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

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bundt Cake- from The Clandestine Cake Club’s A Year Of Cake March Bakealong.

As you know, I love any excuse to bake and even more of an excuse to get one of my prized Nordicware bundt pans out! Ever since the second Clandestine Cake Club book “A Year Of Cake” was published last September I’ve been keen to bake the mouthwatering Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake which my friend Sharon Clarkson contributed to the book.

Sharon is organiser for the Pudsey and West Leeds Clandestine Cake Club and nearly two years ago she organised an event where we had to bake cakes from around the world.  I created a Mojito and Coconut Tres Leches Cake which also ended up being put in the “A Year Of Cake” book. Sharon created a delicious peanut butter and chocolate bundt which was absolutely heavenly. So when the recipes were revealed when the book was published it was exciting to see Sharon’s recipe had been accepted.  The recipe testers decided though, that they wouldn’t have it as a bundt cake but as an ordinary layer cake.

Lynn Hill, the founder of The Clandestine Cake Club has been organising a monthly Bakealong of recipes from the book.  If you want to take part you tell Lynn which recipe you would like to bake from that month’s chapter.  There are usually between seven and nine recipes for each month.  Sharon’s recipe had been added to the book to commemorate the date of the London Marathon which is a link with its favours of a Snickers bar. Who remembers Snickers bars being called Marathons? Can’t remember offhand when the name changed but I’m sure it was when I was a teenager.

The recipe introduction says “About 40,000 people pull on their running shoes each year to take part in the challenge that is the London Marathon. Those of you who can’t speak from experience can nonetheless imagine that running 26 miles leaves you pretty tired and in need of some energy. With its crunchy sugar- boosting mix of caramel, peanuts and chocolate, Sharon’s Marathon cake will definitely help the runners in your life replace the calories they’ve burned. And if just the thought of running for a bus makes you tired then sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake and toast those brave competitors who pound the streets for charity,”

I am totally in awe of anyone who runs a marathon. I started running last September and have gone from not even running at all with my knees aching to running for 20 minutes non-stop. Of course I run at a snail’s pace but I’m working on getting faster as I have signed up for the Race For Life in York at the end of June! I’m not sure whether my family will be there handing me a slice of chocolate and peanut butter cake at the finish line but they’ve assured me they will be there to cheer me on!

Last Tuesday I had a very special photo session in my kitchen. I’ll be able to tell you more about it as soon as I can but I needed to have some cakey props in the kitchen.  So the opportunity to bake the Chocolate and Peanut Butter cake was perfect for the photos.  I chose to bake it in my  Nordicware Square bundt pan as I knew it worked well as a bundt!

 To bake the bundt I first had to mix crunchy peanut butter (I always use a good quality brand with no sugar in it, such as Meridian or Whole Earth) with some icing sugar. This was then put aside as I made the rest of the cake. In a bowl some cocoa powder, plain flour and salt was sifted and mixed together. I then got out another bowl and then creamed together some butter and sugar until it became light and fluffy. To this, I added eggs carefully to ensure the mixture didn’t curdle.  After this I took it in turns to add the flour mixture along with a mixture of buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract. Finally I added some chopped plain chocolate and folded it into the batter, along  with the peanut butter.

The Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bundt Cake ready to be put in the oven. I absolutely love my Nordicware Square Bundt pan which was a Christmas present.

I always hope and pray that my bundts come out of the pan in one piece, luckily this time it did!

I had prepared the cake before the photographer arrived at my house and it was all ready to be iced if he needed me to do it for the photos. I was asked to make up the icing and was photographed mixing the icing. The icing was a heavenly mix of cocoa powder, butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and evaporated milk which turned into a delicious fudgy frosting. I then was photographed spreading the icing onto the cake with a large palette knife. Later, as the photographer needed me to bake and ice other things, I put the cake aside and added chocolate chips, sprinkles and icing sugar on afterwards.

Ready to be eaten. The. bundt’s fudge icing was jusr divine.

 

i was a bit cack handed with the icing sugar and the chocolate sprinkles!

 

A perfect example of chocolate heaven.

 By the time the photographer left it was about 3pm and  I was very hungry. I couldn’t help it but I cut myself a piece of the cake for my lunch. It was gorgeous. The rest ended up being eaten in bits over the next few days by my family.  I will definitely be baking the cake again!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies

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Peanut and Chocolate Blondies- meant to have white chocolate in but thanks to someone helping themselves they became dark chocolate ones instead!

Last Monday afternoon I got in from work and finished my jobs.  It was one of those afternoons where I had an urge to bake something.  It had to be something quick that I could sling together and chuck in the oven before disappearing off to collect my kids from school.

Brownies or blondies work well for me as I make them such a lot, you get it down to a fine art and they don’t take long to whip up and in the oven.  So, for this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge where I am baking a recipe from every chapter of Rachel Allen’s Bake, her recipe for White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies would be just the ticket.  In the recipe introduction Rachel says “Fed up of brownies? Try blondies! These little squares are great on their own, eaten with ice cream they are simply sinful!”  Well we all need a pick me up or a little treat to help us get through life don’t we?

I looked in my baking cupboard knowing that I’d bought a packet of white chocolate chips a couple of weeks back and would have enough to go in the blondies.  But when I opened the cupboard.. they just weren’t there!  I can only put it down to my kids helping themselves! So frustrating, but I couldn’t prove who had took them! Luckily though I had a packet of dark chocolate chips and they would have to do instead!

To begin with I creamed some butter and crunchy peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl. When this was done I sifted some plain flour and bakingpowder in another bowl.  To the peanut butter bowl I added soft brown sugar, egg and some vanilla extract.  Finally in went the bag of chocolate chips.

As for the tin, I used the square one I always use for my brownies.  It’s a either a loose bottomed one I bought a few years back in Lakeland or one I bought at a Jamie At Home party which isn’t loose bottomed but still worked as well. Either tin always makes either 16 small square brownie bites or 12 large ones.  No problem again here, the dough went into the tin fine and 25-30 minutes later out it came after being baked in the oven at 170oC (electric fan oven here).

After about 1/2 hour’s cooling time I attempted to cut up the blondies and quickly hid them in a box in the cupboard away from my family.  They were going into work to share with my work colleagues and I thought if my family knew there were blondies about there wouldn’t be any left the next day.

I thought I’d got away with it as it was an afternoon when I was at home and my kids were still at school.  I had hidden the evidence but when we got in from the school run my daughter started sniffing when she came back in. She said “Have you been baking? I can smell chocolate!” My kids have baking radar but I lied and said she was imagining things!

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The blondies cut up easily into 12 large pieces.
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The blondies were packed up in a box and taken into work to share with my colleagues. They all disappeared by about lunchtime and everyone said they were delicious.

Cooking The Books February 2014- Snickers & Peanut Butter Muffins from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

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Snickers and Peanut Butter Muffins- an absolutely moreish treat.

As you’ve probably gathered from previous posts I’m doing a Cooking The Books Challenge.  In February I’m baking a recipe from each chapter of Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.  So yesterday on the Friday of half term week it was time for me to bake something from the Children chapter in the book.  Though I only have had one of my two children at home with me, my son has been away with school on a skiing trip. So it has been me and my sixteen year old daughter at home all week.

Nigella has a recipe for Snickers And Peanut Butter Muffins, which as she says in her recipe introduction “These muffins have a special charm: I think the ingredients speak for themselves. But what I should perhaps add is that they taste seriously good to adults too!”

As someone who loves Snickers bars and peanut butter this was going to be a hard temptation for me to resist.  It was hard enough when I’d been in Morrisons and bought a four pack of Snickers bars.  I’m so surprised they stayed in the wrappers from the day before. Normally with my track record I’d have wolfed the lot before even getting them home! I was also lucky with the peanut butter, I had to buy another jar and hide it from my daughter and hubby.  They love peanut butter on toast topped with chopped banana sometimes for breakfast.  I only needed 6 tablespoonfuls for the recipe, though so they got to have the remains of the jar in the end.

So, here is how these delicious goodies were made;

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I chopped up the Snickers bars ready to be thrown into the mixture.
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Bright orange muffin cases ready in the tin.
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First I needed to stir together some plain flour, salt, sugar and some baking powder in my mixing bowl.
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I then added the peanut butter to the bowl and mixed it in.
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Then I added in melted butter, a large beaten egg and some milk. The chopped Snickers bars were added in at the end.
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All combined gently to make the muffin batter.
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The mixture was put carefully into the prepared muffin tin and baked in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
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Out of the oven and on the serving plate.

Even though I’d stuck to the specified oven baking times I’d noticed that my muffins had burned a bit on the top where the Snickers bars were.  It didn’t affect the taste, only the appearance.

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I’d not had any lunch so by 5pm I was ravenous and tucked into one of these muffins with a cup of tea. Delicious!

I will definitely make these muffins again.  Nigella was definitely right when she said they were seriously good for adults too. Straight off the cooling rack and still warm as well! I had to hide the rest of the muffins in a plastic box so I wasn’t tempted to pinch another one.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Peanut Butter Cookies- A Lighter Way To Bake (Cooking The Books January 2014.)

Peanut butter cookies are a serious addiction for me. Thank heavens I don’t make them often or I’d be the size of a killer whale!  Though keeping a whole jar of peanut butter aside for baking in our house is not an easy challenge.  Every time I buy a jar it miraculously disappears. Both my husband and daughter love peanut butter on toast for breakfast. So on the rare occasions where I have made peanut butter cookies, they just seem to vanish in our house.

Knowing that peanut butter cookies are naughty but nice, I was interested to see that Lorraine Pascale has a lighter version in her latest book “A Lighter Way To Bake” which I am currently using as my Cooking The Books Challenge for January.  Lorraine says in the recipe introduction that she has “worked hard to reduce the peanut butter, sugar and butter content in them as best as I can so that they still have that scrumbunctious flavour!”  To do this Lorraine uses no added sugar peanut butter which usually has palm oil in instead.  This is the peanut butter I usually buy anyway, like Whole Earth or Sainsbury’s Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter.

There isn’t any butter at all in the recipe, all the fat content comes from the peanut butter but there is a small amount of caster sugar.  It would be interesting to see how the peanut butter cookies tasted when compared with regular ones.

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The peanut butter and caster sugar were beaten together in a large bowl.
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Then I added in a beaten egg, some vanilla extract and a tablespoonful of water.
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Finally I added in some wholemeal flour and rolled oats.

The recipe made 12 cookies and I quickly split the dough into 12 equal balls ready to be put on the baking trays.  Usually I find I don’t have to squash them or press them flat as they spread out in the oven.  I didn’t read the recipe properly, Lorraine says to flatten them down with the palm of your hand. I didn’t do it, they went straight into the oven.

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Laid out on the baking trays well spaced apart and ready to go in the oven.

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The finished cookies on a plate. The photo isn’t that good as I took it on my phone camera in very poor light!

When the cookies came out of the oven about 10 minutes later they were cooked to the perfect golden brown colour they should have been but they didn’t look like the ones in the book.  I then read the recipe properly and realised my mistake.  This didn’t affect the taste of the cookies though.  I was impressed with them, not too sweet and you could taste the peanuts in them without the cookies being too rich! I will definitely be making these again.  I did only have one with a cup of tea, honest!

Looking at the nutritional analysis comparison chart, it says there are only about 8 calories different between the lighter and the regular one. The fat and saturated fat content has been reduced, only by about 1g but the main reduction was in the sugar content, a huge difference of about 3 grammes! I did think the cookies were very tasty though and I did have to hide them away in the cupboard so I wasn’t tempted to binge on them!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx