Birthday cake, morning after (a.k.a. breakfast).
She spent time in jail, was savaged by Cybil Shepard in the made-for-TV movie, and looks pretty freakin' ridiculous on the October cover of her eponymous magazine. Yet...the woman knows how to bake something fierce, and for that, Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook remains my go-to resource for birthdays and other celebrations.
This time it was her Banana Caramel Cake that caught my eye. The cake layers are a richer version of banana bread and dead simple to make. The filling inbetween is also quite easy and lots of fun--you make a quick caramel on the stove, just sugar and butter, and then saute some banana slices until brown. Cutting your slices on the thicker side helps, though no worries if they break, you can piece them together when you put them on the cake.
I deviated from Queen Martha on the frosting--as I did on Meyer Lemon Cake I made for J's birthday a few years ago. Instead of mascarpone, I substituted a simple cream cheese frosting: 16 ounces of cream cheese, approximately 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla, all mixed together. Also, instead of futzing with a separate batch of caramel to decorate, I just drizzled some of the leftover sauce from the caramelized bananas across the top.
In addition to the lemon cake, I've made her pear bundt cake (that's it, up above, in my blog's header), cheesecake thumbprints, savory caraway cheese crisps, chocolate shortbread fingers, apple spice layer cake, apple crumb pie, cherry slab pie, honey whole wheat bread, cranberry pecan rye bread, parkerhouse rolls...and...whew...I think that's it...and every one was delicious. She may be crazy, but woman knows her baked goods.