Cooking class: Toffee Banana Family Tree Cake

A creative (and delicious) way to show off your family tree at the next reunion.

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Celebrate your next reunion with a cake displaying your family tree. To get it to the picnic, cover it with a cake dome, or place toothpicks at 2-inch (5 cm) intervals around top edge and drape with plastic wrap, then transport it in a cooler.

Ingredients:
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) butter, softened
2 cups (500 mL) packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups (500 mL) mashed bananas (about 4)
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
3-1/3 cups (825 mL) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) buttermilk
1 cup (250 mL) toffee bits

Butter Icing:
1-2/3 cups (400 mL) butter, softened
5-2/3 cups (1.4 L) icing sugar
3 tbsp (50 mL) 10% cream or milk
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla
Wilton Paste Food Colouring: buttercup yellow; brown; red red; royal blue; and leaf green

Directions:
Click here for step-by-step images and instructions.

1. Grease sides of 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan; line bottom with parchment paper. In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down side of bowl after each. Beat in bananas and vanilla.
• In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of buttermilk. Scrape into prepared pan; smooth top.
• Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Place rack on cake; turn over and lift off pan. Peel off paper; let cool. (Make-ahead: Wrap in plastic wrap and store for up to 24 hours or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

2. Butter Icing: In large bowl, beat butter until fluffy; beat in icing sugar, 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time. Add cream and vanilla; beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Tint 3-1/2cups (875 mL) yellow; 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown, adding dab of red; 1/4 cup (50 mL) blue; and remaining icing green.

3. Place cake on tray. With serrated knife, cut in half horizontally. Spread cut side of bottom with 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) yellow icing; sprinkle with toffee bits. Replace top; spread remaining yellow on top and sides.

4. With toothpick, outline leafy area of tree; spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) of the green icing. With toothpick, outline trunk and branches. Using piping bag fitted with plain tip (#4 or 5), pipe horizon of brown icing. Pipe remaining brown inside tree, moving in lines that resemble bark.

5. Using piping bag fitted with #1 plain tip, pipe blue names on branches. Using piping bag fitted with #67 leaf tip, pipe green leaves by placing tip on branches and squeezing bag to fan out icing from branch. Stop squeezing; pull tip up to a point. Change to plain tip; pipe grass along horizon line.

Makes 24 to 32 servings.

Per each of 32 servings: about 374 cal, 3 g pro, 20 g total fat (12 g sat. fat), 49 g carb, 1 g fibre, 76 mg chol, 282 mg sodium. % RDI: 4% calcium, 8% iron, 18% vit A, 2% vit C, 10% folate.

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