Pasta Making in Italy

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Monkey

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The Best Banana Cake

This is my boyfriend’s favourite cake recipe – and believes me he likes a lot of cakes! It’s a great recipe for using up leftover bananas and can be adjusted to your taste.

Banana Cake Ingredients

Banana Cake Ingredients

 

Recipe: Banana Cake

Summary: This is based on Nigella Lawson’s Banana Bread recipe in her amazing book How To Be A Domestic Goddess

Ingredients

  • 75ml Sloe Gin (or any other spirit)
  • 100g Raisin / Sultanas
  • 5 x Ripe Bananas (the sort that you are afraid to eat)
  • 2 x Large Eggs
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 125g Butter (half a standard pack in the UK)
  • 1 1/2  – 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 x tsp Salt (I use Maldon which is very flaky, if you are using pouring salt halve the amount)
  • 60g Walnuts (Chopped)
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

Banana Cake Ready for the Oven

Banana Cake Ready for the Oven

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C / GM 3
  2. Put the raisins into a pan with the alcohol and bring to the boil. Set aside and leave the liquid to rehydrate the fruit.
  3. Melt the butter – I put it into the microwave on medium for about 1 minute and leave it on the side to melt completely.
  4. Put all of the dry ingredients, except the sugar, in a bowl and mix (flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt and the chopped walnuts).
  5. In a big mixing bowl, break the eggs and the melted butter (make sure that the butter isn’t too hot otherwise you’ll get scrambled eggs!)
  6. Mash the bananas with a fork. I tend to use the stab then smush with a fork method, which I think is easier on the hands.
  7. Add the bananas to the egg mixture. Once this has mixed thoroughly add the raisins (if there is still some liquid in the bottom don’t worry) and the vanilla extract. I love vanilla so add as much as possible.
  8. Next add the dry ingredients one third at a time. Try not to mix too much or you’ll activate the gluten and the cake will be tough.
  9. Tip the mix into a loaf tin pre-lined with ready made loaf tin liner. You can use normal baking parchment but it takes more time and can be a bit fiddly.
  10. Put into the already warm warm oven for about an hour.
  11. The cake is cooked once a skewer comes out clean.

Banana Cake Ready for Eating

Banana Cake Ready for Eating

 

Variations

You can use any dried fruit that you like. I have made it with apricots and dates before and it was really good.

If you don’t have any spirits in the house it works just as well with tea (earl grey adds a slightly perfumed characteristic). The main thing that you want to do is rehydrate the fruit so that they are lovely and plump in the finished cake.

Any nuts will be good – I have used macadamias and they are fabulous (probably better than walnuts but more expensive).

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How to Decorate a Christmas Cake

For about the last five years my Mum has made the Christmas cake and I have decorated it. I thought that this would be a fun job but actually it’s very tricky. White icing is troublesome when you have a brown cake!

Every year my Mum makes the cake and I decorate it - she insists on the snowman

Every year my Mum makes the cake and I decorate it - she insists on the snowman

 

How to Ice a Fruit / Christmas Cake

First make or buy a fruit cake – Delia Smith can always be trusted for these style of classic recipes. Be warned if you are making the cake yourself it needs to be left at least a month to mature. It’s also recommended that you can “feed” the cake during this period, which is basically sprinkling it with brandy or rum every so often which makes the cake even richer and more moist.

Once you have your cake you need to get you icing ingredients and equipment:

  • Marzipan (white or yellow)
  • Royal Icing (it is possible to make your own but the shop bought is fine)
  • Icing Sugar
  • Apricot Jam (I actually use crab apple jelly because I make it and always have it around)
  • Egg White
  • Decorations – Food Colouring, Edible Glitter, Gold Balls
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pastry Brush
  • Cookie Cutter of Your Choice
  • Ribbon

The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that all of you surfaces are clean; of course this needs to be done for hygiene but when you are using white icing there cannot be any crumbs!

Make sure that you surface is now dry, sprinkle it with icing sugar and roll out you marzipan. Once the marzipan is about 3mm thick brush the surface of the cake with the jam which you have heated to loosen it. (I always put it in the microwave but be warned it gets hot very quickly).

Use the cake tin that you cooked the cake in as a template for your marzipan. I always do the top first and as I use a loose based tin and its easy to slip the marzipan onto the disc to transfer to the cake. Once the top is securely on measure the depth of your cake (how tall your cake is) for the sides. It doesn’t have to be exact but make sure that you are generous as you can always trim it. I always do this in a few sections but it’s probably better if you can do it in one. Transfer the marzipan onto the cake and make sure that there are no gaps where it joins to the top.

To be safe, clean your surface – it may be a bit of a hassle but it’s nowhere near as bad as crumbs in your beautifully white icing!

On your sparkly clean surface, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar (if you put too much on it’ll dry out your icing) and roll out you royal icing to about 3mm. This can be done in one piece – the way that the icing moulds and moves is strangely satisfying. Be generous with your icing as the trimmings will be used later. Transfer your icing carefully onto your cake, press lightly out from the middle to get rid of any air bubbles. You should be able to gently encourage the icing to fit into place. Once it’s completely covered your cake trim the bottom.

Now to let you imagination go wild!  Cut out your shapes in the left over icing and place on your cake using a brush of egg white as glue.

TIP: to get strong colours your have to use the paste food colouring

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Piggy Birthday Cake

Pigs are my favourite animals and my best friend Nicky made me this cake for my birthday

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Chocolate Birthday Cake

Very yummy cake that my sister made for my Birthday

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Pears

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Stuffed Courgette Flowers

Here are courgette flowers from my garden stuffed with cream cheese waiting to be breaded and fried

Here are courgette flowers from my garden stuffed with cream cheese waiting to be breaded and fried

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Jelly

Jelly from the cupboard

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My very first blog post

Hail Damaged Courgettes

Hail Damaged Courgettes

This is my first foray into the world of blogging.

It’s pretty amazing how daunting a blank pages is. They say that you should always write about what you know so here we go.

I enjoy cooking, eating, photography and growing my own vegetables – all with a bit of help from my lovely boyfriend Richard. When I say “help”, he is very good at the eating and the growing!

I wanted to start this blog to give me somewhere that I can share my recipes and pictures.

To be honest I was a bit upset this morning. London has been praying for rain for the last three month and yesterday it came (and then some). I thought that it would be good for my very thirsty vegetables but boy was I wrong. When I went to have a look at my patch this morning it looked as if it had been attacked. My courgette leaves are full of holes, baby green tomatoes have been broken off and my beautiful lilies have been ripped to shreds. The storm that Rich and I had watched with excitement whilst eating dinner had taken its toll.

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