I still have several tubs of mashed banana in the freezer, from when I bought a bag of over-ripe and/or bruised bananas for 8p a couple of months ago. The sourdough baking booklet has a recipe for banana bread which is made using a sourdough batter with added baking soda for extra rising. I decided to use half the amount of sugar they suggested because I was adding dried fruit instead of chopped nuts and I didn't want the bread to be too sweet.
The resulting loaf was good, very similar to the River Cottage recipe I used previously.
This week's new recipe is yet another from the River Cottage Bread book. I followed their recipe as closely as possible. When it came to making the cross on top, I mixed the flour and water using the given quantities but it was far too runny and impossible to use in the piping bag without it all immediately running out of the nozzle. I mixed in some extra flour to make it a bit thicker and it worker better.
The hot cross buns were very good when eaten fresh. When they were a couple of days old, they had started to go a bit hard and dry and needed to be toasted, but they proved to be very good that way, with a bit of butter melted into them.
The cake was based on a madeira cake recipe. The coloured cake balls were made first, adding food colouring and baking them in a round mould designed for making 'cake pops'. The cake was assembled by pouring a layer of cake batter in the bottom of a cake tin, adding the cake balls then pouring the rest of the batter on top.
I bought a large bag of slightly bruised bananas from the supermarket on my way home, for only 25p. I had already decided that I wanted to try a banana bread and was just waiting until I got hold of some cheap bananas.
My second attempt at making a loaf from the sourdough baking booklet was a Molasses and Rye loaf. I used treacle instead of molasses (which is a fair enough swap). I didn't have enough rye flour so I used a mixture of that and wholewheat.
The end result was a good loaf which smelled slightly of treacle but didn't taste sweet or treacly.
The cookies were made because it was my turn on the Cake Day rota in work. The recipe was called Thumbprint Cookies. I filled them with either jam, lemon curd or marmalade. They seemed to go down well and there weren't any left for me to bring home.
We made two new recipes today. The first was carrot cake. Emma's aunt recently gave us some apples from the tree in her garden. I ate most of them and we decided to bake something with the rest. Emma had read about using apple sauce as a replacement for vegetable oil in recipes. Last night I chopped the apples and simmered in half an inch of water until they had started to break down. I then liquidized the apples to make a smooth sauce.
We usually follow Delia Smith's recipe so I used that as the basis but replaced the oil with an equal volume of the apple sauce. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 6oz to 4oz. Delia's recipe suggests baking for 35--40 minutes but we found that it needed closer to 50 minutes.
This evening I make tuna and chickpea burgers, based on a recipe from the BBC Good Food magazine. I used leeks instead of onions and parsley instead of coriander but apart from that I followed the recipe fairly closely. The cooked burgers had a fairly soft texture but they tasted good.
Emma baked and decorated some Halloween themed cupcakes today:
Emma made this cheesecake today. The recipe came with some money-off vouchers for Oreos so we decided to make the recipe using the genuine article instead of a cheaper substitute biscuit.
A couple of weeks ago I made a German Friendship Cake which was used a sweet yeast based starter. After making the cake I gave a portion of the starter to my mum so she could have a go at making it, and kept the rest of the starter going by repeating the feeding and stirring process.
I had read somewhere that the starter can be used to make pancakes. Since today is Good Friday, and the end of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to have a go at making them, so that Lent started and ended with pancakes.
I poured a few tablespoons of the starter into a hot oiled frying pan and cooked for a minute or so on each side. The pancakes started to bubble nicely and looked quite promising while they were cooking. The end result wasn't quite as good as I was expecting, they were still a bit doughy in the middle. I added a bit more milk to the mixture and gave it a second attempt.
The plain pancakes were a bit sweet but they went well with a bit of lemon juice. I didn't get the cooking time or temperature sorted properly since each pancake was still a bit soft in the middle. It was an interesting experiment but I will stick to the traditional pancake batter in future.
Just over a week ago I exchanged sourdough starters with a colleague in work. I gave her some of my wild yeast starter and in return I was given a tub of Herman starter.
The Herman starter mix is made using flour, sugar, milk and yeast. Unlike the traditional bread starter, which ideally should be fed every day, the Herman starter is only stirred each day and fed on the 4th and 9th days. The feed consists of equal quantities of sugar, milk and flour.
On the 10th day, the cake is ready to make. Take 1 cup of starter and add all the other ingredients, mixing well to make a stiff batter. As usual, I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house at the time. I used:
- 1 cup of sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups of plain flour
- ⅔ cup of vegetable oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 medium sized apples, chopped but not peeled
- 1 cup of dried mixed fruit
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp of mixed spice
- 2 tsp baking powder
I poured the mixture into a couple of loaf tins and sprinkled them with demerara and a little melted butter. I then covered them loosely with foil before baking them at gas mark 4 (180 °C). One of the cakes was ready after an hour, the other was in a deeper tin and took nearly twice as long.
The apples help to keep the cake nice and moist. I think it would work just as well with pears, and possibly using apricots instead of the mixed fruit.
Our semi-regular trip to Pizza Express for St. Valentine's Day.
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We bought a big tub of mascarpone the other day which means we have had to find enough ways to use it before it starts to go off.
The first use was nice and straightforward: We dolloped a bit on a toasted hot cross bun.
Today I made a chicken and butternut squash risotto following the standard risotto method: I fried some diced squash, finely chopped leeks, garlic, and a pinch of dried chilli. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but when we have a glut of chillies, I make my own dried chilli. I slice the chillies in half lengthways then put them on a sheet of kitchen roll in a small metal tray, which I then put on the radiator for a week or so. I then smash the chillies up using a small food processor.
Back to the risotto. After adding the chilli I added risotto rice and home made chicken stock. When the rice was roughly half cooked, I added some diced cooked chicken and a generous pinch of salt. When it was all fully cooked I added a generous heaped tablespoon of the mascarpone and stirred it in. The risotto was very rich and creamy and the mascarpone seemed to help keep it fairly firm, instead of going sloppy which can sometimes happen when I use ordinary cream cheese.
Tomorrow I will make a pasta bake. The mascarpone and a beaten egg should hold the pasta together well so it doesn't collapse too much when I serve. I will find out tomorrow.
This afternoon we made some cupcake (or to be more accurate, Emma made them while I helped weigh out the ingredients). The cakes contained:
- 3oz margarine
- 4oz sugar
- 8oz flour
- 3 eggs
- just over half a tub of glacé cherries
They were baked for about 15 minutes at gas mark 6 and left to cool before being topped with a chocolate buttercream.
This was our second year taking the Hamster Club to the Tabley Showground in Cheshire. It was quite cold in the tent and the Hamster Club tent would suddenly become very popular and fill with people every time it rained.
Every colour of Winter White. These furry spheres were part of the 'display' to demonstrate the different types of hamster which are kept by members of the club. They spent most of the day lined up asleep but whenever someone got a camera out to take a picture, they would wake up and move. I think this was my third attempt to take their photo. The colours are (from left to right): Pearl, Normal, Sapphire-Pearl, Sapphire.
A giant chocolate muffin which we bought from one of the bakery stands. It was so big it was decorated with smaller cakes.