National Peanut Butter Day: No bake peanut butter and chocolate squares

No Bake Peanut Butter Squares are just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Today is National Peanut Butter Day! As I was getting all the ingredients out to make something peanut butter related to share with you, Mr S said I was making it up! I told him to go and look on the MyLegoman Mostly Foodie Days Of… Calendar and it was there for January 24th. So I was right!

I must admit I love peanut butter, but don’t like the cheap versions full of sugar you can get. I prefer the sugar free varieties and even better if it’s crunchy! I know it can be a love or hate thing and I know that the texture of it can put people off.

When thinking what I could make to celebrate Peanut Butter Day, I thought of the cakes and cookies I have made before. One of my favourites has to be the Nigella Lawson’s Peanut Butter Square recipe which is in her How To Be A Domestic Goddess recipe book. The Domestic Goddess book was the book which got me into baking big time back in 2004 when my youngest child started school.

Nigella says “I don’t know if you have ever eaten Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but these are a homespun version of them,” They definitely capture the same flavours but as a double layered square, rather than a cup. I personally find Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups far too sweet and sickly but I love the flavour combination of peanuts and chocolate.

I can’t find the recipe link online but I have found a very similar version on Nigella’s website:

https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chocolate-peanut-butter-cups

What’s more, it doesn’t require any baking! You just line a 23cm/9″ square tin with baking parchment and press the peanut butter base into the bottom of the tin. This consists of brown sugar, icing sugar, butter and the peanut butter. Finally, you top with melted chocolate mixed with a little bit more butter. After letting it set, you cut into small squares!. What made me laugh was Nigella says it makes 48 squares! I cut it into 16 and they were quite small. So 48 squares would have been miniscule!

Before I had even cut the Peanut Butter Squares up, my kids were asking to try some. My daughter took some with her in a plastic box as she was going over to her mates’ house for the night. I sneaked a small piece and it was oh so sweet but tasted heavenly as well. I’m hiding the rest of them or I might find myself sleepwalking down to the kitchen and eating them in the middle of the night!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

A Bake For All Seasons #3: Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf.

Sunday October 10th 2021

My version of the Bake For All Seasons Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf- nothing like the original!!

I wanted to bake a cake for Sunday afternoon. I had been away for some of the weekend and we weren’t having a full blown Sunday roast but Mr S was going to cook his special steak with new potatoes and salad. I’ve been suffering a bit with my mental health recently. October has been a tricky month and I can’t wait for it to end. I know that baking helps lots of us who are struggling and I’m no exception. I didn’t really need any cake in the house but I needed to have that comforting ritual of baking and creating something.

A slice for Mr S to have with his afternoon cuppa.

I looked in the new Bake Off Book: A Bake For All Seasons to see if there was a simple Autumnal cake I could bake that afternoon that wasn’t too fancy or had weird ingredients I didn’t have in my cupboard. The only real contender was the Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf in the Autumn section of the book on page 158. I didn’t have any tahini paste in, though. The only ever time I bought it was a couple of years ago to make some hummous and the rest ended up getting chucked out as my own hummous tasted revolting! I thought what could give a similar effect that was in my cupboard and I thought maybe peanut butter would work. The top of the cake as seen in the recipe photo also shows the loaf sprinkled with caramel sesame seeds and a whole banana peeled and halved as a decoration. This did not appeal to me one bit so I left it off!

To line my loaf tin, I always use the pre-made loaf tin liners available from big supermarkets or shops like Lakeland! They save so much faff! When I had lined that, I melted some butter. When this was cooling, I whisked brown sugar and eggs together. Then this was added to the cooled butter, the peanut butter and some natural yoghurt. Finally I added some mashed bananas.

In another bowl I weighed out and mixed together some dry ingredients: self raising flour, baking powder and cinnamon then folded it carefully into the other ingredients. Finally the mixture was spooned into the the tin and then baked in the oven for around 50 minutes. This was slightly earlier than the recipe suggested but my oven seems to bake a lot quicker.

Leftovers to be cut up and put in a box for later.
I love using the ready made loaf tin liners from Lakeland.

I must admit I didn’t end up trying the banana loaf as I’ve been a bit off my food and under the weather this week. Not Covid, I hasten to add! Mr S had a piece and said it was nice although I pinched 3 of his breakfast bananas to use in the cake. By the time I felt a bit better, what was left of tthe cake had gone off and had to be binned.

I don’t think I’ll attempt to make this version of a banana loaf again unless I do have any left over tahini paste knocking around. I might buy some as Nigella has a tahini cake in one of her recipes from Cook, Eat, Repeat and it seems to be popular. I think I’ll stick to my favourite Annabel Karmel one I’ve been making since my kids were little as that always goes down well with everyone.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Finch Bakery- Book Review

Back in the summer holidays (seems so long ago now!) I was shopping in my local Waterstones. I love going into bookshops and could spend hours looking through all the shelves. Especially at the cookery ones. I’ve not seen so many new baking books I’ve wanted to buy recently but the Finch Bakery one caught my eye.

The Finch Bakery Cookbook.

I must admit I had never heard of the Finch Bakery before but the front cover of the book caught my eye. Mouthwatering cupcakes, cookies, traybakes and layer cakes all adorning a counter. I was immediately interested as I bake cookies and traybakes for SmartCookieSam as well as the odd layer cake. I just had to look inside and was treated to a delicious sounding list of recipes.

The Finch bakery brownie recipe was delicious and fudgy. It was better served straight from the fridge!

As a background, if you don’t already know (and I didn’t, either!), the Finch Bakery was started by twin sisters Lauren and Rachel Finch. They started their business in their parent’s kitchen just before their 21st birthday and then as the business grew, they started a shop on Queen Street in Great Harwood, Lancashire back in 2016. This has now turned into an online business and a bigger store. I need to go over to Lancashire to try one of their bakes as they are very popular.

The Finch Bakery book starts with a useful chapter on Basics: the equipment you will need, ingredients, how to line a cake tin and details of sprinkles and other touches. There are also handy recipes for buttercream and other frostings which are used in the Finch recipes.

For the main body of the book, there are five chapters: Celebration Cakes, Cupcakes and Cake Jars, Cookies and Cookie Cups, Traybakes, No Bakes and Small Bakes.

Celebration Cakes: Wow, what an incredible array of cakes to choose from! Covering many different flavours of cake which you could possibly choose from. I don’t make many big celebration cakes now as I concentrate on the small bakes for my business but I am going to use one of these recipes next year as I am going to be celebrating my 50th birthday. What is a great idea is how each large celebration cake recipe can be adapted into corresponding cupcakes or cupcake jars. I must admit I’ve never eaten, let alone made a cupcake jar as they look incredibly sweet. And that comes from someone who has a sweet tooth! I also love the idea of the Vanilla and Chocolate Half And Half Cake, which are two layers of each of chocolate and vanilla sponge baked separately, then cut in half and reassembled. Great for those who love a bit of both flavour or don’t like chocolate!

As cookies are my favourite thing to bake, I went straight to the Cookies and Cookie Cups chapter in the book. I already have lots of recipes I use for my cookies but I was interested to see if there were any different flavours to try. I must admit I want to try the Red Velvet Stuffed Cookies as I’ve never baked them before. I love the idea of these cookie pies which seem to be everywhere at the moment and intend to try the Peanut Butter Cookie Pie recipe at some stage.

Brownies and Traybakes are another favourite of mine to bake and I always love comparing brownie recipes. I just have to try those Slutty Brownies! I went to meet one of my best friends for coffee and cake at a local farm shop a month or so ago and the farm shop sold Slutty Brownies. They were absolutely delicious with both a brownie and a cookie layer. Like a Brookie but up a whole notch! But I did actually test out one of the recipes and went with the original Brownies recipe as that was what I needed to bake at the time. There are lots of other brownie and blondie recipes in the chapter as well. I need to work my way through them!

A slice of Brownie was perfect with a cup of coffee.

The fourth chapter is called No Bakes and I always love a No Bake recipe or two. So useful if you are running out of oven space and time to bake. There are delicious cheesecakes as well as mouthwatering Rocky Road recipes including one based on one of my favourite flavour combos Lotus Biscoff! Not a cheap bake as you need a lot of Biscoff Biscuits, spread and white chocolate but you do get a huge tray from it! There are also many more recipes to choose from.

Finally, in the Small Bakes Chapter, there are cake pops and various flavours of macaroons. I love making macaroons but haven’t had chance to bake them recently. I might have a go before Christmas for foodie presents.

My Top Ten Recipes I’m going to try out:

  • Creme Egg Cake (next Easter will be fun!)
  • Vanilla and Chocolate Half and Half Cake (my 50th, maybe?)
  • Red Velvet Stuffed Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Cookie Pie
  • Jammie Dodger Blondies
  • Slutty Brownies
  • Lotus Biscoff Rocky Road
  • Triple Layered Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bar
  • Lemon and Blueberry Scones
  • Caramel Mocha Macaroons

What I’ll pass on:

  • Hard Candy Lollipops
  • Geo Heart Cake Shapes (they look really fiddly to make to me)
  • Cake pops and cakesicles (as above, they look really fiddly to make!)
    • The cake jar recipes: they just don’t appeal to me. Sorry!

As I mentioned before, I tested out the Basic Chocolate Brownie recipe. It’s very similar to the recipe I use for my own brownies and I always add in extra chocolate chips as well as the melted chocolate and the cocoa powder for the chocolatey fix. I found they came out very fudgy, which is just how I like them and the tip to put them in the fridge after cooling completely in the tin really works with me. My only concern is that the recipe is suitable for a 30 x 23 cm traybake tin whereas I use a 23cm square one so that it fits in the boxes. I took the brownies along to work with me and they went down a treat.

I bakes these brownies in my traybake tin.

I would recommend this book to others, although I would not class the bakes as suitable for every day bakes, the recipes are just perfect when you want to bake for special celebrations and occasional treats.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Dog Bone Biscuits

Our dog Charlie loves his “bonuses” as we call his dog biscuits. Usually they’re “Gravy Bones” or “Shapes”. He knows exactly where they’re kept in a box in the laundry room! Being a greedy Labrador, he doesn’t have a full up switch.

I was looking through the latest Great British Bake Off Recipe book when I noticed there was a recipe for dog biscuits. These home made biscuits contain mashed sweet potato and sugar free peanut butter. I had a leftover sweet potato and thought I’d give them a try. The only ingredient I wasn’t so sure of was that the recipe included dried cranberries. I love dried cranberries and use them in cookies but I’m sure that dried fruit is a no-no for dogs. I chose to leave these out of the biscuits just to make sure.

First, I needed to boil and mash the sweet potato before making the biscuits. Then they needed to cool. This meant that I had to allow an hour for this before actually starting on the biscuits for real.

I used a dog bone cookie cutter. It’s a plastic one which doesn’t cut out as well as a metal one. I thought I’d see if I could order a couple of different ones depending on how the biscuits turned out.

After the mashed sweet potato was cooled down enough, I weighed out enough for the recipe into a large mixing bowl. I then mixed peanut butter (Whole Earth because it doesn’t contain sugar and any other additives), as well as some beaten egg.

Next, I added dried parsley, plain flour and porridge oats to the mixture until it was combined into a dough. This dough was then rolled until it was 2-3mm thick.

When the biscuits were cooled down, I gave one to Charlie to try. He loved the biscuit and didn’t even listen when I told him to wait! I sent some biscuits to a couple of friends with dogs and they said that their dogs loved them too. I need to test out some more recipes with different ingredients soon; I have also seen ones with pureed pumpkin and another one containing cheese!

The recipe said that it would make about 25 biscuits but I didn’t get as many as that out of the dough I had. I baked them for 15 minutes until they became crisp around the edges. They crisped up even more when they came out of the oven and cooled down on the wire rack.

A couple of weeks later I had a second attempt at the same recipe. In the meantime I had been on a cake website to order a few bits and pieces and found a set of two metal bone shaped cookie cutters. There was a big and a small one so I hoped to use the smaller ones as dog treats for little pooches! I also found a paw print cutter but I’ll use that another time!

In the second batch I made a double portion. Half of the batch was the larger sized biscuits, the other the smaller ones. I adjusted the cooking time down to about 8 minutes for them, whereas the other ones take about 15 minutes.

All being well, I am hoping to add the doggy treats along to sell on my website but I’ve been so busy I’ve not got around to it yet!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Maraschino Cherry And Cream Cheese Brownies.

I was planning on baking some muffins at the weekend but got on Twitter and saw that last week’s theme for #TwitterBakealong was to bake some brownies with fruit in. #TwitterBakealong is great fun. You bake something connected with that week’s theme then upload a photo to Twitter along with the hashtag. The photo has to have a handwritten sign to be included in the bakealong. Brownies are a huge favourite in our house and I love making them. Unfortunately though, they don’t do my waistline any good.

Looking on Twitter I could see lots of incredible bakes with different added fruit inside. I’m not one who usually adds fruit to brownies. It’s usually extra chocolate, candies, Oreo cookies or nuts that end up in my brownie batter. I just didn’t know what to do that would stand out.

Back in 2017, I bought a fabulous book which I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. Flapper Pies And A Blue Prairie Sky by Karlynne Johnston, who is a Canadian blogger and food writer. I came across her book in the gift shop at Fort Edmonton and just had to have it. I’m getting the hang of working in cup sizes instead of grammes! I knew that the Flapper Pies book contained several traybake and brownie type recipes which would inspire me.

Eventually I settled on adapting the Peanut Butter and Jam Cheesecake Brownies recipe. Instead of using raspberry jam, I used two thirds of a jar of washed, drained and dried maraschino cherries which I stirred into the cheesecake mixture. The brownie was a triple layer confection. Starting with a plain chocolate chip base, then a cheesecake layer and finally topped with more decadent brownie, this time swirled with peanut butter in the mixture. It sounded so naughty but nice.

I had to giggle at the recipe introduction as Karlynne Johnston stated that “these brownies are now my husband’s favourite bar. I put them in the freezer so I could take a photo of them later and he snuck down for an entire week and ate them straight from the freezer, frozen as a midnight snack! You have to admire his dedication!” This did make me laugh as anything baking related that goes in the freezer, especially cookies or brownies usually vanishes and gets eaten frozen!

On Sunday afternoon I started to get everything out to start baking. I must admit this wasn’t a cheap bake, but did use up ingredients I bought on impulse when shopping in Lakeland before Christmas. I saw jars of maraschino cherries which I usually associate with cocktails or ice cream sundaes on display as well as a bag of dark Guillard chocolate chips. I knew that I had to bake something exciting with them.

First of all I melted some butter in a saucepan. When this had melted, I removed the saucepan from the heat and stirred in some caster sugar. After the caster sugar had dissolved, I stirred in some cocoa powder.

The next step was to add three eggs one by one and stirred into the mixture.

Then, I added in the dark chocolate chips.

The plain flour then was stirred in but it needed to be folded in carefully so that it wasn’t over mixed. The brownies really needed to be fudgy, rather than cakey in texture.

The brownie batter was ready apart for one thing. It needed to be split two ways: one third containing peanut butter and the other two thirds to stay plain.

The plain chocolate brownie base was put into a greased square loose bottomed tin. I don’t think mine was the same dimensions as the one suggested in the original recipe but this was the nearest I had.

The next step was to make the cheesecake filling. This was done by thoroughly washing and rinsing the sticky syrup off the Maraschino Cherries. There was loads to get off. I dried them on a piece of kitchen towel then started to chop the cherries into quarters. I had to re-rinse the cherries after they had been cut up as well, as they were still covered in syrup.

In a large bowl I whisked together some full fat cream cheese, some sugar, an egg and some cornflour. This made the cheesecake mixture quite runny so I wondered whether I should have used an egg with it. I then folded in the cherries. This turned the mixture a delicate purple colour.

The middle cheesecake layer was finally spooned on top of the chocolate brownie layer. Unfortunately whether it was because the cheesecake layer was runnier than expected or because there wasn’t enough of the far too stiff peanut butter layer, I found this incredibly difficult to spread. Also there didn’t seem to be enough mixture. It turned out that I ended up swirling the peanut butter layer into the cheesecake layer so that it was more of a marble effect.

You can just about make out the two layers when I cut into the brownies once they had cooled down enough. They baked in my electric fan oven for 35 minutes (which is slightly longer than other brownie recipes) at about 170oC. The texture came out perfectly and gooey just like a brownie should but I still wasn’t sure what it would taste like with cherries in it. My daughter hates glace cherries but she liked these. In fact my whole family loved them and I put the rest in a plastic box to take into work. Then I remembered that the brownies contained peanut butter and being that I work in schools and nurseries which are usually nut free environments for allergies, I put the box in the freezer.

It will be interesting to see if my family do what Karlynne Johnston’s husband did with her brownies when she put them in the freezer. On my last count there were sixteen pieces in the batch, we ate four so that leaves twelve. I bet if I go to the freezer now, there won’t be any left. I will report back!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Oat Cookies

Here I am only four days into the New Year and I’m baking cookies. Somehow, these little moreish beauties found themselves being put in the oven. How did that happen?

I’m cooking recipes from the three Eat Well For Less books this month as a basis for my blog. This recipe from the first Eat Well For Less book is so easy to make and can be adapted to use up whatever ingredients you have in your cupboard. You can use dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips so long as the quantities remain the same. The original recipe also uses peanut butter but you can substitute other nut butters or even use all butter if you can’t have nuts.

I chose to use peanut butter and raisins in my cookies and put them straight into the freezer so I wasn’t tempted to eat them straightaway.

1. Cream butter, brown sugar and peanut butter together in a large bowl.

2. Add eggs to the creamed butter mixture and beat them in.

3. Weigh out plain flour, baking powder and porridge oats and mix them into the butter mixture.

4. Fold in the dried fruit, nuts or chocolate of your choice and form into a dough.

5. Heap teaspoonfuls of cookie dough on lined baking trays. I had to bake the cookies in two batches as I wanted to keep them well spaced apart.

6. Cool on a wire rack.

Will definitely bake these again although I felt the dough was a lot wetter than the cookie dough I usually use. Also the cookies looked rather untidy and rustic. When I get them out of the freezer, I’ll have to eat one to see if tastes better than it looks!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Butterscotch, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Bars

When over in Canada staying with my brother and his family earlier on this year I noticed that there were these peanut butter and marshmallow bars for sale in a few of the coffee shops we visited. I must admit they were very large bars and looked double the size of a similar traybake type cake that you would see in the UK. I didn’t try any, which is unlike me as I have a terrible sweet tooth and get easily tempted by all the goodies on show.

When I got back home to the UK I searched for a recipe so that I could try to bake these at home. As luck would have it, I found the recipe I was looking for in a Canadian baking book I had bought on my previous visit to Canada: Flapper Pies And A Blue Prairie Sky by Karlynne Johnston. Karlynne writes a blog called The Kitchen Magpie and she hails from the same part of Canada that I visited, which is Alberta. Karlynne’s recipe for Butterscotch and Chocolate Rainbow Marshmallow Dainties is a recipe based on the bars that she ate back in the 1970s. You can use either Butterscotch chips or chocolate chips to make these bars but Karlynne suggests using rainbow coloured mini marshmallows as they have “a slightly fruity taste that white marshmallows don’t have,” What’s more is that this recipe is a no-bake one, where the bars set in the pan in the fridge.

I was pleased to be able to find some Chipits in a local Safeway (now there’s a name you don’t hear of in the UK anymore) including some butterscotch ones which were perfect for this recipe. But back home in the UK I couldn’t find any rainbow marshmallows in the supermarkets near me, only pink and white ones. They would have to do. I had all the other ingredients to hand.

One cold and miserable Saturday morning I was meant to be tackling the humongous pile of ironing sat looking at me on the counter in the utility room. I ignored it and decided to make these instead. I got out my traybake tin, lined it carefully with cling film and found all the ingredients I needed. I raided the cupboard for hubby’s breakfast peanut butter, mentally planning to replace it next time I went shopping. I then remembered I also needed my American baking cups out. I’m sorry to have to say this but I really struggle with using cups for measuring out the ingredients as I’m convinced I’m not as accurate as I could be.

After the traybake tin was prepared, I put peanut butter, butter and the butterscotch Chipits into a pan. I heated them gently on the hob until the mixture was melted and was smooth. I then added vanilla extract and cooled the mixture down. When cooled, I stirred in the marshmallows, some desiccated coconut and some Rice Krispies so that all the mixture was completely covered. Finally, the mixture was spooned into the tin and levelled out.

I popped the traybake into the fridge to set. This took about three hours until it was ready to be cut into squares. The recipe made about 24 small squares which was more than adequate as they are very rich and indulgent. What I also didn’t realise was that the bars can easily be frozen which is useful to know. Always handy to have something to fall back on if you have people coming round that you can whip out of the freezer at the last minute. Only trouble is, they wouldn’t even get there in my house!

A little treat for myself with a cup of tea that afternoon. I convieniently forgot I was meant to be on a diet!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Peanut Butter, Popcorn and Chocolate Fudge Torte.

Monday December 11th 2017.

Gosh, this seems like a long time ago now but the last two weeks before Christmas were so busy.  I didn’t have time to get updated with my blogging.  Anyway, here we are just after Christmas and I’m sat on the sofa typing this feeling like a beached whale.  I haven’t stuffed myself silly full of Celebrations and mince pies but I’ve not eaten well all through December.  Roll on the New Year!  Though when I go along to one of my Clandestine Cake Club events I don’t feel guilty about eating and enjoying cakes.  

The aforementioned Clandestine Cake Club recently celebrated its seventh birthday at a special event in Leeds.  The event was held in the restaurant on the top floor in the new John Lewis store.  I always like going to cake club events there because of the car park next door so that I haven’t got to cart my cake too far through the city centre.  This time, though was funny as I had my cake in a clear plastic container so various people were looking at me walking through the store carrying a cake.  I was so worried I was going to trip up on the escalator!

The cake I chose to bake was yet another recipe from The Great British Bake Off Christmas recipe book which was one of John Whaite’s own creations.  John won series three back in 2012 and his Peanut Butter, Popcorn and Chocolate Fudge Torte sounded absolutely mouthwatering.  The recipe introduction says: “Christmas is undoubtedly a time of indulgence or rather overindulgence (you’re telling me!) This torte is not only a feast for the stomach with its layers of soft cake, sweet mousse and decadent fudge but because of those defined layers, also a feast for the eyes; perfect for a Christmas Eve treat,”  We tend to go out for dinner on Christmas Eve but usually there isn’t cake involved, we’re far too full up!

 Although there was a lovely photo of John himself in the book posing with what looked like a peanut butter cake, there wasn’t a photo of the whole cake.  I had to guess from the recipe instructions to see how it would turn out like. 

So, on with the actual baking.  Mr SmartCookieSam had gone off to work and my son had left for college, it was just me and the animals.  My dog sloped off to have a snooze in his bed and I put the radio on to listen along while I was baking. I felt really happy and content as I got out my ingredients and the cake tin needed for the recipe.

The main part of the cake is a chocolate genoise.  I am not that familiar with baking genoise cakes but I know that they involce whisking eggs and then sugar together to get the air into the cake,  I did whisk for the full five minutes as the recipe asked me to do, even looking at the clock to check.

After the eggs and sugar had been whisked together I sifted in some plain flour and some cocoa powder along with some melted butter. I’m glad I remembered about the melted butter.  Last time a recipe asked for melted butter I melted it in the microwave and then forgot about it.  It wasn’t until the cake was in the oven baking that I realised I’d forgotten to add the butter! Eeeek!!

The cake mixture was then poured into a springform cake tin and put in the oven for 25 minutes to bake.  I then took it out of the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack until it was completely cold.

Meanwhile, I got the filling for the cake ready.  This was where all the calorific and indulgent ingredients came out.  I started with blitzing some Butterkist Toffee Popcorn in my blender until they became like coarse sand. I then added in double cream until it started to thicken up slightly.  After this, in went some smooth peanut butter, some condensed milk and some mascarpone cheese.  How does this taste sooo good?  Once this was mixed again so it was thickened up but not so much that it couldn’t be spread with a pallette knife. It was then put aside in a bowl and left until the cake was ready to be iced.  

The topping was a chocolate fudge affair and was made with even more condensed milk, more peanut butter, more double cream and some dark chocolate.  I can’t remember what sort of dark chocolate I used, probably what was on special offer in Morrisons that week.  

Now this is where I’d fail miserably if this had been a Bake Off Technical challenge.  I didn’t read the recipe properly and missed out the step where I was meant to put the cake back into the tin once I’d cut it in half horizontally, filled it and then added the fudge topping when it was in the tin.  I didn’t do that.  I took the cake out of the tin and then put it onto a cake board to decorate.  When I’d decorated it, it went into the fridge to set but not in the tin.  It did make the finish of the cake a bit messier.

When the cake was setting in the fridge for an hour, it was lunchtime by this stage.  I sat down and had some soup while the remaining toffee popcorn had been put into a pan with some brown sugar to caramelise.  It took about 10 minutes to do this and then I let them cool down completely before putting them on the top of the cake.  To finish I found some champagne bottle candles left over from a birthday cake and stuck them on the top of the cake.  

The cake was very big and rich so a small slice was all that was needed.  It seemed to go down well, along with the other cakes at the event.  I went home with one of my sugar rush headaches feeling that I could never eat another cake again.  This was very short lived as the following day I was out having Afternoon Tea with my friends!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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