Buttermilk spice cake with bourbon-banana compote and toasted marshmallows

…or Having a Laugh (Are You Having a Laugh?)

So, we all know that I love to cook, and have demonstrated a fair amount of competence in doing so. Proficiency, even, modestly put. Baking, however, is not my forte. Sure, my galettes are passable, but this is because galettes are definitively rustic. Cakes are not rustic at all; contrarily, they are to be pretty, delicate things, almost too precious to eat. Slicing into one is to feel like committing a violation.

My cakes are pretty ugly. Remember the chocolate cake with pecan-coconut frosting I baked for my dad’s birthday back in May? Sure, everything tasted great – I mean, it’s pretty hard to fuck up chocolate cake from a box and a sack of coconut mixed with sweetened, condensed milk and chopped nuts. But you almost ate it because you felt sorry for it, like you were putting it out of its misery.

This cake had a face only a mother could love. But oh god, it tasted like a Moon Pie and a piece of banana bread got shit-faced on fine Kentucky bourbon and cranked out an illegitimate love child (this is a good thing, to those of you with blank looks on your faces).

It started out a harmless buttermilk spice cake, a recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts (a vestige from my crunchier days). I was baking this cake for dinner guests, to go with crawfish-smoked pork cheek etoufee, collard greens and cornbread, so I wanted to bring it (down)home with buttery bananas sauteed with bourbon and a little crushed hazelnut praline. Kind of like Bananas Foster on cake. Oh, god, was it ever going to blow their minds. Then, though, and maybe it was the Lynchburg lemonades thinking, I said, “Hey, whydunwe put summadem lil’ marshmallows on there and TORCH the shit,” which was met with emphatic agreement from our dinner guests. This, dolls, is what happened next.

“Noo, it needs some sliced bananas. I’m finnuh brulee them. Watch this!” And I layered on sliced bananas, sprinkled sugar on top, and torched the fuck out of that poor cake.

Obviously, the whipped cream melted all over the damn place, making it an even tragic abomination of dessert. It was like a bad acid trip.

Let’s summarize: it tasted like inebriation incarnate (I think that’s good?), looked a hot mess (not such a good thing), and it’ll be a few more months before I attempt to bake anything other than biscuits or cornbread again. If there are any Daring Bakers out there reading, would you hook a sista up and make this into a pretty cake?