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Banana Bread/Pumpkin Traybake

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
23/Nov/2016

This was another 'make room in the freezer' baking session. I had more grated pumpkin in the freezer,along with some 'shop damaged' bananas (6p for a bag). I defrosted them and made two cake mixes. My idea was to pour them in opposite ends of a baking tray, giving the middle a swirl so the ends were one type of cake and the middle had both combined.

Recipe

The original recipe was based on the pumpkin cupcakes. I beat together 175ml of vegetable oil, 3 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then divided the mixture in two.

In one half I added the pumpkin cake ingredients (but using cranberries instead of sultanas):

  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 100g of grated pumpkin
  • 50g cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon with ½ tsp of mixed spice

In the other half I added

  • 85g of drinking chocolate powder, with an extra tablespoon of sugar
  • 100g mashed banana
  • 50g sultanas

Both halves also had

  • 100g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda

I poured the two batters into a 10x6 inch tray. I expected the cakes to take about half an hour at gas mark 4 but it was well over ¾ hour before the middle stopped being liquid.

When the cake had cooled, I made a lemon juice icing, slightly runny so I could drizzle it over the top.

Banana Bread/Pumpkin Traybake

I took some of the cake to work to share (since that was where the hot chocolate powder came from, it was only fair to do that). People seemed to like it - I got favourable comments from people, someone even noticed that I had used an oil based recipe. Both cakes were definitely worth doing again.



International A-Z: A for Algeria

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
15/Nov/2016

Earlier this year I was watching Saturday Kitchen and they were showing one of the many regular clips from Rick Stein. This was from a series he did in Eastern Europe and it gave me the idea to try to do another alphabetical cooking challenge. I intend to take each letter of the alphabet and cook something from a country or region beginning with each letter.

Originally my plan was to cook a meal but we were recently at a barbecue where the husband was Algerian and his family had provided most of the food. There was a yellow bread which went down really well. When I got home I looked it up and found some recipes.

Khobz El Dar: Algerian Semolina Bread

I took inspiration from a recipe from food.com but I reduced the quantities a bit. Since the bread we ate didn't have seeds on or in it, I left those out.

Algerian Semolina Bread

My bread took a long time to rise (I think there were problems with the yeast) and the bread had a slight sourdough taste to it. I had baked with semolina before but this was the first time I had done a bread which was mostly semolina flour. My version wasn't as good as the one we had at the barbecue but it was my first attempt. If I try again, with fresher yeast, it might come out better.



Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownies part 2

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
03/Oct/2016

I made a second batch of the apple sauce and drinking chocolate brownies. This time I added a handful of dried cherries to the mix. I also used half apple pureé and half olive oil, since I only had half a cup of apple pureé in the fridge (the rest is in the freezer).

alt_text

When the brownies came out of the oven, I sprinkled 50g of plain chocolate over the top and waited for it to melt before spreading it over the top.

I took the cakes to work the share out and the everyone seemed to like them.



Bake-Off Fougasse

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /
01/Oct/2016

We have been fans of the Great British Bake Off since it first started and occasionally I cook something inspired by the programme. This week they did a Fougasse, which I hadn't heard of but looked good. The version on the programme was flavoured with herbs but I thought I would start with a plain version then try flavoured ones another time.

I followed the bread part of the recipe precisely, scaling it down a bit since I didn't need two loaves.

  • 300g (2¼ cups) of bread flour
  • 6g salt
  • one sachet of yeast
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 ml warm water

The method involved adding ¾ of the water at the start, then slowly adding the rest, using a food mixer with a dough hook. I followed it to the letter, including the 8 minute mixing time.

I actually split the dough in 2, adding extra flour to one half to use for a pizza base. The other half I left as-is and shaped into an approximate leaf shape and cut down the middle and diagonally from the centre.

After about an hour or so proving, I transferred the bread, still on the baking paper, onto the pizza stone and baked it (at gas mark 7) for 15 minutes.

Fougasse

It looks a bit irregular (or informal as Mary Berry might say) but that was mainly because it slid off the tray while I was getting ready to transfer it to the pizza stone. We ate it with some dips. I made the cheese and courgette dip again, but this time using cream cheese and pecorino instead of goats cheese. The fougasse was good. The outside was crispy while the inside was soft and fluffy. The dip was cheesy and went well with it.

Next time, I will add some extra flavours to the bread. Possibly garlic and chilli or parmesan/pecorino. We have some fresh herbs in the garden (and more chopped in the freezer) so I could also do Paul Hollywood's herb version too.



Leftover Bread part 2: Bread Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
16/Mar/2016

Yesterday I made both the bread frittata and a bread pudding. The former was eaten for lunch, the latter was put straight in the fridge last night and we had half of it as part of our pudding after tea tonight.

Ingredients

  • Bread, 200g
  • milk, 150ml
  • dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, sultanas), 100g
  • sugar, 50g, extra for topping
  • eggs, 1
  • butter, 50g, extra for topping
  • spices (cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice), 2 tsp in total
  • orange zest

Method

The method was very similar to the frittata. The milk and egg were whisked together. The butter was melted and allowed to cool down before being stirred in, then the dried fruit, sugar, spices and bread were mixed in. Everything was poured into an 8 inch tin. The top was dotted with pieces of butter and extra sugar was sprinkled on. Again, the tin was covered with foil and baked, also at gas mark 4, for 45 minutes this time. The foil was removed about 10 minutes before the end.

Bread Pudding



Leftover Bread part 1: Frittata

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
15/Mar/2016

We have a bag in the freezer which is filled with scraps of bread leftover from various loaves. I decided it was time to find something to do with them. I wondered if it was possible to do a frittata/tortilla using bread instead of potatoes or other vegetables. I found a few recipes, all using different vegetables and quantities of bread and other ingredients. I used the leftovers from tonight's tea, along with some cocktail sausages from the weekend.

Ingredients

  • 100 g bread, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 100g assorted cooked vegetables (I used onion, pepper, rice and sweetcorn)
  • 3 cocktail sausages, chopped small
  • salt, pepper and smoked paprika seasoning.

Method

I beat the eggs and milk together, stirred in all the other ingredients and poured the mixture into a greased and lined 8 inch tin. This was covered in foil and baked at gas mark 4 (180°C) for about half an hour.

Bread Frittata

The frittata was put in the fridge overnight ready for me to take for lunch tomorrow.

Update 16/03/2016

I had the frittata for lunch in work. It had gone firm enough to pick up and eat, making it ideal for picnics or packed lunches.



Banana muffins and Madeleines

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
31/Jan/2016

I baked a few things during January which I didn't get around to writing about at the time so I thought I'd post a couple of photos now. I made some banana muffins a few weeks ago, to use up some over-ripe and bruised bananas.

banana muffins

We got a madeleine tin for Christmas. It had spaces for 12 cakes, and the recipe in the Hairy Biker's book said it makes 12, which was a happy coincidence.

madeleines



Regional Cakeathon Revisited: Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
01/Nov/2015

The barley bread was one of the recipes I wanted to try during the main run of the A-Z of baking but I had difficulty tracking down the barley flour. I eventually managed to find some in a vegan/health food shop in Digbeth in Birmingham but by then I had already made the Nottingham Apple Pudding.

The only versions of this recipe on-line seem to be more like a savoury scone than a bread, made with buttermilk and baking powder. I thought I would try to make a more traditional bread, using yeast. Since baking powder was only invented in the mid 19th century, if the barley is a genuine traditional food, then early versions would have used yeast.

Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread

I used a mixture of barley flour and bread flour, added yeast and salt and then enough milk to make a soft dough. It rose quite slowly so I left it overnight. I only made a bread roll sized loaf as an experiment but it came out ok. I will have another go sometime in the future and try a few other variations on the recipe.



Regional Cakeathon Revisited: Bakewell Tart and Chester Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
06/Oct/2015

When I was compiling the list of recipes for my 'Cakeathon', there were some letters where I found several recipes which I wanted to do. I decided to go through the alphabet once then revisit any remaining recipes.

A couple of days ago I blind-baked a couple of pastry cases, with the intention of making a Chester Pudding. While I had the ground almonds out, I thought I should make a bakewell tart too. I know that the Bakewell Pudding is the genuine traditional item and that the tart is a more modern version. I intend to try the pudding at some point but here is my attempt at a Bakewell Tart.

Bakewell Tart

See more ....
The filling was based on a recipe from a Hairy Bikers programme.

Chester Pudding

On to the Chester Pudding. While I was researching recipes, I found the there were two completely different puddings with the same name. One was a suet pudding, the other was a version of a Lemon Meringue Pie. I decided to make the latter. This was the same recipe which featured on the TV programme Terry and Mason's Great Food Trip, where Terry Wogan got driven around the country, eating local recipes.

Chester Pudding

When I read a few recipes, I realised that the lemon and almond layer was actually just a lemon curd with ground almonds and almond essence added. I decided to take a bit of a short cut and mixed a few tablespoons of lemon curd with almonds and spread that on the pastry base.

Apart from the pastry base being a bit thick and dry, both puddings/tarts came out well. The almond filling for the bakewell tart was really good for a first attempt. The lemon and almond layer in the chester tart could probably have benefited from more almonds or almond essence but that's a minor quibble.



Regional Cakeathon Z: Zimbabwe Sweet Potato Scones

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
19/Sep/2015

At last I have reached the letter Z in my alphabetical trawl through cakes and geography. It only took me a bit longer than I expected. I originally planned to make something every week or so but it ended up taking one year and 9 months. I have had to leave the UK again since the only 'Z' recipes I could find were Zimbabwe or Zanzibar.

I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is. There are many versions on different websites, mostly claiming to be a cookie recipe and mostly identical to each other, so it's not been easy to find where it came from. I came across a book called Cooking the Southern African Way: Culturally Authentic Foods Including Low-fat and Vegetarian Recipes which has the same recipe, but without the lemon glaze. This book claims that the recipe was a British invention which may explain why the so-called cookies are actually more like a traditional scone, but without milk.

We regularly have sweet potatoes in the house, so last time we cooked some I grated and froze a tub ready to make these.

Ingredients

  • 140g butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tbs orange zest (the original was lemon zest but I had some orange zest in the freezer)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (the original used nutmeg)
  • 60g honey
  • 1 egg
  • 140-180g grated sweet potato
  • 400-450g self raising flour (the original used plain flour and separate raising agents)
  • a pinch of salt

Method

I started by softening the butter then beating in the sugar, orange zest, mixed spice, egg and honey. I stirred in the grated sweet potato then sifted in enough flour to make a soft dough. I broke off lumps of dough, rolled then into balls then flattened them into cookies. These were baked at gas mark 3, 170C, for 15 minutes. While the scones cooled, I mixed the icing.

Lemon Glaze

The various versions on-line usually have a teaspoon of lemon juice then small amounts of water are added to get the right consistency. I didn't measure the icing sugar. I started with generous teaspoon of butter which I melted then added the icing sugar. I added enough lemon juice to form a spreadable icing.

Zimbabwe Sweet Potato Scones
The so-called Sweet Potato Cookies.

As I said earlier, these were more like a scone than a cookie. One of the small ones had cracked so I tasted (un-glazed) it while the rest cooled. The combination of orange and spice flavours worked very well. The lemon glaze added a bit of sharpness which worked well.



Regional Cakeathon Y: Yorkshire Curd Tart

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
13/Sep/2015

I first tried a Yorkshire Curd Tart back in 2010 when we went to the Otley Agricultural Show. I quite liked it so it was the natural choice for me to make for the letter Y.

The pastry base was a standard shortcrust, not the sweet enriched pastry often used for dessert tarts or pies. I figured that the traditional version of a recipe like this would have a more plain pastry.

I've never had much luck with pastry so after baking blind for 10 minutes, I removed the baking beans and put the case back in the oven for another 5 minutes to dry out a bit more.

First attempt at a Yorkshire Curd Tart

See more ....
The filling was made by creaming together 50g of caster sugar and 50g of softened butter. I added a teaspoon of mixed spice and 2 small eggs then the curd cheese. We use Quark semi-regularly so instead of making fresh curd cheese, I tipped in what remained in the open tub in the fridge, which was a bit over 100g. I then added 50g of sultanas.

I poured the mixture into the pastry case and baked it as gas mark 4 (180 °C) for about half an hour or so.

Yorkshire Curd Tart

Despite my precautions with the pastry case, the base was very soft and the sides were a bit too crispy. After baking, there was a strong buttery smell in the house and I was worried that the filling had separated but it hadn't. The tart tasted good, not too rich or sweet. It would probably go well with a cup of coffee.



Regional Cakeathon X: eXeter Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
16/Aug/2015

My choice of recipe for the letter X is a bit of a cheat, since of course Exeter doesn't start with that letter. I have also had to more or less abandon my original idea of doing recipes named after places I've been to or those with some significance or importance to me. I've not actually been to Exeter - the nearest I've been is driving past on the motorway.

I originally found the Exeter Pudding in the ever useful Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery. I had brioche crumbs in the freezer (which has to be a candidate for one of the most middle class things I've written) so I used those for breadcrumbs. I didn't have any rum or lemon rind so I added some limoncello to the breadcrumb-custard mixture.

Exeter Pudding recipe from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery

See more ....
Last night I made a couple of small sponge cakes, using the simple but reliable equal weights recipe. Tonight I assembled the pudding and baked it:

Ingredients

Sponge cake

  • 2 eggs (about 120g)
  • 120g butter
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Exeter Pudding

  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g breadcrumbs (from a chocolate chip brioche I made earlier in the year)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • a couple of tablespoons of limoncello with milk added to 150ml
  • Ratafia Biscuits

Method

I buttered a pyrex dish, sprinkled a handful of breadcrumbs over the base then covered with a layer of ratafia biscuits. I melted the rest of the butter and mixed it with the rest of the 'wet' ingredients. I poured a thin layer of this over the ratafia then added a layer of sponge cake, which I had spread with raspberry jam.

I poured some more mixture over, added more ratafia biscuits, more mixture, a final layer of sponge cake then the rest of the mixture. I covered the dish with foil and baked for about an hour at gas mark 4.

Exeter Pudding

The pudding was a bit sweet but the flavours were good, possibly thanks to the ingredients which went in - you can't really go wrong when a pudding contains cream, brioche and a rich sponge cake.

Exeter Pudding



Regional Cakeathon W: Welsh Cakes

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
05/Jul/2015

Most of the recipes I've done so far have been named after towns or regions. This is the first one named after an entire country, one in which I lived and/or worked for over 10 years.

Welsh Cakes

The recipe I followed was the average of several ones:

  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 3oz sugar
  • ½ mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • sultanas/dried fruit
  • a splash of milk

I put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulsed until it formed breadcrumbs. I then added the mixed spice and sugar and pulsed a few more times before tipping the mixture into a bowl. I added the fruit (a handful of sultanas and mixed berries) and egg and mixed well. I put a small splash of milk in to help it form a dough.

Traditionally, Welsh Cakes are cooked on a flat griddle (another name for them is Bakestones). I cooked them on our pizza stone for about 3-4 minutes each side.

It's been a few years since I ate a welsh cake (the last time I went to Cardiff) so I can't remember exactly how these compare. They tasted ok to me.



Regional Cakeathon V: Virginia Apple Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
24/May/2015

When I started this exploration of regional foods, I wanted to mainly do British recipes but every now and again I have to look further afield for inspiration.

The Virginia Apple Pudding is a moist spiced apple cake and is very easy to make. I found several recipes, most of which were adapted from the same source. I made a smaller version, with more cinnamon and a mixture of apple and pear.

My Recipe

  • 1 cup of apple/pear mixture, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup of plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ granulated sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 4 tbs slightly salted butter, melted
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½tsp vanilla extract

I followed the original recipe fairly closely: Beat together everything apart from the fruit and cinnamon. Put the last 2 ingredients in a bowl and microwave for a couple of minutes to soften the fruit. Pour the batter into a cake tin then spread the spiced fruit on top.

Bake in the bottom half of a pre-heated oven (gas mark 5) for about half an hour.

Virginia Apple Pudding

After last weeks sago fiasco, this was a lot more successful. The cake was moist, tasty and had just the right amount of spice (I may have mentioned before that I believe most cake recipes under-use cinnamon and tend to increase any quantities given).



Regional Cakeathon U: Upton Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
16/May/2015

I'm not sure which of the many Uptons this recipe came from. There are several in England, including two near where I grew up (Upton-by-Chester and Upton on the Wirral). The only mentions of an Upton Pudding I can find on-line all refer to a pudding shop in Upton upon Severn but nowhere gives a recipe or even a vague description.

The recipe I followed came from Cassells Dictionary of Cookery. Some of the quantities were vague (volume of a teacup? size of a pie dish?) but the cooking instructions were fairly clear.

Upton Pudding recipe

I bought a packet of 'sago' from the market this morning but when I looked closer, the contents were described as 'tapioca'. There does seem to be a lot of confusion over the two ingredients and they appear to be used interchangeably. It looks like a lot of so-called sago is now made from cassava so is actually tapioca.

My version was made using a measuring cup of sago/tapioca, a mixture of milk and water, a teaspoon of orange zest and three small apples, cored peeled and sliced. I baked it at gas mark 5 for a couple of hours, adding some extra water part way through when it had absorbed everything but the sago was still crunchy.

Upton Pudding

The flavour and texture were a bit unusual. The orange flavour was fairly prominent but probably needed a bit more sweetness because it didn't quite taste right to me.

Update 17/05/2015

When I tried the pudding last night it was still warm. I put the rest in the fridge overnight and tried some more today. The texture hadn't improved and to be honest, I couldn't eat the rest of the bowl. This definitely isn't a recipe to try again. Once was probably too many times.