Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kenyan Banana Cake with Crunchy N'Dizi


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.

With a bunch of brown, ripe bananas on our counter in addition to Liv's obsession for the fruit, I couldn't resist trying Kenya's Banana Cake with Crunchy N'Dizi.  Ndizi, a Swahili word for "plantain", is in this case sliced and steamed banana dipped into butter, sprinkled with chopped peanuts and then baked for a crunchy, caramelized banana topping.

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'Dizi
A 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

Banana Cake
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
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups mashed banana
3/4 cup yogurt

Crunchy N'dizi
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.

N'Dizi
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.

46 comments:

  1. That looks absolutely amazing Kim, I wonder what else we could put N'Dizi on? I think my husband has a cookbook addiction too....every time I turn around, there's a new one!

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  2. I too am addicted too cook books! I never realized how many I owned until I moved into a new apartment and had 2 (extremely heavy) boxes full of them. As long as it has good pictures to go along with the recipes, I'm hooked.

    Very tasty looking cake; I love the banana whipped cream too. How well do the bananas fold in? Does the whipped cream end up smooth, or are there pervasive lumps of banana in it?

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  3. Oh my! This cake sounds divine! I love the crunchy N'dizi...or however you say it:)

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  4. Well! I think I will have to try this! I bet the N'Dizi is amazing, I can only imagine those ingredients together...

    I get weird looks when I sit and read a cookbook. There really is a lot that can be learned from reading through one! I'm very glad that you can relate to me.

    I'm also glad I'm not the only one that is addicted to cookbooks. I look at our HUGE stack and wonder if I will ever get cut off. If I do I know what to do. ;)

    I hope you are having a good week! Give mom another hug from me please.

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  5. Mmm I'll take a piece! This looks beyond delicious!

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  6. what a beautiful cake, full of banana! I love the N'dizi on top of the cake and the banana whipped cream, take the cake to he next level, Wow!

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  7. I sooooo want to win this book, because the cakes from it look mindblowingly good!

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  8. Back off Carolyn, I want to win! he he Didn't know what this was, but had to find out. Looks so yummy as always.
    -Gina-

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  9. Really does sound like an interesting cookbook! Gotta love that. The banana cake is so up my alley. I love banana cake, bread, muffins, anything really haha....actually I am having a banana right now as I am typing this haha :-) Looks great Kim!

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  10. ooks scrumptious, I bet it taste delicious!

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  11. I am so excited to see the recipe for this cake and a photo posted. Thank you! Now I can bake the cake for the young woman I know when she returns from studying abroad in Kenya. I'll be interested to hear what she has to say. It looks so beautiful. We may even have to bake it together. (She lost her mother last year to breast cancer and baking is something she wants to do together.)


    laurel91949@gmail.com

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  12. I like this twist on a typical banana cake or banana bread. I can't resist a glossy cookbook either!

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  13. This sounds amazing! Especially the banana whipped cream!!!

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  14. That's one yummy bite .. i can eat all day long! seriously ..

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  15. I want that banana whipped cream! What an incredible idea.

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  16. This cake sounds so good! I'm the same way with cook books, I could spend entire days reading them.

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  17. I too have an addiction to cookbooks! Just bought 3 last weekend. Hard to find places to store them all - LOL. Your cake looks amazing and love the crunchy goodie on top!

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  18. I love banana flavored desserts. This cake looks awesome!

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  19. The N'dizi alone is reason to drool over this! YUM!!

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  20. Holy moly! That looks insanely delicious. My son LOVES banana. He would love this! Hope you enjoyed every bite!

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  21. Gosh, it's always such a bummer when you see something this amazing when your craving a late night sweet treat. I guess I need to just make it. :)

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  22. This looks so good. I love learning about treats from around the world. I am the same with cookbooks. I read them like novels and dream about the dishes I am going to try one day.

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  23. An exciting new recipe, no doubt. A detour from the usual, chocolate/vanilla/ strawberry. It is different from the banana bread kind of recipe too.

    N'dizi makes a world of a difference to the whole affair.

    Thank you for sharing!!

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  24. I have a few lonely banans sitting on my kitchen counter and they have gotten quite ripe. Seems to be perfect for this cake recipe. That crunchy n'dizi looks like a tasty addition.

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  25. Those little crunchy ndizi's look just as good as the cake! How fun to "visit" different countries through cake :)

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  26. Wow this looks good. Definitely a go to recipe when you are craving bananas.

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  27. I'm N'dizi with delight at the thoughts of this fab cake. Love the topping.

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  28. This cake looks so delicious!! I would love to try that...and your King Cake. And that blueberry lemon pound cake. Oh man...I can see that I'm going to get in a lot of trouble with this blog.

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  29. I could just eat that N'Dizi all by itself! It sounds amazing!

    And thank you for your kind comments on my blog! I really do love coming and checkin' out what you and Liv have cookin'!

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  30. what a wonderful cake! and such a wonderful opportunity! congrats you must be having so much fun!

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  31. i have a cookbook addiction too :))
    your banana cake looks so good. I have some over ripe banana on the counter and was looking for new ideas. Crunchy N'dizi sounds like a winner. thanks for sharing Kim

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  32. That N'Dizi is pretty much the most amazing thing I've read about today! I'm all for banana cake - esp with banana whipped cream! Great job!

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  33. What an awesome sounding banana cake that is. This would be a slice of heaven for any banana lover. I love the N'Dizi on top, it simply sounds divine and could turn out to be pretty dangerous to have in the house (for my hips that is). Beautifully done and makes me really want to get my hands on this book!

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  34. My household goes through 3 bunches of bananas a week (that's what happens when you have a toddler and mom who love bananas). I love love making banana bread, and I love the option of having banana cake. Now, if only I could make sure to not eat all the bananas so that I could leave some for the cake!

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  35. Hey Kim! The texture of this cake looks so wonderful-perfect even. Ooh, and the N'Dizi topping sounds really buttery, salty and delicious. I've never seen anything like that before. I bet it's so good...:)

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  36. Hi Kim, this banana cake looks like my cup of tea;-) I like your very creative take on one of my favorites;-)

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  37. I so so so want this book now! Even more than before! I just made a wonderful banana bread but I need a banana cake recipe that is a bit different. I guess that if I don't win this giveaway I really need to buy this book! You did an amazing job on this! Please, post more!

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  38. Even if I don't win the giveaway, I think I need to add this cookbook to my collection. I'm making it my 2011 cooking goal to feature baked goods on my blog at least 3 times/month!

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  39. "steamed banana dipped into butter, sprinkled with chopped peanuts and then baked" I read this and my jaw literally dropped open, not kidding. This sounds FANTASTIC, I would like to eat them alone and any cake topped with them would rock my world. :) I am jealous that you got to review this book it sounds unique and definitely a good one to have on the bookshelf - I would love to virtually visit morocco or lebanon, love med food!

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  40. Those banana squares look absolutely gorgeous, esp. with the crunchy topping. Excellent!

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  41. Oh man, it sucked to read this first thing in the morning. It looks so good.

    Jason

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  42. Wow Wow Wow! Just the N'dizi by itself makes my mouth long for a bite. This cake looks amazing and the book sounds great, too. I am the same way with cookbooks, I curl up and go through from front to back. Heaven ;)

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  43. What a great topping love the combination with banana's!

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  44. Delicious cake. I wish I had a piece now that I am having a cup of tea. Thanks for sharing!

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