Author Archives: Liz

About Liz

I’m a biology student, but in my free time (or time I should be using to work…) I LOVE to bake, and in fact to cook in general. I love spices and experimenting with flavour. Most of all, though, I love tea and cake.

Two cakes, both very special

This is the the best banana bread I have ever tasted.


It’s not really a bread, like most banana breads. It’s a cake, of course. The recipe comes from BBC Good Food, a website which I love for its range of recipes and its search system. The user ratings and comments can be really useful, too. However, I found this particular recipe when I treated myself to buying the physcial magazine for a change! The recipe was contributed by GB Olympic sailor Lucy Macgregor, which isn’t mentioned on the website. So it’s a cake fit for an Olympian!

I think what makes this cake so deliciously light and moist is that it doesn’t use a lot of flour. The traditional spongecake recipe that many other cakes are based on uses equal weights flour, sugar and butter, but when additional ingredients are added many recipes increase the flour content. That makes sense if you’re adding extra wet ingredients, like the mashed bananas here, or trying to prevent chocolate chips sinking, but it can make the cake dry.

This recipe is a standard sponge base with the addition of mashed banana and no extra flour, and extra raising agent to keep it light. The recipe says 30 minutes cooking time – mine took 45 and could have been given a little longer. When it came out of the oven, the outside was very crisp – the downside of the moisture of the cake is that the crispiness doesn’t last long – but that’s just an excuse to eat it all in one go! 😉

I didn’t bother with the icing and banana chips on top – it doesn’t need them – and served with tea, of course.

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Seeing as we’ve just moved into a new flat, Dan and I had a housewarming this weekend, and I made this cake, a Dobos Torte, for it. I’m not going to do a full write up, because Smitten Kitchen’s is excellent. The cake is a Hungarian classic which I’ve had my eye on as my first baking project in this flat.

I’d make it again, because it was suprisingly easier than I expected (just rather time-consuming). Next time I’ll do something else with the caramel on top, because mine wasn’t hard enough and I screwed up by putting it in the freezer to make it easier to cut. (Don’t do that. It goes through a phase change and re-crystallises). Also, apologies for the blurry last picture of the layers – it’s the only one I took, and wine had been consumed by then 🙂


Mint and chickpea curry with chapattis

If you like curry flavours, but not the heat, this chickpea and yellow split pea curry with a mint sauce will be perfect for you. It’s very refreshing and summery.

curry & chapatti

I found this recipe via Gojee. It’s a Madhur Jaffery recipe via Eats Well With Others.

The idea is pretty simple: simmer chickpeas and yellow split peas (aka chana dahl, I think – I am not sure what the difference is. In the shop where I found yellow split peas, “chana dahl” was also labelled as “pois chiches”, i.e. chickpeas in French… so I’m not sure, but one or the other or both will surely taste good). Once they are cooked, add them to gently fried vegetables and onion (I had cabbage to use up, so in it went), and add a spice paste including large amounts of mint. Simmer until delicious.

Curry

We had canned chickpeas, so used those. If I used them again I’d cook them for a bit before adding them to the sauce as although technically cooked they were still quite crunchy compared to the split peas.

cooking chapatti

The chapatti recipe came from Manjula’s Kitchen. I have never made any kind of breads before, so these flatbreads were a nice simple way to start off my plan of learning to make bread this year. They didn’t puff up as much as I was expecting, and were not as flexible once cooked as I’d hoped… I think perhaps the dough was too thick. Definite room for improvement!


Banana Yoghurt Cake

I’ve been baking for long enough (about a decade now, wow), that I have a habit of going out looking for recipes and then adapting them to fit what I have and what I fancy. Some times work better than others! This one was pretty good, though (I’m eating it now).

Based on this recipe. I had two ripe bananas and some yoghurt that needed using up, but fancied something with a bit of added texture to it, so added nuts and raisins as well.

Banana Cake with Raisins and Brasil Nuts

Serves 8-12.

120g softened butter or margerine

125g light bown sugar

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

125g natural yoghurt

50ml milk

230g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

70g raisins

50g brasil nuts (or other nuts), roughly chopped.

 

Cream together butter or marg and sugar. I don’t have a mixer, so I do this by hand with a metal spoon, and I use marg – far easier. Then mix in the eggs, one at a time, with a little of the flour. This helps prevent the mixture splitting, which is more likely to happen when you’re mixing by hand.

Mash the bananas with a fork and mix in the yoghurt and milk. (I didn’t have quite enough yoghurt, which I why I used the milk). Then mix these, gently, with the butter/sugar/egg mix and the vanilla extract.

Sift flour and baking powder, fold into the wet ingredients until almost fully incorporated, and then add the nuts and raisins and fold in fully.

Transfer the mixture to a 10inch round cake tin and bake at 180C for 50mins- 1 hour.

banana cake and tea

Notes: I’m sure other dried fruit would also be good in this. Maybe something more tropical such as apricot or mango. In fact I now really want to try this with dried mango. Other nuts would also work – banana and walnut is a good combination. You could easily use a 9in round tin as well, my cake ended up quite… short! (although it did rise properly).

A 9in round tin is roughly equal to an 8in square tin.

This cake is really moist, not too sweet, with occasional bites of extra sweetness from the raisins or crunchy earthiness from the nuts. It goes really well with a cup of good black tea.