Monday, July 5, 2010

Banana Kueh with Chocolate Frosting?

What was meant to be a banana cake turned out to be a banana kueh instead. I had planned to try out the banana cake with chocolate frosting from Nancie McDermott's Southern Cakes. Borrowed the book a second time and I was tempted to at least try out one of the promising cakes.

I can only say my journey was wrought with perils. Only several hours after I assembled the cake did I realise I made a grave mistake. I added too much buttermilk, thinking that the cake required 1 cup when the recipe stated 1/2 cup. This was a blatant mistake. No wonder the cake did not seemed to rise much. There was far too much liquid for the amount of raising agents.  

Problems did not just stop at that. While making the frosting, the cocoa and butter mixture turned into an oily messy instead of a shiny essence as described as in the book. This was a familiar sight as I had such encounters previously. Determined to produce the frosting, I re-attempted and this time round I did not follow the instructions in the book. What I did was melt the butter first then added the evaporated milk and the cocoa powder. This should had been the proper method. There were still random grains of unmelted cocoa lying around but I decided to proceed with the addition of icing sugar. It was like undissolved bits of Milo powder when room temperature water is used.

I was skeptical about the amount of icing sugar used. It says 4 cups which is about a whooping 460g of sugar needed. In the end, I only used 300g of icing sugar to allow the frosting to reach a fudgy consistency. When I sampled the frosting, it was disgustingly sweet! Imagine even a sweet tooth like me cannot stand the sweetness. Nevertheless, I assembled the cake and prayed that the overall taste would not be so sickly sweet afterall. Thankfully, the sweetness of the assembled cake was mellowed down to an acceptable level, albeit it was leaning towards the sweet side. Perhaps due to the chilling of the the cake overnight, it tasted like a chocolate frosted layered banana kueh. Interesting~ 

My Lessons Learnt:
1) Read the ingredient list CAREFULLY.
2) Melt the butter first before adding the cocoa powder. Do not dump both the butter and cocoa together to melt.
3) Avoid frostings with ridiculous amounts of sugar.


  1. You have revolutionized the chocolate banana cake. That's what baking is all about, experimenting and sometimes through trial and error we invent a new recipe. As long as it tastes good,that's all that matters! :)

  2. dont worry..we have all been there and done that..I have forgotten to put in some ingredients into the cake batter despite having it all displayed on the side and measured or read wrongly the flour weight measurement etc. And thanks for dropping by my blog..

    PS: i must be really unlucky not to see the ice-cream man except in orchard!

  3. Oh, that was a bummer! Sorry to hear that. Kuih? As in like it's got a chewy, dense and moist texture to it?

    Buttermilk doesn't come cheap here, in my opinion. That'd be a heartache. Did you buy it or "make" your own buttermilk?

    Yup, I've had that experience of greasy, gritty mess before. It's been a while though. I think what I did was gradually stirring in sifted cocoa powder into the melted butter as I whisk the hot grease to achieve an "emulsification" effect. Get what I mean? I made that blatant mistake too, out of laziness/sloppiness, when I was making mochi cake that day ... that folding part. Your episode reminds me so much this horrid experience. =S Well, my fault though ...

    I think it's 440 g powdered sugar lar. I always use this site to help convert recipes:

    Well, 440 g is STILL A LOT. I always avoid frosting recipes that call for powdered sugar ... the ones that use that method I call "direct method." Basically, with those recipes, powdered sugar is what that makes up most part of the frosting, nothing else, which disgusts me. In the U.S., I found their cakes to be RIDICULOUSLY sweet. Yuck! It's like I'm overfeeding myself with sugar. Chocolate cake itself and its chocolate frosting are like sweet and flavorless, I couldn't taste much cocoa in it. That's why I always think home baking rules because we know what and how much we put in. I just attempted one of Greenspan's recipes from that thick book we talked about. It's glaze is SWEET, even when I'd reduced the amount of sugar. Maybe our palate is still Chinese in a sense. Haha! My American friends often say this to me ... *Faint*

    Gotta agree: We learn as we bake along. Keep it up! ;)

  4. Hi busygran,

    Thanks for dropping by. The 'kueh' still tastes ok. Maybe a chocolate banan kueh isnt too bad afterall. The frosting needs some tweaking though. would prefer something less sugary.

    Hi faithy,

    Thanks for dropping by. Yup agree we all would have made some mistakes at some point in our baking journey.

    Hi pei-lin,

    Ya u are right. its dense, moist and chewy. very kueh like.

    I use home made lemon juice milk these days to substitute for buttermilk. I hate to deal with cocoa and melted chocolate sometimes. Too much whisking will cause the frosting to separate or too little mixing causes the cocoa to be undissolved and grainy.

    Diff sites give diff conversions for cup measurements to grams. I used joy of baking, so 1 cup icing sugar = 115g

    ya i try to avoid frosting using powdered sugar. But most frostings uses it. Meringue Butter creams are the best frosting in my opinion. It doesnt taste overly sweet and has nice flavour. Another good frosting is ganache. Whipped cream isnt too shabby too. icing sugared buttercreams sucks sometimes. they are way too sweet!

    ya western cakes are overly sweet sometimes. Chocolate cakes usually call for too much sugar. whenever i attempt a recipe, first thing i do is cut down on sugar.

    there's a good buttercream recipe from the perfect party cake. u may want to try it. its not too sweet and has a nice flavour.

    haha my palate is very chinese sometimes. still think that chinese food are the best compared to other cuisines.


  5. Hi Bakertan, despite the mistakes, the cake stil look very gd, well done :)

  6. ZY, just emailed you through your Hotmail account. Please check your mail. Thanks! Hope to hear from you soon!

  7. thats weird, I remembered replying after Pei-Lin's comments. Think the comment was lost somehow. (the no. shown on the comment link and the no of comments here do not match!)

    hi busygran: thanks for the insight. I guess thats how new recipes are derived - through errors. haha. yup it still tasted decent though. Im sure the cake if baked correctly would be good enough by itself. the frosting isnt that desirable. needs more improvement.

    Hi Faithy: thanks for the encouragement. Yup I am sure we all learn from our mistakes and become better bakers in the process.

    Hi Pei-Lin,

    The cake turned out like what u described. I ate it and it tasted ok. the banana fragrance was strong but the frosting did not work well on my palate.

    For buttermilk I tend to use milk plus lemon juice these days. its cheaper and more convenient.

    Argh! i wasted my cocoa and butter and thats what i hate whenever something goes wrong. there goes my valrhona cocoa.

    For the powdered sugar i referred to joy of baking. 1 cup = 115g. cup measurements vary from source to source.

    ya! the amount is RIDICULOUS! i edited my post btw. next time i will stay away from icing sugar if possible. ganache and meringue buttercream are the best frosting i had so far. lemon glace icing isnt too shabby if it is used in drizzles. talking about Dorie Greenspan, do try out her lemon buttercream from the perfect party cake. Its fabulous!

    yeah agree that our palate is chinese in some sense. I would prefer chinese food over other international cuisines.

    Hi Jess: thanks! I think I would re-attempt this another time. But would change the frosting to something more desirable.

    (saved my comment on word document in case it goes missing again!)

  8. Hey, I found you through Edith's comment box. Great stuffs here! Just wanna say, if you cut the butter to small cubes and softened it to room temperature, then sift over cocoa powder with a tea strainer (the finest mesh you can get!), and whisk away with an electric mixer, it will not separate and will not be lumpy too. I think I'll still eat a banana kuih, it still sounds and loooks good to me. Great work!


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