Banana Split Layer Cake

Triple-layer Strawberry Cake with Pineapple Buttercream Filling covered in Banana Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache dripping down the sides, topped by Swirls of Vanilla Buttercream, chopped Pecans, and Maraschino Cherries
I’m in love with this cake.  And there’s no shame in admitting it. 
The weather has been warming in Heidelberg last week and this week.  With the warmer weather, I think of summer…and when I think of summer, I think of the Dairy Queen.  Of course I don’t have access to the DQ, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use their iced milk treats as inspiration.
Aside from my personal favorite, the Peanut Buster Parfait, …. I adore the all-American Banana Split.  This quintessential dessert has been the spring-board for some amazing alternative delights.  For me, this means layer cake.
Like some of my other creations, this cake has about a dozen moving parts and required several recipe adaptations. That’s ok!  That’s part of the fun.
With so many flavors to choose from, I wasn’t quite sure which flavor belonged where.  At the same time, I can make this cake again and again…switching up the cake, filling, frosting, topping, etc.  For the initial effort, this design won the day.
Let’s start with the cake/sponge.
The Cake
I adapted my lemon cake recipe for this strawberry cake.  Using fresh strawberries, I pureed them and substituted it for the lemon juice and zest; I also used strawberry yogurt in lieu of lemon yogurt/sour cream…the flavor and texture of this cake is wonderful.  It was firm and could take the weight of additional layers plus buttercream.  Look for the recipe here.

The Filling
I’ve used pineapple buttercream before when I frosted a 7Up cake.  It was delicious then and it was delicious now.  I made the buttercream as usual, with about half the vanilla – then added an 8oz can of crushed pineapple, drained.  It was quite lovely and pairs with the strawberry cake beautifully.
While I was filling the layers, I added the last little bit of pineapple preserves.  It was just the ticket to amp up the pineapple flavor.  There was concern the layers would slip, but everything held steady together without a dowel.

The Frosting
Again, I whipped up a batch of Vanilla Buttercream with 1½ t. vanilla.  I added one whole banana, mashed to the buttercream after adding about half the powdered sugar.  After adding all the powdered sugar, I chose to add a little bit of yellow coloring.  It’s purely for appeal…banana appeal.  Hot tip: To prevent the banana from browning (oxidizing), add ¼ t. white vinegar to the mashed banana – stir thoroughly together before adding to buttercream.  The flavor is not compromised.
The buttercream whips up more like banana fluff – and is crazy delicious.  If there are any leftovers, consider making little Nilla Wafer and Banana Buttercream sandwiches – people will do whatever it takes to enjoy one of those fun bites.
The Chocolate
In order to get drippy ganache (maybe that’s a technical term), bring the ratio of heavy cream and dark chocolate to 1:1.  It works and is super yummy.  If it seems a bit too thick, put a bit of microwave magic on it to loosen it up.  Don’t be timid with this step… pour the chocolate and gently guide the drips if need be.

The Toppings
A final batch of Vanilla Buttercream was needed for the little swirls on top of the cake.  Next it was time for the chopped Pecans, and finally… maraschino cherries.  (I’m not a fan of these candied cherries, but it’s part of the banana split. Shrug.)

Construction went really well.  And I’m happy with the results. 

I did struggle with the photo shoot since I’ve recently switched out tables coupled with a narrowing of my photography space.  That aside, things worked out.

In the end, we gave the cake away to some friends; I hope they like it.
Thank goodness I’ve got a life partner that supports me in my caking endeavors and ideas.  Also, I’m grateful for sobriety – one day at a time.

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