Sunday, December 21, 2014

Diana Henry's Best Banana Cake

Diana Henry's Best Banana Cake

Desserts with bananas make me go bonkers, especially those with nuts. Bananas and nuts - they are like yin and yang - the perfect match. :)

I'm bringing this banana cake to IHCC's Party Pleasers. Who can resist biting into a slice of nutty, fragrant banana cake? I can't! I'm so in love with this recipe by Diana Henry. The addition of chopped nuts provide such lovely crunch and texture to the cake. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Recipe from here.

(Serves 10) 

115g butter, room temperature 
175g soft light brown sugar (I used 100g molasses sugar or dark muscovado sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 very ripe bananas
3 tablespoon sour cream (I used full fat plain yogurt)
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g almonds, toasted and chopped (I used hazelnuts)
3 tablespoons mixed seeds (I used mixed organic golden and brown flaxseeds)

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line a 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 x 3-inch) loaf tin with baking sheet. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in vanilla extract and, with the machine running at medium speed, beat in the eggs a little at a time.

Tip: The mixture will look curdled but don’t worry – it will come together when you add the flour. 

3. Mash the bananas (getting rid of as many lumps as possible) and stir into the butter and egg mixture, followed by plain yogurt. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flours with baking powder, chopped nuts, and seeds. Reserve some nuts and seeds for sprinkling.

Tip: Be careful not to over stir the mixture.

4. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin and scatter the rest of the nuts and seeds over the top. Bake for an hour.

Tip: A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean if the cake is cooked.

5. Leave the cake in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife between the sides of the cake and the tin to loosen. Turn it out onto a wire rack. Peel off the paper, put the cake the right side up and leave to cool completely.

Tip: This cake is a good keeper – wrapped in foil, it will be good for four days.

Oops, I forgot to line my glass loaf tray with baking paper.

Look at those crumbs and hazelnut topping.

Moist, fragrant, nutty. Delicious!

One slice is never enough! :)

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) for this week's theme, Party Pleasers!

I'm also linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cheddar & Herbs Biscotti

Cheddar & Herbs Biscotti

Savory biscotti. Anyone? I baked these biscotti because I joined Bake-Along #72!

I told Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) that my first experience of eating biscotti about four years ago wasn't a nice one. I was quite taken aback at how hard it was and I wasn't fond of hard biscuits. I've never eaten anymore biscotti until today.

Gosh, I actually baked some hard (with some crunches) but not crispy biscotti. They taste somewhat more like scones. Oh well, I guess it was the way and amount of time I spent kneading the dough that caused the hardness. The old adage says,  "The more you knead, the tougher the bread will be." This is the reason I fear working with dough with my bare hands. As a rookie, I need more practice.

Anyway, in the spirit of Christmas, I shall bite into ONE piece of my not-so-successful biscotti. :P

Recipe adapted from here.

(Serves 16)

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons rice bran oil

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Mix in the eggs, milk, and oil until the dough is well combined. Dough should be dry but workable. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour one tablespoon at a time.

3. Divide the dough evenly into 2 mounds. Place the mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper 4 inches apart from each other. Shape the mounds into 8 by 4 inch logs.

4. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the biscotti logs to cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 3/4-inch diagonal slices.

5. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on its side. Bake for 10 minutes and turn the biscotti over on the other cut side. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow the biscotti to cool before serving.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Sliced into diagonal slices after the first bake.

After the second bake.

I'm linking this post to the event, Bake-Along #72: Theme - Biscotti organized by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours, Lena from Frozen Wings, and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

I'm also linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December's life snippets

It's December. Mid-December.

The little toddler is now 16 months old.

I'll just gonna let the pictures do the narrating. :)

Baby's first Christmas caroling. :)

Happy little feet!

Future backpacker wannabe?

These LEGO Duplo bricks are almost 30 years old!

Squeaky books from BBW2014 for him to play.

Some food packed for the long road trip last weekend.

Food thermos, Tupperware containers, water bottle.

Gulai Kuning Ikan with rice for breakfast!

Gulai Kuning is a Kelantanese dish. It's the kuah for nasi berlauk. Having it with rice for breakfast is really a satisfying way to start the day. :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cornbread Stuffing (Michael Symon)

Cornbread Stuffing

I baked a loaf of cornbread about two weeks ago and kept half a loaf in the freezer because I wanted to make them into cornbread stuffing.

There are a lot of cornbread stuffing recipes on the net. After surfing through a few, I decided to bake Michael Symon's recipe. It has 51 reviews, all rated as 5 stars. So, I believe it should be good.

(Serves 2-3)

Note: I've halved the recipe.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup chopped carrot (original recipe uses red bell pepper)
1 cup green peas
1/2 cup chopped streaky bacon
Salt and black pepper
2 eggs
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (original recipe uses heavy cream)
4 cups cubed and toasted cornbread
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs (not in original recipe)
1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs (not in original recipe)

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Melt butter and sweat all vegetables until tender. Add bacon and cook over low heat for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside to slightly cool.

3. Whisk together eggs, stock, and yogurt. Combine all items, including cornbread, in a baking tray. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.

4. Cook covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for additional 20 minutes or until crusty.

Tips from Michael Symon:

1. Season the vegetables well.

2. Season the custard (egg-yogurt/cream) mixture well. (In this case, chicken stock is great.)

3. Toast the cornbread before mixing all ingredients.

Love the colors of onion, carrot, peas, celery, corn.

Toasted cornbread chunks.

Before going into the oven.

Baked until top is crusty.

The crusty top complements the delicious fillings.

I'm linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Spiced Banana Muffins with Oats Crumble

Spiced Banana Muffins with Oats Crumble

When I think of Christmas bakes, these words come to my mind: spiced, peppermint, cookies, shortbread, fruitcake, minced pies, biscotti, mulled wine, eggnog, yule log, gingerbread... Anything else?

After baking this delicious Spiced Persimmon Loaf, now I bake spiced muffins, using frozen bananas. I froze some bananas when my toddler was down with throat infection for the past few days. Note: Cold food is great to soothe sore throats. He wasn't eating much of them, so I used some to bake these fragrantly spiced banana muffins.

Recipe adapted from this book, Muffins by Carol Pastor, pg. 31. 

Packed with soft and dense mashed banana, the addition of flaxseeds provides these delightful muffins with an added crunch and the mixed spice brings depth of flavor to this breakfast treat. Rolled oats add bulk and fiber.

(Makes 12 standard muffins)

For the muffins:

1/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spices
1/4 cup molasses sugar (or dark muscovado sugar)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 ripe banana (I used frozen banana, thawed to room temperature)

For the oats crumble:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon demerara (raw) sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup organic brown and golden flaxseeds

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line the cups of a muffin tin (pan) with paper cases.

2. Sift together both flours, baking powder, and mixed spices into a mixing bowl, then add the bran remaining in the sieve to the bowl. Stir in the sugar.

3. Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly, then beat in the egg and milk.

4. Gently fold in the dry ingredients. Mash the banana, then stir it into the batter. Do not overmix it.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases.

6. Combine the ingredients of the crumble and sprinkle over each muffin.

7. Bake for 20 minutes until the muffins are well risen and golden. Leave to stand for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack and serve warm or cold. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Dry ingredients.

Add the bran remaining in the sieve to the bowl.

Sprinkle crumble over each muffin before baking.

Bake for 20 minutes until the muffins are and golden.

I'm linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 organized by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

 photo 77951578-1914-4b72-8eda-9e40a91183ac_zps331eb4b4.jpg 

I'm also submitting this post to Cook-Your-Books #19 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours.


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