In London, we never seem to ‘suffer’ from seasonal gluts of strawberries and raspberries. My family is not presented with the problem of a complete summer overflow of nectarines, blueberries or peaches. We manage to grow the odd bunch of raspberries or loganberries – enough to be picked and eaten, there and then, warm in the sun. But certainly not enough produce to find that even after baking a cake, a crumble, eating gallons raw, and finishing off with some cookies that our stash is still languishing in the garden. This all changes round about this time of year. The English climate is much much better at producing Autumn gluts – apples, plums, pears. Lots and lots of apples. Our cottage in Suffolk has a massive apple tree in the centre of the garden, and its constantly full of fruit all season. Every time we visit, we fill bags and bags of fruit and cart them back to London. And once back in London, there’s two more (way smaller but still plentiful) trees to harvest. And so the baking must begin…I didn’t want to repeat another apple cake (fab as they are) and wanted to try something a little different. I hadn’t made flapjacks before but these weren’t the traditional version. The addition of a huge grated apple keeps the mixture moist and makes the flapjacks last, whilst the handfuls of dried cranberries gave the flapjacks a little extra tang which I definitely liked. I considered adding a chocolate drizzle to the top – and whilst this might be nice I decided to keep these as they were – fruity, oaty, delicious. The recipe is from Hannah’s book and is one which I highly recommend :)
Monday, 18 October 2010
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Ingredients: 225g (8oz) self raising flour
100g (4oz) butter, cubed
175g (6oz) caster sugar
100g (4oz) sultanas/dried berries
100g (4oz) glace cherries, halved
2 large eggs
500g ripe bananas
50g honey (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F/Gas Mark 4 and line your loaf tin with a strip of parchment paper.
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour until crumbly/pea-sized pieces. Add the sugar, sultanas/dried fruit and cherries and create a hollow in the centre of the mixture.
- Crack the eggs into the hollow. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, or whizz in a food processor, until fairly smooth. Add the banana to the flour hollow.
- Fold the mixture all together into a smooth cake mix, and pour into the prepared tin.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 50mins, then check. The top should be golden and a skewer should come out mainly clean (provided you didn’t go through a sultana). It may need up to 1hour15mins, depending on your oven.
- Melt your honey in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, spread over the top of the cooled cake. Cut generous slices!
Sunday, 10 October 2010
The Great Brownie Bake Off was an event I went to in London yesterday. The Great Brownie Bake Off (GBBO) was organised by Louise Thomas who has the amazing job of a Chocolate Consultant! It was held at the cool cafe/bike-shop, Look Mum No Hands which was packed with chocolate fans! 25 foodies entered their own recipe for the best brownie, which were judged by 11 judges! The judges took the process very seriously – sniffing each brownie, examining texture, colour and taste and much more. Whilst this went on, there were demonstrations…The first demo I saw was by Edd Kimber. Edd is the winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off, a fab recent TV series that inspired the days Brownie Off. Edd demonstrated banana whoopie pies with chocolate ganache and was superb against the tricky audience (distracted by free brownies!) – plus it was his first demo. I wasn’t quick enough to try one but they looked gorgeous and the recipe is now on his lovely blog so I look forward to trying them! The other demo that I saw was by Stacie Stewart, a finalist from Masterchef. Since Masterchef, Stacie has set up The Beehive Bakery and her own cookery school. She demonstrated chocolate and mascarpone cupcakes and taught me two interesting baking tips:
1) the reason butter has to be soft for cupcakes is it allows the fat molecules to expand, making your cake soft and light instead of heavy and dry.
2) sugar should be added to a cupcake mix slowly, not all at once, again for a softer cupcake.
I entered the fun with my brownies – I knew were too vanilla-y (accidentally used vanilla sugar!) and didn’t dare pick up my score card but I liked how they looked… Congratulations to Louise M, the brownie champion, and a huge thank you to Louise Thomas for organising the whole day! It was so exciting seeing the people I’ve watched avidly on TV in the flesh, and tasting many fab brownies. Can’t wait to attend my next foodie event very soon…