What is in a name—that which one calls a banana by any other name would taste as delicious? (With an apology to Shakespeare.) Bananas are delicious, and therefore, so are baked products containing bananas.
Originating in Malaysia, bananas eventually spanned the globe. They were mentioned in India's Buddhist Pali writings dating back to the 6th century BCE and were introduced to America in 1876 in a Philadelphia celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
From red bananas, fruit bananas, apple-bananas to baking bananas, all forms continued to be an expensive delicacy throughout most of the nineteenth century. By the early 1900s, bananas became affordable, and today, they are the most popular fruit in the United States with each person consuming about 28 lbs. of bananas each year.
Bananas are an energy food. Carbohydrates in a fully ripe banana are reported to be up to 99 percent usable. While a banana contains only 1 percent to 2 percent protein, it is especially rich in lysine, tryptophane and methionine amino acids. The small percentage of fat in a banana is largely unsaturated. Bananas contain important vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin A. A full range of vitamin B is accompanied with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folic acid.
An erroneous impression has been established that bananas are fattening. One large banana (3.5 ozs.) contains 88 calories, which is less than the caloric content of a 3.5-oz. portion of low-fat (1%) cottage cheese. Apart from the caloric content, bananas have a high satiety value, due to their fiber content. The fiber will help provide more fullness than a cookie of the same caloric value.
Promote the benefits of bananas when marketing this banana parfait cake to customers. They can satisfy their sweet tooth while still eating something healthful. This banana parfait cake formula is based on a joconde, or almond sponge cake. In addition to containing almonds, it differs from other sponge cakes by having whole eggs (rather than just yolks) beaten with sugar and ground almonds before the meringue is folded in. Joconde is baked in thin layers on baking sheets and is used to make linings for the outsides of charlottes—traditional French raspberry mousse cakes—and other Bavarian mousse cakes in addition to the banana parfait cake.
You also can play on the fact that parfait is French for perfect. You are offering the “perfect” dessert that is indulgent and healthful with the addition of bananas.
|Pastry flour||2||60 g||100.0|
|Egg whites||8.5||250 g||416.7|
|Whole eggs||12.5||350 ml||583.3|
|Butter, unsalted||2||60 g||100.0|
|Granulated sugar||1.75||50 g||83.3|
|Confectioners' sugar||10.5||300 g||500.0|
|Almond flour||10.5||300 g||500.0|
|Chocolate glazing, for topping|
|Total appr. wt.||3||1||1.4 kg||2333.3|
Method: Melt the butter. Add the sugar to the whole eggs, and lightly whisk on high speed to ribbon stage or the mixture has tripled in volume. Sift the flour, almond flour, cocoa and half the confectioners' sugar (150 g), and set aside. Sift the remaining confectioners' sugar and add to the egg whites. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is stiff but not dry. Use cold sugar and egg whites to make a French meringue. Then, fold the French meringue into the ribbon-stage whole eggs. Fold in half of the dry ingredients until incorporated. Then, add the remaining half. Add a small amount of the batter to the melted butter to temper, and return to the batter mixture. Tempering prevents the warm butter from deflating the batter. Pour the batter on a prepared sheet pan, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake at 375°F to 400°F for about 10 minutes. Mark the cake with an 8-in round ring, and cut around it with a paring knife. The sheet pan should yield six cakes. Then, press and lift onto a round cake board prepared with a layer of chocolate, which keeps the cake from sticking. Brush the tops of the cakes with paté a glacé or glazing chocolate. This glazing chocolate is thinned with oil, so it is more fluid when melted and spreads easily, yet sets up quickly. Place the cakes in the cooler. After the cakes have cooled, remove them and flip them chocolate-side down onto clean cake boards. Place ring moulds around each cake.
|Praline flakes*||1||11||750 g|
|Total appr. wt.||4||5||1.95 kg|
Method: Mix the Nutella and praline flakes until well incorporated. Spread equal amounts of the mixture evenly on each cake base.
*You may substitute cornflakes for the praline flakes.
**Nutella is the brand name of a hazelnut-based sweet spread.
|Egg yolks||1||0.5||480 ml|
|Banana pulp||3||4.5||1.5 kg|
|Gelatin leaves, 18|
|Whipping cream||2||10||1.2 kg|
|Total appr. wt.||9||4.5||4.23 kg|
Method: Submerge gelatin leaves in cold water to bloom. Then, whip cream to soft peaks at medium speed, and place in the cooler. Combine the water and sugar, and cook until the mixture reaches the softball stage. While the sugar is cooking, whip egg yolks at high speed until frothy. Add the sugar to the whipped egg yolks in a fine stream. This process is called pate bomb, and it kills the bacteria present in the eggs. Remove the water from the gelatin leaves, and heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add dissolved gelatin to banana pulp and whisk. Add the pate bomb and whisk. Add the cold whipped cream, and whisk three-fourths of the way. Then, finish by folding. Pour this mixture into the cake moulds on top of the filling, and spread evenly with a palette knife. Place the cakes in the freezer.
Assembly: Remove the cakes from the freezer. Use a handheld kitchen torch and heat the sides of the rings. Remove the rings and transfer the cakes to clean cake boards. Use a torch to caramelize slices of banana that are covered with granulated sugar and use to decorate the banana parfait cakes.
1. After baking the jaconde, use an 8-in. cake ring to cut six round cakes from the sheet.
2. Place the round cakes on a cake board, and brush with paté a glacé or glazing chocolate.
3. Pour equal amounts of banana parfait on top of the six cakes topped with the praline filling.
4. After pouring the parfait on top of the cake and freezing, remove the cake ring.
5. Sprinkle slices of bananas with granulated sugar, then caramelize with a blowtorch.
6. Decorate the sliced cake with the caramelized bananas.
Klaus Tenbergen, CMB, CEPC, ASBPB, MCFE, is the Culinology® program director and assistant professor at California State University, Fresno. He is a member of the Research Chefs Association and Modern Baking Workbench Editor and can be reached through www.visualcv.com/klaustenbergen.
Rachel Konovalov-Mohoff, a dietetic major at California State University, Fresno, contributed to this article.