt cake, fill the pan about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot. Level the batter with the rubber spatula. Bake any leftover batter as Crunchy Feet or cupcakes. For 9-inch-round cakes, deposit the batter into three separate areas of the pan and smooth out with an offset spatula, making sure the pans are two-thirds full. For Crunchy Feet, use a 2-ounce, trigger-release, ice-cream scoop to deposit the batter into the prepared pans so they’re three-quarters full.
9. Follow the approximate bake times listed below:
ITEM: 12-cup bundt - At Sea Level, bake 45 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 55 minutes.
ITEM: 9-inch rounds - At Sea Level, bake 26-28 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 42 minutes
ITEM: Crunchy Feet - At Sea Level, bake 15 minutes; at High Altitude, bake 32 minutes
10. Once the top of the cake doesn’t jiggle in the center and is golden brown across the top and edges, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat- resistant surface or wire rack.
11. For the Bundt cake, once the cake has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, remove the cake by inverting the pan onto a flat surface. Allow it to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing.
12. For Crunchy Feet, carefully invert the brioche pans to release the cakes 3 to 4 minutes after removing them from the oven—well before they cool completely. You may have to tap each pan firmly—or even slam it—against the sheet pan to release the cake. Place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack to cool. Immediately soak the pans to make cleaning easier.
13. For the layer cake, cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes, before removing from the pan. Use a small offset spatula to loosen the cake from the rim of the pan. Carefully invert each pan onto a flat surface to remove the layers. Remove the parchment from the bottom of each cake and wrap the cake tightly in plastic. Assembling a layer cake is easier if the cake is cold, so refrigerate the layers overnight or for up to 5 days before frosting.

Serve naked or with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or use
Glazing Chocolate. For a dressed-up version, serve assembled with rum-flavored Italian Meringue Buttercream, Ganache, and fresh bananas.
Store under a cake dome at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week. If frosted, store under a cake dome for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 1 week. To store unfrosted cake longer, label, date, and store the plastic-wrapped cake in the freezer for up to 1 month.

So what sweet treat did you pick? Link your sweet treat to MckLinky below. I'm sad that this is over but if you have any ideas for a future challenge, let me know! I'm going to take a summer hiatus as we are going to be gone for 6 weeks this summer. I'll be back though :)


  1. I did the same recipe in bundt cake form. I did use corn starch and it was still awesome!

    Thanks again for providing us with this great carnival. I have had a blast!

  2. Wow that cake looks delicious! I love Banana cake.

    Thanks so much for hosting this challenge, I've had lots of fun and made so many great recipes and great blogging friends. You will have to start something else up after the summer, I'm in.

  3. This looks so decadent - I must bake as many of his cake recipes as possible and soon!

  4. I had so much fun with this. I'd love a wrap-up linky to see which recipes people are making again and what they won't. I think that would be rather interesting to see. As to future ones..... I don't know, maybe themes, italian or the like? That's hard to think of.

  5. I think that's one of the best looking cakes I've ever seen. It looks insanely delicious! I've never had Italian Meringue Buttercream. I have to try it. Great recipe!

  6. What a beautiful, mouthwatering cake! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  7. Oh my goodness that cake looks amazing. I would like a slice of that right now. I will try to make mine look that good.
    Thank you...

  8. What a great cake! And I will definately try the Italian Meriange Buttercream! Thank you for sharing. ~Prairie Story