Choc Banana Vertical Layer Cake

Last week I blogged all about the footy and mentioned that it was finals time. Last Saturday was the biggest event on Melbourne’s calendar (in most of our potentially biased books): the AFL Grand Final. On the Friday I had to travel through the city to get to work and walked past the massive crowds of brown, gold and purple buzzing with excitement during all the pre-final celebrations. It’s one of those moments that make me swell with pride and want to just hug Melbourne in general. I love our game and I love everyone who loves our game. Whether my team has made it or not, I just love footy finals fever.

Cakecrumbs' Choc Banana Vertical Layer Cake 00

Despite my attempts to persuade him otherwise, my partner is not a Carlton supporter. While he’s now a Carlton member and is gradually falling in love with my team, and while I keep telling him he really should switch teams, there’s no luring him away from his. Melbournians, and loyal footy fans elsewhere across Australia, are more likely to part with a limb than their life-long team, and so it is with Cameron. He comes from a family of almost all Hawthorn supporters, a family that had a lot to celebrate this year as their team made the grand final. Getting tickets to the AFL grand final also usually requires losing a few limbs. He, his uncle and brother are all Hawks members but still missed out, so we all headed to his place to watch it on telly together.

Cam asked me if I was going to make something for our gathering, and if I’d make him something Hawthorn. I always said I’d never bring myself to make anything opposition-team themed until I’d at least first made something Carlton. With the Carlton cupcakes made for our last final a few weeks ago, I had to oblige. Coming up with the what was effortless once I factored in everyone’s likes and requirements. Cam’s brother and sister-in-law are vegan, so I wanted to make it accessible for everyone. Which, honestly, didn’t require many adjustments at all.

Instead of decorating the outside, I decided to make the whole cake Hawks themed. Hawthorn’s colours are brown and gold (I won’t give you the colloquial name for them), and the player’s guenseys feature the colours in vertical stripes. I started off with my favourite chocolate cake recipe, which is one of those accidentally vegan recipes. Sometimes I leave it vegan, and sometimes I throw in milk for the hell of it. I baked it in a square 25cm cake tin, then cut it into three even strips.

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For the gold layer I left out the cocoa and subbed some of the sugar for banana Nesquik. I’d bought some of it a few weeks back as the banana variety is one of Cameron’s favourite things ever, so it seemed an obvious choice. This part was a total experiment on my part, so I was surprised by how flawlessly it worked. But the biggest surprised to us both was how the cake tasted exactly like banana cake. As in the traditional banana cake make with mashed up over-ripe bananas. I was expecting more of a fake/lolly banana flavour.

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This cake is about as simple as it gets to bake, and assembling is just as easy. The hardest part is just being gentle with the cakes. The recipe produces and incredibly moist mudcake that wants to crumble with slightest provocation. You need to gently handle, and not over-handle, the layers. But apart from that, it’s a cakewalk.

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Assembly is as simple as spreading on a layer of chocolate ganache, piling an opposite coloured layer on top, giving that layer the ganache treatment and comtinuiong until you run out of layers. At this point it makes a nice bumblebee-looking cake.

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But I was after a Hawks effect, not bees, so I turned it over onto it’s other side. I trimmed off the edges partially for neatness, but mostly because I wanted to see how the layers had turned out. My main concern for the cake was the the chocolate would be too dark and/or the gold too pale, but the resultant cake was such a perfect match for Hawthorn colours. I couldn’t have planned it any better. That, however, didn’t stop me from constantly hounding Cameron over it for reassurance: “It looks like a guernsey, right? Do you think it looks like a guernsey? Are the stripes too thick? It’s the right shade, yeah? But when you look at it, does it scream Hawthorn guernsey?” Pretty sure he just wanted to eat it.

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For the outside, I had thoughts of making a logo or adding other decorations. But in the end I decided to go for a simple ganache. The inside was where the party was at, so I wanted it to look unassuming from the outside.

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I smoothed on a crumb coat, waiting for that to set then added another layer of it. when that had set, a dusted on a little icing sugar for contrast.

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Finally cutting it open was lots of fun. I had a good idea of what the layers looked like already, but it never really feels over until it’s time to cut into it proper.

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The cake was a complete hit with everyone, for both the flavour and the footy aesthetics inside. Whenever I use chocolate dark enough to be vegan, it’s too bitter for me. But even I had to confess to having no problems with it. Cake is really rich and sweet, so it countered how bitter the chocolate was. Cameron would later declare that the cake was what helped Hawthorn march to a convincing Grand Final victory. I’m not sure baked goods produce that amount of luck, but it certainly helped provide a distraction from the nerves as the match unfolded.

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The following recipe will provide you with both vegan and non-vegan options. Neither makes much discernible difference to the outcome of the cake. The ganache is a little richer with cream than milk, but both taste phenomenal. If you don’t want to buy Nesquik for the cake, you can sub in any banana flavoring. You could also try folding mushed up bananas through it if that’s the only option available to you. It will likely affect the rise of the cake, but that’s mostly guesswork on my part. Try it and see!

Choc Banana Vertical Layer Cake
Chocolate Layer

1 1/4 (190g) cups plain flour

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil

1 cup (250ml) water or milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla essence

Banana Layer

1 1/3 (200g) cups plain flour

3/4 cup (170g) caster sugar

1/4 cup (50g) banana Nesquik

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil

1 cup (250ml) water or milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp yellow food colouring

Chocolate ganache

300g dark chocolate, chopped

150ml almond milk or cream

Method for both cake layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced/350°F). Line an approx 25x25cm cake tin or tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the wet ingredients.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Whisk the flour mixture in until well combined and there are no lumps in the batter (you’ll need to work reasonably quickly as the vinegar will begin to react with the bicarb soda as soon as it meets).
  4. Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake is well risen (it will bounce back when gently poked, or a skewer inserted into the middle will emerge clean).
  5. Leave them to cool inside the tray for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely.

For the ganache

  1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture boils; remove from heat and pour over chocolate.

To assemble:

  1. Cut the cooled cakes into three strips (mine were 8x24cm).
  2. Place one layer onto your work surface; spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache onto it, then top with an alternately coloured layer.
  3. Spread ganache onto the surface of this next layer and repeat the process until you’ve used all the layers.
  4. Turn the cake 90° so that the layers are now facing vertically. Trim the edged off the ends of the cake.
  5. Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of ganache to act as a ‘crumb coat’. allow it to set, the ice with a final layer of ganache.

13 thoughts on “Choc Banana Vertical Layer Cake

  1. Thanks for making this. Looked very impressive as a Hawks guernsey, and it definitely helped (at least a little bit) with the win.

  2. Yum!! I made the banana cake only as I’ve been searching high and low for a banana cake recipe that’s not like banana bread for the hubby. This one was a hit! I had to order the Nesquik from the UK (we’re in the US). Used chocolate buttercream for frosting. The bottom layer of the cake (one of the banana recipes above) was Nesquik only. The top layer was the recipe PLUS a very ripe banana. Hubby and guests liked the one WITH banana best, but both were very good. With a ripe banana it just rose less in the middle of the cake. That was no problem as it just made the cake flatter and easier to deal with. It seemed moister, but not more dense than, the recipe with no banana added. Just thought I’d let others know how it turned out with the banana in case anyone was curious. Excellent recipe. Love your blog!!

  3. this is my favorite!!and i love the before after pictures! thank you so much, and sorry for my bad english, im from germany 🙂

    • Oh dear, I wasn’t aware of any cruelty issues with Nesquick. What’s the situation there?

      As for substitution I’m not aware of any similar flavoured powdery mixes, so you’d probably have to look at introducing the banana flavour other ways. You could use a liquid banana flavouring (usually available at cake decorating shops) or even just mash a banana in.

  4. Pingback: Banana Day! 8 Ricette con le banane – Le Ricette di Cle

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