Spunky banana bread

banana-bread-3Everybody loves a good banana bread. Somewhere in between a dessert and a savoury, and labelled as bread to make it a valid “healthy option”. Win win.

The reason why this one is so spunky, however, is due to the addition of dark chocolate and a few handfuls of toasted flaked almonds. The original recipe called for hazelnuts but it was 11:15am, my shift was due to start at 12pm, and I had to make the executive decision to use the already ready almond flakes over my non-toasted non-chopped hazelnuts. It was a decision that I did not regret! Yes, I was a wee bit late to work – but I came bearing freshly baked cake and soon all was forgiven and forgotten…!

Ingredients 

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed banana
  • 70g toasted almonds (flaked or slivered)
  • 90g chopped dark chocolate
  • 255g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate powder (baking soda), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 115g golden syrup

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC.
  2. Prepare a 26cm x 11cm loaf tin.
  3. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until well combined and creamy.
  4. Add the eggs one by one, beating well in between.
  5. Finally, add the banana, almonds, chocolate, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate powder, cinnamon and golden syrup and stir to combine.
  6. Spoon mixture into your loaf tin.
  7. Bake for 75 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
  8. Cool in the tin for 20 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Matcha do about a green cake! …The Silver Spoon #6

matcha-cake-6Ever since our honeymoon in Japan, I’ve been a huge fan of Japanese tea in all its forms. Sencha, genmaicha, houjicha…There are many different types with varying delicious flavours, plus they’re good for you, packed with lots of antioxidants! This cake recipe incorporates matcha, which is essentially the finest quality green tea leaves ground into a fine powder. It is traditionally whisked with hot water into a bright green suspension and served at Japanese tea ceremonies. I bought mine from the little Japanese Green Tea House in Subiaco, but it should be available at any Japanese grocery store. If you’re ever in Subiaco with a spare minute or two you must pop in! Tsutomo is the lovely gentleman who owns the store. He is very passionate about green tea and travels regularly back to Kyoto to bring back the high quality teas he sells us. He’s always more than happy to sit you down at the counter to taste a few different teas and teach you the correct ways to brew them. It’s highly likely you won’t leave empty handed!

There are varying levels of matcha quality but you only need the cheaper end of things as we’re just using it for baking, not drinking. I’ve used it here to add its distinct yet subtle flavour and of course its interesting colour to a fairly basic pound cake recipe. Really easy to make and goes down amazingly well with a cup of black coffee!

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g plain flour sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons matcha
  • A splash of vanilla essence

How to

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a handheld beater.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add also the vanilla essence.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and matcha.
  5. Fold flour mixture into the batter.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until cake skewer comes out cleanly.
  7. Serve to unsuspecting friends and tell them its mould! Nah, really it’s a gorgeous green colour with more punch and character than pistachio…! Enjoy!

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Look at that beautiful green inside peeking out!

A scone, a scone, my kingdom for a scone! (How-to Wednesday #1)

So the question of the century (or at least of the minute?)…How do you make sure your scones rise and prevent them from coming out of the oven like hot little tooth-breaking lumps? Some people swear by lemonade or even just sheer willpower/prayers/meditation/spells, but my secret is buttermilk!

Ingredients (to make 16 fist-sized or 24 bite-sized scones):

  • 3 ½ cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 60g butter (I like to use regular butter rather than unsalted to give the scones that slightly moreish savoury flavour)
  • 1 and a half cups buttermilk
  • Jam and cream (preferably double cream) to serve!

Method:

  1. Preheat oven 200° Celsius
  2. Prepare a regular loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm or 9 x 5 x 3 inches if you’re imperially inclined)
  3. Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl
  4. Add butter (at room temperature) and rub into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  5. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add buttermilk. Stir with a spatula until the dough almost comes together (see pictures below)
  6. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough comes together
  7. Press out to roughly 3cm thickness with a rolling pin
  8. Using a cookie cutter (I actually just use an upturned glass or other round-topped container) cut into 5cm rounds for biggish scones, 3cm for bite-sized
  9. Place scones, just touching, into your tin
  10. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden on top and hollow when tapped

Et voila!

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