What do you do when you want to bake, need to bake, but to make a layer cake would be both (1) insane, because of the heat and (2) insane, because who is going to eat it on a random Tuesday? I've found a solution to my problem by making simple one layer cakes and topping them with easy coconut whipped cream. Recently I desperately needed chocolate and used this solution to make Nigella's chocolate olive oil cake (just sub flax eggs!). This week, I went that route with a brown sugar banana cake that I also added a layer of dulce de leche to—rich, without making you want to die. That's basically my baking motto.
I've made a lot of banana cake this summer because the heat in my kitchen has made them ripen to blackened baking perfection with a speed I've never before seen. I used half white (or rather, beige organic cane) sugar and half dark brown sugar to give this one more depth, which I knew would go great with the dulce de leche I'd been waiting weeks to make with Edward & Sons Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk.
In the past, I've made dulce de leche the very hard way: stirring cans of coconut milk as they slowly cooked to that beautiful caramel color. It was rewarding and gave me one of the best buttercreams I've ever made, but if folks are going to give the dairy-free their very own condensed milk cans to boil, I'm going to be all for this breakthrough.
I WILL ADMIT that four hours of boiling didn't make it creamy and gorgeous out of the can for me, which I think is the fault of my not having a deep enough pot to keep it both submerged and at a rolling boil. BUT I was able to fix this easily by just emptying the almost-dulce-de-leche into a small pot, bringing it to a boil, and whisking until it was the desired color and thickness. It was still a crazy shortcut, and knowing this I hope makes anyone who wants to try out this method with this specific condensed coconut milk feel more secure: Even if you fuck up a little bit, you can fix it and it'll be delicious.
Without further ado, here's your perfect dinner party cake.
Brown Sugar Banana Cake
Makes 1 9-inch cake
1 medium mashed banana, about 100 g
200 g flour
1 ¼ t baking soda
1 t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
83 g sugar
83 g dark brown sugar
73 g coconut oil (refined or virgin), melted
275 g almond milk
2 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract
1. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with coconut oil and place a parchment round in the bottom. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt the coconut oil over a double boiler. Whisk it, the mashed banana, almond milk, extracts, and sugars together in a bowl until well combined.
3. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until there are no lumps.
5. Pour the batter into the cake pan; give it a little drop on the counter to remove air bubbles; and put it in the oven.
6. It will take about 30-35 minutes to bake, but it will be a golden brown all the way around when it's done.
Dulce de Leche
1 can of sweetened condensed coconut milk
Remove the label. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the can in the water and set a timer for 4 hours. Make sure the can stays submerged. If once it cools and you open it up it's not a completely thick caramel, put it in a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, and whisk continuously and vigorously until it's very thick and creamy.
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 chilled can of coconut milk
Scoop out all the coconut cream (not the water!) into the bowl where you'll be whisking (can be a stand mixer). Whip it until it turns into a fluffy cream, then add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, and whip those in. It'll be a much faster process than with heavy cream!
Slather the dulce de leche atop your cooled cake, then spread the whipped cream on top of that. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes!