Sunday, 27 January 2013

Spiced Banana Cake

This is the best recipe for banana cake ever. I will never never never find a better recipe than this. (Like everrr.)

I am very proud of this recipe because I have actually had some input into the way I make it - I altered the recipe so it was even more to my liking. The way I do it is slightly healthier (slightly guys, I'm afraid there's no such thing as healthy cake) and I've also tampered with the spices considerably. 

You will need:

1 large ripe banana
115g butter
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
215g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cinnamon
½ ginger 
175ml plain yoghurt (not low fat)
1 tsp vanilla essence

To glaze:
50g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
2. Mash the banana in a bowl and set aside. Don't blend it - the little chunks of banana make the texture more interesting.
 3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating all the time.
4. Sift the flour, salt, spices and bicarbonate of soda into the butter mixture and stir together.
5. Add the yoghurt, banana and vanilla and mix until combined, do not overmix. Pour into the loaf tin. 
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes until lightly browned and until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Rest the cake for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
7. When the cake has cooled, beat the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and pour over the cake. Leave to set.
Om nom nom

Bye bye bakelings,


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Irish Potato Farls

Ok, so I've got a confession. This is not, strictly speaking, a baking recipe. There is no baking and there is no raising agent. However, there is flour, a kind of dough is formed and these are also sometimes known as potato bread or scones. So I'll give you the recipe anyway.

Potato farls make a great accompaniment for eggs at breakfast. This recipe makes four, which should be enough for two people. If you do not cook all the farls at once then refrigerate them between sheets of greaseproof paper. They will also freeze.

You will need:
250g mashed potatoes, no milk added
a small knob of butter
50g plain flour with some for dusting
salt and pepper

1. Mix the butter and seasoning into the mashed potato. You will need to be generous with the salt.
2. Add the flour in two batches to the mash, mixing well until it comes together in a dough. Flour the work surface and the rolling pin and roll the dough out to a rectangle about 5mm thick. Cut into 4 farls.
3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the farls until golden on each side.
5. Serve with eggs.

I found this recipe in the Observer Food Magazine, in a section written by a blogger called Miss South. You can find her here. She writes about eating well on a budget, so well worth a read for all you students out there. Some of the baking recipes look pretty good, I'm quite tempted to have a go at the chestnut caramel shortbread.

Until the next time,


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Camembert Brioche

You may have noticed that I seem to bake a lot of sweet things - cake, cupcakes and biscuits. But sometimes, it's nice to do a savoury bake. Savoury bakes I have pulled off successfully in the past include quiches (one day I will tell you the traumatic story of the first quiche), aubergine filled flatbreads, rosemary and raisin bread and sundried tomato focaccia

So, this week, I have mixed it up a bit by making something from the Great British Bake Off recipe book that is a bit of both - brioche filled with hot gooey camembert. It looks like this:

Camembert Brioche

You will need:

375g white bread flour
1 tsp crushed sea salt flakes
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
4 tbsp cold milk
4 large eggs
175g unsalted butter
1 350g Camembert cheese (one of the round ones in a little box)
about 5 tbsp (75ml) of chutney or some kind of sauce or paste that will compliment the cheese (I used red pepper pesto)
1 beaten egg

1. Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl, then make a well in the middle and pour in the milk and eggs. Stir until combined and turn onto a floured surface and knead until elastic (about 10 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, cut the butter into small cubes and mix it into the dough, either by squeezing it into the dough or using an electric mixer. If squeezing it in by hand knead afterwards to fully incorporate butter.

3. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl and leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. 
3. Knock back the dough and cut off a quarter of it and set aside. Roll the rest out to a round about 10cm larger than the cheese. Spread the top of the cheese with a thick layer of chutney or whatever you're using. Invert it in the middle of the dough round.
 4. Trim 1cm from the edge of the dough round and add it to the reserved quarter. Knead together and roll it out to about 14cm across, trimming into a neat round by using a small plate as a guide.
5. Brush the cheese and the outer 1cm of the dough rough with the beaten egg. Lift up the dough and wrap over the cheese.

6. Use more beaten egg to stick the dough down, then place the smaller round on top and smooth down to seal. Turn the cheese brioche upside down onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 minutes. While the dough is proving, preheat the oven to 190C.
7. If you wish, score a pattern on the dough before placing it in the oven. Brush it lightly with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven, brush with egg again and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 45 minutes before serving, or, cool to room temperature so the cheese re-solidifies.

Tatty-bye bakelings.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Chocolate and Vanilla Chess Cake

Happy New Year!

Now I decided this year that New Year is an event that requires a cake. And as I had received a Great British Bake Off recipe book this Christmas, I went straight to Mary and Paul to find a showstopping bake.
And this is the one I settled on:

Isn't that an impressive cake? And not nearly as hard to make as it looks. Mine doesn't look exactly like Mary's, but it all got eaten before I could swipe myself a slice, so it must have tasted pretty good.

This is what is known as a 'hidden design' cake. That is, a cake which when cut into, reveals a design that is not visible from the outside. There are many different types of hidden design cakes and many different methods of making the hidden design. This is the first I have attempted and one of the most easy I have come across. Others include this cake from the Great British Bake Off:

And this tasty-looking zebra cake, a recipe for which can be found here.

If you want to make the Chess Cake you will need piping bags, and at least two sandwich tins of the same size, preferably three (Mary says 20.5cm). You can find disposable piping bags in most decent-sized supermarkets in the baking section. You can get nylon piping bags in specialist baking shops but I can't be bothered with washing piping bags out so I shall not be buying them. Ever. Also, if you do not have two sandwich tins of the same size, you can sometimes hire them from baking shops.

Now, Mary would have you make the chocolate curls by tempering chocolate, which makes it shiny and stuff. But to Mary I say: "Mary, I am a busy woman. I do not always have time to temper chocolate. Not today, Mary." And so I have given you another (much easier) method to make chocolate curls.

So, the first thing you need to know is how to make up a sponge mixture. For this, you will need:

350g unsalted butter or margarine (such as Stork)
350g caster sugar
6 large free-range eggs
350g self-raising flour (weighed out beforehand)
pinch of salt

1. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until creamy, then add the sugar and beat until mixture becomes light in colour and fluffy in texture.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. For the last 2 eggs, add a tbsp of flour at the same time to prevent the mixture from curdling.
3. Sift in the remaining flour and salt and fold in gently using with a large metal spoon or spatula.

Chess Cake

You will need:

For the cake mixture:
sponge ingredients as above
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g cocoa powder
4 tbsp milk

For the white chocolate ganache:
175g white chocolate
125ml whipping cream
50g unsalted butter

For the dark chocolate ganache:
300g dark chocolate
300ml whipping cream

To finish:
100g dark chocolate
half a knob of butter

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease both tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Make up the sponge mixture as above. Transfer half the mixture to another bowl, add 2 tbsp of milk and sift in the cocoa before folding it in gently. Add 2 tbsp of milk and the vanilla extract to the other mixture and put each mixture into a piping bag.
2. Pipe a ring of vanilla mixture around the inside edge of one tin. Then pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the inside of that. Repeat with alternate vanilla and chocolate rings until the tin is filled. For the third tin, start with chocolate so it is filled with the reverse of the other tins. If, like me, you only have 2 tins you will have to bake the sponge in those tins and then reuse one.
3. Bake the sponge mixtures for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned, well risen and until a metal skewer inserted inside comes out clean. If you have wider tins your mixture will be shallower and it will not need quite as long. Run a knife around each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool.
4. Make up the white and dark chocolate ganaches by placing the ingredients for each in a bowl above a saucepan of barely simmering water. Heat gently, stirring occasionally until cream and chocolate become completely combined in a smooth ganache mixture. Take off the heat and leave to cool until easily spreadable but not set.
5. After the sponges have completely cooled, place one of the 2 identical sponges on the plate you intend to present it on, and spread the top with white chocolate ganache. Then place the reverse sponge on top and spread that with ganache before placing the final sponge on top.
6. Spread the sides and top of the cake with dark chocolate ganache, cleaning any drips off the cake board or plate with a slightly damp cloth or kitchen towel. Place somewhere cool to set (not the fridge).

7. To finish, make chocolate curls by melting the butter and chocolate together in a bowl above a saucepan in barely simmering water. Then pour the mixture into a  rectangular container out of which it can be easily pressed, and put in the freezer to set. Once set, use a vegetable peeler to slice large chocolate curls off the chocolate block onto the cake. Hold the block in some folded kitchen towel to protect it from the heat of your hand.

If like me, you are badass, finish the cake with edible gold glitter, and a sparkler. Or two.


Not the neatest slice in the world but you get the idea. Again, I apologise for poor-quality photos. When I am a famous baker-journalist I'll get a professional to take my photos.

Until next time, bakelings,