We woke up to 9 inches of snow in Nashville! Taylor and I worked from home, and stayed inside all weekend baking, cooking and watching Fixer Upper. Here are some bits and pieces from Storm Jonas Brothers.
- View from our bedroom window
- Wearing my new clear “Durand” Warby Parker frames
- Penny’s first time in the snow (she LOVED it)
“Let’s do Whole 30,” I said.
“It would be good for us,” I said.
“Fine,” Chris said.
Then Winter Storm Jonas happened. We made it a measly four days before the snow started to fall. When we realized we would be stuck in the house for a few days, we frantically searched our comically large cookbook collection to find the perfect baked good to welcome us back from the clutches of kale, raw almonds and split pea soup. Chris ended up finding the winning cake: Queen Martha’s Banana-Caramel Cake with Mascarpone Frosting. After wiping the drool off my chin, I donned my apron and spent the rest of the snow day in the kitchen.
1 1/2 + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature; plus more for pans
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour; plus more for pans
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 pounds of bananas, half mashed + half sliced in half lengthwise
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 inch cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter tops of parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mash bananas with vanilla and crème fraîche.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat 1 1/2 sicks butter with 1 2/3 cups sugar on medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy (around 3-4 minutes,) scraping down bowl if necessary. Add eggs one by one, beating in completely after each addition. Turn the mixer to its lowest setting and add the flower mixture in two batches, beating until just combined after each. Fold in mashed banana mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Be careful to not over mix.
- Divide batter equally into each cake pan and level with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, around 35 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto the rack, peeling off parchment. Let the cakes cool completely, top sides up.
- Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar into a large skillet and cook over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar is fully caramelized. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter until melted. Return pan to medium heat and add the sliced bananas; cook until they start to brown. Gently turn bananas over and cook until browned, about 2 more minutes.
- With a serrated knife, trim tops of the cakes to make them level, Arrange banana slices on top of the first layer, then place remaining layer on top. Using an offset spatula, spread mascarpone frosting over the entire cake, spreading to completely cover. Drizzle caramel sauce over the top of the cake.
- Combine mascarpone, heavy cream, and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high spread until medium peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Use right away.
*Made with a lot of help from my Queen Martha
Last weekend Taylor and I began preparation for our urban farm! We rent a really old house on an acre of land in the heart of Nashville, which is super overgrown and needs some serious TLC. My mom lovingly refers to our place as “Amityville Horror.” We often dream of a big farmhouse surrounded by rolling hills, but we plan on staying here the next few years and decided to use what we got!
In true Chris and Taylor fashion, we bought like 6 books on urban gardening as soon as we decided to take on the resolution. All have been beneficial, but I found that Square Foot Gardening has provided the most valuable information. I have read it cover-to-cover and have a complete game plan for our first real garden.
The first thing we needed to tackle was a major cleanup of the land. We borrowed a chainsaw from Taylor’s step-dad, watched a few YouTube videos on how to use a chainsaw and decided to fall lumber in our backyard. This was a little scary, considering we had no real experience using a chainsaw or cutting down trees. I’m actually pretty sure we would have been injured if our neighbor hadn’t intervened.
We spent two days cutting wood and cleaning up the yard. I’m really hoping this will provide direct sunlight to our garden beds. We plan to chronicle our urban gardening process with incremental posts. Now that our yard is somewhat clear, I’m focusing on garden bed materials. More to come!