As I married my husband some 20 years ago, my cooking skills were not quite what they are today. The lucky guy was the fortunate recipient of pasta - 5 different ways in our first 7 days together! However, a quick trip to Price Club had him arriving home with an attractive, yet entry level cookbook filled with brilliant photos and mouth watering recipes along with hopes of something other than pasta for dinner. He did indeed eat better in the days following, but little did he know he had just started what he now calls my "cookbook addiction".
I find a good cookbook akin to a good novel. Perfectly happy to curl up on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee and a cookbook on my lap, I can easily pass the hours. Our travels often find me returning home with a regional cookbook as my souvenir bringing the flavors of our trip home to our kitchen, and I can rarely resist a pretty new book when I pass the overflowing tables at Costco.
Imagine my excitement when Storey Publishing contacted me asking if I would be interested in reviewing Krystina Castella's book, A World of Cake. In a word, Yes! The people at Storey have been kind enough to additionally offer a 2nd copy for us to giveaway.
(Edited to note giveaway is closed)
Definitely not your typical cake book loaded with endless variations of frostings, cakes and decorations, Ms. Kastella has taken cakes from around the world and filled her pages with recipes, photos and most interestingly, history and lore. Each recipe comes with variations for different tastes and occasions, along with a description of what you will be making.
To enter the giveaway we asked our guests to leave a comment telling us which country they would like to visit (virtually) through the book. Locations from near and far have been commented on including China, Greece, France, Austria, Mexico, Lebanon, Morocco, Croatia, Macedonia, Eastern Europe, anywhere in South America, Scotland, Kenya or Africa, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Russia, Hungary, Germany, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Spain, Israel, Poland, Sweden, India, Mongolia, Peru, Tortuga, and Nancy had a special request for her son in the Foreign Service in the Middle East. Whew... that's a lot of countries!
I can happily report that Ms. Castella has got them all covered!! From continent to continent and country to county the recipes are representative of their region and bring morsels of culture along with a sweet treat.
Note: (For experimentation purposes only) I sampled the N'Dizi before putting it on the cake and deem it, well... awesome!
Simple sweetened whipped cream alone would have been a perfect finish to the cake, but the Banana Whipped Cream recommended is a real treat. Cream whipped and sweetened receives a flavorful addition of mashed banana for the perfect complement to the banana cake and crunchy banana topping.
Banana Cake with Crunchy N'DiziA World of Cake
Kenyans snack on bananas covered with roasted peanuts, a treat they call crunchy n'dizi. I added this nutty sweet to my favorite African banana cake and topped it with banana-flavored whipped cream. Crunchy bananas are best when eaten hot, right from the oven. Krystina Castella
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups mashed banana
3/4 cup yogurt
6 bananas, peeled and sliced in rounds
1 Tbs water
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
Banana Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs confectioner' sugar
1 banana, mashed
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla with a mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the banana. Stir the flour mixture into the batter, alternating with the yogurt, until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and set on a rack to finish cooling.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Warm a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the banana rounds and water to the skillet, cover and let steam for 1 minute. Drain the liquid. Dip the banana rounds in melted butter and then coat with chopped nuts and set on a baking tray. Bake for 4 minutes, then flip the rounds and bake for 4- 6 minutes until the peanuts are roasted.
Banana Whipped Cream
Beat the cream, vanilla and confectioners' sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the mashed banana.
To serve, cut the cake into squares and top with Banana Whipped Cream and Crunchy N'Dizi.