Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf.

I’ve baked loads of recipes from Lorraine Pascale’s new book “Bake” now.  I’ve been really impressed with the range of recipes on offer from cakes to biscuits and desserts and savoury bakes.  I can’t bake as much as I’ve done in the past which does make me feel upset. But it doesn’t do me or my family’s health any good and also I just don’t have the time any more.  So baking for local happenings and for Clandestine Cake Club events is really special.

This Banana Loaf with Peanut Butter Frosting was the second cake I baked to donate to a local village’s Spring Festival on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.  I love banana loaf and peanut butter but I’ve never attempted to use both these ingredients together in a cake before.

Lorraine says in her recipe introduction: “The bananas need to be super ripe for this cake recipe”. This is never a problem in our house. I always buy bananas in our weekly shop and it’s only really Mr SmartCookieSam that eats them. I like them but prefer berries on top of my porridge. Sometimes Mr SmartCookieSam puts them on his toast with peanut butter. I was lucky that there were two ripe bananas left which would be ideal to use in this recipe.

The main cake was very quick to bake.  I always use ready made loaf tin liners which are so easy to use. When the oven was preheating, I creamed together butter and sugar until it became light and fluffy. I then added one egg, followed by half the quantity of self raising flour needed. This was repeated with another egg and the remaining flour.  When all this was combined, in went two ripe mashed bananas.

The loaf was baked in the oven for about an hour.  I had to keep checking that the top didn’t over brown.  Thankfully it didn’t but I kept poking a skewer in the cake to check it was cooked.  Finally after an hour it was ready to come out.

The cake was put on a wire rack and left to cool down still with the loaf tin liner wrapped around it. I didn’t dare move it before just in case it made the whole blinking thing fall apart.

Later on that afternoon I made the Peanut Butter frosting.  I used Crunchy Peanut butter to add texture.  I prefer to use a sugar free brand, such as Whole Earth or Meridian.  There was no point in using a sugary one as I was already adding icing sugar to the frosting.  The frosting also used a little bit of butter and a small amount of cream cheese which gave it a delicious flavour.  This was simply all weighed out and mixed together with my hand held mixer.  The frosting was spread on the top of the cake with a palette knife.  To finish off I had bought a bag of salted peanuts to sprinkle on the top.  I had to hide the rest of the bag so I wasn’t tempted to eat them.

At the Spring Festival the following day I chose to buy a slice of the Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf to test it out (pictured above with a slice of my Pecan Pie Popcorn Naked Cake). My mum and I halved the slices of both cakes to check them out. I really enjoyed the banana loaf although I did find the frosting a bit on the sweet side. Since losing weight I’ve found my sweet tooth isn’t there as much as it used to be.

I’ll definitely bake the cake again.  It would also work well with chocolate chips sprinkled in the cake itself and on top of the cake instead of salted peanuts.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Very Easy Double Chocolate Cupcakes.

This year I was lucky enough to to get two useful calendars for Christmas. My Dad and step mum bought me a “his and hers” cupcake design calendar which is where I write down all mine and my husband’s work commitments. I work as a supply teacher so my work patterns and locations can vary from week to week. Hubby isn’t always in the office but can be out and about or can be away overnight. So a calendar showing one another’s whereabouts in full view in the kitchen is very helpful.  I was also given a Great British Bake Off Family planner.  This is where I put all the family and home commitments. Even the dog, cat and horse have a slot! The bonus with the planner is that each month features a delicious recipe. 

The recipe for January was for some easy Double Chocolate Cupcakes. They use cocoa powder to create the chocolate flavour instead of real chocolate. I was glad as I didn’t have any chocolate in the house. Well I’m MEANT to be doing Weightwatchers but all this cold and wet weather has made me want chocolate all the more. So I’ve made sure there wasn’t any in the house! But I really miss baking and I knew that my son was having friends over to help him with a film project the day after. I didn’t want to go out buying more ingredients so I wanted to use up what I had.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s simple enough to be mixed up in a food processor. My food processor kicked the bucket last year and I haven’t got round to replacing it yet. You can use an ordinary stand mixer or a hand held mixer instead. I used my hand held one as I couldn’t be bothered with getting the big mixer out of the cupboard just for baking one thing! 

The fat content comes from using sunflower oil instead of butter.  First I weighed out and sifted the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl: self raising flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. These were then mixed together. In another bowl I weighed out the sunflower oil, a beaten egg, a spoonful of vanilla extract and some caster sugar. Once this was combined, some milk got added to the mixture. Finally the dry mixture was folded into the wet mixture to create a delicious fudgy and gooey brownie like batter. It was slightly runnier than my standard chocolate cupcake mixture so I poured it into the prepared cupcake cases rather than spooning them in with a teaspoon. 

The cupcakes rose beautifully in the oven and took roughly about 20 minutes to bake. I took them out of the oven and made the most of the gorgeous sunny day by going out for a four mile walk with my dog. It was a rush for me to get the cupcakes iced before I went out to pick my son up from school. The icing is a flavourful one with this recipe. It was a buttercream but instead of all icing sugar in the mixture it also contained caster sugar. I’ve never made icing with anything other than icing sugar in it before so that was a new one on me. The icing apart from containing cocoa powder to give it its chocolatey flavour had some strong coffee in it. Not sure how strong the coffee flavour would come across but I thought it was an interesting addition. 

Easy Double Chocolate Cupcakes from the 2016 Great British Bake Off calendar.
  
The cupcakes had a simple but delicious coffee chocolate icing.
 
I chose to bake my cupcakes in red cases because red looks great with chocolate and I had a pack of red, white and blue sprinkles to use up. The picture on the calendar showed mini Smarties or chocolate beans on the top but anything goes with these babies.

Surprisingly none of the cupcakes got touched until my son’s friends arrived. I don’t know how that happened. They went down well and my daughter said she preferred them to cupcakes swirled with a heap of buttercream on top like a Mr Whippy ice cream. Trouble is they look better. 

This recipe is perfect for baking with kids if you want to encourage them into the kitchen.  

Happy baking! 

Love Sam xx

Frosted Walnut Layer Cake from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

Last week it was my turn along with two others to provide supper for all the ladies at my local WI meeting.  When we sort out the supper rota at the beginning of the year I always volunteer to do my turn depending on when the school holidays are.  Luckily this time I managed to do April’s meeting as it fell during the Easter holidays.  This means it’s easier to get things ready, like baking a few little goodies.

Though I’m glad I had time to experiment in the kitchen this time.  I wanted to try out some more recipes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible as part of my Cooking The Books Challenge, so I planned to bake a Frosted Walnut Layer Cake.   To help even more I was lucky to have both my daughter and her friend in the kitchen with me. My daughter’s friend is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award and wanted to gain some baking skills and more knowledge. So I got them both involved with tasks and it helped the baking go with a swing.

My daughter's friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
My daughter’s friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
Two 20cm/ 8" diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
Two 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.

By this time it was getting busy in the kitchen.  I was trying to rush through each stage of the various cakes I had to make and then upon reading the recipe I realised I had to make a meringue frosting.  The egg whites and caster sugar had to be  continually whisked over a bowl of hot water, which took a very long time.  It was meant to thicken up but it just didn’t. No matter how hard I whisked it,  it just stayed runny.  By the time I had got round to making the frosting I had baked all the other things and I hadn’t got any eggs left to start again from scratch.  I was even low on butter so I couldn’t even make another batch of icing like a buttercream.  In the end I tried more whisking and after another ten minutes it finally thickened a little.  It still wasn’t enough to spread on the cake,  more like to pour it on as you’ll see from all the following pictures.

Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting.  The cake was finished with walnut halves.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting. The cake was finished with walnut halves.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!

I was so disappointed with the cake that I didn’t dare take it along to my WI meeting.  I was so ashamed of it and it looked so messy.  It went into the fridge and there it stayed.  Over the weekend a couple of days later when my mum was staying she had a piece and said it was lovely.  I tasted a mouthful and thought the icing was very sweet but I did like the walnut cake part.  I’ll definitely try and make it again when I’m not in a rush as it looks such a delicious cake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx