Tag Archives: Loaves

Getting mildly tipsy off cake: Spiced banana & rum loaf

The majority of my baking gets taken into the lab, where it gets enthusiastically devoured by students and staff alike.  But I’m always a bit stuck when it comes to alcoholic baked goods.  Getting people a little tipsy off cake seems to be a particular skill of mine, and whilst the lab would no doubt happily scoff any alcoholic offerings down, particularly on a Friday when nobody really gets much work done anyway, the lab manager might not be too happy.  Since he wasn’t in the best of moods last week, I decided that the spiced banana and rum loaf that I wanted to try out should probably wait until poker night, since not all the rum bakes out.

Spiced banana & rum loaf 1

If I’d played my cards right (badum-tschhh!), this loaf could have been a sneaky ploy to get people tipsy in a vague attempt to increase my chances of winning.  But I ate just as much as everybody else, so I obviously missed a trick there.  I was actually expecting to have a few slices left over, but by halfway through the evening, a few crumbs and a slight increase in noise levels were the only evidence of the cake’s previous existence.  The spices both in the bread and the spiced rum really make this a perfect winter offering.

Spiced banana & rum loaf 2

AlphaBakesThis month’s AlphaBakes is being hosted by Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker and the challenge letter is “R,” so I’m sending this in as my entry; R for rum.  As I said previously, the rum does not all bake out, though I’ll admit that I couldn’t actually taste the alcohol itself, which probably says a fair bit about me.  All bar one fellow alcoholic other person could taste it though – not overwhelmingly so, but they could tell it was there, and it gives the bread a lovely warming feeling.  I briefly considered adding nuts to the bread as well, but decided to let the spiced rum take centre stage.  Sometimes simple is best.

Spiced banana & rum loaf 3

Spiced banana & rum loaf

Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from Pastry Affair

Defrosted frozen bananas would work perfectly well.  Use whatever spiced rum you like, though remember that the flavour really does come through, so supermarket own brand is unlikely to be a good idea – paint-stripper will always taste of paint-stripper, even if you bake it.  The loaf is best at least one day later, so that the rum flavours have had time to develop.  It will keep well wrapped in tin foil or in an airtight container for several days.  Remember that not all the rum bakes out, so perhaps don’t serve any to children.

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large, ripe bananas (defrosted frozen bananas are fine)
250g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
150ml spiced rum (I used Kraken spiced rum)

Directions

1.  Butter a medium or large loaf tin.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C.

2.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.  Whisk the eggs in one by one, mixing well after each one.

3.  In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, then add to the butter mixture with the vanilla extract and beat together with the electric whisk, until fully mixed together.

4.  Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into the butter mixture bowl and stir together.  Once fully mixed, stir in the rum.

5.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1h-1h10 mins, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy!  (Responsibly, of course.)

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Sharky Oven Gloves goes vegan…

Guess what?  It’s already April 1st in my time zone, which means…  April Fools’!!  Nobody panic, Sharky Oven Gloves is most certainly not launching into veganism (like I’d ever choose to cut butter and cheese out of my life…).  Well, except for today’s post which does actually feature a vegan recipe (shock horror, I know).  You see, this is my entry to the March Breakfast Club challenge, and I’m cutting it extremely fine with the deadline since it’s already April for me, but thankfully the timezones are totally playing into my favour with this!  The challenge is being hosted by Makey Cakey and she chose the theme “deliciously dairy-free“, which was definitely a real challenge for me.  I’m a total dairy fiend, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: one of my greatest fears is to suddenly develop lactose-intolerance.  I drink a glass of milk every morning, I eat a heck of a lot of cheese and you are guaranteed to find at least three different types of cream hanging out in my fridge at any given time.  So it’s taken me the entire month to actually come up with something to make for the challenge.

Initially on reading the challenge theme, I thought it wouldn’t be too hard, I could just make something that doesn’t involve milk or yoghurt.  Or cheese, which I don’t usually have for breakfast anyway.  Simple.  And then I realised that butter is also dairy product.  Oh.  That complicates matters somewhat.  Which is how I ended up with a vegan recipe for today’s post – I’ll be honest, dairy-free or vegan foods are not usually my top choice when it comes to trying out recipes.  And by not usually I mean never.

I didn’t want to mess with the original recipe too much – baking without eggs, butter or milk is something that I never do so it’s difficult to judge the effects of changing the ingredients.  I used wholewheat flour instead of normal flour, and added some banana chips and left it at that.  After my new-found love of the combination of mango and chocolate, I very nearly threw some chocolate chips in, but then remembered that chocolate isn’t dairy-free.  I also very nearly buttered the tin, but luckily realised that that would defeat the entire point of this.  I wasn’t terribly convinced by how the recipe was going to turn out.  The batter seemed odd to me, but I put it in the oven, crossed my fingers and contemplated drinking a big glass of milk whilst waiting for it to come out…  It turned out better than I was expecting – it tastes totally delicious and although it seems a little dry, luckily the mango chunks give the loaf some moistness, which balances it out.  As a result of this, I’m now slightly less distressed at the prospect of vegan or dairy-free baking, but my huge fear of suddenly developing lactose-intolerance still stands.

Mango banana bread

Makes 1 loaf
Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

The batter seemed a bit odd and rather dry as it went into the tin, but it came out well – the mango chunks help to moisten the loaf whilst it bakes.  I would perhaps suggest adding an extra half banana for moistness though.  The banana chips are totally optional but add a lovely little crunch.  This loaf will keep for a few days if wrapped and kept at room temperature.

Ingredients

1 mango
2 large, very ripe bananas
70ml organic rapeseed oil
80g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g whole wheat flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Handful of banana chips (reserve some for the topping)
Demerara sugar, for topping (optional)

Directions

1.  Line a 12 x 20 cm loaf tin with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  Chop the mango into about 1cm chunks.  Set aside.

3.  Using a fork, mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk in the oil, sugar and vanilla extract.

4.  Sift the flour, spices, salt and bicarbonate into the wet ingredients.  Tip the bran bits of the whole wheat flour in as well.  Stir together with a spoon until just combined.

5.  Add the chopped mango and crumbled banana chips, and fold in (don’t panic if it seems very dry).  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared loaf tin, and sprinkle with the sugar and a few more crumbled banana chips.  Bake for 45-50 mins, until lightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out just clean.  Allow to sit in the tin for 20 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

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How to cause disruption in the quiet carriage whilst enjoying your lunch

Last Friday I went down to Oxford as part of a surprise birthday celebration for one of my best friends from school, Keely.  Around mid-afternoon on Thursday I suddenly realised that I’d be travelling on the train during lunch-time and that I’d forgotten to plan for lunch.  I didn’t especially fancy over-priced, probably-not-so-great train food, which meant that I had to find something that I could make with the ingredients we had at home because it was pouring with rain (for a change), so I didn’t feel like trekking out to the supermarket.  I came across a recipe for parmesan and walnut mini loaves.  We had all the required ingredients, and mini loaves are practical to transport as well as easy to eat on a train without creating a huge mess – perfect!

Once on the train, I realised that I’d forgotten to take photos of the mini loaves at home, so if I wanted to share the recipe here, I was going to have to take photos of my lunch on the train.  Which would have been totally fine if my camera didn’t double-beep very loudly whenever it focusses and if I hadn’t booked myself into the quiet carriage…  I felt awfully disruptive, but I braved the glares and judgement of my fellow passengers and did a mini photo-shoot of my lunch.  The mini loaves were rather delicious though, so I ignored the very pointed throat-clearing started from somewhere behind me after about two photos, until I’d taken a grand total of five photos.  I know, I know, such a rebel in the quiet carriage.

I probably wouldn’t have felt so guilty if I’d known that my weekend would also involve practically breaking into Keely’s house to bake her a cake and madeleines as part of the surprise, making several terrible first impressions on her new housemates that she hadn’t even met yet (she’d moved into her new house the day before) and setting off their smoke alarm by accidentally lighting (indoor) sparklers directly underneath it.  A beeping camera in the quiet carriage seems rather tame in comparison, doesn’t it?  I realise that it sounds like we probably ruined Keely’s life for the near future, but she loved the surprise and thoroughly enjoyed her birthday – hurrah!  For my part, I had a lovely weekend seeing some friends that I hadn’t seen since I left school four years ago, and (most importantly for this blog post) I had an excellent lunch on my way down.  Win!

Parmesan & walnut mini loaves

Makes 6-8 mini loaves
Adapted from Mini cakes

These mini loaves are great for picnics as their shape and size makes them really easy to wrap up individually and transport, and they’re deceptively filling.  It also helps that they don’t create a total mess when you eat them.  They can get a little dry if left for a few days, but slicing them thinly and spreading butter on each slice sorts that out.  To make a large, single loaf of 26 cm in length, apparently you can add an additional ¼ of the ingredients and an extra egg, and cook for a little longer.

Ingredients

190g parmesan
140g all-purpose flour
30g chopped walnuts
2 eggs
70ml olive oil
70ml milk
1 heaped tsp baking powder (equivalent to 5.5g or ½ a French sachet)

Directions

1.  Butter and lightly flour the mini loaf tins, or set out silicone moulds.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Coarsely grate 140g of the parmesan into a medium-sized bowl.  Cut the remaining 50g of parmesan into small chunks using a knife, adding it to the bowl, but reserving about ⅓ of the chunks (for sprinkling on top of the mini loaves.  This is optional, and you can just add all the parmesan to the bowl).  Add the flour and chopped walnuts to the parmesan bowl, add some ground black pepper and mix together.

3.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs together with the oil and milk.  Add the dry ingredients, and mix together, taking care not to over-mix (it’s fine if it’s a bit lumpy).  Gently fold in the the baking powder.

4.  As soon as the baking powder has been mixed in, divide the batter between the loaf tins.  Sprinkle the reserved little parmesan chunks over the tops of each mini loaf and bake for about 30 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 mins in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

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We Should Cocoa #11: Apricot, ginger & chocolate loaf

Apricots have got to be one of the most summery fruits – even just their warm, orangey-reddy colour makes me think of sunshine, which is probably just as well since it has just started raining here in Edinburgh.  However, they might look lovely, but more often than not I find myself awfully disappointed by the apricots that we get here in the UK – they’re not usually particularly juicy and tend to be rather on the bitter side.  I can tell you precisely the number of apricots that I have eaten this year that have fully met my expectations of being properly apricot-like (eight, if you’re interested), and all of them were whilst I was in France over the last week.  Actually, to be fair, before I left for France, apricots hadn’t really made an appearance here yet.  Since this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Chele at Chocolate Teapot, is “Apricots,” the lack of fresh apricots was rapidly becoming a minor issue.  However, my mum saved the day by coming across a recipe for an apricot, ginger and chocolate loaf that used dried apricots.

I was going to try it out last week, but as we had to travel to France unexpectedly, that didn’t end up happening.  Having finally managed to find some stem ginger in syrup in Waitrose yesterday, I decided to try the recipe this morning.  Which is when I discovered that we’d been so focused on finding the ginger that we’d completely forgotten to buy dried apricots.  Fail.  Luckily though, whilst we were away, Tesco clearly started stocking fresh apricots though, and my mum happened to buy some yesterday, so I decided to substitute fresh apricots for the dried ones (mostly because I was feeling a little bit too lazy to walk all the way to Waitrose which is not only around 20 minutes away, but also up a hill).  Having been lulled into a false sense of security by the lovely French apricots we had access to over the last week, I was unprepared for the bitterness and non-juiciness of the apricot I decided to munch on.   Unimpressed.  Baked goods were clearly all they were good for.

I will stop ranting about disappointing apricots now, except to say that on inspection of the label, it transpired that the apricots had actually been imported from France.  So, either they really don’t travel well or the French sell all their crappy apricots to the UK and keep the good ones in France.  I suspect it’s probably a combination of both, and I would find the latter option quite amusing… if I didn’t have to eat the crappy ones.  Right, my rant is well and truly over now, let’s move onto the actual point of this post: the loaf.  I’d originally been planning to halve the amount of sugar, but based on the bitterness of the fresh apricot I tried, I decided to only reduce the sugar by about a quarter.  Using fresh apricots worked well, but I think dried apricots would be better since they would match the texture and consistency of the stem ginger.  My mum and I ended up having some of the loaf for dessert after lunch, with a bit of whipped cream on the side, and it was really quite yummy, although pretty heavy.

Apricot, ginger & chocolate loaf

Makes 10-12 slices
Adapted from Pierre Hermé’s Mes desserts au chocolat

Whilst I used fresh apricots, I would suggest using dried apricots as indicated in the original recipe, as I think they would match the texture and consistency of the ginger better than pieces of fresh apricot.  That said, using fresh apricot is still delicious, and if you decide to use fresh apricots, increase the quantity of caster sugar to 150g.  This loaf is delicious as a snack with a cup of tea, but also works wonderfully as a dessert served with a bit of whipped cream on the side.  I found the loaf to be even yummier the next day, which is great since you can make it the day before you plan to serve it and it’s one less thing for you to worry about!

Ingredients

125g dried apricots (or de-stoned fresh apricots)
55g stem ginger in syrup
180g unsalted butter
180g all-purpose flour
40g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
½ tsp baking powder
140g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
4 large eggs
15o ml whole milk
70g dark chocolate chips

Directions

1.  Re-hydrate the dried apricots in just-boiled water for 1 minute, before removing them and drying them with kitchen roll.  Finely chop the apricots and ginger and set aside.  Butter a large loaf tin.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.  Meanwhile, sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium-sized bowl and stir together.  In a large bowl, stir together the ground almonds and sugar.

3.  Add the eggs to the almond and sugar mix one at a time, using an electric whisk and whisking for about 2 mins between the addition of each one.  Continue whisking until the mixture has thickened slightly.  At a slower speed, mix in the milk, followed by the flour mixture.  Add the chopped apricots, ginger and chocolate chips and mix in.  Finally, mix in the melted butter.

4.  Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 40-45 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Once baked, allow to cool for about 10 mins in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #5: Black olive & sun-dried tomato mini loaves

Having sent all my academic books, folders and files down to Edinburgh with my mum about two weeks ago, my bookshelf here in St Andrews is now looking rather empty.  There’s something awfully desolate about empty bookshelves, don’t you think?  Although I’ve kept all my cookery books with me, so at least it’s not entirely empty yet, but it’s still a very sorry-looking bookshelf.  To be honest, I could easily survive for a month without recipes in book format, so I don’t need my cookery books with me, but they make the bookshelf look less depressingly empty and it also means I can take part in this month’s Random Recipe challenge (asking my mum to dig through several boxes to find the relevant recipe book, then a random recipe and then sending me a copy of said recipe would be a little bit over-complicated).

So, to justify keeping my cookery books up here with me, it’s time to do this month’s Random Recipe challenge, which has to come from our newest gifted cookery book.  In my case, this happens to be a lovely little book entitled Mini cakes, which was a present from one of my mum’s friends in France for my last birthday.  What we call cakes in France translates to loaves and quick breads in English rather than actual cake, which has occasionally lead to some serious confusion between my mum and I when discussing food whilst switching back and forth between languages.  Anyway, back to the recipe book – it contains both savoury and sweet recipes, and those that I’ve tried have all been yummy, so I was rather excited about trying out a new recipe from it.

When I was given the book, it also came with a great set of silicone mini loaf moulds.  Mini versions of things are (almost) always automatically adorable, and mini loaves (or “loaflets” as I sometimes like to call them) are no exception, so I was a little bit more excited than I probably should have been about trying out a new recipe from the book.  The random number button on my calculator directed me to page 26: a recipe for black olive and sun-dried tomato mini loaves, an appropriately summery-sounding recipe which I feel has “picnic food” stamped all over it.  I decided to bake these with a couple of modifications for lunch, and also decided to test the picnic theory by having lunch out in St Mary’s Quad.  They turned out so yummy that I will definitely be making them again soon, and the added bonus is that their mini loaf shape makes them very practical to take as part of a packed lunch/picnic.

Black olive & sun-dried tomato mini loaves

Makes 6-8 mini loaves
Adapted from Mini cakes

The original recipe calls for grated gruyère, but I used parmesan because I thought it would go better and I conveniently had some in the fridge anyway.  I also added oregano, to keep with the Mediterranean flavours.  These are tasty both warm or cold, and would make an excellent picnic food, perhaps accompanied by some chilled white wine…  If you want to make a single loaf of 26cm in length, add an additional ¼ of the ingredients and an extra egg, and cook for a little longer.

Ingredients

100g drained sun-dried tomatoes
100g drained & stoned black olives
70g parmesan
2 eggs
70 ml milk
70 ml olive oil
120g all-purpose flour
2 tsp dried oregano
1 heaped tsp baking powder (equivalent to 5.5g or ½ a French sachet)

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Butter and lightly flour the mini loaf tins or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Thoroughly drain the sun-dried tomatoes before roughly chopping them.  Drain the olives.  Slice 5-6 olives thinly and set aside to use for garnishing.  Halve the remaining olives.  Grate the parmesan.

3.  In a large bowl, gently beat the eggs, olive oil and milk together.  Add the flour, grated parmesan, tomatoes and halved olives along with the oregano and some salt and pepper and mix.  Gently mix in the baking powder.

4.  As soon as the baking powder has been incorporated, split the batter between the mini loaf tins.  Lay some olive slices over the top of each mini loaf and bake for about 30 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack (they’re tasty both warm and cold).

Enjoy!

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Banana, date & pecan “loaflets”

I’ve discovered the Breakfast Club – a challenge to make breakfasts “more than tea and toast” with a different theme each month (you were thinking of the film, weren’t you?)  I love breakfast, I genuinely cannot function without it, so this sounds like a lot of fun to me.  I actually discovered the Breakfast Club last month, and the theme was “Yoghurt” but due to a lack of both inspiration (I wanted to do something other than yoghurt with muesli) and time, I never quite got round to it.  This month’s theme is “To Go” – so breakfast on the commute, etc.

Now, I don’t really do much commuting.  St Andrews is quite small and compact – from my flat, walking to the library takes 2 minutes, my seminars are about 8 minutes away and it takes 15 minutes to walk to the marine labs.  The only time that I tend to have breakfast “on the go” is when I’m running really late and have to grab a cereal bar on my way out the door and wolf it down whilst in a mad rush to wherever I should have been 10 minutes previously.

But that wasn’t going to stop me partaking in the “To Go” challenge.  I think if I did commute, I would probably eat a lot of muffins, just because they are so fun and I love them and if you put dried fruit and oats, etc., in them, I’m sure they would make a fairly healthy, filling breakfast.  I had some bananas that were ripening at an alarming rate, so clearly banana muffins were on the cards.  But then I realised that as much as I love muffins, they’re not the most practical shape if you’re a bit tight on space in your bag and have to take several with you.  Luckily, I have some mini-loaf tins, so I thought, “aha!  Rectangular muffins!  So much more practical to transport!”  In the end, their texture resembled that of a loaf more than a muffin anyway, thus my breakfast “loaflets” were born…

To make them substantial enough to last until lunchtime, I used a recipe that included porridge oats and wholemeal bread flour as a starting base, adding dates and pecans for energy and texture.  The crumbly topping gives the loaflets a nice bit of subtle crunch, though I suppose it makes them slightly less practical to transport – woops.  They turned out rather yummy!  I had one for breakfast yesterday and it kept me going all morning.  I’m sure these would work really well as a big sliced loaf, too.  I’ll try that out at some point and let you know…

Banana, date & pecan loaflets

Makes 6 5×8 cm loaflets
Adapted from several recipes in Mad About Muffins

These can be made the evening before, left to cool and then stored overnight in an airtight container ready for breakfast the next day.  If you’re eating them at home, they’re also yummy sliced in half and spread with butter.  If you are eating them on the go, they’re a tiny bit sticky so having a wet-wipe to hand might be a good idea.

Ingredients

For the batter:
60g all-purpose flour
50g wholemeal bread flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
60g porridge oats
60g butter
100g demerrera sugar
250g very ripe bananas (unpeeled weight)
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
35g very hot water
90g ready-to-eat dates, chopped

For the topping:
65g pecans, chopped
50g all-purpose flour
15g demerrera sugar
20g maple syrup
30g butter, softened

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.  Grease 6 mini loaf tins (I’m sure this would work as a normal loaf – I haven’t tried it yet though, so I’ll keep you posted.  Do let me know if you try!).

2.  Prepare the topping by combining all the topping ingredients in a bowl and rubbing them together to get a crumbly, lumpy mixture.

3.  Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Tip in any bran from the wholemeal flour that didn’t go through the sieve.  Add the oats and stir all the dry ingredients together.

4.  Melt the butter in a large, heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan, add the sugar and mix thoroughly.

5.  Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork in a small bowl.  Add them to the butter and mix thoroughly.

6.  Lightly beat the egg using the same fork and bowl that you just used for the bananas.  Mix the egg and vanilla extract into the butter mixture.

7.  Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the hot water, and then mix in the rest of the flour mixture.  Stir in the dates.

8.  Spoon the batter evenly into the mini loaf tins (I over-enthusiastically filled mine right up until the top).  Sprinkle the topping over the loaflets and press it down slightly into the batter.

9.  Bake for 30-35 mins (it will be longer if you’re making a normal loaf – I’ll get back to you once I’ve tested it) or until the loaflets are well-risen and golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

10.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container until breakfast.

Enjoy!

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