Chocolate peanut butter banana cake

As I’ve said before, there is nothing better than peanut butter and chocolate.  Apart from, perhaps, the addition of one ingredient…banana!  Banana and peanut butter is a personal favourite of mine, I’m one of those strange people you look at in milkshake shops when I ask for a peanut butter and banana milkshake!  If you’ve never tried that, you should.  Seriously. 🙂

The recipe below is an adaptation of a banana cake I’ve made before…with the amazing addition of chocolate chips, peanut butter and Reese’s peanut butter cups.  This cake won’t win any beauty contests…however it more than makes up for that in taste 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 120ml sunflower oil
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 150ml natural yoghurt
  • 50g dark or milk chocolate chips
  • 3 large Reese’s peanut butter cups (if you’re from the UK as I am, most supermarkets now sell these…I got mine from Co-op!)
  • 50g smooth peanut butter + 20g for swirling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas4/180C.  Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper (I use the ready made liners as I’m lazy!) Using a whisk, mix together the oil, sugar and eggs (1 at a time).  Beat in the 50g peanut butter.
  2. Sift flour into bowl and fold into mixture.
  3. Mash bananas and fold into mixture with the natural yoghurt.
  4. Chop peanut butter cups and fold into mixture, along with the chocolate chips.  Pour mixture into loaf tin.
  5. Melt the 20g of peanut butter on the hob or in a microwave.  Dollop the runny peanut butter on top of the mixture and swirl with a fork.
  6. Bake for around 1hr 20 mins until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Check cake after 1hr and place foil on top if you feel it’s getting too dark.

Peanut butter lovers of the world, enjoy!

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Lemon scented shortbread

Confession time…I have never made shortbread.  I don’t really know why, it’s just something I’ve never really thought about making.  This is hopefully going to be one of the good things about this blog, it will push me to try making things I’ve never tried before.  Again thinking about the lemon curd from yesterday (if I don’t use it in baking there is a danger that I will visit the fridge with a spoon and eat it out of the jar 🙂 ), I came up with the idea of lemon scented shortbread with a lemon curd filling.  The recipe I used produced a very ‘short’ dough, which meant a crumbly biscuit. Thinking back to my last post about the merits of margarine, I think shortbread is one of those occasions where you most definitely should use butter.  Don’t let me catch you doing otherwise.  You have been warned.

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Ingredients (makes around 16 biscuits):

  • 125g/4oz soft butter
  • 55g/2oz caster sugar
  • 180g/6oz plain flour, sifted
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas5/200C.  Cream butter, sugar and lemon rind together until smooth.
  2. Add flour and mix with sugar and butter.  I found using my hands at this stage easier, to squish the mixture into a dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1cm thickness.  Use a cutter or knife to make shapes of your choice and place onto a lined baking tray.  Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Bake for around 15 minutes, until they are a light gold colour (they shouldn’t be dark brown)
  5. Cool on a wire rack and sandwich together with (you’ve guessed it!) homemade lemon curd.

Having written this post, I’m off to enjoy some shortbread with a cup of tea 🙂

Lemon curd cake

The lemon curd from yesterday has been put to good use today 🙂 This is a cake I make loads, it’s really straightforward and tastes amazing (if I do say so myself!)  Now, what I’m about to say may shock you (and it shocks me as well to be fair), but I make my sponge cakes with margarine.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  Not butter, margarine (Stork for preference).  The main reason I do this is habit, having learnt from my Granny, Mum and Mary Berry :-), however another good reason is I believe it makes a lighter sponge.  If you use butter you must use the ‘creaming’ method, rather than the ‘all-in-one’ that margarine allows you to do.  This means you’re mixing the sponge for less time…if you mix it for too long you will end up with a dense, heavy cake.  There are certain things that need butter (and I love the stuff, don’t get me wrong), but if you haven’t tried the ‘all-in-one’ method for this kind of cake, try it.  You won’t be sorry.

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Ingredients:

  • 6oz soft margarine (such as Stork)
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 6oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Lemon curd (see my recipe)

For the syrup

  • 8 tsp icing sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • Lemon juice to taste (and to make it runny)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas4/180C.  Add all ingredients (apart from the syrup and lemon curd) to a large bowl.  Mix until everything is just combined.
  2. Grease and base line 2 loose bottomed sandwich tins.  Divide the mixture equally between the tins.
  3. Bake for 20-25 mins.  Check cake after 20 minutes, BUT do not open the oven door until then.  It may cause the cake to sink if you open the door too early.  The cake is ready when you press a finger in the middle and it bounces back.
  4. Remove cake from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Remove cakes from tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Whilst cakes are cooling, pierce them with a cocktail stick or piece of uncooked spaghetti.  Drizzle the syrup over both cakes and leave to cool completely.
  6. Sandwich together with lemon curd and sprinkle the top with caster sugar.

Enjoy with tea 🙂

Homemade lemon curd

I know you can buy decent lemon curd.  However, you haven’t tasted lemon curd until you’ve made your own.  This is an amazingly easy recipe that is done, start to finish, in 15 minutes.  That’s right, 15 minutes.  Whilst ordinarily you’d have to faff around with a bain marie and stir for at least 25 minutes, you can have your lemon curd prepared and ready speedily, with the magic of the microwave.  Don’t worry, I thought the same as you when I first saw the microwave method for making lemon curd (seriously?!), but I promise, it is incredibly easy and gives fantastic results.

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Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • Juice and rind of 4 lemons (unwaxed)

Makes around 600ml (enough for 2 medium jars)

Method:

  1. First sterilise your jars.  Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and place on their side in the oven, set to Gas 3/160C.  After 10 minutes, turn the oven off and leave jars in there until they are ready to be filled.  Alternatively if you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher :-), the jars can be sterilised in there.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a large glass bowl, mix briefly and place in microwave.  Microwave for short bursts (20-30 seconds at a time) and stir in between.  Do this for around 6-7 minutes, until the curd will coat the back of the spoon.
  3. There shouldn’t be any lumps in the lemon curd, however it can always be sieved if there are.  Pour the lemon curd into the glass jars, being careful not to touch the inside of the jar.  Leave the cool completely before placing in fridge.  It will keep for about a week in the fridge (if you can resist for that long! 🙂 )

Lemon curd is fantastic on scones, as a cake filling or eaten straight out of the jar!  I will be using today’s efforts in a lemon curd cake and lemon curd shortbread over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

My photography course

5 weeks ago (feels like forever!) I started a beginner’s DSLR photography course.  I’m absolutely loving it and have discovered my creative side (although I think baking may count towards that as well :-))  For the course, we have to produce a small portfolio on a particular theme.  Take a guess at what I’ve chosen!  The challenge with my baking theme is being able to show that I can use a variety of settings on the camera (rather than just my top favourite blurry background large aperture photos).  I’ll be baking (of course!) and posting potential photos on the blog, so I’d welcome any feedback 🙂

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Please visit and ‘like’ my Facebook page if you’d like regular updates from the blog and occasional random waffle!  Similarly, you can follow me on Twitter, @Baking_Joy for randomness, baking tips and photography stuff 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

White cob loaf

Making bread scares me.  There I’ve said it.  Cake, biscuits, pastry, puddings, no.  But bread, yes.  So I’ve decided to face my fears like a grown-up and consent to making bread more often than I do (which is not a lot).  I’m also trying to convince anyone I know that this is a great excuse to buy me my pink KitchenAid with its useful dough hook.  I have promised to reward the kind person in bread and other baked goods for the rest of their lives, but so far no luck 😦

As I am no bread expert, I sought the advice of an expert…Mr Paul Hollywood.  Not personally (I wish), but through his book ‘How to Bake’ which my husband has borrowed from a kindly work colleague.  The following recipe and pictures are a white cob loaf and I don’t think it turned out too bad!  It certainly smelt delicious and tasted pretty good as well with a hefty addition of (what else?) salted butter.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf):

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 40g soft butter
  • 2 packets (7g each) dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 300ml tepid water (not hot)

Method:

  1. Add the flour and butter to a large bowl.  Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other (otherwise the salt will kill the yeast).  Stir all the ingredients to combine.
  2. Add around half the water and mix with your hands until the mix starts to come together.  Add a bit of water at a time, incorporating it into the dough and turning the dough round in the bowl to pick up loose bits of flour.
  3. When you have a soft dough and all the flour has been picked up (you may not need all the water), turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly greased (1 tsp oil) work surface.
  4. Roll the dough in on itself, turning it 45 degrees each time until it is lightly coated with oil.  This stops the dough sticking and eliminates the problem of adding extra flour to the dough.
  5. Knead the dough for 5 minutes with the heel of your hand until it feels stretchy and elastic.  Put back into the bowl (oil the bowl) and cover with cling film.  Leave until doubled in size (in a warm place).
  6. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead lightly for 30 seconds.  Shape into a round ‘cob loaf shape’, place on a lined baking tray and cover with a teatowel.  Leave the dough to prove in a warm place for an hour.  Preheat oven to Gas 7/220C
  7. Rub a small amount of flour into the loaf and make 4 alternating slashes in the top using a sharp knife.
  8. Place a tray in the bottom of the oven, then place the bread in the middle of the oven.  Pour a small amount of water in the tray at the bottom, this creates steam which gives the bread a crispy crust.
  9. Bake for around 30 minutes, the bread is done when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.

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