Indian Banana Yoghurt Cake

I wanted to make something different and this recipe fitted the bill. It was given to one of our friends when they were staying in an hotel in Mumbai and is supposed to be a good ending to a spicy meal.
I've made yoghurt cake before, such as the one using a yoghurt pot as a measure, but this is completely different; for one thing it uses ghee, clarified butter. There's a big Indian community locally so I was able to find it in one of the Indian shops, but I think I've also seen it in the supermarket.You can make your own - heat double the amount of butter you need and pour it into a dish. Allow it to cool for 15mins then carefully pour off the clear golden liquid on top - this is the ghee. You don't need the milk solids underneath.
The cake has an icing made with sour cream and icing sugar. I made a few changes to the recipe as I don't like dessicated coconut, which was used to coat the sides of the cake tin after they'd been greased. The leftovers were added to the cake mixture -I didn't do this, but I did toast some shredded coconut, which I also found in the Indian shop, and used it to decorate the top of the cake.
Here's the recipe - I don't know the name of the hotel B got it from, but thank you to them!

125g ghee
160g caster sugar
40g brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 medium bananas, very ripe
200g thick plain yoghurt
250g sr flour
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn mixed spice
200g sour cream or creme fraiche
100g icing sugar
50g toasted shredded coconut to decorate [opt]

preheat oven 190C/gas5
23cm springform cake tin - greased and base lined

Beat the ghee and sugars together till creamy then add the eggs one at a time, beating well.
Mash the bananas and add to the mixture with the yoghurt, flour and spices. Stir well to mix together.
Spoon into the tin and level the top.
Bake for 45-55 mins till firm and springy.
leave to cool in the tin for 15mins then turn out onto a wire rack.
For the icing - mix the sour cream and icing sugar together till it's thick and spreadable, then spread over the top of the cake and sprinkle on the shredded coconut.

This is a very dense and rich cake, so cut it into small slices. It keeps well in an airtight tin.
I loved the texture, but found it rather sweet; I think Indian desserts are often very sweet, so would use less sugar if I made it again. The banana makes the cake moist, as does the yoghurt. The shredded coconut was a good addition, and gave it another texture. A cake with a difference to try, but maybe only for a special occasion.
To make the cake exactly as the recipe said, you also need 80g of toasted dessicated coconut. When you've greased the cake tin you pour in the coconut and tip the tin around to coat the sides. Tip out the what's left and add it to the cake batter.


Jenny's Peach Tart

My friend Jenny came to stay recently, and as usual, brought me a few recipes she thought I'd like. We've always exchanged recipes, and her cheesecake is legendary in my family.
I have to say that I cheated a bit, as I used tinned peaches because I couldn't find any ripe ones in the shops; it still tasted great. It's very simple - peaches in frangipane. You can use bought pastry too. Jenny said that it tastes better if you grind whole almonds, instead of buying ground almonds ready done. It didn't take long to whizz them in the food processor.

                           400g shortcrust pastry [can use butter JusRol if you're feeling lazy]
                            200g whole blanched almonds
                            150g caster sugar
                            125g  unsalted butter
                            2  eggs
                            5 peaches, skins removed and halved (or you can use tinned - 10 halves!]
                            5tbspn apricot jam
                             icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed tin

 Line the tin with the pastry, leaving edges overlapping and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Whizz the almonds in a food processor till they look like coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside. 
Beat butter and sugar together till light and fluffy, then add the eggs and almonds. Mix together.
Don't put it in the fridge or you'll never be able to spread it on the pastry! 

 Line the chilled pastry with foil and beans, and blind bake for 20 minutes. 
Trim off the overhanging pastry. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/ gas 2. 

Add the almond filling and arrange the peaches on top.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, till golden brown. 
Melt the apricot jam in a saucepan and brush over the top of the tart, then dust with icing sugar. 
Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

I love the texture of frangipane - the soft almond mixture, then the contrast with the peaches and the crunch of the pastry. This would work with other fruit like plums, apricots or pears, but the fruit needs to be able to hold it's shape when cooked, so soft fruit wouldn't be any good. Another idea would be to make individual tartlets.  Suelle from Mainly Baking blog made some lovely gooseberry frangipane tartlets. Have a look here. Oh, my idea of not using soft fruit isn't valid!
I have a lovely fluted tartlet tin, so think I'll make some tartlets using a different fruit, which I'd slice before adding to the frangipane mixture.


Garden time

A few photos from my tiny urban garden. We've tried to pack a lot into it, and our veg are doing well in Grow Bags in the greenhouse. This year we're growing 5 different types of tomatoes, French beans, peppers  various types of salad, peppers and chillies.
My OH has built 2 large planters and one is full of herbs with a climbing rose growing up the bag on trellis, and the other has flowers, with another rose climbing at the back.

                             We have lots of pots around, and this one has a pretty azalea I bought earlier this year.

The climbing rose was here when we moved in, so we planted a clematis and this year it's been beautiful, growing up into the rose.

This rose is our farewell gift from our lovely French neighbours. We planted it in a pot, and now it's still in its pot but we've cut out the base so its roots can go down into the ground. It has a wonderful perfume.

I'm really pleased with these petunias I bought at my local supermarket. They look great in my French blue pots either side of the front door.

 Another pot we brought back from France was our lemon tree; it overwinters in the greenhouse and has several fruits on it, but they take ages to turn lemon!

I love the flowers on this clematis.It was a gift from my sil when we moved in, but last year it had clematis wilt, went brown, so we had to cut in right back. I thought we'd lost it, but one little shoot appeared and then it started to grow, and it produced these pretty flowers.

 Some peonies that grow in the corner of our garden. It's a shame the flowers don't last, but they're lovely all the same.

Finally, another photo of the clematis; looks as if it's asleep!

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...