Sunday, 11 December 2011

Banana Bread

I left work the other day armed with a dozen over ripe bananas as we were going to be closed for the weekend and "they would be walking out on their own" by Monday. So, what should I do with these blackened over-banana-smelling fruits? BANANA BREAD!

This recipe can be easily halved (just use four bananas, not 3 and a half)- just I had lots of them.

200g white bread flour
200g wholemeal bread flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
150g butter
200g caster sugar
30g soft dark brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
7 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs

-Set the oven to gas 5/200C. Line 2 loaf tins/ 1 loaf tin and a tray of mini loaves.
-sift the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in to a large bowl.
-cream the butter, zest and sugars together.
-mash the banana with a fork then mix in the eggs. Mix the banana-egg concoction in to the sugar ingredients and mix well. Pour this in to the dry ingredients and combine quickly and thoroughly.
- portion out in to the tins
-Place on the top shelf/top and middle and immediately turn the oven to 4/180C. Bake for 50 mins checking after 40. Test with a knife. It may need a further 10 mins. 

Tea, please!

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Mmm...christmassy and almondy
I decided I wanted to make something Chritmassy that would fill the flat with the smells and warmth of the yule tide. Seeing as I can barely resist anything with almonds, stollen won.
I've wanted to make this for a while as the recipe has been hanging around in the back of one of my favourite baking books (Baking Martha Day). I altered the recipe ever so slightly from the original- a few more fruits and spices here, a little more rum there. It went pretty well- tasted lovely! But caught in the oven at the last moment- I shall check on it 5 minutes earlier next time (I was preoccupied with a mug of mulled wine...).
This makes 1 loaf. It's a long list but it's worth it.

150g sultanas
4 tblsp dark rum
375 bread flour (white)
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (about 6 green pods, bashed and outer bit discarded)
1 tsp cinnamon 
2 7g sachets of fast action yeast
129ml lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
1 m egg, lightly beaten
70g candied peel 
50g blanched almonds, chopped
melted butter for brushing
icing sugar for dusting

115g almonds, ground
50g caster sugar
50g icing sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
about 1/2 an egg, beaten
drop of almond extract

-Turn the oven on to gas 4/180C. Put the sultanas in to heat proof bowl and place in the hot oven for 5 mins. Pour over the rum and set aside. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and spices in to a large bowl.
-mix the milk and yeast together. Pour in to the flour. Mix a little of the flour from around the edge of the puddle to form a thick batter. Sprinkle a little more of the flour over the top. Cover with some oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 mins to sponge.
-Add the melted butter and egg and mix to a soft dough. Knead on a floured worktop until smooth and elastic- 10 mins should do it. Oil the bowl, put the dough back in and cover with the cling film again- and leave to rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
- meanwhile! mix the almonds, extract, caster sugar, icing sugar, lemon juice and enough egg to make a paste. Wrap it up in cling film like a sausage and set aside.
- Knock back the dough, pat out in to a rectangle about 1" thick and sprinkle over the rummy fruits, candied peel and almonds. Knead and fold gently to mix in the fruit and nuts.
- Roll the dough in to an oval, with the centre slightly thinner than the edges. Place the almond sausage in the centre, adjusting to fit. Fold the dough over the paste so that it encloses it but does not reach over to the other edge (i.e not like a pasty). Press down to seal and twist the ends a bit. 
-Place the dough on to an oiled baking sheet. Cover with film and LEAVE TO RISE AGAIN! for about an hour, until doubled in size. 
-NOW! preheat the oven to gas 6/200C.Bake for 30 minutes -CHECK AFTER 25! It should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Brush the top with melted butter and dust with icing sugar.

Delicious for breakfast!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas Tree Biscuit Decorations

Finally got to use my pretty baubles
It's nearly Christmas! Hooray! I wanted to have a full day of Christmas baking- but alas! I ran out of time and only managed these tree decs and some macarons. Another day. These biscuits are from the December 2011 issue of Good Food (with a tiny flavour addition) and are really easy. I chose them for their sturdiness. Hopefully they will still be good for munching on over the coming days.

This list made 16 and there's still half of the mixture in the freezer.
225g butter, soft
225g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zezt of a lemon
freshly grated cinnamon
450g strong white flour (or plain)
silver balls, edible glitter, water icing (quite thick), wool

- cream together the butter and sugar and add the egg, flavours and a pinch of salt and mix.
-Add the flour gradually and mix until smooth. You may need to do this in a kneading action rather than a stirring one.
-tip out on to the work surface and shape in to a ball and fridge for half an hour.
-preheat the oven to gas 4/ 180C and line a few baking sheets. Roll the dough to 1/2 cm thick and stamp out with some cutters. Make a hole in the tops with a chopstick, or whatever, and bake for 12 minutes. Leave to cool, decorate, string up and hang on the tree!

Lemon and Chocolate macarons

The lemon one's right at the back!

So! It was my boyfriend's birthday this week and I made him an array of food for the occasion. We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, lavender and honey pannacotta and blackberries for dessert and a coconut Genoese with lime French butter cream for the birthday cake (among some savoury eats, too!). I made Hugh F-W's sponge and substituted half the flour with whizzed up dessicated coconut, and brushed the cakes with coconut syrup. I made the French butter cream from this post, here, but used lime instead of lemon. It was pretty tasty! It didn't have quite as good a rise as a normal un-coconutty one, but it was slightly chewy and fragrant. This adventure landed me with some leftover egg whites. And leftover cream from the ganache filled macaron attempt 3 it was!

I used the same recipe and method as my previous post (this one)but split the mixture in two. I flavoured one half with lemon zest and coloured it yellow, whilst the other was spiked with 40g of cocoa powder. Next time I would prefer to go really chocolatey by adding in melted chocolate and taking a little more time over the whole process. 
This time I didn't bother to leave them out for any specific length of time, aside from the ones that were waiting to get baked- and I don't think it made that much of a difference, if any.
I tried to make slightly smaller ones this time, which was a disaster on two accounts: 1, they didn't come out as smooth and uniforms as my last attempt and 2, I ate more.
They are filled with a ganache made by boiling cream and whisking in an equal amount of dark chocolate.
See! There's the lemon one!

ALSO! NB!!!! Handy hint to help next time: Only use the top shelf of the oven and bake one tray at a time. The first batch I did, I put two in at once. The middle shelf ones didn't cook properly, hence the lack of lemony goods (I also ate a lot of them).