Banana Rum Cake

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Two weeks ago I celebrated my 23rd birthday (and 2nd gluten-free birthday) with friends and family. My dad planned to cook us an incredible feast of chicken tikka masala and other Indian dishes (all gluten free of course!) while I agonized over what type of dessert I wanted to make. Nothing says “It’s My Birthday!” like an elaborate layer cake, but I’m not a huge fan of classic white, yellow or chocolate cakes, and vanilla and chocolate frostings are just too dull for words.

So what to make? My favorite cake to date was the banana cake with peanut butter buttercream layers, milk chocolate buttercream on top, and a dark chocolate ganache I made for my 21st birthday (the recipe is from “Baked Elements” if you’re interested. It’s a great recipe and an incredible book). That cake knocked everyone’s socks off and I thought that just maybe I could recreate a gluten-version of said world-rocking cake. But since I had already done the peanut-butter-banana combo I decided to jazz things up with some salted caramel buttercream and then add some rum to my cake batter to make a fancy adult version of the cake.

The recipe itself was relatively easy (I substituted my own gluten-free flour blend for AP flour) and the salted caramel buttercream was made with Stonewall Kitchen’s dark chocolate salted caramel sauce… so really the hardest part of this process was resisting the temptation to eat the entire cake myself. Mushed bananas and rum are fantastic ingredients when baking with gluten-free flours because the liquids help keep the cake from drying out both in the oven and during the following days of storage. It only lasted a few days in my house, but I am guessing it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. I only had one slice left to photograph when we were through devouring it if that gives you any idea of how good it was. Without any further ado – the recipe!

Ingredients: (original recipe here)

  • 3 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (stick and a half) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3 – 4 large bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper (to do this, trace bottom of pan on parchment paper with pencil and cut out the circle). Use potato masher or something similar to mush the bananas in a large bowl. Set pans and bananas aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. (Note* I always sift these ingredients together for a lighter batter but also to make sure any funny gluten-free flour clumps don’t get int there)
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the brown sugar and once combined add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Next, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and alternate buttermilk and flour into the mixer. Mix until almost combine. Repeat and end with the dry mixture.
  5. Add the mashed bananas and rum either by hand or on low speed until they look well blended.
  6. Divide cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and cake springs back to touch. Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes before you run a knife around the edges and turn cakes out onto a cooling rack. Allow cake to cool to temperature.

Buttercream:

  • Beat together 2 sticks softened butter (salted or unsalted) and one 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add 3 Tbsp. of rum, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a splash of milk. Now begin slowly blending in 3 cups of powdered sugar and your salted caramel sauce to taste. (The cream cheese helps prevent this buttercream from becoming sickeningly sweet.)

Assembly:

  • When cakes have cooled completely, level the top of each 8 in. cake before cutting it in half. A long serrated knife is best for this. When you have four thin layers, start by placing the first on your cake plate and smoothing 1/2 cup of buttercream over the top. Repeat until all layers are done. Next, create a “crumb coat” of buttercream but smoothing the frosting all over the outer edges and top of the cake. Place in fridge for thirty minutes. When cool, evenly spread the remainder of the buttercream over the crumb coat until it looks good. Decorate with sprinkles, more icing, caramel sauce, chocolate, candles, etc. And enjoy!
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Oatmeal Banana Chip Muffins

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I love breakfast foods but when it comes time to actually prepare a real meal at o’dark thirty, I just don’t have it in me. I’ve never been accused of being a morning person and that being the case I stay in bed as long as humanly possible before dashing of to class or work. My breakfasts are either yogurt on the run or a gluten-free granola squished at the bottom of my bag… Not the most nutritious start to the day (but, all things considered, also not as bad as a McDonald’s drive-thru… so there!).

Anyway, I decided I really needed to remedy this situation and when we had some brown bananas wasting away on the counter I remembered a funny little muffin my roommate made once years ago. This “muffin” is naturally refined sugar-free and gluten-free and is super quick and easy to pull together. The recipe makes about 18 so you’ll have breakfast for over a week! (I usually eat 2 in the morning)

The original recipe is from this awesome blog, but I’ve also copied it below for convenience. Also, please ignore how ugly these little muffins are. Your taste buds won’t notice, don’t worry!

Ingredients:

  • 3 mashed bananas (browner the better for mashing and tastiness)
  • 1 cup milk (literally whatever kind ya got!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Baking powder
  • 3 cups Gluten-free Old Fashion or Rolled Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray muffin tins or muffin liners – this is important! The first time I made these I used muffin liners but did not spray the inside and the paper was impossible to get all the way off. So I had that extra fiber in my breakfast I guess…..
  2. Mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate chips and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Divide the batter evenly until 14-18 cups are almost full (they won’t rise much at all) and bake for 25 minutes  (checking and rotating halfway through) or until edges are starting to brown.
  4. Let cool before eating and store in fridge. Enjoy as you run out the door with coffee and healthy breakfast in hand!

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ugly little muffys, but pretty damn good!

Peanut Butter & Banana Cupcakes

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This wayward traveler finally made it home! And while I am slowly plotting my return to the beautiful Spain, I have a little free time to bake again. One thing I found myself missing a lot of in Spain were sweet breads – zucchini, banana, pumpkin, chocolate chip, etc. so I decided I would make myself a nice batch of banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting (because if bread is good, cupcakes are better). I was helped along in this tedious decision-making process when I saw 2 over-ripe bananas sitting on the counter and remembered a recipe I had tried years ago that was simply divine and from Glamour magazine of all place! (While I love Glamour and other fashion rags it must be said this is no Bon Appetit, amiright?)

I would also like to take this opportunity to get back to my blogging ways and slowly incorporate more posts from my time abroad this spring. I’m afraid I trickled out a bit there at the end of the fall due to trips, school, and trying to cram 36 hours into every 24 I had in Barcelona. So every once in a while there be a post about traveling gluten-free now, but rest assured I am most definitely writing it in my pajamas from the US. Sigh.

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Anyway! That’s enough chit chat, who’s ready for a recipe? Just for the record, these are called “Propose to Him Banana Cupcakes” which is pretty dumb in my opinion but then I tasted them and was like…. Yeah, I’d marry me with cupcakes like this. As far as adaptation for a gluten-free recipe, I used the original recipe only substituting AP flour for glutey-free flour blend (in this case I tested out Pillsbury’s new gf blend and was pleasantly surprised! Give it a whirl if you see it in your supermarket.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour (gluten-free or otherwise)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 c. ripe mashed bananas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line tins with paper liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients and mix in 3 parts; alternate with buttermilk. Fold in bananas gently.
  5. Fill tins 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool in tins before frosting, then hide from family.

Buttercream: Mix 2 c. powdered sugar, 1 stick softened butter, 1 cup peanut butter, 3 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Blend ingredients with hand mixer until consistency desired.

banana cupcakes

Banana Berry Chocolate Smoothie

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Being new to this whole “you-can’t-eat-gluten-ever-again” thing, I sometimes find myself so frustrated that I just don’t want to make anything. Whenever that happens, (which is embarrassingly frequent depending on the week) I always make a smoothie. I add kefir and 2% milk for protein and calcium and then I throw in all the frozen fruit I can find in the freezer.

I like to freeze the bananas my mom and I forget about (nobody else in the house likes bananas for some reason!) as they start to become brown so I’ll always have a few on hand to put in the blender. And I don’t mean spotty – I mean dark scary brown like maybe you shouldn’t be eating that banana! But really, they’re fine. And they actually make for perfect smoothie additions because if you let them sit on the counter for a few minutes, they’re much easier to deal with than bananas that had thicker skins before they got tossed in the freezer.

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As for frozen fruit, I just buy whatevers on sale! Usually that means mango or a good berry blend. I don’t usually use pineapple in my smoothies because I don’t like how stringy the pieces become once they’re blended into oblivion. Same with blueberries… I’m weird about their skins being in my drank, but it’s really up to you! I’ve found frozen fruit is better not only texture and thickness, but frozen fruit is generally healthier because it is flash frozen on site (usually where it’s picked) meaning the antioxidants and other good shtuff is all preserved – unlike a lot of out-of-season fruits you may find at your grocery store.

And chocolate! Mmmm, who doesn’t want chocolate in their smoothie? Nobody, that’s who. I used to use Ovaltine malted chocolate powder, but I apparently can’t eat malt now (dangit! It’s one of those weird things I’ll genuinely miss that you wouldn’t even think about… I loved malted milkshakes). Chocolate syrup is usually fine (read the labels!) but in this instance I had fresh chocolate milk from a farm about 20 minutes from my house YUM. Enjoy your smoothies, y’all!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. of chocolate milk
  • 1/2 c. kefir (I used strawberry honey flavored kefir)
  • 3/4 c. almond milk (or regular milk, whatever is on hand!)
  • 1 c. frozen fruit
  • 2 medium frozen bananas, sliced and diced

Makes 2 snack-size smoothies (around 12 oz. each)

Directions:

1. I like to start with the milks, bananas, and kefir just to be sure the banana is blended really well.

2. Add frozen fruit, puree until smooth and pour into glasses. If you have fancy straws – even better!

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