Banana Loaf: 3 varieties in one week!

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

 

 

 

 

It’s been a busy week of banana loaf baking! As with most households, the delicious banana loaf starts off with a couple of overripe banana… I didn’t have that many to make three cakes, so ended up buying bananas specifically!

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

Banana and Chocolate Loaf

To start off with there is the Chocolate and Banana Loaf finished off with a sprinkle of flaked almonds. The recipe originates from the BBC Chocolate and Banana Cake but I didn’t have all the ingredients and simplified the method a little to make it quicker and easier to bake on a week night.

Ingredients:

  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 50ml milk
  • Extra chocolate chips/chunks (I used blobs of left over chocolate ganache)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, line and prepare a 2 lb loaf tin
  • Dry ingredients: mix the sugar, flour, bicarb, and cocoa in a large bowl
  • Wet ingredients: mash the bananas and whisk the eggs, then add the oil and milk and mix it all up
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined then add the extra chocolate
  • Pour into prepared loaf tin, level off the top and sprinkle over the flaked almonds
  • Bake for up to 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. (the original recipe says up to 1 hour and 15 minutes so you need to judge for yourself, and it depends on your own oven!)

 

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana and Walnut Loaf

A few days later came the banana and walnut cake, taken to a meeting for the Bumba Foundation of which I am a trustee. The Bumba Foundation is a UK based charity set up to build schools for children in Uganda, aiming to inspire and develop young people and communities to take positive action. The trustees have been working hard recently to raise funds to furnish new classroom blocks before the new academic year starts. What else could I do but bring along a snack to help keep the creative juices flowing? 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 100g softened butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 85g chopped walnuts
  • 50ml milk

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, line and prepare a 2 lb loaf tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together, add the milk and eggs then mix until well combined.
  • Mash the bananas and add to the butter mixture.
  • Fold the flour and baking powder into the wet ingredients then sprinkle over the walnuts.
  • Pour into prepared loaf tin, level off the top and top with a few whole walnuts for decoration.
  • Bake for up to 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes.
Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

Banana Loaf with Chocolate Drizzle

And finally, there is the plain banana loaf baked for a charity bake sale. The British Red Cross have an incredible Fire and Emergency Support Service that desperately needs a new vehicle to respond to emergencies such as house fires. We held a bake sale in the office and I baked this banana cake and some chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes (recipe to follow!) to help with eh fundraising.

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 190g self raising flour
  • 50ml milk
  • melted chocolate and icing sugar (for decoration)

Method:

  • Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Remove from heat and add the mashed bananas, mix well.
  • Add the egg, mix well.
  • Stir in the flour and the milk.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 160 degrees C for 45 minutes
  • Once cooled, drizzle melted chocolate and dust with icing sugar

As you can see, all three banana loaves used slightly different methods. All had slightly different flavors and turned out pretty good! Banana cakes are loved by all and can be adapted for more of a decadent flavour. Whether for a charity bake sale, a treat for a meeting or to cheer up a friend, it  is a firm favourite for everyone… 😀

 

 

 

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Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with a Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

After staring at a bowl of ripening pears and wondering what to do with them (I like them crunchy!) I decided the only thing was to make a cake! I’ve been on a bit of a baking frenzy recently after a couple of months of resting the oven. I blame the gradual change in weather… as the British summer time comes to an end more weekends are spend indoors making comfort food until it’s time to come out of hibernation again…

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

I have a lovely memory of when I had a slice of plum crumble cake in a little tea shop remember exactly how tasty it was. Since then, I’ve really wanted to try a cake with a crumbly topping but haven’t really gotten round to it so when I saw this Delia Smith recipe, I knew I had to give it a try! I’ve never really been one to try Delia Smith recipes so why not start with this one?! 🙂

The recipe is taken directly from the website but I had some missing ingredients and substituted some, so here is what I used…

Ingredients

(For the cake)

  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbs milk
  • 3 ripe pears; peeled, cored and quartered

(For the topping)

  • 50g melted butter
  • 75g self raising flour
  • 30g dark brown sugar
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar (for dusting)

Method

Method

  • Mix the flour and  baking powder into a bowl, then add all the other ingredients (except the pears). Whisk together until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into a prepared tin (I used a 18cm round tin, though the recipe advises for a 20cm tin.
  • Arrange the pears in a circle on top of the cake batter.
  • To make the topping, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl then add the melted butter and lightly crumble it with a fork.  After stir in the nuts, sprinkle the mixture all over the pears and bake near the centre of the oven for 35- 45 minutes at 180 degrees C.
  • Leave it to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before attempting to take the cake out of the tin
  • Just before serving, dust the surface with icing sugar.
Pear and Almond Cake

Pear and Almond Cake

This cake is fairly easy to put together but it looks like you spent a lot more time on it!

There isn’t a lot of cake batter so I would check the cake after 30 minutes of baking to ensure it doesn’t overcook. The cake itself is quite dense but the moisture of the pears helps to lighten it up. The crumbly almond topping gives a nice contrast too.

Overall I liked the final result but adding a flavouring to the sponge next time would make it even tastier?! A little cardamom or cocoa powder perhaps…

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Pear and Almond Cake with Struesel Topping

Serve this pear and almond cake warm with a little ice cream or if you’re living in a colder climate some thick custard would make this cake an extra special treat! 😀

Churros and Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Churros with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Churros and Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Churros and Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

I tried these Churros for the first time as a bit of an experimental dessert when having a ‘Mexican’ themed dinner party. I was a little apprehensive about making them since I’d never eaten a Churro before and didn’t really know what I was aiming for! Also, it all needs to be made just before serving, so this meant a pressure whilst the guests waited for their sweets…

This recipe is based on a highly rated ‘Allrecipe‘ one but with a few adjustments based on comments and recommendations made by reviewers. Since I made a few tweaks, I’ve decided it’s best to post the recipe I went with. It makes 8 servings…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tbs white sugar
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • Oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method: (Taken directly from website)

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms a ball.
  • Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Pipe strips of dough into hot oil using a pastry bag. Fry until golden; drain on paper towels.
  • Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Churros and Chocolate covered Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Churros and Chocolate covered Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

I started off piping the batter through a star nozzle in a silicone piping bag. I read a tip that it’s easier to pipe the churros onto a piece of cling film first as it is difficult to pipe them straight into the oil. This was a great tip as the dough was very stiff! So stiff in fact that the nozzle came out of my piping bag and I ended up with plain round ones.

I’d definitely recommend piping them with the star nozzle as the thin edges crispen up nicely and add an extra crunchy texture to the final product.

Churros and Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Churros and Strawberries with Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Caramel Chocolate Sauce

Churros are usually served with a chocolate dipping sauce, and I wanted to try a them with a thick caramel chocolate so played around with the recipe a little…

Ingredients:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • large pinch of sea salt flakes

Method:

  • In a medium pan make a caramel by heating the sugar until it turns into liquid and then a dark caramel colour
  • Add the salt, cream and chocolate
  • Reduce the heat and stir until all the chocolate has melted
  • Pour into the serving bowls and allow to cool to room temperature

On cooling this chocolate dipping sauce will thicken a lot! If refrigerated it will harden and any leftovers can be used to make truffles. This chocolate sauce was a little bitter, adding more cream would lighten it up a little more.

I decided to make chocolate dipped strawberries too so dipped the strawberries into the chocolate sauce and put them in the fridge to harden. 😀