Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Mammy's Tried and Tested Perfect Banana Bread

Banana bread is a recipe that everyone has and in the same way everyone seems convinced that theirs is the best. Having tried some of these recipes I keep returning to the banana bread I enjoyed as a child and while it may not be the 'best' it's certainly mine and my whole family's favourite. It has more banana that the typical recipe which means that the banana flavour is much more intense and the loaf is super moist and rich. Also in this recipe you will find the addition of orange and lemon zest which gives a certain freshness to it. 

Also, in what appear to e a break with the norm there are no spices in this banana bread. Having messed around with different spices I found that they detract from the taste and I don't otehr with them anymore, banana bread should be simple and this one definitely is

Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
75g soft butter
110g caster sugar
1 large egg beaten
225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder level
4 medium bananas peeled
Grated rind 1 orange
Grated rind 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180.
Butter, sugar and egg in large mixing bowl
Sift in flour and baking powder
In another bowl slice and mash bananas with fork
Whish sugar, butter and flour until thoroughly combined
Add orange and lemon rind
Add mashed bananas
Mix thoroughly
Put in tin and level off top
Centre shelf 50-55 mins until loaf is golden, well risen and springs back

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Turning Yet Another Famous Pie into Cake

Ok, I love Love LOVE experimentation while I'm baking and one of my favourite things to experiment with has to be birthday cakes. Typically I ask the person who's birthday it is what their top 5 favourite desserts are, their 5 favourite chocolate bars, favourite fruit,nuts and colour. Most of these questions are throw away, and have them thinking all kinds of crazy things are going on *insert maniacal laughter and cat*

I always have the most fun with the favourite desserts answers which have resulted in previous experiments involving Chocolate Brownie Chocolate Cheesecake (recipe soon to come) and Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes (also, soon to come). This one was a challenge as it was a 1930's theme party. I toyed with the idea of a white cake decorated as a 1930's hatbox complete with fondant hat. Then I remembered I'm quite useless with fondant. But the final end to that idea came when the birthday girl listed her favourite desserts and Banoffee Pie was there. It was going to happen, I had to make it happen, and so I did :P

Banana cake, Sandwiched with caramel and caramel buttercream frosting and apparently it tasted as good as the real thing. I did cheat a little and used store bought Dulce de Leche, home made caramel will come next.

Banana Cake
Makes 2 10" / 3 9" rounds

  • 180g butter, softened
  • 360g packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1.5 tsps vanilla extract
  • 360g flour
  • 3tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250mls buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 180 C
Line/grease and line 2 10" or 3 9" round tins
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add eggs, beating well after each addition
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients
Add to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with buttermilk
Pour into prepared tins and bake for 25-30 mins 
Cool in the tins for 20 mins then cool completely (for 2 hours) on a wire rack

Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Makes 6 cups (enough to frost and then colour and decorate this cake)

  • 750g icing (confectioners) sugar
  • 4 tbsp caramel
  • 320g butter, softened
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
Whip butter until light and creamy
Add vanilla and sugar and beat until fluffy
Add caramel and mix well

For the caramel layer you will need 2 cans of store bought dulce de leche minus the 4tbsp that went into the frosting.

When I went to assemble this cake I suddenly realised (after putting the top layer down) that the thick caramel layer I envisioned for the centre wasn't going to work (it all started to squeeze out the sides). So I had a bit of a think and decided I'd try something. If it worked it worked, if not hey it was gonna be a little messy but still tasty.

I piped a ring of the icing around the edge of the bottom layer and THEN filled it with the caramel and lo and behold I had a slightly thinner caramel centre layer :P. I the covered the outside of the cake in the frosting and coloured the remaining frosting blue and purple and then it was DECORATING TIME :D

Thanks to Evil Shananigans for the picture :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Nutella Brownies

Yesterday was one of my housemates birthdays and while he's not really into cake he loooves brownies. Also, since his party took the form of a Bring Your Own Food, Booze and Cigars (BYOFBC), they suited perfectly. I also happen to know that Davey has a real love of Nutella so with that I set about tweaking a brownie recipe I got from my mum to make it work. I've made brownies once before and unfortunately they did not end happily. the recipe came from a childrens cookery course I did and they were dire. Needless to say that knocked my brownie confidence a little but I figured now was about time to give this devilishly moreish treat another go.

I scoured the town where I live for the best quality Hazelnut spread I could find and eventually settled on the Choco Nusse spread sold in LIDL. The spread itself is darker in colour and has a richer taste. The cocoa is stronger and the hazelnuts are more flavourful in comparison to the traditional Nutella. The original recipe called for 60-75% cocoa chocolate but I could only get my hands on 50%. As it turns out this was a bit of a blessing because had there been any more cocoa the hazelnut flavour would have been totally overpowered and the brownies too rich.

Roasted Hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 150C
Spread the required amount of hazelnuts onto a baking tray
Roast for 15 mins, turning once.
Allow to cool, then skin them by rubbing them vigorously between your hands

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
Makes around 20 medium brownies
  • 180g butter
  • 270g chooclate (50% cocoa)
  • 370g Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread of your choice + 170g extra
  • 180g light brown sugar
  • 130g roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120g flour
  • 1.5 tbsps cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 175C
Line a 10x12"/9x13" pan with greaseproof paper
Melt butter and chocolate over a bain marie
Stir in Nutella, remove bowl from the bain marie and cool mix until it reaches room temperature
Mix in brown sugar and vanilla
Add eggs 1 at a time beating well after each addition (the mix should be glossy and smooth)
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder
Combine with the wet ingredients
Stir in roasted hazelnuts and pour out into the prepared pan, spreading the mix evenly
Heat remaining 170g of Nutella over a bain marie and drizzle over the mix in the tin. 
Swirl throughout the top of the mix using a knife or skewer
bake for 25-35 mins, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean and the texture is still slightly fudgy when touched.

I hope you enjoyed them as much as Davey and the other party goers did! I must say brownies aren't as scary as my previous experience would have lead me to believe; I will definitely be making them more in the future :)

Many thanks to Making Life Delicious for the first picture in this post, my camera's been a little out of sorts lately :/