Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Dust the bottom and sides with flour, tap out any excess. Set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl; reserve. In a medium bowl, combine bananas, vanilla extract, and buttermilk; stir to combine. Set aside. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and shortening. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce mixer speed to low; drizzle in eggs, mixing until batter is no longer slick, about 2 minutes. Slowly add reserved flour mixture to egg mixture, alternating with banana mixture, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour. Scrape down sides of bowl. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until light golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Invert pans to remove cakes; return cakes to wire rack top side-up to cool completely. To assemble cake, remove parchment paper from bottoms of cakes. Using a serrated knife, slice each layer in half horizontally. Place 1 sliced layer cut side-up on an 8-inch cake round. Spread with 2/3 cup of Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting. Repeat this process, stacking the second and third layers on the first. Place fourth layer on top, cut side-down. Frost outside of cake with remaining frosting. Transfer cake to a serving plate, and garnish with Peanut Butter Fudge cut into alphabet shapes. Serve at room temperature.
Prepare an ice bath. Melt chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat, add butter and whisk until melted. Add peanut butter and milk, and whisk to combine. Place frosting over ice bath, and whisk until it reaches a spreading consistency. Use immediately. If frosting becomes too thick, place over a pot of simmering water for a few seconds, and whisk until smooth. Yield: about 4 cups
Lightly butter an 8 by 8 by 2-inch pan and line bottom with parchment paper or plastic wrap; set aside. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine corn syrup, both sugars, milk, salt, and baking soda. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Insert a candy thermometer. Cook, stirring frequently, until temperature registers 236 degrees F (just below soft-ball stage); don't overcook. Immediately remove saucepan from heat, stir in the chilled butter, then the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Set aside in a cool, dry place, and let fudge set. Before the fudge cools completely, cut into desired shapes. Set shapes aside to cool completely. Store fudge in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Source: 26 Piece Alphabet Cookie Cutters $11.99 (W2304-1521) New York Cake and Baking Distributors 56 West 22nd Street New York, NY 10010 212-675-2253 or 800-942-253 Fax: 212-675-7099
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