Hummingbird Cake- Mary Berry Everyday.

As soon as I saw Mary Berry’s new book Everyday I had to bake the Hummingbird Cake recipe from the book. A while back I’d made some Hummingbird Cupcakes which had been very popular with everyone who tasted one.  So I was keen to test out a big cake version of this “Southern US classic which takes banana cake up a notch,” according to Mary’s recipe introduction.  Mary also states that “It makes for a moist, substantial cake, beautifully offset by the tangy cream cheese icing,”

Baking the Hummingbird cake would also be a great way of testing out some Sugar and Crumbs Banana Split icing sugar I had got in my baking cupboard. I had bought it before Christmas and wanted to use it in something but not had the chance. As banana is one of the key flavours in a Hummingbird Cake, along with pineapple, this banana flavour would be a perfect additional dimension to the cream cheese icing.

Into a large mixing bowl went all the dry ingredients. Self raising flour, baking powder, cinnamon, caster sugar all went in as well as some chopped walnuts.  I mixed them all up together and then put them to one side to prepare the rest of the cake.

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In another bowl I mashed up two large, ripe bananas. These were then added to another mixing bowl along with some drained and chopped pineapple chunks, two beaten eggs, a spoonful of vanilla extract and some sunflower oil.

Both bowls were combined together and dry mixture was folded in carefully.  The mixture reminded me of a muffin batter.  This was then divided between 2 greased 20cm/ or 8″ diameter circular tins.  The cake baked for about 25 minutes in my fan oven. When it came out it had risen beautifully and smelled fabulous. I went off to put some laundry away and to do some hoovering.  By the time I’d finished that job it was time to take the cakes out of the tin and put them on a wire rack to cool down.

The Hummingbird cake does not need much decoration.  It’s all in the taste of the cake.  In the illustraion Mary uses a cream cheese frosting for the filling and the top of the cake. I wanted to add a little bit more yet I didn’t want to overdo things.  In the end I chopped up some more walnuts and sprinkled them on top to finish off.

The cream cheese frosting is made with softened butter, full fat cream cheese, vanilla extract and icing sugar. As mentioned before I substituted the plain icing sugar for the Sugar and Crumbs’ Banana Split icing sugar. I left out the vanilla extract.  This gave the cream cheese mixture a delicate banana flavouring. It was wonderfully creamy and so easy to spread on the cake.

As the icing contained cream cheese I chose to put the cake in the fridge to keep and this helped enormously.

A huge hit with everyone but the worst thing was that I kept craving more. I longed to have another slice and having the cake in the house tested my weakening willpower to breaking point.Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Walnut, Gorgonzola and Pancetta Fusilli.

My family and I love travelling (money and time permitting, of course). So when Ingham Lakes and Mountains asked me if I would like to create a recipe inspired by one of their holiday destinations for their #InghamsFoodieFinds campaign, I jumped at the chance.

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Nearly five years ago Mr SmartCookieSam took me to Italy for my 40th birthday.  He kept the trip a surprise until a week or so before the trip. We went to Venice, Lake Garda, Lake Como and up into the Italian Alps. One day we had a memorable and breathtaking road trip up along the Stelvio Pass and stopped for lunch at a roadside hotel called La Fontanella. It was near the town of Madonna de Campiglio.  In the winter it was a ski resort but as this was July we sat outside on the terrace enjoying the stunning views of the Dolomites.  Our lunch was delicious and I remember the starter we had to this day.  I’ve recreated it and adapted it at home many times and is a perfect summer weekend lunch. Preferably sat outside with a huge glass of wine on the side (here’s hoping!)

The starter was a very filling Walnut and Gorgonzola Fusilli.  Mr SmartCookieSam is not a big pasta fan but he loves this.  I sometimes add pancetta to mine at home to appease the carnivores in my house. It is very quick to make and makes a perfect weekday supper if time is short.  Not an everyday treat though as there is a lot of butter, cream and cheese in the recipe!

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a starter.

WALNUT, GORGONZOLA AND PANCETTA FUSILLI

Ingredients:

200g fusilli fresh or dried (whatever you prefer)

125g creamy Gorzonzola

100g walnut halves

50g butter

150ml single cream

1 packet of cubed pancetta

First you  need to cook the pancetta in a frying pan.  I dry fry it as it contains enough fat.  Preheat your oven to 180oC/ Gas 4 ready for toasting the walnuts.

While you have the pancetta frying, cook the fusilli in a large saucepan of boiling water according to the packet instructions.  Or if you are like me who was in a rush, you’ll end up chucking the pasta in the cold water and hoping for the best!

When the pancetta is crisp, remove from the frying pan and put to one side.  Chop the walnuts up into bite size pieces and lay on a baking tray.  Toast them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes checking them regularly so they don’t burn.

Next, melt the butter in the frying pan.

Then add the cubed Gorgonzola to the melted butter.

Add the pancetta and the toasted walnuts into the pan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  When the pasta is ready, drain carefully and toss with the sauce.  Serve immediately.

My family love this dish with chunks of toasted ciabatta bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar or with a side of mixed salad leaves.

 

Coffee and Walnut Sponge Cake from Delia’s Cakes

I’m beginning to catch up with my blog posts now, this week has been a bit of a mix up as I’ve been recovering from a minor operation.  Thankfully all went well and I’m more or less back to normal now despite still feeling tired.

The operation took place on Monday but before that I had a very busy few days.  It was my birthday followed by Open Gardens in our village.  So this meant a lot of baking but then again those of you who know me, know that I love any excuse to stick my apron on and to switch the oven on.

A week last Thursday was my last day at work before my birthday and I wanted to take a cake to share with my colleagues.  It was a toss up between a carrot cake and a coffee cake as I was choosing a recipe from my latest Cooking The Books Challenge.  Having said that I had got in late after a busy day at work and didn’t want anything too time consuming after spending time on the tea.  So that meant the carrot cake was out as I just couldn’t be bothered to grate all those carrots.  The Coffee and Walnut Sponge it was then, my choice of cake from the Sponge Cakes chapter.

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I started off by sifting self raising flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.  I then remembered I hadn’t got the right cake tins out and looked through my very messy cake tin drawer.  What a surprise the tins I needed were right at the bottom of the deep drawer and loads of tins came crashing down onto the floor before I could get  hold of them.  It made a right din and my hubby came into the kitchen to see what had happened.  Thankfully no harm was done! Finally I got the tins out, lined and greased and ready for the cake mix!

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After this I added in some soft butter, eggs, caster sugar and some expresso coffee powder.  It was mixed together thoroughly with my hand held mixer.  Once this was blended together I threw in some chopped walnuts and mixed them evenly.  The mixture was divided equally between the two tins and put into the oven to bake.

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After about 25 minutes out came the baked cakes.  They were given some time to cool down and then I turned them out onto a wire rack.  They smelled absolutely delicious and I just couldn’t wait to dive in!004

Next, it was on with the icing.  Usually when I bake Coffee and Walnut cakes I ice them with a coffee buttercream but as this cake according to Delia is a “revised, more contemporary version of one of the original sponge cake in an earlier book… since the advent of mascarpone the icing is a great improvement”  As a huge Tiramisu fan, I love the taste of mascarpone and I know it goes well with coffee.  So I just knew it would work in this icing.  The mascarpone, some more coffee granules, caster sugar and a little milk were mixed together to make a spreadable icing.

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Half the icing was spread inside the cake and the rest on top of the cake.  I wish, but this is a personal preference is that I would like to have made more icing to spread more thickly on the top of the cake!  It tasted heavenly. As a final touch, on went some walnut halves.006

I took the cake into work and it went down well.  I will definitely bake it again, the mascarpone icing was absolutely gorgeous.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cheddar, Apple and Walnut Loaf- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

A lot of my bakes have been sweet ones recently but I was keen to try out a recipe that was listed in the Cakes section of the latest Great British Bake Off Book- The Great British Bake Off Everyday.  It doesn’t contain sugar but it is a savoury loaf where the sweetness comes from the natural sugars within the apple in the recipe.  The recipe for Cheddar, Apple and Walnut Loaf caught my eye when I first got the book at the beginning of August and finally two months later I got round to making it!

Last Tuesday was one of my half days at work where I worked the morning and came home at lunchtime to see to our dog and to catch up with the ironing over programmes on Sky+.  I didn’t bake at all during the previous week and was itching to make something.  It had to be something quick to prepare and to put in the oven while I was ironing.  The Cheddar Loaf also sounded so inviting!  Trouble was I didn’t have enough spare cheddar. I had some Wensleydale though and I knew that it would work well baked in a cake and it goes perfectly with apple.  Also, I didn’t have any bran cereal so I substituted some porridge oats instead.

Here’s how this scrumptious loaf was baked:

Some walnut pieces were chopped roughly and toasted in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Some walnut pieces were chopped roughly and toasted in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Flour, salt and butter were put into a mixing bowl and rubbed together. I then added the cheese and porridge oats to the mixture.
Flour, salt and butter were put into a mixing bowl and rubbed together. I then added the cheese and porridge oats to the mixture.
Next, a chopped apple and the walnuts were added to the mixture.
Next, a chopped apple and the walnuts were added to the mixture.
The mixture was combined together so that everything was well coated.
The mixture was combined together so that everything was well coated.
The mixture was then put into the loaf tin which I had lined with a loaf tin liner from Lakeland.
The mixture was then put into the loaf tin which I had lined with a loaf tin liner from Lakeland.
Just out of the oven with my cake tester still sticking out of it! It had been in the oven for about 3/4 hour.
Just out of the oven with my cake tester still sticking out of it! It had been in the oven for about 3/4 hour.
I just had to taste a small slice and it was heavenly despite me realising I had forgotten to add the salt to it. It still tasted nice though.
I just had to taste a small slice and it was heavenly despite me realising I had forgotten to add the salt to it. It still tasted nice though.

Once the loaf was baked I was still nowhere near the bottom of my ironing pile despite catching up with Downton Abbey in the meantime. I think ironing makes me hungry but as the loaf was still very hot I had to make do with a cup of tea until it was cool enough to handle.

I took the loaf into work and was very surprised to see that the tin was empty by Friday lunchtime.  I thought as it hadn’t got any salt in it, it would put people off but when I checked the tin, all there were were crumbs!  I will definitely be making this again and will also try it with Cheddar to see how it compares.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx