Banana Bread

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Rien has been wanting me to bake something with bananas for ages, so I finally have! I have never been a fan of banana bread in the past because it can sometimes be a little dry with a very strong banana taste. I know some people would be happy with this but I prefer a more subtle flavour when it comes to banana!

This recipe is from The Great British Bake Off’s Big Book of Baking which has loads of lovely sounding recipes. It is a lovely moist bread which I think is more of a cake than bread. You can have it with butter but I don’t think you need to at all because of how moist it is already.

This recipe is really easy to make and although it takes an hour to bake, you can just put it in the oven while you get on with other things. It is also great for using up bananas that have got a little too ripe for you to want to eat. When they are turning black is when they are perfect for this recipe! The original recipe includes walnuts but we’re not keen on them in this house so I have left them out.

125g unsalted butter, softened
150g light soft brown sugar 
2 eggs
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
250g peeled, ripe bananas mashed
2 tbsp soured cream (alternatively you can use crème fraîche)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a loaf tin
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and mix again
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gently stir into the butter until the flour is nearly combined, but not quite

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  1. Mash the bananas on a plate with a fork, don’t go too crazy you want a lumpy texture rather than a smooth puree. Add to the rest of the mix along with the soured cream and mix until combined

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  1. Tip into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 1 hour until the top is golden brown and a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin for around 15 mins before turning out onto a rack to cool. Once cool, wrap in foil and keep for up to 3 days (it won’t last that long though!)

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This bread makes a delicious afternoon treat so make yourself a drink, out your feet up and enjoy!

Brownies

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I have been very busy recently creating a menu of treats for people to give as Christmas presents. I am very happy with how successful it has been so far, but it does mean I have spent most of my spare time trialing recipes and making batch after batch of chutney! Because of this, I have had to put baking to one side. It does sounds a little sad, but I have really missed it! I used my uni friends coming to stay for the weekend as a perfect excuse to have a break from chutney and bake for them.

One of my friends, Zoe has Coeliac disease which means she has a gluten intolerance and has to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons. Gluten free food seems to be the latest ‘fad’ for people in search of living a healthier life. Although this overshadows people who can’t eat gluten for medical reasons, it at least means that gluten free food is becoming more widely available.

In our first year at uni, Zoe made me delicious brownies for my birthday which were gluten free. She used Nigel Slater’s recipe who is a chef I have admired for years. He speaks so passionately about cooking and creates delicious food. I really like the way he describes his brownies “The crust is thin and lightly crisp, the centre poised between chocolate cake and the texture of a peat bog. The flavour is intense. This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view.”

Because deliciously gooey brownies aren’t amazing enough, I decided to add Snickers to the mix before it went in the oven. I have seen people do this with lots of different chocolate bars and have wanted to try it for a while. Up until now I deliberately hadn’t bought a square tin because I knew it would tempt me to make brownies. I gave in when I needed one to make fudge for my Christmas menu and so at the first opportunity, I made brownies.

300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm x 23cm tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the sugar and and butter for at least 5 minutes until white and fluffy
  3. Break 200g of the chocolate and melt it in a bowl suspended over simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water! Keep stirring until the chocolate has melted and become smooth and glossy and then remove from the heat and set aside

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  1. Chop the remaining 50g of chocolate into small chunks and set aside

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  1. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder along with a pinch of salt. Turn the mixer back on to a low speed and add the egg a little at a time. As you add the egg, speed the mixer up
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add in the melted and chopped chocolate and stir with a large metal spoon
  3. Fold in the flour and cocoa mix gently making sure you don’t knock the air out. This can take a couple of minutes to ensure the ingredients are fully combined
  4. Scrape the mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Now is the time to add any chocolate bars if you want to. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Test the brownies with a cocktail stick – it should come out sticky but not with raw mixture. If it does, put back in the oven for 3 minutes. Remember the brownie will solidify as it cools

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One of my favourite parts from the original recipe is ” Leave the cake out to cool before cutting. It needs time to calm down. Oh, and if you pull out your skewer and it comes out clean then I’m afraid you have blown it.” He is quite right, what makes a brownie so delicious is its gooeyness so if you over bake it you have ruined it, as harsh as that sounds.

Between the five of us, we managed to easily eat the brownies within 12 hours – four of us ate two in one sitting! They are so rich and moist and delicious and the contrast between the soft gooey brownie and crunchy Snickers is fantastic. Obviously you can make these with ordinary plain flour and any chocolate bar you like; or even leave them as they are.

These are easily one of the nicest things I have baked.

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I have since made brownies with Oreos and  Reece’s Pieces – both were delicious.

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Beef Burgers

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If you read my posts often you will know I am quite fussy. I love burgers, but I don’t like them when they are made with onion. I first had these burgers a good few years ago when my sister made them using a Jamie Oliver recipe. Since then Jamie has realised lots of different burger recipes but I have been reluctant to try a different one as everyone loves this recipe. I have made these burgers for friends and family and have been told repeatedly that they are delicious. My boyfriend’s Mum isn’t a massive fan of beef burgers but she has said she loves these. These are the only beef burgers you will get if you come to my house!

The original recipe can be found here http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/a-cracking-burger/. I’m not 100% sure exactly how my sister made them, but I have tweaked the original recipe slightly to meet my own tastes. This recipe is great for adding more of what you like, and leaving out things you don’t.

This recipe is perfect for beginner cooks as it is so easy. As you will see by the photos, Rien made these.

Makes 4 large burgers 
500g beef mince
12 cream crackers, crushed
1 egg
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp  oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper

  1. Put the crackers in a sealed plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin until they are broken into smallish pieces. You don’t want fine crumbs at all, some texture is what adds to the burger

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  1. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl  and mix thoroughly to combine making sure all of the ingredients are mixed. I find it easiest to do this with my hands

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  1. Divide into four portions and shape into patties. If it isn’t holding together, add a little more egg to bind

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  1. These burgers are delicious cooked on the BBQ; on a high heat they should need about 7 minutes per side. If you don’t want to BBQ them or like me don’t have a BBQ, I put them in an oven set to 200ºC for approximately 20 minutes

These burgers are lovely and juicy with the crackers adding a nice crunch. They are very tasty with or without a bun, but I always serve them with homemade wedges.

They are so tasty and easy to make you will find yourself making them time and time again!

Nutella Muffins

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I LOVE Nutella. I think it is possibly one of the greatest things ever invented. I’m not one of those people you see in the advert that likes to eat Nutella on toast for breakfast, no way. My favourite way to eat Nutella without a doubt is with a spoon straight from the jar. This is why it is very dangerous for me to have Nutella in the house because it sits in the cupboard tempting me.

My lovely friend Millie, bought me the cutest heart shaped spoon which she had engraved with ‘Nutella spoon’ because she knows how much I love it. I now have to use that spoon every time I have Nutella and it makes me think of Millie.

As I have mentioned before, I like to have a muffin for breakfast and am trying to find healthier recipes for muffins. When I was thinking of different flavoured muffins, Nutella popped into my head. Now I know what you’re thinking – Nutella is not healthy. I’m not trying to claim it is, but by using yogurt in the recipe it reduces some of the fat and you only need a teaspoon full of Nutella. Depending on how generous you are with the Nutella will change how many calories are in the muffins, but if you use a level teaspoon the muffins are roughly 270 calories. In my quest to find a tasty, healthy muffin I know 270 calories is still not great, but it is less than the blueberry muffins I made so it is a start!

I used a recipe that I found on Pinterest for the muffin mix and instead of using chocolate chips, I used a small dollop of Nutella (http://juliasalbum.com/2013/09/greek-yogurt-chocolate-chip-muffins-recipe/) The muffins were lovely and fluffy with amazing Nutella goodness. I freeze them and the night before I want one, take it out and leave it on the side to defrost. This does mean they aren’t as fluffy as when they were first baked but I don’t want to eat 12 muffins in one sitting!

Depending on how big you make them, this mix will make between 12 and 14 muffins.

2 cups plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup no fat Greek yogurt
12-14 tsp Nutella

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a muffin tin with liners
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs and yogurt
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined

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  1. Fill the cases half way with mix and then add a level teaspoon of Nutella into the middle of each muffin. Cover the Nutella with the remaining muffin mix

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  1. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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These muffins are really easy so perfect to make a batch and enjoy as a tasty breakfast.

Baklava

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Crisp pastry with deliciously sweet nuts with the amazing flavours of spices and the slight perfume of rose water. Baklava is not your standard treat, there is definitely a sense of luxury when eating it!

I have been very busy lately which is why I didn’t join in last week with #GreatBloggersBakeOff. I spent last Sunday with my Mum making labels ready for my chutneys that I am selling for people to give as presents or enjoy themselves around Christmas. I have been so happy and slightly surprised with how many people have placed orders already. So much so that I have had to order lots more jars to meet the demand! Because of this, I have been spending the majority of my spare time making the chutneys which has meant everything else has taken a back seat. I was looking forward to making doughnuts last week for #GreatBloggersBakeOff but I ran out of time. I have had a doughnut baking tray for a couple of months now which I am dying to use so I will be making doughnuts as soon as I can!

Week 9 of GBBO was patisserie which is something I have never even contemplated trying before. The technical bake and showstopper looked a little bit time consuming which wasn’t what I was looking for, so I decided to make baklava. Like in the show, I have no idea what the correct way to pronounce it is! I didn’t want to mess around with the recipe and wanted to keep it quite traditional. My idea of baklava is filo with pistachios with a syrup flavoured with rose water and honey. There seem to be a lot of slightly different variations out there, but I eventually found a recipe that incorporated all of the ingredients I associate with baklava. I did end up slightly tweaking the recipe but the original one was found at http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/607184. I obviously used ready-made filo pastry. I can’t see myself ever feeling the need to make it myself!

My manager at work has been suggesting baklava as something I could make for months now so when it came up on GBBO, there was no escaping it! I can’t remember ever eating baklava before, so finger’s crossed I like it!

For the baklava
300g shelled pistachio nuts
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
250g filo pastry
140g butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground and then mix in the cinnamon
  3. Lightly butter a 23cm square baking dish. Unfold the pastry and cut it in half, keep it under a damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Start layering the filo into the dish lying one sheet vertically and the next horizontally making sure you brush each layer with the melted butter.  After four sheets, scatter with a layer of the nuts. Repeat this until you have used up all of your nuts and filo

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  1. When you have finished, brush the top with melted butter and trim off the filo that is hanging over the tin. Cut diagonal lines right down to the bottom of the tin. The pastry will be too flaky when it comes out of the oven to cut which is why you cut it before it cooks

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  1. Put in the oven for 40-45 minutes until it is golden and crisp. If it is becoming too brown, turn the oven down to 170ºC
  2. Leave to cool

For the syrup
300ml water
350g caster sugar
125ml clear honey
1 tsp cinnamon
½ orange zest
1½ tsp rose water 

  1. Put all of the ingredients into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the syrup has reduced by 1/3. Pour the syrup into a jug and let it cool
  2. When the baklava has come to room temperature, pour half of the syrup down the cuts. Leave this to soak in for 5 minutes or so and then pour the remaining syrup down the cuts
  3. Leave for at least an hour to let the syrup soak into the baklava

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The pastry is deliciously crisp with layers or pistachios smothered with a thick, incredibly sweet syrup with the most amazing flavour which is like nothing I have had before. I think Nigella sums up baklava perfectly “This is so temple-achingly sweet that one small marked-out diamond, or maybe two, is enough. But even so, I love its perfumed sugariness – as much as I love the tender, rose-shot green of its equally fragrant nubbly interior.”

It’s not something you will sit and eat piece after piece, it is so sweet and satisfying that less really is more. This isn’t an everyday dish, but it makes an amazing treat for a special occasion. I am very pleased with how this recipe turned out because I have never used filo before and also because I had a fiddle with the recipe and did it my way.

To see more recipes inspired by GBBO. Please check out www.mummymishaps.co.uk or follow @jennypaulin on Twitter.

GBBO