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CULINARY SOS

Napa Takes the Cake

October 28, 1998

DEAR SOS: I recently had dinner at Tra Vigne in Napa, Calif., where my husband and I enjoyed the banana walnut cake with maple mascarpone cream sauce. Can you persuade the chef to part with the recipe?

CHRISTI GARVIN

Coto de Caza

DEAR CHRISTI: So happy you asked. Gerry Moss, the pastry chef at Tra Vigne, was happy to share his recipe. He serves the cake with berries, mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) and a drizzle of thistle honey. However, you can use any garnish you wish.

TRA VIGNE BANANA WALNUT CAKE

SPICE TOPPING

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

CAKE

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

4 bananas

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash nutmeg or cloves to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup pastry flour

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

SPICE TOPPING

Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.

CAKE

Cream butter using paddle attachment of electric mixer, until pale and fluffy with no lumps.

Combine granulated and brown sugars and add slowly to butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating thoroughly after each addition.

Puree bananas in blender or food processor until liquefied. Add 2 cups of puree to batter and blend well.

Sift together baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves, all-purpose and pastry flours and poppy seeds. Add walnuts. Fold flour mixture into creamed mixture on low speed until well blended.

Line 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Butter paper. Pour batter into greased pan. Sprinkle with Spice Topping. Bake at 325 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes.

Cool cake in baking pan, then loosen sides with knife and invert onto wire rack or serving platter.

6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings:

535 calories; 800 mg sodium; 100 mg cholesterol; 33 grams fat; 55 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 1.45 grams fiber.

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