Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Low Calorie Banana Bread by Baking Mad

The lovely people at Baking Mad were looking for bloggers to try some of their healthy recipes in January. I jumped at the chance after having a great time making rainbow Pudsey cupcakes for Children in Need for them last year. I was given a choice of recipes and guess what I chose? Yes - low calorie banana bread! I know, I know... another banana bread I hear you say? I just couldn't resist! They sent me the ambient ingredients ...

...and all I had to do was add the fresh ingredients and bake! It was a really simple recipe, just mix everything together and bake. I made 3 small loaves with this recipe as shown. I think mine were a little underbaked as they look a bit pale. You can definitely taste the bananas and the riper your banana, the better the flavour. I would probably add in a little fat-free yoghurt next time for extra moisture and maybe a drop of honey to satisfy my sweet tooth. Surely that won't add too many calories? ;) 
It's a nice, quick easy bake if you are looking for something healthy. Check out their other low calorie recipes here  I like the look of low calorie chocolate and beetroot cupcakes and low calorie banoffe layer :)

Recipe from Baking Mad 

Low Calorie Banana Bread Ingredients
100 grams self raising flour
100 ml milk semi skimmed
25 grams Half Spoon Granulated Sugar (Silver Spoon)
25 grams Pecans chopped
2 Bananas small & ripe
0.50 tsp Mixed Spice

  • Preheat oven to 180°C, fan oven 160°C, 350°F, gas mark 4
  • Place flour, sugar, spice and nuts in a mixing bowl.
  • Mash the banana on a plate with a fork until mushy.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
  • Mix the banana and the milk together and pour into the flour mixture. Mix well.
  • Pour the mixture into a loaf tin or the individual loaf tins
  • Bake for 20-25minutes (35- 40 minutes for a larger loaf) or until firm to touch and golden brown and when a skewer is inserted in comes out clean.
  • Tip: Omit the nuts and add a handful dried fruits or 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
Thank you to Baking Mad for providing the recipe and ambient ingredients. 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hannah's Banana bread

Remember I said I bought spelt flour specifically for a recipe but ended up making honey and spelt cake and then spelt and buttermilk pancakes instead? Well this is the recipe that I had in mind when I first bought the spelt flour - Hannah's Banana Bread. I'm really pleased to be sharing it with you now as this is the best banana bread I've made and I've made quite a few banana breads in my time!

I am entering this to January's Tea Time Treats, hosted this month by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and co-hosted by Kate from What Kate Baked. The theme this month is Sweet Pastries and Breads so I thought it would be a great addition to the table.

Back in October, I won a copy of Leon Baking & Puddings Book 3 from a giveaway hosted by Ren from Fabulicious Food - thank you again! She recommended this recipe and it's taken me a few months to get to it but trust me the wait is worth it. You can read her review of the book here.

Karen from Lavender and Lovage who is the lovely host of Tea Time Treats has also baked this bread and written a review of the same book which you can read here. Coincidentally, her daughter's name is Hannah. According to Henry Dimbleby, "Some time ago people started leaving wishes on pieces of paper in a drawer in the Ludgate Circus branch of Leon. We celebrated this by granting the wishes of people who came to one of our parties.  Hannah's wish was to have a cake named after her hence the name" I think I will be leaving wishes at branches of Leon that I visit from now :)

Back to the banana bread. It's the first recipe I tried from the book and it's a huge success.  This is my 3rd time baking with spelt flour and I'm loving it.  It has a grainy, nutty texture which complements the bananas and pecans.  The yoghurt and oil makes it wonderfully moist and I really like the sliced banana on top sprinkled with sugar (it's supposed to sink but mine didn't!) This actually tasted much better the next day - an accidental finding as I was rushing to work and left it behind so it had to be eaten the next day. 


 egg mixture at the back, banana mixture in the front

 sprinkle sugar on top for a lovely caramelised top (you can leave out the sugar if you wish)

 I thought it was going to spill over when it first came out of the oven but it sunk a little on cooling. 

 moist and delicious!

Recipe from Leon Baking & Pudding Book 3 by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby which is published by Conran Octopus - reproduced with permission from Octopus Publishing Group

50g pecan nuts
150ml vegetable oil
200g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 free range eggs
350g ripe skinned bananas (about 3-4 depending on size of banana)
75g natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
225g wholemeal spelt flour
1 banana, peeled and 3 tablespoons caster sugar for the top

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Butter a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with baking paper. Line a baking sheet with baking paper as well. 
  • Spread the pecans out over the lined baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, dark brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. 
  • In a separate bowl, roughly mash up the bananas. Add the yoghurt and mix well.
  • Sift the bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon over the yoghurt mixture, add the salt and stir well to combine. 
  • Now add the banana mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine. 
  • Chop the pecans into small pieces and add them with the flour, stirring until just incorporated. (NOTE : do not over mix the batter) 
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
  • Carefully slice the remaining banana in half lengthwise.  Place one half, cut side up, on top of the bread and sprinkle with the caster sugar (I put both slices as I was too full to eat the other half as suggested and didn't want to waste it!)
  • Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the bread is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack to cool. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Announcing a New Baking Challenge - AlphaBakes

Welcome to AlphaBakes, a new blogging challenge which will be hosted on alternate months by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker (host for February) and Caroline from Caroline Makes. This will be a monthly challenge where the aim is to bake with an ingredient that starts with the random alphabet letter chosen for that month. We debated about working through the alphabet in sequence but it's much more fun having a random letter which will keep us all on our toes. We won't repeat the same letter unless we have been through all of them! By then we will hopefully have come up with some new ideas (we already have a few knocking about).

We will be using a random letter generator to ensure fairness :) http://www.randomlettergenerator.com/ 

For now, please do join in and indulge your creative side. Most bakers like a challenge and it would be interesting to see what everyone comes up with for the same letter. In case the idea is not clear, I'll give you some examples..... 
'A' can be apples, apricots or Anzac cookies 
'B' can be banana, bread or a bumblebee cake
'C' can be coconut, cheesecake or a chocolate caramel cupcake
 .... the possibilities are endless!

Each challenge will start on the 1st of every month and finish by the 25th of every month. A round up will be posted on the host blog by the 1st of the next month. 

Now on to the rules which you MUST comply with

1. Post your recipe on your blog and link it to The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, stating the relevant month's host. If you do not have a blog, email us a picture and a brief description of your entry which we will  include in the round-up at the end of the month. 

2. You can use your own recipe or someone else's recipe. The recipe can be sweet, savoury or a mixture!  Anything goes as long as the random letter is predominantly featured in the recipe as one of the main ingredients or flavours or in the name of the bake itself (i .e . not as a garnish , or using 'flour' for the letter F!)  You can also republish old posts/recipes but you must include the information for this challenge as stated in these rules. 

3. Add the logo to your post and add 'alphabakes' as a label to your post. 

4. Email your entries to alphabakes@gmail.com by midnight (GMT) 25th of each month. Please include: 
  • Your name (that you want included in the round up or we will use the name of your blog)
  • Your blog post URL
  • Recipe title
  • Photo of recipe (to be included in the round up)
5. You can submit as many entries as you like.

6. You do not have to participate every month to join in.

7. You may submit your entry to other challenges as long as it complies with their rules.

9. If you use twitter, please use the tag #alphabakes and mention @bakingaddict and @Caroline_Makes. We will retweet all those that we see. 

10. Have fun! :) 

The AlphaBakes Challenge will start on the 1st of February. The random letter selected is 'L' which will be hosted by Ros @bakingaddict from The More Than Occasional Baker 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies for National Peanut Butter Day

Do you believe that things happen for a reason? Or that there's a silver lining in every cloud? Well I do :) I was supposed to go to the gym (stop laughing!) today for a double session but I got stuck in an almighty traffic jam causing me to be very late for my gym class so I did what any sensible person would do which was to head home and cook a delicious dinner! I saw a tweet from Mike's Baking announcing that it's National Peanut Butter Day. I absolutely LOVE peanut butter so I definitely could not let it go pass without baking something suitable. I believe that I was meant to make these cookies which is why I never made it to the gym (yes yes call me delusional!)

I won a lifetime membership to Eat Your Books from Jam and Clotted Cream recently - thank you again! If you have not already discovered eat your books, check it out NOW! It's absolutely amazing!! It's basically an online cookbook search engine. You add the books you have on your bookshelf (and online recipes too) and when you want to make something, just type in the ingredient and it will search your cookbooks for you. Today I typed in peanut butter and the first recipe to appear was Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies by Lorraine Pascale from Baking Made Easy. It was fate. I had to make it and I'm so glad I did as these cookies are Delicious!! Yes with a capital D :)

If you are a peanut butter lover like me then you will definitely enjoy these cookies. I can see why Lorraine calls them irresistible! They are really soft and crumbly with the lovely peanut buttery taste. I love the crunch of the peanuts on top and the sweet, salty combination. 

 flatten cookies with a fork 

 sprinkle some chopped peanuts on top 


Recipe adapted  from Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy 

130g butter
175g light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300g peanut butter (I used crunchy as I prefer the crunch)
Handful of ready roasted, salted peanuts - chopped. (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Grease and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Add in the egg.
  • Finally, stir in the peanut butter - don't overmix the batter. 
  • Scoop small scoops of dough using a small ice cream scoop and place at least 2 inches apart. 
  • Use a fork (lightly dipped in water if required) to flatten the cookies.
  • Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top (or skip this step)
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
  • The cookies will be very soft when removed from the oven but will firm up once it's cooled. 
  • Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Nigella's Clementine Cake for Chinese New Year

In case you didn't know, today Jan 23rd is Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year. It is the year of the dragon  which symbolises power, strength and good luck. The following excerpt is taken from the daily mail (click on the link to see lots of pretty pictures!)

"Often regarded as one of the most important signs in the zodiac, Chinese tradition dictates that those born in Dragon years tend to be brave, innovative and highly driven, regularly making it to the top of their profession.  Famous people born in Dragon years include former U.S. president Bill Clinton, actress Reese Witherspoon and artist Salvador Dali.  Those celebrating Chinese New Year mark the occasion by buying presents, clothing, food and decorations embracing popular themes such as wealth, happiness and good fortune. "

Oranges are symbolic in chinese culture as a wish for good fortune. Tangerines and oranges sound like luck and wealth in the chinese language and hence are given freely during the festive period. (ps google is amazing!)

So to celebrate chinese new year, I decided to make a clementine cake from Nigella which was actually recommended by my mum - thanks mum! It's a really easy cake to make, Nigella says "It's the easiest cake I know" The added bonus is that it's gluten free. Everyone really enjoyed this cake. It was really moist and aromatic and I was impressed with the height considering that it's flourless. I've made a similar orange polenta cake but this is much better in my opinion!

As it's a Nigella recipe, I'm entering it to Forever Nigella hosted by Sarah from Maison Cupcake

And also to Simple and in Season hosted by Ren from Fabulicious Food 

 boil clementines for 2 hours

 then blitz

 mix all ingredients together and bake

Recipe is from Nigella's website 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Weekly Bake Off: Maple Syrup Cake

Another week, another weekly bake off challenge. I was not planning to join in due to time constraints but when I saw the choice was a Maple Syrup Cake, I just had to!  I love maple syrup and I've made a similar cake with carrots which was a huge success.  Coincidentally, I was sent this lovely sample box from the people at Clark's so there really was no question about making this cake.

Its a lovely, tall 3 layer cake, so tall that it won't fit into my cake carrier! I'm not sure how to transport it now but I'll worry about that later. I've not had a chance to try the cake so I can't comment on the taste but the topping was very good :) I'm probably the only person that slices into a cake before giving it away so I can photograph it for my blog! I felt it would have been rude to eat a slice as well so I will update you tomorrow on the taste.

*Update: I've decided to slice the cake and bring it to work on a tray.  It does say to keep in the fridge and there's no way the whole cake will fit plus I still had the transport problem.  It does not look as nice but hopefully it will taste good enough!  It also meant that I could sneak a cheeky piece and can now tell you what I think. The maple syrup is quite subtle in the cake. It's a moist and rich sponge with good flavours from the pecan.  I may add a little orange juice next time and possibly more maple syrup. The whipped cream filling and topping goes well with the cake as a buttercream frosting would have been too much. *

 the sliced up cake! 

 assembling the layers 

 spread the cream between the layers...


 ...and on top and around the sides to make a super tall cake! 


Recipe from Mary Berry's Cakes and Bakes page 19

For the cake 
225g butter
225g light muscovado sugar
zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
100ml maple syrup
350g self raising flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
50g pecan nuts, chopped

For the filling and topping
450ml double cream
2 tablespoon maple syrup (I used a little extra as I couldn't quite taste the maple syrup)
zest of 1 orange

  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Lightly grease and line 3 x 20cm cake tins (Mary suggests using a deep 20cm cake tin and slice the cake in 3 but I just used 3 small tins)
  • Put all the ingredients for the cake except the pecan nuts into a large bowl and mix well.
  • Stir in the chopped pecan nuts. 
  • Spoon into the cake tins and bake for about 20-25mins (longer if using only 1 tin).
  • Allow to cool slightly then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • For the filling and topping, whip the cream until it just holds its shape and then add in the maple syrup. 
  • Fill and cover the cake with cream as shown.
  • Decorate the top with orange zest.
  • Store in the refrigerator. 
Thank you Clark's for providing the maple syrup. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Checkerboard Cookies

Dom from Belleau Kitchen hosts random recipes which is a great idea to use more of your recipe books. I tend to get recipes online or from other blogs and as my cookbook collection has grown exponentially last year, I really wanted to use more of my cookbooks this year.  The challenge for this month is simple - choose a random recipe from your newest book and blog about it. My newest cookbook is Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking. I have to admit I was nervous about joining this challenge particularly with this book as I feared my random recipe would be too challenging. As instructed, I closed my eyes and randomly opened the book to page 42-43 which is Chocolate-Orange Pinwheels and Checkerboards. My first thought was 'oh no, this looks complicated and time consuming!' (Dom - I have to admit I was very tempted to cheat and turn the page but the next recipe is apricot pecan rugelach! Lesson is don't cheat!) 
Anyway I decided I would tackle the recipe but only managed to make the checkerboards which to me were more challenging than the pinwheels.  I've never made these before and have always wanted to as they look so cute. I'm glad I tried it but I'm not sure I would make them again as they do require quite a bit of time and patience. They did taste good though so it was worth the effort and the friend that I ended up giving them to really enjoyed them. 
The recipe offers a few flavour variations and I chose to make chocolate-coffee for mine. I've probably made it sound more complicated than it really is! Has anyone else tried making these? 

 roll the dough into strips (ideally, they should be the same length!)

 creating the checkerboard effect 

 cut off the ends... 

 checkerboard effect! 

 ready to go in the oven 

 so pleased you can see the pattern! 

 I also made some 'mini' ones as I had some dough leftover - only managed 3 rows with these. 

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma essentials of baking

155g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
30g chocolate, melted 
125g butter, softened
125g sugar
1 large egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon of hot water

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence and continue beating.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. 
  • Divide the dough in half. 
  • Place one half in a separate bowl and stir in the coffee dissolved in hot water. 
  • Add the melted chocolate and cocoa powder to the other half and mix well. 
  • Form each dough into a 5 inch square and wrap separately in cling film. 
  • Refrigerate until firm (about 45 minutes).
  • Remove the dough from the fridge. 
  • Cut each piece of dough into 6 strips. 
  • One at a time, roll each strip into a rope, flouring your hands lightly, if necessary. 
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until foamy. 
  • Lay 3 ropes parallel to each other alternating the colours (see picture above) and press the ropes together. 
  • Brush the top with egg white.
  • Place a second set of 3 ropes of alternating colours on top of the first set of 3, press them together and brush with egg white. 
  • Repeat until you have a stack of 4 rows, always alternating the colours so that a checkerboard pattern is visible when the stack is viewed from the end. 
  • Do not brush the top row with egg white. 
  • Trim the ends evenly, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. 
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Slice the cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • Bake for 8 - 12 minutes until the edges just begin to turn light golden. 
  • Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Blueberry Pancakes with spelt and buttermilk

I've been on a pancake phase recently. I can't believe I've never made pancakes until recently. It's so easy to make and does not require any special ingredients or equipment.  I saw this recipe on What I Baked This Weekend.  It looked really good and I decided to give it a go but modified it to use up all my leftovers.  I had spelt flour and buttermilk leftover from baking my honey and spelt cake and some blueberries that needed to be eaten. I made half the original recipe as I didn't want to end up with stacks of pancakes! 
The pancakes were delicious and I really like the texture of the spelt flour here. I'm sending this to Frugal Food Fridays hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours

Recipe adapted from What I baked this weekend 
Makes 4 pancakes of the size shown

120g spelt flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon honey
150ml buttermilk
75ml milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
75g blueberries

  • Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the honey, buttermilk, milk, egg and oil until smooth. 
  • Make a well in the flour mixture and add in the wet ingredients. 
  • Whisk until just combined. 
  • Fold in the blueberries, saving a handful to sprinkle on top. 
  • Heat a small amount of oil in a non stick frying pan. 
  • Add a small amount of batter (depends on what size you want your pancakes!) and cook until the surface starts bubbling. 
  • Flip the pancake over and cook until light golden brown.
  • Serve with the remaining blueberries and a drizzle of honey.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Honey and Spelt Cake

I saw this spelt honey cake on Cake, Crumbs and Cooking. Do check out her blog if you haven't already for some other great recipes :) I bookmarked it immediately and it jumped to the top of my 'to-bake' list (which is growing longer by the minute) as I was really intrigued and wanted to know what it would taste like. Coincidentally, I bought some spelt flour recently for another recipe (which I still haven't baked!) and I always have honey in my cupboard so as I had everything I needed, I thought why not? Added bonus is that it's a really simple, mix everything together type of recipe. 
I'm so glad I did as the cake was really good! I love the texture of the spelt flour and you can really taste the honey. It smelled really good as I was mixing up the batter. It's a moist and light cake with the fine texture of the spelt and the rich aroma of honey.
I'm sending this to bookmarked recipes hosted by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes. 

 luckily I had just enough honey for the recipe! 


Recipe from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking

175g butter, softenend
80g caster sugar
90g honey
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
60g buttermilk *

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the flours, baking powder, honey, eggs and buttermilk and continue to beat until well combined.
  • Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until well risen and golden and springy to the touch.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack.

* I made my own buttermilk as I didn't have any at home. It's really easy to make and probably cheaper than buying it from the supermarket.
- Place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white vinegar) in a measuring jug.
- Add enough milk to bring it up to the 1 cup line.
- Stir and leave for 5 minutes.
- The milk will curdle which is what you want.