My Favourite Banana Bread [with nutella this time]

It was a banana bread kind of day today. I had 4 bananas hanging on my banana tree looking very very bruised and sorry for themselves; now they are very very mashed and happy in my bread!

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I loooooooooooove this recipe and make it all the time, but today was special, because I dolloped a load of nutella in the middle. You can add pretty much whatever you want (or keep it plain and simple with no “swirl”).

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It was too good today, thus I had to share.

Click here for the full recipe and instructions in my previous post….

ENJOY ❤

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The Duke of Banana Bread [with choc chips and a toffee swirl]

We’ve had the Queen of the Brownies and the King of the Cookies; now it’s time for another recipe to be crowned into my royal hall of BEST RECIPES EVER!

Seriouslyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy amazinggggggggggggggggg – I’m slurring my words because I’m munching on a slice right now – I’m in heaven.

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I’ve made a lot of banana bread in my time (it’s one of my all time favourite things in the whole entire world and universe and galaxy) but I genuinely think I have found THE ONE. Using a base recipe (inspired by my favourite baker as always – Sally) you have a classic moist banana bread…. and then it just gets completely transformed into a party of sweetness, with a swirl of my delicious toffee sauce (used in some of my favourite recipes: Cappuccino Cake & Oatmeal Cream Pies) and some dark chocolate chips.

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You can tweek this and really go wild, adding a cinnamon swirl, nutella, white chocolate and so on. You can omit the chocolate chips or add milk rather than dark. You can add fruit such as raspberries and create an icing glaze. As long as you get the balance right sweetness wise (don’t go too overboard as you don’t want to overpower the amazing banana flavour that shines through), you are off and away with one of the best tasting banana breads you can possibly imagine.

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I absolutely adore the addition of yogurt, creating a smooth and moist texture yet in keeping with a typically dense fruit cake. I used natural plain yogurt (and added a little vanilla essence separately – however you can use vanilla yogurt and just omit the added essence)

You don’t need an obscene amount of butter or sugar in this recipe (thumbs up all round!) as the bananas and yogurt provide that delicious sweet flavour we all crave in a fruit loaf or cake.

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Using brown sugar is becoming an issue for me these days – I seem to go through a 1kg pack a week – I think I have a problem? Yes, I’m considering therapy. Seriously though, I’m addicted to that dark grain and stickiness you only get with brown sugar.

It’s soooooooooooooooooooo easy to make you’ll be shocked. And of course as I love to tell you all, I love love love using up overripe bananas leftover in my kitchen.

Bananas, cinnamon and chocolate are my weaknesses. If you want me to do anything, dangle a banana in front of my eyes whilst flicking cinnamon and melted chocolate into my mouth and I’ll be all yours.

Attractive!

ENJOY 🙂

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Toffee Swirl Choc Chip Banana Bread 

250g plain flour

¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

1 tsp cinnamon

100g light brown sugar

60g unsalted butter

2 eggs

3 medium sized bananas, mashed

80g plain or vanilla yogurt

1 tsp vanilla essence

60g chocolate chips, saving some for the top (I used dark)

For the Toffee Swirl:

Melt around 25g butter and stir in 55g dark brown sugar. Bring to the boil and boil for around 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and gradually add 2 tbsp milk, stirring all the while. Return to the heat and bring to the boil again. Remove and allow to cool for around 5 minutes. Stir in around 40g icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add more icing sugar/milk accordingly.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease your loaf tin
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and cinnamon
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time. Now stir in the mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients – IMPORTANT – don’t overmix, otherwise you will ned up with a really dense cake!
  5. Spoon half the mixture into your loaf tin. Add your layer of desired sauce (I used toffee, you can use cinnamon, chocolate, Nutella etc) Now add the rest of your mixture, and using a knife, swirl your mixture in a figure of 8, allowing some of the toffee to come up to the top. For appearance, I sprinkled the remaining choc chips on the top, with a little coarse cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake for around 20 minutes uncovered, and then place some foil over your loaf (to keep it from burning on the top) Bake for another 25-30 minutes and remove from the oven to cool completely
  7. I like to refrigerate my bread to help keep it fresh and then warm a slice up in the microwave for around 10 seconds – AMAZING!

This Bread Thing Is Really Fun…

It was late in the day, Mom had made an Irish Stew the day before so we were all set for dinner, we were just waiting on Dad to arrive back after visiting Grandad.

The weather has started to finally brighten up (thank goodness – although it won’t last for long no doubt) sooooo on a sunny evening, what other thought might cross one’s mind, other than to go bake some bread to dip in the brewing stew?!

I decided on a French Stick today (i.e. classic French bread)…. I don’t know whether everyone calls this type of loaf a French Stick, or if it’s just me?!

It’s crusty exterior and fluffy interior creates a magnificent bread and it’s one of my favourites, however it was actually my first time in making such a loaf. I thought it would be difficult, but it couldn’t have been easier.

It took me about 15 minutes to throw all the ingredients together and knead, 1 hour to prove, 5 minutes to shape, 40 minutes to prove again, and after around 20 minutes in the oven, you are left with a perfect loaf to dip in your stew.

The combination of plain flour and strong bread flour creates a texture more reminiscent of true french bread, and the steam created in the oven from the water you place on the bottom, gives the bread it’s perfect crisp crust.

Ideally it should be eaten on the same day, but if you can’t manage this, just pop it in the oven to warm up a little (it will only really last for around 2 days after baking)

Enjoy 🙂

French Bread (makes two large loaves)

350g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

115g plain flour

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast

300ml hand-hot water

  1. Combine the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix to a soft dough
  2. Turn out on to an unfloured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, until smooth
  3. Cover and prove in a greased bowl until doubled in size (this took around 1 hour, in a warm place)
  4. Grease and flour two baking trays
  5. Divide the dough into two. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll up tightly from the long edge, pinching the seams together. Place diagonally on your baking tray (seam side down) and make deep diagonal cuts along the dough.
  6. Prove until doubled in size again (this took around 40 minutes)
  7. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and place a large shallow dish on the bottom of the oven and fill this with boiling water (be very careful when doing this!)
  8. Dust the tops of the dough with a little flour and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes (when you tap the bottom of the bread it should sound hollow)

  

                          

You Don’t Need To Go To Devon For An English Cream Tea…

The sun finally decided to say hello again today, so what else was there to do, other than throw the windows open and make a yummy batch of classic scones?!

This is my go-to recipe whenever I need to make something relatively quick but more than satisfying. If I’m feeling particularly fancy, I might throw in some sultanas or raspberries – but today I was feeling very lazy and very peckish.

For those of you who don’t live in England, or haven’t visited, or have somehow managed to go through life without experiencing a good ol’ afternoon cream tea….. well you haven’t experienced life to the full…. Seriously…. Go bake these now, you won’t be disappointed. And if you have experienced the joy of smothering your scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream, well then I hope this inspires you to take a break and go bake some – similar to bread, nothing beats the smell of fresh scones or pastries in the oven, on a sunny spring day!

I also took some time today to explore my garden as I feel as though I’ve missed a lot of the blossom and flowers which seemed to have bloomed ever so quickly this past month. I picked some bluebells, forget-me-nots, wallflowers, aquilegias, rosemary and buttercups. I also photographed (using my super fancy camera) my beautiful Maigold Rose, and various other colours that caught my eye.

Enjoy! 🙂

Classic Scones (makes around 10)

75g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

350g self-raising flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

30g caster sugar

100ml milk

2 large eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and lightly grease your baking trays
  2. Mix the flour and baking powder, then rub (using your fingertips) the butter in, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Stir in the sugar and pour in 100ml of milk along with the eggs (saving a little for later). Mix together, adding more milk if necessary
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, lightly kneading for 1 minute until gathers together
  5. Roll and pat out, cutting as many rounds as possible from the first rolling (I used a 2 inch cutter) Keep rolling out until you have used the dough
  6. Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg and bake for around 10 minutes or until golden
  7. Remove and cool on a wire rack – serve with clotted cream and jam, with a cup of Yorkshire tea!

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Here are some lovely flowers in the garden:

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Fougasse et Herbes de Provence

The Italian’s call is Focaccia, the French call it Fougasse, the English call it Flat Bread….. I call it Fantabulicious!

I absolutely love baking bread and I’m on a bit of a craze at the moment… I shall not be stopped! Experimenting with flavours, style, shape and ingredients, this is a surprisingly easy and versatile recipe.

I really like the addition of extra virgin olive oil, creating a warm colour and flavour.

I’ve stuck to a pretty plain version of fougasse, sprinkling a generous amount of herbs before baking. I used Herbes de Provence which comprises of rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, savory and marjoram. Of course you can use just about any sort of herb you like.

My next batch will definitely have olives and sun dried tomatoes in…. maybe a dash of red onion as well… mmmmmmmm… I love french bread.

Enjoy! ❤

Fougasse (makes 4 breads)

450g strong white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

280ml hand-hot water (you may need a little more, depending on your dough)

flour or semonlina, for dusting

Herbes de Provence (You can use any herb preferred)

  1. Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsp of olive oil and the water. Mix to form a soft dough
  2. Turn out on an unfloured surface and knead for around 10 minutes until silky smooth
  3. Place in an oiled sandwich bag and prove in a warm place for around 45 minutes (until doubled in size)
  4. Grease two baking trays and dust with flour or semolina
  5. Knock back the dough until all the air has been dispelled and divide into four equal pieces. Roll out into long oval shapes and place two on each baking tray
  6. Make two short cuts down the centre of each, leaving space in between. Then make 3 diagonal cuts on either side of the middle, presenting a leaf effect.
  7. Flour you finger and run it around each cut to enhance the slit and ensure it does not close up when proved
  8. Cover and leave to prove for around 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees
  9. Drizzle the breads with the remaining oil and sprinkle over your chosen herbs. Bake for around 15-20 minutes until golden (when the bottom is tapped the bread should sound hollow)

                  

Traditional Farmhouse Loaf

Today I had a lazy Saturday morning and watched Saturday Kitchen Live (for those of you who aren’t from the UK, this is a cookery programme aired on BBC 1, every Saturday morning, for as long as I can remember).

It’s a classic – there’s an infamous omelette challenge, a few celebrities and usually a presenter in Italy, Greece, Spain and the like, exploring the countryside, food, language and culture. This is my favourite part as I immediately get whisked back to childhood memories of family holidays, exploring old Italian monasteries, Greek mountains or ancient sites and Spanish beaches. I can smell the garlic and herbs, taste the delicious meats and fish, hear the cicadas and feel the heat on my skin. My two older brothers would nearly always find something mischievous to do, I would usually attempt to join in (being the annoying little sis that always wanted to be a part of the fun), get injured, run into Mom’s arms, get scolded by Dad, and it would all begin again. Oh how I miss being young and naiive… although this circle of play with my brothers still remains pretty much the same!

So all this flashed before my eyes whilst watching a television programme. Apart from the fond memories, it really really inspired me to bake something rustic, classic and full of herbs.

Next on the schedule was Paul Hollywood’s Bread, and that was it, my mind was made up. I was to spend my entire afternoon, rolling my sleeves up, throwing the windows opening, welcoming the smell of warm, fresh bread in the oven. Of course, this is my favourite thing to do, I was in my own little heaven. I literally spent 5 hours doing this until I realised I hadn’t started cooking dinner: Fish Pie this evening! 

I decided on a Traditional Farmhouse Loaf and a Fougasse. I love baking bread, although time consuming and hard work on one’s triceps and biceps, it’s so rewarding watching your creation mold, grow and transform into something so tasty and good (it’s also a pretty good workout so you can feel extra good whilst baking!)

I even had a good 5 minute daydream, thinking how magical it would be to wake up early every morning, just to get a fresh loaf in the oven ready for my imaginary family’s breakfast (children and husband waking on a sunny morning, whiffing the amazing smell of fresh bread, me looking surprisingly fresh and awake in the kitchen, all having a yummy, lazy breakfast together – clearly no school or job to go to – realistic hey?!).

All this from Paul Hollywood’s gentle Scouse lilt and beautiful face – call me gullible but these TV programmes definitely work – I went and did exactly what they told me to do!

Enjoy 🙂

Traditional Farmhouse Loaf 

450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

25g butter

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp fast action dried yeast

300ml hand-hot water

  1. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar, salt, and yeast. Make a well in the centre, pour the water in all at once and mix well to combine the ingredients
  2. Turn out on to an unfloured surface and knead for around 10 minutes (until it is silky smooth)
  3. Place the dough in a large sandwich bag that has been lightly oiled. Seal, allowing plenty of room for the dough to expand and prove in a warm place, for about an hour (until doubled in size)
  4. Grease your loaf tin and lightly dust with flour
  5. Knock back the dough (to get rid of any air) for around 2-3 minutes. Shape into an oblong and lay it in the prepared tin. Cover and leave to prove again, until doubled in size (around 45 minutes)
  6. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees and using a sharp knife, cut down the centre of the loaf and liberally dust with flour
  7. Bake for around 30 minutes (until it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom)

  

            


After a delicious slice of warm bread, with a generous slather of butter, we had a lovely evening walk in our field. A family of Canadian Geese have taken home on the lake; watching the little Goslings grow is simply adorable!

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Loaf

Hi guys! I’ve been super super SUPER busy this past week…. what with work in Manchester and a job interview, house-sitting for my parents whilst they are living it up in Madeira, spending a lovely week with Gavin and having my two aunties and two cousins visit at the weekend.

I feel as if Wilfy and I can now breathe and relax after all this hard work, and what better way to do that, than by baking and munching on some banana bread. I totally forgot about half the stuff I bought in my shop this past week, thus I have loads of bananas left over! (YAY for me I loooooove baking with ripe bananas)

I actually turned this into my pudding by warming up some vanilla custard and smothering a huge slice.

The crumb topping is so simple, and yet manages to completely transform this banana bread. The crunchy cinnamon crust and moist banana are a match made in heaven.

Seriously, this is a good one!

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Loaf

160g caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

115g unsalted butter, softened

120ml evaporated milk

2 overripe bananas, mashed

300g plain flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

For the crumb topping:

115g icing sugar

150g plain flour

60g unsalted butter, melted

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Dark chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and spray your loaf tin
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, egg and vanilla together. .Add the butter and beat until smooth
  3. Add the evaporated milk and mashed bananas
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet, making sure not to over-mix (you will end up with a dense loaf!)
  5. To make the crumb topping, combine the icing sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and melted butter. Use your hands to create a bread crumb
  6. Spoon the loaf mixture into your loaf tin and sprinkle over the crumb topping
  7. Finely grate dark chocolate over the top and place in the oven for around 50 minutes