Little or big

Well. Now that that cat’s out of the bag, let’s get back to it, shall we? You may recall that once upon a time, approximately 26 months ago, I gave birth to a little lump of a thing bearing a strong resemblance to her father, yes, but even more so, to E.T. Despite this, I couldn't keep my eyes off of her – though I must have at least blinked, because one day in September, she woke up looking like this.

She tells knock-knock jokes now, made-up ones with questionable punch lines, and presses dough into tart pans. She’s into rocks, and band aids, and construction vehicles, and if you come for dinner, she’ll surprise you at the elevator and insist that you collapse in shock.

Mia bunked with us for part of the night last week, a rare occurrence nowadays. I woke up with a small cheek stacked on top of mine and an arm curled gently around my neck. She was stroking my hair, whispering the lyrics to Baa Baa Black Sheep. You know, the one about the master, the dame, and the little boy who lives “down the drain.” Yeah. I like her.

Anyway, this kid turned two on September 9. She requested waffles for the morning of her birthday, and for her party the following week, granola, eggs, and coconut. (She’s a breakfast girl! Yessss.) So I made this, and these, and a double recipe of Dorie Greenspan’s banana-coconut cake, enough for one layer cake spackled white with cream cheese frosting, and a couple dozen cupcakes, pink and purple, per the lady’s request.

“Both,” a word and concept Mia’s just recently nailed down, came in very handy that day.

And again last night, when I asked her if she’s little or big. “Both,” she said.


p.s. Big thanks to the talented M.E. Francis for the photos in this post.

p.p.s. Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Orange who?
Orange JUICE! Haaaahahahaah

Banana-Coconut Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Frosting from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen

Dorie Greenspan calls this cake “Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake” because of the recipe’s flexibility. I made it as written, below, but you can substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar, and milk, buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt for the coconut milk, and all will be fine. Leave out the shredded coconut, if it’s not your thing. Leave in the rum, if it is your thing. (I skipped it because of the pregnancy thing and the tableful-of-toddlers thing, though that was probably overly cautious. There are only 2 tablespoons in the entire cake.)

The frosting recipe was enough to cover both the layer cake and 24 cupcakes, with a bit still to spare! If you’re making a single a layer cake or one batch of cupcakes, halve the frosting recipe.

For the cake:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
About 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (enough for 1½ - 1¾ cups)
½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (careful not to use one of those coconut milk “drinks”)
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted

For the frosting:
3 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Bake the cakes:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9x2-inch round cake pans (or two standard-size cupcake pans).

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then add the sugars and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then the vanilla and the rum (if using.)

Turn the speed to low and add the bananas. (Don’t worry if the batter curdles.) Add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately, adding the flour mixture in 3 portions and the coconut milk in 2. (Begin and end with the dry.) Mix until everything is just incorporated, then fold in the coconut with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans (or among the cupcake tins).

Bake 35-40 minutes for the cake pans, 25-30 minutes for cupcakes. The cakes are done when they are golden brown and start to pull away from the sides of their pans, and a tester inserted into their centers comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks and let cool to room temperature.

Make the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric mixer), cream together the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat until smooth.

Spread the frosting on top and along the sides of one of the cake layers, stack the second layer on top, and finish the job. To frost cupcakes, load the frosting into a Ziploc bag, cut one of the corners, and pipe.

Yield: One frosted 9-inch round double layer cake or about 24 cupcakes.


Ileana said...

She is beautiful! Happy birthday, Mia! People who love breakfast are the best.

olga said...

happy belated to Mia!! and yay for cake and breakfast waffles - a winning combo.

Christine Cummings said...

I love that Mia has a pink wristwatch.

Jess said...

Ileana, Olga - Thanks! And yes, I agree. Breakfast people are the best people.

Christine - Ha, me too! She's been wristwatch-obsessed for a while now. My sister gave her that one for her birthday. Needless to say, she loves it.

Shanna said...

She's a doll. An absolute doll. If I had a kid that cute, I'd want to eat her right up!!

Katie said...

I love this post, and I love Mia, and those pictures (what gems!) and also banana cake.

I especially love that Mia tells knock-knock jokes! We watched an episode of Louie the other night where Louie is talking about how his favorite jokes come from his kids because, unlike all the comedians he's watched over the years, he never has any idea of what to expect from his kids, so they are always the funniest. Kids are awesome.


Amy said...

Happy bday always, doll baby. Pop and I loved spending time with you …

Sini │ my blue and white kitchen said...

She is such a sweet little girl! Those blue eyes are amazing. Happy Birthday, Mia!

Jenn said...

Motherhood suits you, Jess!

Emma said...

"Down the drain" is hilarious! I'm going to sing it that way from now on. Cake looks great!

Amanda Niehaus said...

Congratulations Momma! On little and big birthdays :) Axx

Jess said...

Shanna - Yes, her cheeks make an excellent afternoon snack!

Katie - It's true! We've got our very own comedy show here 24/7. xo.

Amy - Come baaaaaack!

Sini - On behalf of Mia, thank you!

Jenn - Aw, thanks. I think so, too -- most of the time, anyway...

Emma - It's a much more exciting lyric that way, isn't it? Adds some much-needed grit to the song, I think.

Amanda - Thank you, my dear!

anna @ annamayeveryday said...

What a lovely post and that looks like a lovely cake too.

littleomnivore said...

Stumbled upon your blog via Orangette. Love your recipes and your writing :)


Kasey said...

She is beautiful!! Ahhh! 2! I can't believe it. Congratulations! Happy Thanksgiving to you :)

Pia said...

She's so beautiful. A big, beyond-belated birthday wish for the littlebig girl. Hugs, Mia :)

summer said...

It's been quite some time since I've visited your space. Congratulations on the big news and what a lovely post! I can't believe your baby is already 2! I've been following your blog for quite some time now and remember when you had just had her. She's beautiful! How fun that she'll be a big sister soon!