If one was to name the two constant sweets in the lives of my brother, three cousins and I, they would be wheels of steel cookies and the icing used above: sea foam. Apparently the recipe comes from our Great-Grandma and I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t a feature of family birthday parties. As we’ve gotten older we’ve all started requesting different cakes (I like lemon, my brother gets a cheesecake, my one cousin loves this chocolate banana coffee cake, etc.) but the chocolate/sea foam combo is still a standby for large gatherings (triple the recipe for 9×13 slab cakes!) and always for Mom’s birthday. So it’s a particular delight that the icing has taken off with at least one of my friends here who, despite strenuous pleas from others for peanut butter cake, requested it for her birthday cake.
While the cake recipe underneath has fluctuated (although never straying far, it’s either chocolate or chocolate-banana), sea foam and its attendant graham crackers have carried on unchanged. The recipe for the brown sugar version is simple and not amenable to alteration except to double. I think it’s one of the easier icings out there, but then again I’ve been making it since elementary school so I’ve had practice. I’ve also included the white sugar version, which has its own charms (my uncle uses it exclusively) and can be dyed pretty colours or made with different kinds of extracts (peppermint is pretty good). If I want to decorate with the brown sugar kind I’ll sometimes mix a bit with cocoa for a darker brown colour.
I’ve included the family recipe for banana chocolate cake at the bottom of this post. You can also try this one from Joy of Baking that we’ve made on previous occasions (see photo below).
Sea Foam Icing (Brown Sugar)
Enough for 2 layer 9-inch cake. 1 1/2 recipe for 3 layer or for extra icing for graham crackers.
7 Minute Frosting (White Sugar)
Enough for 2 or 3 layer 9-inch cake1 1/2 cups white sugar 2 egg whites 1/2 cup water 1 tablespoon light corn syrup dash of salt 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 1. Put everything in a medium sized metal/glass bowl or double boiler. Beat for 1 minute using hand-held mixer. 2. Place over pot of simmering water and beat for 7 minutes on high. Aim for stiff peaks. 3. Remove from heat and beat for another minute. 4. Use immediately. Doesn’t store well past one day refrigerated in an air-tight container. Can be easily dyed with food colouring or flavoured with extracts like peppermint instead of vanilla. Excellent in graham wafer sandwiches.
Chocolate Banana Cake
Makes a 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake2/3 cup milk 1 teaspoon vinegar 3/4 cup butter, softened 1 2/3 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 1/4 cups bananas, pureed 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups flour 3/4 cups cocoa 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Grease two 8- or 9-inch round pans and line with waxed paper. 2. Combine milk and vinegar and set aside. 3. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. Add bananas and vanilla and mix. 4. In small bowl sift together (or combine if you’re lazy) flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. 5. Add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 additions to creamed mixture (flour, milk, flour). Mix just until combined. 6. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. NOTE: This does not make very tall layers. If you want a fancy birthday cake, I would suggest you 1 1/2 the recipe to make three layers.