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Random Act of Pastry #7: Caramel is not my friend

As with many good intentions, life sometimes gets in the way. The Week Seven project experienced a bit of a delay due to production needs and other things. Also, due to the level of activity at the Emergency Room (our last drop off location), we had to find a new recipient site. Anonymous reader ended up with a very good suggestion, which we used. Overall, life seems to always involve a fair amount of improvisation.

In choosing this week’s pastry, consideration was given to what was in the pantry that could be turned into something interesting. First thought was peanut butter, but we traveled that road before. But, that spread’s good buddy, the banana, offered up some possibilities. Turning to the practical sage of all things baking ( there was a fascinating recipe for Banana Upside-Down Cake that I decided to tackle.

This variation not only involves bananas as the fruit of choice, but uses a prefaced caramel as the goopy topping. It’s important to know that caramel is challenging stuff. It’s lots of sugar, just a little water, and butter. You put the sugar in a pan with just a touch of water and bring it to a boil. For this to happen, you need very high temperatures, and it’s easy to get burned if you are not very careful. Once you have boiled the sugar to a nice deep brown, you add butter and stir like crazy. It is a curiously precise process. In an ideal world, you get a satin smooth paste that is chewy delicious. In this case, not so much, but it got the job done in a slightly grainy but sweet and buttery utilitarian fashion. This gets poured on the bottom of a buttered cake pan with sliced bananas placed in top of this. You can substitute any other fruit strikes your fancy,

The cake is a nice little item made with buttermilk and lots of vanilla. The cake batter get slathered over the caramel and banana mixture and smoothed out to evenly cover the pan. This gets baked for the better part of an hour in a slow oven. The challenge in the process is getting the cake out of the pan. For this, you need to put the serving tray on top of the cake pan and flip the cake and caramel goodness over and out five minutes after it gets out of the oven. This requires a symphony of parchment paper, serving dish, and oven mitts that can be a bit hair-raising. Nonetheless, the job got done.

This week’s recipient was Home Healthcare, Hospice, and Community Services in Keene, NH. This organization provides hospice, home health, food transportation and adult daycare services to the region. They also provide early childhood intervention, wellness programming as well. All in all, this is a very deserving organization.

As usual, you can find the recipe here.

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