Banana flapjacks

Seem to have had a lot of very ripe bananas lately. Am a bit fed up with banana loaves and cakes, but was given a recipe booklet recently about Fairtrade bananas, made up with recipes given by some of our church members. We love flapjacks, so banana ones seemed a great idea. I made them in a swiss roll tin, as we like them thin, but if you prefer thicker ones, use a square cake tin instead.

125g butter
85g light brown sugar
2 tbspn syrup
350g oats
1/2tspn baking powder
1 tspn cinnamon
2 medium ripe bananas

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease a Swiss roll tin  23 x 33cm or a 20cm square cake tin

Melt butter, sugar and syrup in microwave or on hob.
Add oats, baking powder and cinnamon then add mashed bananas.
Spoon in tin and smooth top with back of a spoon.
Bake 20-25 mins till golden and firm.
Cut into bars while hot then cool in tin.
I made 15 bars.

We really liked the added texture of the banana, but they are a soft flapjack, not a crisp one. I'll certainly make them again - it's good to have something else to do with ripe bananas.


Lime, Walnut and Date Tray Bake.

Bought a bundle of cookery magazines from a charity shop the other day, and this recipe was in an Australian one. I like traybakes.
The bake has lots of good things in it - dessicated coconut, lime zest, walnuts, dates, and it's easy to make. The biggest problem was changing the Aussie cups into grams. The cake turned out fine, so I must have my conversions fairly accurate!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and line a rectangular tin about 28 x 8 cm.

For the cake:
Put 150g flour, 110g caster sugar, 85g dessicated coconut, finely grated zest of 1 lime [you'll need another lime if you're going to make the candied lime peel, 150g chopped dates and 60g chopped walnuts into a bowl. Stir together.
Add 180g melted butter and mix together; then add 1 egg [lightly beaten] and stir together. Press this mixture into your tin and bake for 20 mins till golden.
Leave in tin for 5 mins then turn out onto wire rack.

For the lime Icing:
Put 225g icing sugar in a bowl with 15 melted butter and 1-2 tbspn lime juice. Mix together and spread over cool cake. Leave to set then cut into squares.

Make some candied lime peel - peel rind off 1 lime with a potato peeler and cut it into thin slices. Put 110g of caster sugar in a pan with 60ml of water. Add lime rind and stir over low heat till sugar has dissolved. Simmer uncovered, without stirring for 5 mins. Drain on wire rack and use it to decorate the tray bake.

Great flavours, lovely textures - crunch from the walnuts, soft from the dates, and the lovely hint of lime. The candied lime peel gives it that extra lime kick. One to make again.
I made the peel before making the cake so it could 'set', if that's the right word. Think I'll make some candied orange and lemon peel using this method - don't like the taste of the shop bought stuff.


Chocolate and Orange Cake

I wanted to make a sandwich cake for OH's birthday, but also wanted it to look a bit different. Had a large orange to use up, so decided to use it in the cake and to decorate it.  Recently I saw a tv chef add a flake bar to a chocolate cake, so thought I'd try the same, instead of using cocoa or melted chocolate.

225sr flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
grated rind of a large orange
3 eggs
2 crushed Flake bars
4 tbspn milk

100g soft butter
225g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 the orange

For the top:
1 orange divided into segments
a little crushed Flake bar

Preheat oven 170C/gas3

Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin [or use 2 x 20cm sandwich tins]

Cream butter, sugar and orange rind together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the crushed Flake bars and fold in the flour alternately with the milk.
Spoon into the tin or tins, smooth top and bake for about 1-1/4 hrs till golden.
Leave in tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing - beat the butter, orange juice and icing sugar together. Put it in the fridge for about 30 mins till it gets firmer.
When the cake's cold, slice it in half and fill with half the butter icing. Spread the rest of the icing on top and fork it over. Arrange the orange segments in the middle, and sprinkle some crushed Flake around the edge.

It's not really a traditional chocolate cake, but I've called it that because of the Flake in it. I like the texture the pieces of Flake give - just a bit of crunch - I thought they would melt. Nice orange flavour in the icing which reinforces the hint you get in the cake. It made a change, and OH enjoyed it.


Ginger and Apricot Loaf

Another one of my favourite loaf cake recipes. This one uses stem ginger to give a better flavour than ground ginger. I've found a similar shop to the much missed [by me anyway] Julian Graves stores, so I stocked up on walnuts and dried fruit, including apricots. This such a quick loaf to make, and you can chose whether to ice it or not. I think the recipe is a WI one, as my mil gave it to me, and she usually used their recipes.

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

In a large bowl put 115g wholemeal flour, 115g plain flour, 11/2tspns baking powder, 150g soft brown sugar, 115g soft butter, pinch salt, 2 beaten eggs, zest of a lemon and 2 tbspns of milk - beat it all together with an electric hand mixer. Stir in 175g chopped dried apricots [the no soak ones] and add 3 pieces of stem ginger chopped finely together with 4 tbspns of the ginger syrup. Finely slice a 4th piece of ginger and keep for the top.
Spoon mixture into the tin, level, then arrange the 4th piece of ginger down the centre of the top.
Bake for about 1 hr or so. Mine took 75 mins, and I had to cover the top with some foil, as it was getting too brown.
Leave in tin for about 15mins then turn onto a wire rack.
I decorated the top when cool with some lemon glace icing [I used 115g icing sugar with about 1 tbspn of lemon juice].

A nice treat with a cuppa  - a lovely subtle ginger flavour and a bite from the apricots. A good combination of flavours.


Pear and Chocolate Charlotte

One of my favourite French desserts is a Charlotte, and I had a tin of pears which needed using and a recipe from a French neighbour for making a chocolate and pear one. It doesn't need cooking, just chilling.
I bought a Charlotte mould when living there, but you can use any deep cake tin.
It's simple to make and delicious.
Charlottes can also be made with bread.

You need:

a large packet of boudoir biscuits [sponge fingers] or make your own 
200ml cream
a sachet of vanilla sugar [about 1 tbspn]
large tin of pears in syrup
150g dark chocolate
4 egg yolks

Open can of pears and pour syrup into a small bowl and slice the pears. Dip the boudoir biscuits into the syrup and line a Charlotte mould with them, keeping some back for the top.

Using an electric hand beater, beat the cream and vanilla sugar together till it's thick.

Melt the chocolate over a low heat. Turn the heat off and add the egg yolks, beating together till the mixture cools. Add the cream and mix together.

Pour half this chocolate mixture into the mould over the biscuits and add half the sliced pears; cover with the rest of the chocolate mixture and finally top with a layer of the syrup-soaked boudoir biscuits.

Put in the fridge for 12 hours, then carefully unmould the Charlotte.

You can see that a Charlotte mould is curved, so made in an ordinary deep cake tin it won't look quite the same. You could use other fruit to make a Charlotte - strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry etc The biscuits I used were quite thick, as I bought them in France, but any thinner boudoir biscuits work just as well.

There are some great Charlotte recipes here


Rhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins

A quick post as I'm off to my daughter in London till Sunday.

I made these muffins to use up the last sticks of rhubarb in the garden. I usually use oil instead of butter, but thought I'd give these a try. The recipe is from a tatty book I picked up in a charity shop, called '100 Muffins' , but it doesn't have the writer's name in it. 
150g caster sugar
280g plain flour
21/2 tspns baking powder
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn bicarb.
1/2 tpsn salt
250ml creme fraiche 
110g melted butter
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla
150g diced rhubarb
3 tbspn caster sugar
1/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 200C/gas6             Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, salt and bicarb together in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the creme fraiche, eggs, butter and vanilla to a smooth batter. Stir the wet mixture into the dry one, but don't over mix. Stir in the rhubarb. 
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.
 Mix the cinnamon and caster sugar and sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake for about 20 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

They're very tasty - like the contrast of the crunchy top. A good use for a small amount of rhubarb.

ps thought the muffin looked good against the bright green pvc tablecloth I bought in France for the garden table!

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...