Thursday, September 08, 2011
The rock 'n' roll legend's love for food was well-known, and the infamous peanut butter and banana sandwich he adored, dubbed the "Elvis," is the stuff of food excess lore. Here's how it was rumored to be made: two slices of white bread were slathered with peanut butter, layered with bananas (mashed or sliced, per different accounts), sometimes drizzled with honey, and then the whole sandwich would be pan-fried in butter. More horrifying versions (if that's possible) say the sandwich contained bacon, one of the most unhealthy foods you can possibly eat because it literally drips with cholesterol and sodium.
Whew! Leaves you all shook up just to read that, doesn't it? No wonder a medical examiner is famously quoted as saying that the King died of a "terminal event on the commode."
But take heart. My Elvis cake-- a wholesome but melt-in-the-mouth tender banana cake with a peanut-butter frosting-- is nowhere near as fattening or scary. In fact, it's a pretty low-on-guilt cake, especially if you make it with whole-wheat pastry flour.
I recycled my Banana Cake recipe for the base, and it was perfect. This cake, eggless and vegan of course, has a very moist, airy crumb and every bite bursts with startling banana flavor. I made just enough peanut butter frosting to get a nice, satisfying layer between the two tiers and on top, but if you are the sort who likes gobs and gobs of frosting on their cake, double the recipe. Do keep in mind that peanut butter-- although healthy-- is high in fat.
I fought off one of my own food quirks when I made this cake, or rather the frosting. I absolutely love peanut butter and can eat it out of the jar by the spoonful (I do.). But I hate it vigorously and vehemently when it's combined with anything sweet. I cannot stand peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, I don't dare go near a peanut butter cup, and if you're my friend you would know better than to buy me peanut-butter candy
I know I am in a minority (perhaps of one) because everyone else I've ever met just loves peanut-butter-based sweets. So I'm really excited to share this recipe with you because it really, really worked. Maybe it was because the flavors of the peanut butter and bananas marry so well together. Elvis, you old hound dog, you sure knew what you were doing.
As for me, I'm a new woman. Now bring on those peanut butter cups...maybe!
Banana Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting
(Makes 2 tiers)
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour is a good substitute-- it makes for an even more tender cake)
1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup soy or any non-dairy milk, like almond, cashew, hemp, or pumpkin-seed milk + 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar (set aside five minutes to curdle)
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Beat together the oil and sugar with a handheld mixer for about two minutes.
Add the soymilk mixture and beat until just mixed.
Add the mashed bananas and beat in. Make sure there are no big lumps remaining.
Add the flour to the banana-soymilk-oil mixture in 2 batches, beating in after each addition until the mixture is smooth. Do not overbeat, though.
Line the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment or wax paper. Oil and flour the pans.
Divide the batter equally between the two pans and bake 25-30 minutes in a 350-degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
Place on a rack to cool, about 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off the parchment paper, and leave on the rack to cool thoroughly before frosting.
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup smooth and creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup vegan cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsp vegan "butter", like Earth Balance
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
Have the peanut butter and Earth Balance at room temperature, and the cream cheese cold. Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wisk or with a handheld or stand mixer until everything's combined.
Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating in well after each addition. I use less sugar than most peanut butter frosting recipes would, but if you want a stiffer frosting add more confectioners sugar.
Place the frosting in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
To assemble the cake:
Place one cake on a cake stand or flat dish. Put about 1/3rd of the frosting in the center of the cake and using a spatula spread it evenly across the surface.
Carefully place the second cake on top of the first one. Put the remaining icing in the center of the cake and evenly frost the top and sides.
Garnish with some chopped, roasted peanuts. In fact, if you have the time and the peanuts, sprinkle nuts all over the surface of the cake and press some into the sides.
Cut yourself a hunka cake love, and enjoy!
Some of you have asked me how my other animals, especially Pie, have been reacting to Pubm's death. The answer is, not significantly. Over the past six months, we have come down from a family of three dogs and two cats to one with two dogs and one cat. Freddie's passing did not seem to make a huge impact on Lucy and Opie, largely perhaps because he stopped interacting with the other dogs during his long illness and -- being the smallest and oldest guy in the house-- had hardly ever interacted with them much before, when he was in good health. Pubm and Pie came to our home together at the age of six, and the shelter told us they had lived together in a home all their lives and were sisters. But they weren't terribly close in the eight years we've had them, and the only times they did interact, really, was to quarrel.
While it might work differently for dogs and cats who are really close, like Lucy and Opie are, I like to think that animals have better instincts than we humans do when it comes to death. They are not aware of their own mortality, they do not worry about those closest to them dying, and when someone does pass on they take it in their stride without obsessing over it, like we humans do. They don't think of going to a better place, or being condemned to a bad one. Rather, they just live in the moment-- something we all could learn to do.