Tag Archives: Baking

Banana Bread

This banana bread will not only take care of those extra bananas you have in the fruit bowl that are too far brown to eat, but it will also give you a delicious, moist cake that can be eaten alone or with a cup of tea. It doesn’t even need any butter or icing.

With bananas, there are three types of people in the world: those who like them a bit too ripe, those who’ll only eat them when they’re still a little green on the outside but firm and slightly sour on the inside, and those who don’t like bananas at all. Whichever type you are (I’m in the first camp), most people like banana bread, so it’s a great bake to have in the tin in case someone pops round for a cup of tea. It’s best eaten fresh on the first day, but will keep well for a few days before it starts to go stale.

This banana loaf is has a slightly caramel top, which is my favourite part, and it can be slightly gooey or firm in the middle, depending how long you cook it. It does contain eggs, so I’d errr on the side of more well baked if you’re feeding the elderly, young or pregnant. Baking anything in a loaf tin can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to your oven, so you’re at less risk of underbaking it if you leave it in the oven closer to the full hour and a quarter than the minimum hour suggested in the recipe.

Anything with bananas in it can give a false reading if you use the old skewer test* to check if it’s done, as the mashed banana can look very like raw cake batter and vice versa. I’ve always been more of a fan of the ‘prod test’ where you gently poke the cake with your fingertip at its deepest point – if it’s slightly firm and springy it should be ready, and if you leave it in the tin until completely cool the residual heat will keep it cooking a little.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 100g salted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanila bean paste
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 bananas (or 4 if they're particularly small)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250g self-raising flour

Instructions

  1. Grab a loaf tin, butter it and line with greaseproof paper. If you don't have a loaf tin, you can use a couple of cake tins, but it should only need 20 minutes or so in the oven if you use shallower tins. Preheat the oven to 160c fan or 170c conventional.
  2. Weigh out the butter, which should ideally be at room temperature so it will combine better with the other ingredients. To the same bowl, add the caster sugar.
  3. Using an electric hand mixer if you have one or a good wooden spoon if you don't, mix the butter and sugar together for at least a few minutes, until they are well combined, soft and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and whisk up again, but keep going until the mixture is very airy, pale and mousse. It's the best way of getting lots of air in to give you a nice light cake.
  5. Mash up the bananas and add them to the mixture along with the vanilla and salt.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Finally, add the flour and mis this in, but this time you only want to mix for as long as it takes for the ingredients to be just combined.
  8. If you over mix, the cake will come out heavy and stodgy as you'll start to develop the gluten in the flour.
  9. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, scoop the mixture into the prepared tin or tins. Make sure there is a relatively even amount of cake batter across the tin, but don't worry about levelling it - the oven will sort that out.
  10. Now slide the filled tin into the middle of the oven and leave to bake for at least an hour, to an hour and a quarter until rise, brown and cooked through.
  11. When it's cool, slice up and enjoy!
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If you like baking with bananas, why not try our Chocolate Banana Muffins, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread or Flourless Banana Pancakes?

*The skewer test is where you use a skewer or cake tester (or very thin, sharp knife) to test if a cake is baked all the way through by pushing said skewer into the deepest part of the cake, all the way to the bottom of the tin, then pulling it out again. If there’s batter on the skewer when you pull it out, it needs more time in the oven,but if it comes out clean it should be ok. With banana bread, the banana pulp can look like cake batter on the skewer even when the cake is ready.

 

Campfire Brownies

The colder and darker it gets, the more I hanker for a mug of something hot and a slice of something sticky, and these campfire brownies are just the ticket.  Dark, sticky and just sweet enough, these guys will beat smores hands down.  I baked these on Bonfire Night instead of my usual Bonfire Night Cupcakes, and they went down rather too well.  They’re not great for the waistline but the dog walking will make up for that (we hope!).

There seem to be recipes for brownies everywhere these days, in all shapes, colours and varieties, some an improvement, some, well, not so much, but trust me when I say that these really are quite delightful (if I do say so myself).  I haven’t called them smores brownies because a) Starbucks has done that b) we don’t live in America and c) they don’t have a solid cracker base, but the toasted marshmallow on top gives just enough of that campfire vibe.

Campfire Brownies

Campfire Brownies

Ingredients

  • 175g salted butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 75g plain flour
  • 7 chocolate digestives
  • mini or regular marshmallows, enough to cover the surface area of the tin

Instructions

  1. Place a medium pyrex bowl over a small saucepan (get the two sized so the bowl will balance inside the rim of the saucepan, so it can be suspended over water) and add some boiling eater to the base of the saucepan (not so full that it touches the bottom of the bowl but no so empty that it could boil dry). Weigh the butter and chocolate into the bowl and set over the simmering water, which should be set over a low to medium heat on the hob. Stir gently until both have melted and combined, then carefully remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. While that's cooling, line and grease a 9 inch square loose bottomed cake pan and break up 8 chocolate digestives into small uneven pieces (but not crumbs!). They're going to be mixed into the brownie mixture to add another texture so think of them like large chocolate chips or nuts.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. When the chocolate mixture has cooled, fold it into the eggs and sugar.
  5. Add the cocoa powder and mix this in well, followed by the flour. Once the flour is in, mix until just combined, then mix in the broken digestives. Don't over mix!
  6. Scoop into the tin then top with as many mini or full size marshmallows as you fancy, pressing them down slightly into the chocolate mixture to make sure they'll combine.
  7. Pop the tray into the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until there's no wobble when you shake the pan a little.
  8. Allow to cool then remove the while lot from the pan as a slab, either by loosening the loose bottom or just by lifting out the greaseproof paper. Cut into squares and enjoy with a mug of tea and coffee!
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Why don’t you check out some more of our tasty bakes like these Honey and Lemon Madeleines or these Chewy Oat and Sultana Cookies?

Luscious Lemon Cake

We celebrated Charles’ 29th birthday at the beginning of this month, so I made him this luscious lemon cake.  Of course, it was pretty difficult to keep it as a surprise with him popping in and out of the kitchen every now and then, and he had already spotted the homemade lemon curd in the fridge, even although I took a jar to his Mum to disguise the true reason for whipping up a batch a couple of days previously.  Not to worry – he knew there would be a cake of sorts so the fact that he knew it was a lemon cake was neither here nor there.  Besides, he had asked for a ‘healthy’ cake after we had spent the previous week working our way through his Dad’s ridiculously chocolatey birthday cake.

Anyway, it was a success all round after a few hairy moments during the decoration stage when the hot, muggy day combined with the heat of the dishwasher drying caused the icing to become a bit too slidey on occasion!  I decided to decorate it with loads of pick’n’mix jelly sweets and Haribo because jelly sweets are just about the only treat Charles has been allowing himself (apart from birthday cake, of course) since we both started eating a bit more healthily in preparation for our wedding (and in preparation for being super old).  I thought his Dad would think it was all a bit childish, but it raised a few laughs and smiles, after all, you can’t have a sweetie birthday cake once you’re in your thirties now can you?  This cake would still be great for general eating, and doesn’t really need any decoration, so you could leave off the sweeties and instead get creative with piping, texturising your icing or perhaps adding some candied lemon peel or edible flowers to make it a little prettier.  It’s effectively a moist lemon drizzle cake sandwiched with lemon curd and lemon curd buttercream, and decorated with the same lemon buttercream.  Delicious.  And perfect for summer.

Luscious Lemon Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake

Ingredients

    For the sponge:
  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp double cream or milk, or 2 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of two lemons
  • For the syrup:
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • juice of 2 lemons (so two whole lemons for the whole recipe in addition to the lemon curd!)
  • For the lemon curd buttercream:
  • 150g salted butter at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp double cream or half as much of your substitute
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Around half a jar of fresh lemon curd, although it's easy to get carried away!

Instructions

  1. Start off by preheating an oven to 160c fan or 170c non-fan assisted, and line yourself a couple of sandwich tins. Grab a large mixing bowl and a digital scale and that's you ready to go.
  2. Weigh out the butter and give it a good mix for a couple of minutes with an electric hand mixer to start it off on the road to becoming creamy and fluffy.
  3. Add the sugar and repeat the mixing process, continuing for a good 3-5 minutes on high power until the mixture is really creamy and fluffy and full of air. This is such an important step if you want a light and fluffy cake.
  4. Next, add the eggs, and repeat the process with the hand mixer. The introduction of the eggs should give you another chance to introduce some serious air, and you should only stop once it's pale coloured and almost frothy in texture.
  5. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, and quickly whisk in.
  6. The last stage in making your sponge batter is to weigh in the flour and measure out the cream or crème fraîche and add these to the mixture.
  7. This time, however, you want to introduce your electric whisk relatively gently and for as little time as possible, as this stage is just to combine the flour and moisture - overworking the batter will develop the gluten in the flour and give you a tough, heavy sponge, undoing all the good work you did with the butter, sugar and eggs. Whisk until just combined (although don't stop before it is combined or you might end up with pockets of flour in the finished cake).
  8. Your cake batter is ready for the oven! Divide it as evenly as possible between your greased and lined cake pans - I find a silicone spatula to be really helpful to scrape out the batter relatively efficiently making sure you don't waste too much to the washing up bowl. Even out the surfaces, but don't move it around too much or you could overwork the batter.
  9. Slide the cake pans into the oven and cook for around 20 minutes or until golden on the outside, starting to shrink from the sides of the pans and just springy when lightly pressed on top. Try not to open the oven until they look done as you could risk the sponges collapsing if the middles are still quite liquid.
  10. While your sponges are baking, you can get the syrup ready, as this needs to be poured over the sponges while they're still warm.
  11. Cut the lemons in half and thoroughly juice them, discarding any seeds.
  12. Grab a small saucepan and weigh out the sugar and water then add the lemon juice and stir it all together over a low heat on the hob. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and allow the mixture to boil and reduce down for a few minutes. You want a syrupy consistency, so don't be scared to keep it simmering if you think it's too thin - it's going to be poured over the sponge so you want it to catch and seep through, not soak immediately through the cake.
  13. When the syrup and sponges are both ready, leaving the sponges in the cake pans, carefully divide the syrup between the two sponges, pouring it slowly over the surface of both sponges, being careful not to over-saturate any one are of the sponge. Now leave them alone until completely cool.
  14. In a clean bowl, weigh out the butter for the lemon curd buttercream and give it a whizz up with the whisk. Add the cream and whisk again. The wetter and creamier you can get it the easier (and less messy!) it will be to add in the icing sugar.
  15. Now add the icing sugar and beat this in well, trying not to cover everything in a cloud of icing sugar dust!
  16. Add the lemon curd and mix again, and that's the buttercream ready for the cake.
  17. When the sponges are nice and cold, turn them out onto a plate or cake board, turning the first sponge upside down and centring it on whatever you're serving the finished cake up on. Peel off the greaseproof paper circle and check it's fully cool underneath before proceeding.
  18. Spread a layer of buttercream onto the bottom sponge, a few mm thick.
  19. Then add a layer of lemon curd, bearing in mind that if this is too thick the weight of the top sponge might squeeze it out.
  20. Now repeat the turning out process with the other sponge, placing it upside down on top of the first sponge. Using a pallette knife, ice the cake all over, as evenly as you can manage.
  21. And that's you ready to decorate!
  22. As I mentioned earlier, I decorated Charles' cake with lots of jelly sweets....
  23. ...and some birthday candles.
  24. But it will be delicious either way!
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Classic Victoria Sandwich

I feel like I’ve been apologising a lot for being AWOL and here we go again. With 38 days left to our wedding, things have stepped it up a gear in terms of the amount of time all of this organisation takes and I’ve been having a pretty rotten time at work so I’m finding myself ready to curl up in front of Netflix at 9pm, feeling guilty for not blogging.

I’ve engaged my brain today to share this classic recipe with you, which I threw together on Friday night for a great aunt and uncle coming to visit yesterday. You can’t offer someone a cup of tea without having some home baking to go with it! So here it is. It’s so quick and simple as well as using basic ingredients, so it’s great for throwing together at the last minute – you don’t even have to make a buttercream unless you really want to.  If you’re less than traditional, add a layer of sweetened whipped cream to make it extra special – just remember to store it in the fridge.  Eat it within the first couple of days for best results – go on, have another slice!

You will need:

225g soft butter (at room temperature)

225g golden caster sugar

4 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

225g self-raising flour

2 tbsp double cream or milk

1/2 jar raspberry or strawberry jam

Dusting of icing sugar

Buttery cake recipe

1.Weigh out the butter into a large mixing bowl – it’s easier to cream if you cube it up when you weigh it into the bowl and set aside while you line your cake tine.  I like to do it in this order so you can use the butter paper to grease the tins but you could of course line the tins before you start measuring. 

Pre-heat the oven to 160c fan.

Lined Cake Tins

2. Line two 9 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper and butter – I’ve already prepared a step-by-step guide to help with this.
Can you use white caster sugar instead of golden caster sugar?

2. Give the butter a good old mix up with your electric mixer/stand mixer/wooden spoon until soft and creamy.  Add the caster sugar and whisk that it for a few minutes until soft, creamy and a little airy.  I like to use golden caster sugar for plain sponges in particular as I think it gives a better flavour, but you can substitute it for ordinary white caster sugar.
How to Bake a cake

3.Crack the eggs and mix in, one at a time.  Adding them gradually will help the ingredients to combine better.  Once they’re all in, whisk together for a few minutes until the mixture is really light and airy.  This step is so important to give you a light sponge.  Remember – there isn’t much to hide behind with a Victoria sponge!

Cake Recipe

4. Add the vanilla and mix into the batter as it stands.  You can use vanilla extract or essence if you like (both are economical) but I prefer the natural taste of vanilla bean paste, which also gives you those lovely vanilla specks without having to faff around with pods.  It’s quite expensive at around £6.99 a bottle, but it lasts a long time if you only use half a teaspoon at a time.  Plus you can buy it in the supermarket now – you don’t have to take a trip to Lakeland.

How to Add Flour to a Cake

5.  Add the flour and carefully whisk or fold in until just combined.  I actually stop when there are a few flecks of flour left, add the cream and continue on my merry way to prevent over-mixing.  If you over mix you’re at risk of knocking the air out at the same time as developing the gluten in the flour, all in all giving you a flat, heavy cake.

6. And that’s it nearly ready for the oven. Divide evenly between the two sandwich tins – by eye or weight – and spread around so it’s relatively even, although the oven will even things out. 

7. Place in the middle of the oven – both on the same shelf if you can manage it – and bake for around 20 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch when gently pressed.

Victoria sponge recipe

8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before removing from the pans so that the tins are cool enough to touch and so that the sponges have started to firm up and contract. You can leave them until completely cool if you’d prefer – I just like to get them out of the tins to help them cool faster as I usually bake in the evening.
how to get a cake out of a tin

9. Carefully run a small, sharp knife between the sponge and the tin and carefully turn onto a plate. Give the tin a little tap and the cake should come out easily if cool enough and if the tin has been well-lined and greased. 

Repeat with the other sponge (turning the second one back up the right way so it doesn’t get squashed on the top) and allow both to cool until cold to the touch. I like to put the less aesthetically pleasing sponge upside down on the plate or board I’ll be using and keep the prettier one for the top as there’s no icing to hide behind.

The smell will be glorious, by the way. 

raspberry jam

10. When completely cool, spread the bottom sponge with a generous layer of good quality strawberry or raspberry jam, leaving a narrow border to allow the jam to spread under the weight of the top layer without squeezing out everywhere. 
how to fill a cake with jam11. Carefully put the top on.  how to layer a cake

12. Gently dust the top with icing sugar, take a photo, and give (and eat) generously.

Victoria Sandwich Cake

If you’re planning to store, leave it for another half hour to avoid any heat that’s still in the sponge from developing into condensation and giving you a soggy top before putting in a tin or covering with cling film.

When My Exams Are Over….

This time next week, I’ll have finished my dreaded, life stealing CII Personal Finance exams, trying to forget about the impending results as I attempt to become a Chartered Financial Planner (funnily enough the results are due on the day of the firm’s Christmas party). I’ve been working on these exams for 5 years now, alongside my full-time job, though I’ve been qualified as a Financial Adviser for 3 of those. Now it’s time to try to secure the holy grail “Chartered” title by completing the Advanced Diploma, even though I’m going to stay well and truly behind my desk in the back office, there’s more and more pressure on us technical kids to be as qualified as we possibly can. And if you want to get anywhere, you have to work at it, right?

  
It’s boring. It’s unexciting. And it’s not easy. The course materials are dry. The text is quite literally grey. And they make it as difficult as they can for you to pass because the materials and exam sittings go for over £100 a pop for each module. Because it’s so dry and so difficult, the process has been stealing a lot of my free time. And, finally, after two 3-hour exams next week, I should be free. Unless I fail.

When I struggle to concentrate, I find my mind drifting to all the things I could be doing with my time, so I thought I’d share some of my autumn/winter plans with you, even if it’s just to stop them swimming around my mind! It’s quite therapeutic to think about all the things you’re looking forward to!

  
1. Cook more! At the beginning of the year, I started this blog to give me the motivation to keep trying new recipes. And it was going really really well, until my evenings became too squashed up to really let me think about my grocery list and take the time to approach things in a chilled and creative way. So back to the kitchen! 

2. Have a clear out. I’ve been trying to systematically tidy my flat every few months or so, this drawer one evening, that cupboard on a Sunday afternoon, and so on, but I just haven’t had the time over the last few months, so I’ve really just been keeping the place clean and tidy in plain sight. If I pass these exams, my study materials are hitting the recycling, my clothes are going to be thinned out and my junk is going in the bin. It’s going to take some work, but I’m really looking forward to the calmness of the results.

  
3. Take up Yoga. I used to take yoga classes when I was but a girl, but it fizzled out fairly quickly when my auntie got bored of taking me and I’ve had a mild inclination to start again ever since. I’ve never really been one for exercise, so yoga suited me down to the ground, but now I’m a bit fitter and into regularly pushing myself, I think it might be time to start again, especially as my Blogilates routines and leaving me a little stiff in the late evenings and mornings. I’ve been doing Blogilates for about 2 months now and I really think it’s doing wonders for my strength…we’ll see if it survives the long-term! Anyway, I’ve discovered Yoga with Adriene, a YouTuber who offers free Yoga “practice” (as she calls it). There are beginners tutorials, foundations to the trickier moves and also a 30 day series which I think I might try. She also has a couple of early morning routines as well as a bedtime routine, which is where I might start. I think there are other classes you can pay for, but you can’t really go wrong with this taster, which looks to require about 30 minutes a day. 

   
4. Read. I love reading. Adore it. Especially in the autumn and winter when it’s so cold outside, but so snug and cosy inside. Sadly, there just isn’t the time when you have two tricky exams to cram for. I actually got so excited about the prospect of the pile of books waiting for me that I came vey close to a Busted style jump looking in the window of WH Smith the other day when I remembered I’d get my hobby back. Bliss, bliss, bliss.

  
5. Plan my wedding. Yeah, I should probably get on to that.

  
6. Crafting and Sewing. My sewing machine is feeling neglected. And who doesn’t love a Christmas craft?!

7. Give more time to friends and family. While the positive result of frantic studying is that I really don’t have time to watch Strictly with my Nan, I really need to be less miserable about giving up my time… It’s just so precious when you work full-time and have lots of other things going on. 

8. Go on holiday! Hopefully with a blog to follow. Don’t worry; I plan to schedule a few to fill the gap!

Soda Bread (or bread for impatient people)

Sometimes you want decent bread, made at home, but you don’t have the best part of an afternoon to make it. Well, help is at hand!

This takes about 40 minutes to make and is absolutely delicious with soup, salad and cold meat, pâté or butter and jam.   

You will need:

170g self-raising flour

170g wholemeal flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 

290ml buttermilk

  
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c making sure the shelf is low enough to fit the loaf in the oven! 

 
  2. Weigh out the flours, bicarb and salt and mix together.  
  3. Add in the buttermilk. Hint: the carton I bought was 284ml but it gave me 290. Mr Brooker suggested adding a dollop of yoghurt but I didn’t need to in the end. It’s a good plan if you’re running short though.  
  4. Mix everything together with your hands, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl for any spare flour. Do not over knead! 
  5. Remember that this is an unyeasted bread so please don’t over work it. You just need to knead it until it has formed a consistent dough. Roll into a ball, flatten and place on a floured baking sheet or stone. (Hilariously I just thought about using a baking stone…ah well…next time). I just added baking parchment to make cleaning up easier – it’s not essential.  
  6. Cut a cross into the bread, fairly deep so it will bloom out nicely. This is easiest if you make 4 separate cuts.  
  7. Sprinkle the top with flour (I added a sprinkle of rolled oats as well but that’s optional) and bake for around 30 minutes until hollow sounding when you tap it on the bottom. I’d advise leaving it to cool for 10 minutes or so to let the residual heat move through the bread and prevent doughiness. 
   Enjoy fresh, or toast the next day.

Blueberry Bakewells

These are a nice little treat and a great way to use up blueberries as you only need 125g. Try as I might, raw blueberries really don’t do anything for me, but in muffins or a pie they come to life. I made these yesterday to fulfil a colleague’s request, as he asked for blueberry muffins or cherry bakewells so I thought these felt like a good compromise. They do take a bit of time to make though as you’ll need to put the pastry in the fridge to chill at various points in the process but it’s a great recipe to fit in around other Sunday cooking. 

  
For the pastry, you will need: 

100g, chilled salted butter,cubed

200g plain flour

40g icing sugar

1 egg

For the blueberry filling:

125g blueberries

1 tbsp caster sugar

Squeeze of lemon juice

For the frangipane:

55g salted butter, softened to room temperature

55g caster sugar

40g ground almonds

15g plain flour

1 large egg

  
1. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients for the pastry until they resemble even crumbs. 

  
2. Beat the egg then mix into the crumbed mixture. Gently knead into a dough but don’t overwork it to keep the pastry nice and short. Then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. 

  
3. In the mean time, put the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and set on a gentle heat, stirring every now and then. 

  
4. Once the blueberries have started to produce juice, you might want to help the berries to pop by pushing down on them with a spoon. Keep cooking until the mixture resembles a jam, thick and shiny.

5. Allow to cool and then push through a sieve. This may take some time if you want to get as much juice out as possible whilst keeping the skins separate. Then set aside. 

  
6. Roll it the chilled pastry as thin as you dare – the thinner the better. If it’s a warm day, you may want to fold up the rolled out pastry and put it back in the fridge before cutting out circles. If you do refrigerate it, roll it out again once you take it out to smooth out any creases.

7. Grease a 12-well muffin tin. Use a round cutter or large glass if you’re struggling, to cut out 12 rounds to form the bases of the pastry cases. You may need to gather the remnants together and re-roll to get the full 12. You may also need to re hill the dough if it becomes unworkable. Place these into the base of each well. 

8. Cut inch-wide strips from the remaining pastry to form the sides of the cases, merging it carefully with the edges of the bases and at the join.

  
9. Gently prick the bases with a fork then put back in the fridge to chill for half an hour. 

10. Just before you take the cases back out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 160C fan and then make your frangipane. Do this by creaming together the butter and sugar, mixing in the egg and folding in the flour and ground almonds.

11. Remove the pastry cases from the fridge and spoon the blueberry filling into the base of each case, dividing as evenly as possible. 

 
12. Do the same with the frangipane, being careful not to mix this into the blueberry too much, but it is difficult and requires patience!

  13. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the pastry and topping are golden. 

  Carefully remove from the tin (a sharp knife may help) and sprinkle with icing sugar.

  
Enjoy with a cup of tea! 

  

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I had a project meeting to attend in Edinburgb last week, and one of my colleagues requested that I should supply some sort of baked breakfast (he has requested cherry bakewells for next month so watch this space!). Recently, the company has been providing us with weekly fresh fruit boxes, meaning there is often a glut left at the end of the week. This time, there were a gazillion ripe bananas left over. They were just crying out to be baked into something. Banana bread seemed too obvious, and wouldn’t travel as well, so I set about scratching my head and looking through my books. These were the result (courtesy of Nigella), however, if I had my time again I would have added a cup of chocolate chips to the batter. I contemplated it at the time but decided that Nigella knows best!  

 You will need:

3 ripe bananas

125ml vegetable oil

2 eggs

100g soft light brown sugar

225g plain flour

45g cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Muffin tin and 12 muffin cases 

Optional: 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

  
1. Mash the bananas and mix with sugar and oil until thick and creamy. 

2. Crack in the eggs and mix again until you have incorporated plenty of air. 

3. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and fold in until just combined. 

4. Optional – add in the chocolate chips and gently mix. 

  
5. Place the muffin cases in the tray and divide the mixture as evenly as you can between them. I usually add a tablespoon to each case and then divide the rest of the mixture between the cases as evenly as possible i.e. half a tablespoon at a time until all used up. 

6. Bake at 190C fan for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch. 

  

Coconut Cream Cake

Hey everyone, sorry this is a bit late. I’ve been in a training session at a hotel all day today (where the heating was turned up way too high) and ended up being seated next to the Directors at lunch so no break for me! At least I’m going on holiday in 10 days, but more about that soon. In the meantime…..cake!

This is a beautiful, light, not too sweet cake, which is perfect with a cup of Earl Grey, and a lovely break from chocolate cake, cupcakes, cookies……not that they aren’t great in their own way! Plus, you get to use up that tin of coconut cream that has been lolling about in your cupboard for awhile.

A tip for using coconut cream – if you live somewhere cold or it’s winter, you may find that your coconut cream has split into solid parts and watery parts due to the cold temperatures. To fix this, gently heat it in a saucepan, stirring to combine, then take it off the heat and allow it to cool a little before using it.

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You will need:

175g softened butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons coconut cream

175g self-raising flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

50g desiccated coconut

For the icing and filling:

100g softened butter

3-4 tbs coconut cream

280g icing (confectioners’) sugar

jam to fill the cake, I like the sharpness of raspberry

50g or so desiccated coconut

glitter sugar, I used gold (optional)

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1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Prepare 2 sandwich tins by lining with greaseproof paper and greasing with butter.

2. Cream the butter with a hand/standing mixer until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream again. Mix in the coconut cream and beat.

3. Crack in the eggs and beat until the mixture is full of air and almost mousse-like. Add the coconut and mix in.

4. Fold in the flour and baking powder, gently, trying to keep the air in, and stop mixing as soon as the flour has been properly combined with the mixture.

5. Divined the mixture between the tins and bake for 15-20 mins, or until golden and only just springy to the touch, with the cake coming away from the edges. Allow to cool a little then turn out, peeling the paper from the bases. It’s a good idea to run a paring knife around the edge to stop sticking and breaking first. Set aside to cool completely.

6. Best the softened butter until lighter and fluffy. Add the coconut cream and icing sugar (bring careful not to let it puff out all over you and the kitchen) and cream until combined and fluffy.

7. Once the cakes have cooled, place one upside down on a plate or board. Spread a good layer of jam on it then sandwich the other layer on top.

8. Spread the coconut icing over the top and sides of the cake with a knife or spoon then decorate with sprinklings of coconut and glitter sugar.

Chewy Oat and Sultana Cookies

There are some days when you just have the urge to bake cookies -whether it’s for joy of loading up butter with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, for the guilty pleasure of licking raw dough off the spoon, or the utterly delightful smell of them baking – nothing can match them.  I recently made a batch of my famous chocolate chunk cookies for a colleague’s birthday (and I’m afraid that recipe is staying a secret for now!) but I knew I had oats and sultanas in the cupboard, so a take on oatmeal raisin it was to be.  I got a decent batch out of this recipe (though not quite the 24 she suggests), though I kept a small amount of the dough back to put in the freezer for emergencies (you know exactly what I mean!).  This isn’t my own creation, but has been adapted from the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction, which I found I had to play around with a bit.  they are simple and delicious, but I’ll report back another time as to how well they froze!

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You will need:

230g salted butter, softened to room temperature

150g light brown sugar

50g dark brown sugar

50g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (more on this beautiful ingredient another day – use extract if you don’t have paste, but Sally uses   1tablespoon and assures us that it’s correct)

1 tablespoon golden syrup (Sally uses molasses, but I have a horrendous dislike of molasses)

190g plain flour (all-purpose, America)

1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

240g rolled oats

190g sultanas or raisins

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1. Cream the butter with your electric beater/mixer until soft and fluffy.

2. Add sugar, syrup and vanilla and beat thoroughly.

3. Add the eggs and mix again until combined.

4. Add cinnamon and oats, mix.

5. Add flour and bicarb, mix until combined, then add the sultanas/raisins. It’s best to use an electric mixer as the dough will be very dense and sticky by this point.

6. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour.

7. Preheat the oven to 170C fan/190C non-fan and prepare baking sheets/trays with silicone parchment or grease-proof paper. 2 trays at a time is probably enough per bake depending on the size of your oven, so this stage can be much more time consuming than making the dough.

8. Roll balls of dough slightly smaller than a golf ball (but it depends how large you want your cookies to be) and then flatten a little so they look more like small hockey pucks – this helps to speed up the baking and make sure they’ll be cooked through. Try to make sure your sultanas are fairly evenly distributed between the cookies.

9. Spread 3 – 4 cookies on each tray and bake for about 10 minutes, or until brown round the edges and cooked through. If the centre is still transparent, they’ll need a few more minutes. Allow to cool (they’ll harden a little) then enjoy! (They should still be chewy on the inside and will keep for around a week in an airtight container.