Tag Archives: Baking

Banana Bread

We had a bunch of bananas that were getting a little over-ripe, so I was hunting for recipe ideas to use them up. I had a big smoothie for breakfast, but that only used one of them, so Xander and I experimented in the kitchen and came up with a lovely moist banana bread recipe that is surprisingly low in fat and calories.

Banana Bread
Makes 1 small loaf yielding 12 slices

Ingredients:

  • 3 small bananas
  • 40g honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g margerine/butter
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  • Mash the bananas till they’re all fluffy, then add the honey and eggs and mix well.
  • Add the margerine/butter and mix well.
  • Stir in the flour and mixed spice.
  • Line or lightly grease a 1lb loaf tin and pour in the batter.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the banana loaf is golden and cooked through.
  • Slice into 12 equal portions and keep in an air-tight container.

Nutritional info:
(per slice)

  • Calories: 127
  • Carbs: 22g
  • Fat: 3g
  • Sat Fat: 1g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Sodium: 19g

These values are based on the brands I used (Asda Smart Price flour, honey and eggs, and Lurpack Lightest). If you use different brands, your nutritional values may differ slightly. The values offered here are merely a rough guide for you.

I think this would also be really good if sultanas/raisins were added, but you’d have to adjust the values for that.

The Results:
A lovely moist banana bread that doesn’t really need anything on it! The honey lends an indulgent slight stickiness that is just gorgeous, and the banana flavour is light rather than overpowering. Just enough spice to give it a little extra flavour. Xan and I both enjoyed this and Xan LOVED mashing the bananas and stirring everything up.

I enjoyed mine with a glass of skimmed milk and I’ll be taking a couple of slices in to work with me this evening so my colleagues can try it out too!

Banana Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate On Top

Xander is really getting into making things in the kitchen, so when he begged me to make some cakes with him this afternoon, I couldn’t say no, and we headed through to experiment and make up a new recipe. Here’s what we came up with…

Banana Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate On Top
Makes 6 cupcakes

Banana peanut butter cupcakes topped with chocolate. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 90g banana
  • 30g reduced fat peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 40mls skimmed milk
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 30g sugar
  • 18g chocolate buttons (3 buttons per cupcake)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 200C.
  • Mash the banana and mix well with the peanut butter, vanilla essence, egg and milk.
  • Add the flour and sugar and mix well so that the cake batter is light and fluffy.
  • Spoon into six cupcake cases and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately place three chocolate buttons on top of each cupcake so that the chocolate melts, then spread it over the top of the cupcakes.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Nutritional info:

  • Calories: 154
  • Carbs: 25g
  • Fat: 4g
  • Sat Fat: 4g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Sodium: 1g

A nice B-I-G bite!

These values are based on the products I used (Asda reduced fat peanut butter; Asda Smart Price eggs and flour; Asda chocolate buttons), so if you use different brands, the values may differ slightly, but as a rough guideline, this will give you an idea.

The Results:
These only have a very slightly peanut buttery taste, but the banana wasn’t so overpowering as to completely cover it – it was a very tasty combination. There was just enough chocolate on top to make it feel indulgent but without it being too much. Xander certainly enjoyed his! We had a lovely time making them together too!

Kid-speak Sunday

Being a Mum is the best job in the world and sometimes there’s the added bonus of hearing your kids come out with an absolute gem…

~***~

We all know kids love watching television (well, most of them do) and they get bombarded with all kinds of shows aimed at them, from Ballamory to In the Night Garden to Mr Bloom’s Nursery to I Can Cook. However, it’s not always the kids’ shows they like best, as was proven to me this week.

Xander has recently taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen. Mostly I’m baking when he wants to lend a hand – biscuits, cakes, scones, you name it, I’ve baked it – but he’s also been slowly creeping into wanting to help me make our meals too. It started with pizza – helping make he base from scratch, spreading the sauce, grating the cheese, and adding the toppings – but it’s happening more and more often with other foods too.

Although I love cooking, I think one of the main reasons Xander has suddenly shown an interest in the kitchen is because we’ve been watching Fabio Viviani‘s Chow Ciao videos on Yahoo together and he really enjoys them. In fact, whenever we watch one of those videos, Xander shouts out,

“Chow Ciao, Fabio!”

Then he snuggles on my lap and watches, all the while giving a running commentary on what’s happening, “Look, Mummy, he’s putting the oil in. Now he’s got the tomatoes. Now he’s got it on the cooker. Mmmmm it looks yummy. Is it tasty, Fabio?”

So, it seems that children’s shows can take a back seat once in a while, and we can watch a cookery show or two, even if they’re all under seven minutes long, and we can both learn something new together.

And then we can try to recreate  it together in the kitchen!

What did your kid say lately?

All Things Baked And Beautiful

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Continuing with my baking for Xan’s party (which is today) here are the last yummies I put together to take along for everyone to enjoy.

First off, I thought I’d cater specifically for the vegetarians (my sister is a demi-veg and is going to be there today) and thought I’d offer an alternative to the sausage rolls we’ll no doubt be having. My vegetarian (not vegan, I’m afraid) version is cheese and tomato rolls.

I’m afraid I didn’t make my own puff pastry. Rather than leave it to chance, I bought some ready-made stuff (also, I was fast running out of time, so I really needed to go down the route of convenience here!), rolled it out and trimmed off the edges so they were nice and straight and even. Then I painted on a load of tomato puree, grated some cheese on top of that, and finally sprinkled on some mixed herbs. Then all I had to do was roll them up, cut them up and bake them in the oven till they were crisp and golden. Delish!

Then it was the turn of the brownies! I’ve only made these once before, so it was a bit of a risk, but they turned out so good last time I just had to try it again. They certainly look good and while I was cutting them into little bite-sized squares, I tried a little crumb that fell off and it tasted gorgeous, so I’m hopeful these will go down well. I’ve left them in the trays for easy transport so I hope they come out easily and don’t fall apart!

Last, but not least, I made some flapjacks. Chocolate chip flapjacks. Except I mucked them up a little bit. See, you have to melt the syrup, butter and sugar then stir in the oats, and I didn’t leave them to cool long enough before stirring in the chocolate chips so they got sort of, well, melty. Still, judging by the bit I licked off the spoon after smooshing the mixture into the trays, they should still taste pretty good (at least, I hope they will!). They’re all cut into squares, ready to pop out of the trays, so here’s hoping they hold together rather than crumbling – I guess we’ll see when we get them out at the party!

How do you get fussy kids to eat vegetables?

… Bake them into muffins!

Yup, you heard me. Lovely, yummy muffins. With carrots and courgettes in them. Trust me on this, they’re lovely!

I used the recipe from the CBeebies show I Can Cook and can highly recommend them as both kid-friendly and appealing to grown-ups alike. On this occasion, I multiplied everything by four so I could get two dozen muffins in two batches for Xan’s birthday party. And I’ll admit I threw in a few extra big, fat, juicy raisins for good measure too.

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Tip-Top Marshmallow Hats!

After the Great Cake Pops Disaster, I decided something a lot more simple and easier to make was on the cards for the party (I’ll be making other things too, but we’ll get to those later).

To my mind, there’s nothing simpler to make than marshmallow hats. After all, they consist of only three ingredients – marshmallows, melted chocolate and Smarties. What could be simpler? I was certain I could make these for the party without messing it up!

I was still wary after screwing up the seemingly simple task of melting chocolate yesterday, so I resorted to a super-duper mega-high-tech method instead – I chopped up the bar of chocolate into really small pieces, and popped them into a small bowl, boiled the kettle, filled a large mug with boiling water, and sat the bowl of chocolate on top. Result! Perfectly smooth melted chocolate and no having to throw out four bars’ worth of mess – hurrah!

While the chocolate was melting, I cut a piece of greaseproof paper and lined the bottom of my roasting pan with it to cut on any more mess from chocolate drips. Then I simply dipped the marshmallows in the chocolate and topped each one with a Smartie.

Don’t they look lovely?

I am now wondering, however, why most of the Smarties were pink and purple with only one or two of each of the other colours? I wanted a whole rainbow of marshmallow hats, but they’re definitely dominated by the girlier shades. I’m sure I remember a more even spread of colours when I was a kid, and I particularly mourn the orange ones (there were only two!) as they were always my favourites.

Anyway, they are done. I’m just waiting for the chocolate to set so I can pop them all in an air-tight container till Sunday…

The Great Cake Pops Disaster

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I’m a busy Mum whose son turned three recently and is having a birthday party on Sunday and I enjoy baking.

You’d think this was a great mix, especially when I get inspired by lovely things I see online. Like cake pops. Little balls of cake on sticks, coated in chocolate and then decorated with all manner of things. Every time I see a blog post about these little morsels, they look so simple and everyone extolls how easy they are to make.

Stupidly, I took them at their word. And that’s how The Great Cake Pop Disaster came to pass.

Directions for making cake pops:

  1. Bake a cake. Just a plain Victoria sponge cake. Easy.
  2. Break up the cake into chunks while young son looks on with horrified expression on his face at the seemingly wanton destruction of perfectly good cake. So far, so good.
  3. Use my blender to break down the chunks of cake into crumbs while son screams, “No! My cake! My cake!”
  4. Open a large jar of Nutella. Oh, Nutella, you gorgeous jar of choco-nutty deliciousness, you!
  5. Add very generous dollop of Nutella to the cake crumbs and mix well till it all start sticking together nicely.
  6. Roll into chocolatey-cakey balls and try not to start singing Chef’s Song out loud in front of son who is too young to know about South Park.
  7. Poke little holes in chocolate balls (you’re still humming Chef’s Song, aren’t you?) with a lollipop stick and melt the chocolate.
  8. Dip the ends of the lollipop sticks in the melted chocolate and then stick them in the chocolate balls (yup, still humming that tune!) and pop them all in the fridge so the chocolate will anchor the sticks in place.
  9. Look on in dismay as a drop of water gets into the chocolate and ruins the whole lot of it – all four bars. Kick yourself as you dump the irredeemable mess in the bin.
  10. Melt another lot of chocolate – one bar at a time just to be sure you don’t waste four bars like last time – and dip your first cake pop in.
  11. Try not to swear as it breaks and falls off the stick into the chocolate.
  12. Try not to swear again as each and every one of the cake pops comes off its stick in the chocolate.
  13. Sacrifice your pastry brush in the hopes that brushing the chocolate on instead of dipping the cake pops in will make a difference.
  14. Fail in the trying-not-to-swear stakes as you realise you’ve ruined your pastry brush and the cake pops are STILL all coming off their sticks.
  15. Carry on painting the chocolate onto the cake pops and pulling out the sticks to drop them in the rainbow-hued sugar strands.
  16. Panic when you realise you’ve run out of sugar strands and still have half your cake pops to cover.
  17. Dig around in the baking cupboard and actually cheer when you find a bag of desiccated coconut and use that for the rest of them.
  18. Pop them all in the fridge to set and give the broken ones to hubby and child to polish off.
  19. Decide you’re never making cake pops again as they’re just too much hassle.
  20. Finally clean up the mess that is covering the entire kitchen.

I really hope the kids at the party appreciate the damned things.

We’ve decided to call them truffles.

Recipe – Bread

There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from your kitchen, and with bread-making machines available at more and more reasonable prices, it’s never been easier to make bread at home.

But what if you don’t have a machine? What if you simply don’t have room for one in your small kitchen, or you fear you wouldn’t use it regularly and it would be a waste of money? Well, you can still make bread the old-fashioned way – by hand. And it’s easier than you might expect!

Simple Hand-Made Bread Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  • 7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
  • 25g butter
  • 300mls warm water (use 1 part boiling to 2 parts cold)
  • flour for kneading

Directions:

  1. Mix together the strong bread flour and salt, rub in the butter, then stir in the yeast.
  2. Stir in the water and mix to a soft dough by hand.
  3. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes in an electric mixer with a bread hook) till the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Cover and rest the dough for 5 minutes
  5. Shape the dough and place in a greased 2lb bread tin or on a greased baking tray.
  6. Cover with a clean, wet cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for 1.5 – 2 hours.
  7. Uncover and bake in the oven at 230C for 30-35 minutes. (If it sounds hollow when you knock on the top, it’s ready!)
  8. Immediately turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  9. Wrap in greaseproof paper when cool and store in the breadbox. It will be fine in there for several days, but I guarantee it won’t last that long!

Experiment with different types of flour – wholemeal, brown and white – or even try mixing half and half of two different types to see what works best for you. Different brands will give different results, as will different types. I find wholemeal gives a denser bread, whereas white tends to rise a little better and results in a “lighter” loaf. To get the best of both worlds, I like to mix a little wholemeal flour in with the white. It tastes gorgeous!

Xan can’t get enough of my homemade bread, which is great because I really enjoy making it. It’s definitely worth the time it takes, although to be fair, it doesn’t take much dedicated time really, as the initial prep only takes about 10-15 minutes and the rest of the time you leave the dough to do its own thing and then pop it in the oven. Easy!

Foodie Fridays

Foodie Fridays is a weekly meme hosted by Diary of a Domestic Goddess.

The aim is to share a recipe or a favourite food each week so that everyone else can try it.

If you take part, please leave a link in the comments – I’d love to see what you’re cooking up in your kitchen!

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This week I want to share something of an experiment with you. It’s a very simple recipe for a raspberry and apple sauce that I threw together out of sheer desperation…

Earlier this week I found myself craving pancakes (crepes, not Scotch pancakes or drop scones), but I had no lemons or lemon juice in the house, so I couldn’t have them with my customary simple topping of lemon juice and sugar this time. I did, however, have some fresh raspberries and apples, so I thought I’d try making a coulis, which I’d never done before. Here’s the extremely simple recipe.

Raspberry and Apple Sauce
Ingredients:

  • 1 small punnet of fresh raspberries
  • 1 large apple
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • enough water to cover

Directions:

  1. Peel, core and finely dice the apple.
  2. Wash the raspberries
  3. Pop the apple and raspberries in a pan with 2 tablespoons sugar and enough water to just cover everything.
  4. Simmer till the apple is cooked and the desired consistency is achieved (adding more water if required).

Now, you can use a sieve to remove the seeds if you like, but I left mine in. And if you want your apple to be left in chunks, you can just dice it a little larger and not simmer it for so long, but I wanted my apple to mush into it. It was delicious!

As you can see, I popped plenty on those pancakes (you can find the recipe I use for those HERE at the Be-Ro website).

But I had some of the sauce left over – what should I do with it? Well, I decided to try another experiment. I knew that the fruit sauce (which I’d made rather thick) wouldn’t soak into bread for a proper summer pudding, and I really couldn’t be bothered making a tiny amount of pastry to bake it into a pie, so I compromised and did a kind of hybrid of the two:

Mini Mock Summer Berry Pie
Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread
  • raspberry and apple sauce
  • small knob of butter
  • small sprinkling of sugar

Directions:

  1. Cut one slice of bread in a circle large enough to line a small ramekin dish, and the other in a circle to become the lid.
  2. Butter the larger slice and place it butter-side DOWN in the ramekin dish, pushing it to the very bottom to shape it.
  3. Pour the raspberry and apple sauce into the ramekin dish.
  4. Butter both sides of the small lid circle and place on top of the raspberry and apple sauce.
  5. Press down firmly at the edges and weight it with another ramekin dish for half an hour or so, leaving it in the fridge for the duration.
  6. Sprinkle with a little sugar and pop in the oven at 200C until the bread turns golden on top.
  7. Serve hot.

It was a yummy result. I ate it (and shared it with Xander) as it was, but it would be just as nice with custard or a dollop of whipped cream on top.

I also suspect that if I’d thickened my sauce just a little further, I would have had a lovely jam for my toast tomorrow morning!

The Domestic Goddess Has a go at Making Mince Pies

My first ever attempt – I’m rather proud of these beauties! They’re made with Robertson’s Date and Brandy mincemeat and the same pastry I used for my apple pie. Served warm with a dollop of extra thick double cream – delicious!