2/20/2017

Walnut, Honey and Banana Loaf Cake

I love making loaf cakes and this is one of my favourites. It's a recipe from my Mum's old notebook, which I haven't looked at for ages. As is often the case, using up some ripe fruit was the reason for making it. It's such an easy one to make - an almost all-in-together type of cake.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                       Grease a 900g laof tin.

For the cake you need; 3 ripe bananas, mashed, 110g butter, 8 tbspn runny honey, 110g brown sugar, 1/2 tspn vanilla essence, 2 eggs, 1/4 tspn bicarb., 1 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn cinnamon. pinch salt, 180g plain flour, 45g oats and 150g chopped walnuts.

In a large bowl put the bananas, butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix together till combined thoroughly - you may have a few banana lumps, but that's ok. Add the flour and oats and mix with a wooden spoon, but don't over mix. Add about 3/4 of the walnuts and stir in gently.

Pour the batter into the tin then sprinkle the other walnuts on top.

Bake for 40-45 mins.

Cool in tin for 5 mins then serve warm with some butter and a drizzle of honey.



Have to confess that I forgot to sprinkle the rest of the walnuts over the top! It's a moist cake with a soft honey flavour. There's a a good contrast of textures and flavours with the background honey flavour, the crunchy walnuts and the soft banana pieces. A tasty teatime treat, and a good use for ripe bananas.








2/13/2017

Mocha Cake

When I go shopping I often have a coffee mocha in the local café, so decided to make a cake with those flavours - chocolate and coffee. Nothing too complicated, but hopefully, delicious.

I used dark chocolate and a little cocoa for a chocolate boost and some strong espresso coffee.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas4                                                     Grease and base line a 900g loaf tin.

In a bowl mix together 200g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 1 tbspn cocoa, pinch of salt and 200g caster sugar.

Melt 125g dark chocolate over simmering water or in the microwave then add 125g of chopped up butter and 150ml of espresso coffee and mix together till smooth.

Separate 3 eggs and add the yolks one at a time to the mixture. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then gently fold these into the batter. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then finish on a wire rack.

For the icing - 50ml strong coffee, 300g sieved icing sugar and 50g soft butter.

Beat the 3 ingredients together to make a paste then smooth over the cooled cake. Chill for about 2 hours before serving to allow the icing to set.



I roughed my icing up a bit with a fork as it didn't look too smooth! The cake had a great mocha flavour - maybe more coffee than chocolate, but delicious. It had a good texture and the cake contrasted well with the smooth coffee icing.

2/07/2017

Lemon Tiramisu

My family came yesterday and they love desserts, especially anything with lemon. I wanted to make something different from my usual lemon meringue or tart, so as I had a large packet of boudoir biscuits in the cupboard, decided to try and make a lemon tiramisu.
I found a recipe online, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted. I used both fresh lemons [from my tree in the greenhouse ] and lemon curd to give a good lemony flavour, as well as the small amount of Limoncello that was left in the bottle!

I used:

250g boudoir biscuits, 250g mascarpone, 2 lemons, 3 eggs, 100g caster sugar, 20cl whipping cream, 3 tbspn lemon curd and 4 tbspn Limoncello.

Cut one lemon in half and squeeze out the juice; mix this with 50g of the sugar and the Limoncello.
Zest the other lemon finely.
Whip the cream till it gets thick. 
Separate the eggs and beat the whites till firm peaks, then beat the yolks with the other 50g of sugar till the mixture is white. Add the mascarpone, lemon curd and lemon zest [keep a little bit to sprinkle over] then beat together to get a soft creamy mixture. 
Gently fold in the cream then the egg whites.
Cover a serving plate with some parchment paper. Dip half the sponge fingers in the Limoncello mixture then put them side by side on the plate. Cover these with half of the mascarpone mixture. Dip the rest of the fingers in the Limoncello, then put them side by side in another layer on top of the first.
Cover this with the rest of the mascarpone and smooth the top with a spatula.
Wrap with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.



My daughter took the photo, as you can guess! She works in the food industry so is very precise, hence the lovely square piece and the lemon slice! I must have some lessons from her! Oh, I sprinkled the zest on just before we ate it.
It had a really good lemon flavour, and the textures were good - soft sponge and creamy filling. I was very happy with the result, as were the family. Think it will become one of our family recipes.









1/30/2017

French Walnut Tart

I was shopping in Milton Keynes last week and came across a shop rather like the now sadly defunct Julian Graves. They had a special opening offer on walnuts, so I bought a large bag - nuts are good for you, anti-oxidents, omega 3 etc! I wanted to make something different to use some of them, and came across a recipe for a walnut tart.
It's from a tourist brochure I picked up somewhere in France, and this recipe, I was informed, is a speciality of the Périgord region. It brought back memories of when we lived in France, and my neighbour had a prolific walnut tree and would give my a huge carrier bag full. The only problem was you had to shell them all! At least the ones I bought were shell-free.

Preheat oven 200C/gas6               A tart dish about 23cm or a flan tin with a loose bottom.

For the shortcrust pastry -  125g flour, 75g butter, 25g caster sugar, 1 egg yolk, a pinch of salt and 25ml water
Make the pastry and line the tart dish or tin and put aside.

For the filling  - 500g walnuts, 150ml crème fraîche, 60g caster sugar, 1 egg and 2 tspn vanilla extract, icing sugar

Choose the best walnuts [you need to keep about half]  to decorate the tart, then put the others into a processor or blender and whizz to a powder. Add the crème fraîche, sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well.
Pour the mixture over the pastry and bake for 30 mins.
Take the tart out of the oven, decorate the top with the rest of the walnuts, sieve over some icing sugar and pop back into the oven for a minute or 2 for the sugar to melt.
Leave to cool.



I cooked my tart in a foil tart dish as I wanted to take it to a coffee afternoon. It was delicious - really nutty, and I loved the texture contrasts between the soft pastry, the cream filling and the crunch of the walnuts on top. Something different to try.






1/21/2017

Tarte Alsacienne

I love recipes using apples, and I made this tart for dessert when my children came last weekend. It's unlike the usual French apple tart, as it has cream in the filling with the apples.
It comes from a leaflet I picked up somewhere, several years ago, when we were in Alsace, and I've made it many times since.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5              
You need a large fluted and greased flan tin [preferably with a loose bottom] - 24-26cm.

For the pastry : 170g flour, 1 tbspn caster sugar, pinch salt, 125g cold butter cut into cubes and 2 tbspn cold water.
Rub the butter into the flour to which the sugar and salt have been added. Add the water and make into a ball. Cover in clingfilm and put into the fridge for about an hour.
Roll into a circle, and use the rolling pin to fit the pastry into the flan tin.

For the filling:
You need 4 apples  - I used Granny Smith, but you could use Golden Delicious or Braeburn, but not Bramleys, as they don't hold their shape. Peel and cut them into quarters, take out the core and pips and slice them carefully into neat slices. Spread them out evenly over the pastry.
Beat 1 whole egg and 1 yolk in a bowl with 6 tbspn sugar, 20cl of double cream or crème fraîche and 1 tspn vanilla extract. Pour this over the apples and bake for 50-55 mins till golden.


You can, of course, use your favourite recipe for shortcrust pastry with a little sugar added. I like the textures of this tart - the crunchy pastry, the soft fruit mixed with a lovely creamy layer.
 I have made it with Bramleys, just to try them, and they became mushy instead of keeping the pretty slices.




1/16/2017

Crumble Brownies with Pears

My family love Brownies and I usually make this recipe from Suelle's great blog 'Mainly Baking', but have a look there and you'll be spoilt for choice for Brownie recipes.
I wanted to try something different and, as often happens, I had a couple of pieces of fruit in the bowl that needed using - this time pears. So I decided to make a brownie base, then a layer of chopped pears and finally a crumble topping.
I didn't use Suelle's basic recipe this time, but one a friend gave me.

For the brownie part  you need - 200g dark chocolate, 50g flour plus 1 tspn baking powder, 150g butter [melted], 3 eggs and 125g caster sugar 


For the crumble - 75g flour, 80g caster sugar and 120g soft butter


You also need 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into cubes.


Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Grease a brownie tin - mine is about 25 x 20 cm [ or 10" x 8"]


Brownies - melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over simmering water. beat the sugar and eggs together then add the chocolate and butter. fold in the flour with baking powder.

Spoon the batter into the brownie tin and bake for 15 mins.
Make the crumble - rub the butter into the flour and stir in the sugar.
Take the brownies out of the oven, sprinkle the chopped pears over then top with the crumble.
Put back in the oven for 20 mins till the crumble is golden.



We loved these, although they didn't have quite squidgy texture that a normal brownie has -  probably because they are baked for longer. Lovely contrasts of texture - the soft brownie then the moist fruit and finally the crunchy topping. They won't replace my favourite brownies, but they are great as an alternative.

1/09/2017

Blue Cheese and Nut Palmiers

This is a very quick and simple appetizer  I made for New year's Eve. I used Roquefort cheese as that's what I'd bought, but Blue Stilton, Bleu d'Auvergne etc would do just as well.

You need 1 pack puff pastry, 200g blue cheese, 1 egg and some chopped nuts - I used a mixture of walnuts and hazelnuts whizzed in a blender, but not too small.

Roll out the pastry; beat the egg and cheese together and spread over the pastry. Sprinkle over the chopped nuts. Roll up the 2 long sides towards the middle then cut into 2cm slices.

Bake on a tray lined with baking paper for about 15mins at 200C/gas6.


Not a wonderful photo, but only had a chance to take one before they all disappeared! A tasty appetiser, and one which you could easily vary - change the cheese, add herbs, add chopped up bacon or ham. The list is endless.
I liked the combination of the blue cheese and nuts - different textures, the nuts adding a bit of crunch.
Must have a problem with my fan oven, as sometimes things nearest the back of the oven get too brown, as with this palmier!