Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pre-vacation Baking

In a mad effort to use up some perishables before leaving for vacation, I made a batch of Cook's Illustrated's Double Chocolate Cookies and a banana streusel coffee cake from Sally Sampson's Bake Sale Cookbook. My friend Ryan has made the CI cookies before and recommended the recipe, and it was clearly with good reason. The cookies are immensely fudgy; I upped the ante by stirring a bagful of chocolate chunks into the cookie dough. After I started making the dough, I realized the dough needed to be chilled for an hour before baking. I ended up letting the dough chill overnight, with no apparent ill effects.

The coffee cake is instantly one of my turn-to recipes for overripe bananas. The cinnamon-spiked cake is incredibly moist. Between the streusel topping and the cake batter, I sprinkled a layer of mini chocolate chips. Cinnamon, banana, chocolate: great combo.

Banana Streusel Coffee Cake (my version)

For the topping
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold or at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

For the cake
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1 cup and 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour an 8x8 pan.

To make the topping: Place the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix until combined and crumbly. Add the walnuts, if using, and toss to combine. Set aside.

To make the cake: Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light, fluffy, and light lemon-colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. add the bananas and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and mix until well combined. Add the buttermilk and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pour into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the top of the batter with the miniature chocolate chips. Then crumble over the streusel topping. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake tests done.

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