Today we made walnut blondies for eighty people, chestnut génoise and ginger loaf for sixty, plus cherry almond biscotti for one-ten. Karmapa’s visit this year is the first time we’re cooking for so many guests at the Lama house. We debated about hiring a catering company, but we wanted to offer our own labor of love. Even with the incredible changes to the kitchen, it’s still a family kitchen and not a professional one. All the materials and cooking spaces are far away from each other, and the oven is the size of a postage stamp. This means preparing in advance.
Everything that can be made ahead without sacrificing the integrity of what we’re serving is being made now. Pastries, savory tarts, salad dressing, even a couple main dishes. We’ve set up a camping kitchen with a giant bunsen burner on the terrace and we shuttle things back and forth from the Lama House to the oven in the main kitchen.
It’s hectic, but it’s joyful. We get the pleasure of working all together without the direct stress that comes with being in the heat of a major event. It’s tiring, but there’s an end in sight–final make-ahead dish is scheduled for the 26th of June. After that we have to start deep-cleaning. So it’s all for a good cause, and I’m often astounded by the reserves of energy we unearth when we are committed to what we are working for.
In the meantime, I’m still trying to figure out when I can squeeze in a little pastry for my homies around here. This cake was to celebrate the last day of our Bodhi Path studies on Wednesday. It’s surprisingly light, almost refreshing if you don’t think too much about the cream, and really easy to make with all the glamour of a layer cake!
I got a request from the collective of July birthday folks for “real American layer cake,” like wedding-style with tiers. Fulfilling such a request will require much more effort for the necessary glamour points, hehe. If you’re looking to impress without spending four days in the kitchen, this is the way to go. As for me and my July birthday buddies…we’ll just see how that goes!
Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Layer Cake
Elaborated from Smitten Kitchen’s essential chocolate buckwheat cake
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering pan
5.4 ounces (150 grams) bittersweet dark chocolate
6 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (35 grams or 1 1/4 ounces) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup (60 grams or 1 ounce) almond meal
1 ½ cups (380 mL) heavy whipping cream
2 bananas, cut in thin slices
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F (160˚ C). Line two 9-inch (23 cm) pans with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside to cool slightly. While the chocolate cools, place the eggs in a large bowl or stand mixer and whip them until frothy. Add the sugar in a slow stream while beating and continue until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy. A beater lifted up should leave a ribbon trail in the batter. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Fold in the chocolate mix, followed by the buckwheat flour and almond meal.
Divide evenly between the two pans. Bake for twenty minutes or until the cake springs back lightly when touched. Allow to cool completely.
Beat the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Cut the bananas into thin slices.
Place one cake layer on the serving dish. Spread half the whipped cream over it. Spread half of the banana slices evenly over the cream. Drizzle one tablespoon of honey over the bananas. If your honey is too thick, heat it slightly in a small saucepan. Place the second cake layer on top of the bananas. Spread the remaining whipped cream and bananas on top and drizzle the second tablespoon of honey over the bananas. Serve immediately (before the bananas get brown, yuck!)