Spiced Banana Cake with Butterscotch icing

Yet another loaf cake to add to my repertoire - well the recipe used a 900g loaf tin, but I wanted a round cake so used a 20cm springform tin. Inspiration for the cake was a few very ripe bananas in the fruit bowl. I rarely use alcohol in cakes, but this time I did what the recipe said, and soaked the sultanas in the rum.
I wanted to try a different topping so I used a butterscotch one I'd wanted to try for ages - I know it has a lot of sugar in it, but for a special occasion..........!

100g sultanas
50ml rum
185g plain flour
2 tspn baking powder
½ tspn bicarb
pinch salt
2 tspn cinnamon - I used 3 tspns
125g soft unsalted butter
150g light soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 small very ripe bananas
1 tspn vanilla extract

For the icing:
75g golden caster sugar
15g butter
50g light muscovado sugar
1 tbspn golden syrup
75ml double cream

In a small pan pour the rum over the sultanas and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to soak.

Preheat the oven 170C/150C fan/Gas 3.
Grease and line a 20cm springform tin or a 900g loaf tin

Put flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon in large bowl and mix well.
In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer till light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one by one, then stir in the mashed bananas, sultanas, rum and the vanilla extract.
Fold in the flour and pour into the tin.
Bake for 1-1¼ hours until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing - simmer all the ingredients over a low heat for 6-8 mins. Stir to make a smooth sauce, then leave to cool and thicken, and pour over the cooled cake.

I liked the rum flavoured sultanas in the cake, but I did find the icing rather too sweet, even for my palate. The friends I made it for however, loved it. The cake had a good crumb, as Mr Hollywood would say, and was moist, with a good banana flavour which wasn't overwhelmed by the rum sultanas. Will make it as a loaf cake next time, without the rum and the sweet icing. Enjoyed the cinnamon in the background, which gave the cake that extra something.

ps I have a new photographer - OH has bought a new camera and will take the photos for me!


Rhubarb crumble muffins

I've posted muffin recipes several times, adapting my favourite recipe. I made a rhubarb tart yesterday, and had enough rhubarb left to make some muffins.
I wanted to make something different, but having looked online and not been inspired, I decided to adapt my old faithful recipe  We love rhubarb crumble, so muffins with rhubarb and crumble sound ideal. I usually make the crumble with half oats and half flour, and I use oil instead of butter in the muffins. A healthier option! I used soft light brown sugar instead of my usual caster.

For the crumble topping:

50g butter,
50g plain flour
25g porridge oats
50g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the muffins:

225g self-raising flour
100g soft light brown sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
250ml milk
120ml sunflower or rapeseed oil
200g rhubarb, sliced lengthways and chopped
2 tbspn cold water
50g caster sugar
icing sugar [opt]

Preheat oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

 Crumble - rub the butter into the plain flour and oats till mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and cinnamon, mix again and set aside.

 Muffins - sift the flour into a bowl, add the brown sugar and mix.
Whisk together the egg, milk and sunflower oil.
In another bowl mix the chopped rhubarb with the caster sugar and the cold water.
Add the egg, milk and oil to the flour and brown sugar. Add the rhubarb mixture and stir to mix. Don't over mix.
Divide between the muffin cases, and then sprinkle over the crumble mix, pressing it gently into place.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle over some icing sugar.

These were delicious - lovely and moist from the rhubarb and not too sweet. Home made muffins are a world away from the shop-bought ones. They have a different texture, and are not so dry, but some people prefer the shop ones - my older daughter is one of these. The shop ones look very tempting, and are much bigger than the home-made ones - but the taste is, imho, greatly inferior.


Pecan and Honey Loaf

I still have some pecans to use up from the bag I bought a while ago from the sadly- no- longer Julian Graves shop. I love making loaf cakes, so this is my variation on a recipe that had walnuts in it. Had a pot of local honey in the cupboard which needed using up, so added 1 tbspn to the cake mixture and also put 1 tbspn in the icing.

190g butter
190g caster sugar
190g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
3 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 tbspn runny honey
60g chopped nuts - pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts

Icing - icing sugar, lemon juice and 1 tbspn of honey - depends how thick you want your icing to be  as to how much icing sugar and lemon juice you use!

Preheat oven 170C/gas 3
Grease a 900g loaf tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer till white and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each one.

Fold in the flour gently, a bit at a time.
Add the vanilla and 1 tbspn of honey, then mix in the chopped nuts by hand.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about an hour, till risen and golden.
Cool on a wire rack, and when cold, spoon over some icing made with icing sugar, lemon juice and the other tbspn of honey.

Lovely subtle honey flavour in the background, enhanced by the icing. Good texture, moist, and think I prefer pecans to walnuts. A useful recipe to have, as it can be played around with to give new flavours.


Buttermilk and rhubarb cake

Rhubarb is one of my favourite things to eat, so when I saw some lovely and pink, it made my day. We need a bit of colour in this dreary month! I didn't want to make a crumble, so thought about a cake. I'd seen this recipe ages ago on this site Taste of Home, so decided to have a go at changing the cups to grams and to make the cake.

100g rhubarb cut into small chunks
25g + 150g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 tspn vanilla essence
175g plain/all purpose flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
180ml buttermilk
Brown sugar for the topping

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Put the rhubarb in a bowl with 25g of sugar and set aside.
Cream together the butter and the rest of the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat in well. Add the vanilla essence.
Sift all the dry ingredients together into a big bowl. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and fold into the mixture. Follow with half the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the rest of the buttermilk and the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix gently after each addition, but don't overmix. Finally fold in the rhubarb.
Pour into your tin, sprinkle the top with brown sugar and bake for 30 - 40 minutes till golden brown.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before putting on a wire rack.

It's a delicious cake - nice and moist, and the tangy buttermilk works well with the tart rhubarb and the vanilla. The brown sugar gives it a nice crunch on top. I think the recipe would work well with other fruit like raspberries, cranberries or cherries. It's one to be added to my recipe folder to make again.

Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few Fr...