My attention lately has shifted from cakes and recipes to actual techniques. I strongly believe that learning the basics and understanding a recipe is far more important than the final result. So my baking has lately turned into experimenting, learning, trying out ingredients and interesting mix of flavors. And oh boy, it is fun! My pastry classes add so much excitement to this entire process! There’s nothing to bring more rewards than watching my students grow under my guidance, seeing them learn and push their limits. Working with people is brilliant, but just as time consuming and energy draining!
For that reason, from time to time I feel the need of a break, the need of taking it easy and enjoying a slice of cake into my own rhythm, away from the world, away from over-thinking or analyzing, away from recipe books and chemical reactions. That’s when I turn to the so called comfort food. Weird enough, comfort food for me means dessert, but one that doesn’t take much work and yet gives great results, one that’s easy as pie and delicious as a piece of heaven!
Hummingbird Cake – comfort food?
There’s plenty of things that go under the name of comfort food in my book, but this Hummingbird Cake is one of them. I’ve discovered it not long time ago, but its flavors just went to my heart! For those of you not noticing it on my blog just yet, I have a slight obssesion with tropical flavors: coconut, mango, banana, pineapple, passion fruit. So much that sometimes I wish I was born in the land of freshly picked coconut and ripe pineapple or mango.
What do Jamaica, spices and hummingbirds have in common?
It is said that this Hummingbird Cake was born in the island of Jamaica and it got its name from the island’s national bird. It became famous after the Tourist Board of Jamaica decided to export the recipe of the cake, along with other traditional recipes, to the USA, in an attempt to promote the island to foreign tourist. The rest is history as the cake quickly won the Americans over, becoming the nation’s favorite years in a row!
The main ingredients of the cake include: pineapple, bananas, pecans, spices (usually cinnamon) and a cream cheese frosting. One downside that I need to point out is that the sugar content is quite high. To balance it out, I replaced the cream cheese/butter frosting with a mascarpone frosting which has far less sugar and a smoother, creamier taste.
- 420 g all-purpose flour
- 300 g white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 400 g canned pineapple (with syrup)
- 250 g ripe bananas
- 3 eggs
- 180 ml vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 150 g pecans nuts (ground)
- 300 g mascarpone cheese
- 100 g powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 300 g heavy cream (whipped)
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
- Place the pineapple in a food processor and pulse to puree. Add the bananas, eggs, oil and vanilla and process 1 more minute until smooth.
- Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ones and mix briefly.
- Add the nuts and mix with a spatula until evenly incorporated.
- Pour the batter into two 18cm diameter baking pans lined with baking paper.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 330F for 45-50 minutes or until the cakes pass the toothpick test.
- Allow the cakes to cool down in the pan.
- Remove the cake from the pan then cut the top to even them off then slice them in half, obtaining 4 discs of sponge. Place aside.
- Whip the mascarpone, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and orange zest in a bowl for a few minutes.
- Fold in the whipped cream then spoon the frosting in a pastry bag.
To assemble the cake:
- Place one disc of sponge on a cake board. Pipe a layer of frosting, followed by a layer of frosting and so on.
- Decorate as you wish.
- Refrigerate a few hours before serving.
La fel ca si carrot cake – tort cu morcovi – acest tort, cunoscut sub numele de Hummingbird (tradus prin Pasare Colibri), vine de peste ocean. Originile lui ne duc tocmai in Jamaica, dar el a devenit faimos abia dupa ce reteta a fost exportata in Statele Unite de catre chiar oficialii statului jamaican intr-o incercare de a promova turismul spre insula Jamaica. Reteta insa a prins foarte bine la publicul americand, fiind votata de cateva ori chiar reteta anului. Asta da campanie de promovare a turismului unei tari!
Tortul si-a capatat numele de la pasarea colibri, insemnul oficial al statului Jamaica, si e un tort extrem de aromat, avand in compozitie banana, ananas si condimente (in principal scortisoara). Crema e de obicei de branza, dar eu am preferat sa merg spre o glazura si crema din mascarpone care are un continut de zahar mult mai mic decat reteta originala.
Acest tort intra in categoria de torturi pe care eu o numesc blat-crema-blat-crema si, spre deosebire de entremet, e un tort putin mai uscat (desi blatul in sine e extrem de umed), un tort care se preteaza foarte bine pentru a fi lasat nedecorat sau decorat minimalist, adesea neimbracat in glazura. Simplitatea decorului insa este echilibrata de aroma intensa a interiorului, de onctuozitatea cremei si de umiditatea blatului!
- 420g faina alba
- 300g zahar alb
- 1 lingurita praf de copt
- 1 lingurita bicarbonat
- ½ lingurita sare
- ¾ lingurita scortisoara
- 400g ananas din conserva (cu sirop)
- 250g banane bine coapte
- 3 oua
- 180ml ulei vegetal
- 2 lingurite extract de vanilie
- 150g nuci pecan, maruntite
- 300g branza mascarpone
- 100g zahar pudra
- 1 lingurita zeama de lamaie
- 1 lingurita coaja de portocala
- 2 lingurite extract de vanilie
- 300ml smantana pentru frisca, batuta
- Combinati faina, zaharul, praful de copt, bicarbonatul, sarea si scortisoara intr-un bol.
- Puneti ananasul intr-un blender sau robot de bucatarie si pulsati pana devine piure. Adaugati ouale, bananele, uleiul si vanilia si pulsati cateva secunde pentru a omogeniza.
- Turnati ingredientele lichide peste cele uscate si amestecati cu o spatula. Incorporati nucile pecan.
- Turnati aluatul in mod egal in doua tavi de 18cm diametru tapetate cu hartie de copt.
- Coaceti in cuptorul preincalzit la 170C pentru 45-50 minute sau pana trece testul scobitorii.
- Lasati blaturile sa se raceasca in tava apoi nivelati-le daca e nevoie si taiati-le in jumatate pentru a obtine 4 discuri egale. Dati deoparte.
- Mixati mascarpone cu zeama de lamaie, zaharul pudra, coaja de portocala si vanilia cateva minute.
- Incorporati smantana batuta apoi puneti crema intr-un pos.
- Asezati un disc de blat pe un platou de tort. Puneti deasupra un strat de crema, apoi continuati cu blat-crema-blat etc.
- Dati la rece cateva ore inainte de a felia!