Hipster Banana Bread

Am I a hipster? Oh god. I like organic food, make my own kefir and ride a cruiser. Yes, I’d love to save the world and my husband has a beard. Hmmmm….. maybe I am just enough of a hipster to be allowed to call this Hipster Banana Bread?!

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Eating a bite of this loaf made me think of my Mum. I’m sure she would have baked something like this, while I watched at her elbow; something wholesome and healthful, and knowing her she would have spread on some tahini and honey for extra goodness/yummyness.

Times change, and now I am the mum with my little one standing at my elbow. And so whilst I originally thought to call this recipe Hippy Banana Bread (as I think of my mum being somewhat of a hippy earth mother) I decided that for my times, perhaps it is more of a Hipster Banana Bread.

So get out your spelt and your cocoa nibs, mash a few bananas and then sling a few slices into your satchel for a snack whilst out on your bike. Lovely alongside a good cup o’ chai.

Hipster Banana Bread

This really is more bread than cake, and is abundant in seeds and cocoa nib crunch. I imagine it would be a great snack to take on a hike; it fills you up in a good way and keeps you going for a long time. It stores well for at least 5 days, and actually gets better after a day or two. And as with all banana breads (in my humble opinion) a generous buttering is a must.

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Adapted from Seeded Banana Bread from A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones.

  • 250g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 125g brown sugar (I think coconut sugar would substitute well here, I’m going to try that next time)
  • 150g little seeds (I used 50g golden linseeds, 50g sesame seeds and 50g cocoa nibs)
  • a pinch of salt (go on, rock in some Himalayan Crystal salt)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large bananas, mashed as you will
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Butter and line a loaf tin with baking paper, and let the paper reach up the sides so it is easy to remove.

Mix together in a bowl all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, seeds, salt and baking powder) until there are no lumps.

In a separate bowl mash the bananas, then stir in the olive oil, yoghurt and eggs.

Gently mix together the wet and dry ingredients, just until there are no pockets of flour left. Hippies or Hipsters alike, be gentle and loving to your mix.

Pour the mixture into the tin, then bake a little lower down in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

When the loaf is cool enough, transfer to a cooling rack. This is pretty yummy still warm, but also good at room temperature or toasted and spread with either butter and a little honey or your favourite nut butter. I also had the notion of making a slice into french toast and topping it with some maple, greek yoghurt and extra bananas, but haven’t got there yet! Let me know if that’s where you take it!

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Lime and Pistachio Tea Cakes

Sometimes you just need a little something sweet and syrupy. These are for those times.

Inspired by the gluten free classic seen in almost every cafe sweets cabinet, this is my variation on the classic Orange and Almond cake; Lime and Pistachio cakes, in miniature. Sweet and sticky, yet fragrant and bright from whole limes and my favourite, pistachios.

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Lime and Pistachio Tea Cakes

Makes 6-12 individual sized tea cakes, the perfect size for sharing with a friend.

  • 5 or 6 limes, 450 – 500g
  • 6 eggs
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 250g ground pistachios
  • 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder

Put the limes into a saucepan and cover with water. Pop on a lid and bring to the boil; boil the limes for around an hour or until they are completely tender. Remove the limes from the water and cut them open to remove any seeds. Place the limes in a food processor and blitz until completely smooth. Set aside for now.

Grease a 12-hole muffin or friand tin well with butter. If you have a tin that has removable bases, then now is the perfect time to use it. If not, then cut out some little circles of baking paper and pop them into the bases of the muffin tin.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

It is up to you how many little cakes you would like to make, you can easily divide this mixture into 12 little cakes, or even just divide it into 6 and make the little cakes nice and tall. Just slightly increase the baking time if you are making taller cakes. I divided my mixture into 8.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until combined; you don’t want to add too much air here, just make it all nice and smooth and dissolve the sugar a little bit.

Stir through the lime puree, and then fold in the ground almonds, ground pistachios and baking powder, until beautifully smooth.

Spoon into the muffin tin, dividing into as many as you wish. Bake for around 35 minutes (adding an extra 10 or 15 minutes if your cakes are taller), until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin before removing them.

Serve with a dollop of thick cream, and a few curls of lime zest and crushed pistachios if you are feeling fancy.

These cakes keep really well for several days, but you probably won’t be able to resist them for that long.

Lovely photography by Sarah Collins from Love Katie and Sarah

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Toffee Walnut Scrolls

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The mornings are dark and crisp. The air is bracing, the sun slow to catch up.

What I really long for is to stay under the covers a little longer, and for somebody to deliver me something warm and sweet.

Toffee Walnut Scrolls for cozy weekend mornings

Make your morning easy and prepare these the day before. A slow overnight rise in the fridge will produce generous buns, ready to be popped into the oven the following morning. Better still, leave baking instructions for your loved one so a tray can be delivered fresh and sticky from the oven, next to a piping hot cup of coffee. A perfect way to start a Winter’s day.

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Makes 16 generous buns.

For the buns

  • 5 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 180g raw sugar
  • 310ml warm water
  • 90g melted butter
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 800g plain flour
  • pinch of salt

For the praline

  • 200g raw sugar
  • 50g toasted walnuts

Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper. Sprinkle the sheet with the walnuts. To make the toffee, melt the sugar in a frying pan, stirring constantly once the sugar has started to melt at the edges, until the sugar is a dark golden colour. Pour the hot sugar over the walnuts, and allow to cool until hard. Voila, praline. Smash into little pieces using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle. Set aside, but make sure you taste just a little bit.

To make the bun dough, mix the yeast and sugar together with the warm water and melted butter, and leave somewhere warm until the mixture starts to foam. This will take around 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs until well combined.

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Pour in the yeast and egg mixture and knead well until you have a smooth and elastic dough. You can knead the dough either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Once the surface of the dough is smooth and it feels pretty stretchy, roll it into a ball and transfer it to a well oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise for about one hour.

If you are baking these buns on the same day, then now is the time to preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, and line a baking tray with paper. Otherwise just proceed without heating the oven.

Tip your dough out onto a lightly floured bench and give it a quick knead to knock out some of the air. Roll the dough into a rough rectangle, just slightly smaller than your baking tray. Sprinkle with shards of praline, leaving a little rim free of praline on each of the long sides. Roll the dough, long side to long side, to make a long, skinny swiss roll shape. Cut the dough into 5cm slices, and lay the scrolls snugly beside each other on the baking tray.

If you can’t wait any longer and want to bake the buns now, then just let them rise somewhere warm for around 15 minutes, before popping them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and sticky.

If you want to have these for breakfast in bed tomorrow, then pop the tray into the fridge, covering the buns with some cling film to stop them from drying out. Write down a few instructions on a note and place it on the kitchen bench, or bedside table. Sweet dreams and happy slumber…

Ahhh, good morning. Hopefully your bestest buddy is now down in the kitchen. The little note you wrote him/her last night will tell them to take the buns out of the fridge, and then preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. He, or she, should pop the tray somewhere warmish, like beside the oven, while they take the time to set a little tray with maybe a glass of juice, a vase of flowers…

Now is the time to pop those buns in the oven. Collect the paper, make a nice cup of coffee and in 20-30 minutes they will be golden and delicious and ready to deliver to the lovely who is still in bed… enjoy, and happy Winter weekend.

Lusciously captured by Sarah of Love Katie and Sarah

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Persimmon and Maple Spice Cake

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There is a lot to be said for whimsy. Of whimsy, I am a rather large fan.

I have just looked up the definition of the word whimsy in the dictionary and, oh dear, I fear poor whimsy may be very misunderstood! Ye olde dictionary wants to paint it in a conceited light, like it is a good for nothing, flippant little urge which will, quite frankly, get you into trouble.

But hark! What about those serendipitous ideas that strike you, and you follow them just because? Are they not a precious moment of whim? Is this, in fact, not exactly what life should be about, living in the moment and all such things?

I believe whimsy and inspiration are very good friends, maybe even cousins, and they should be grabbed by the hand and danced around with whenever they turn up at your door.

Here I go, speaking in a grand and whimsical fashion, I hope you won’t all mind.

So what on earth does all of this have to do with persimmon cake? Well, it is because I like to get swept up in the idea of things that a cake like this was born. I had started to spy some persimmons around and having grown up with a large persimmon tree in the backyard, the whimsy of my memory took me by the hand and loaded up my basket to the brim. We grew the astringent variety, which must get very soft before you eat it, unless you like having your mouth turned inside out and dusted with chalk. But, in my new home town, you can buy both the soft and the firm varieties, even more fun.

Hoping to pass on some of my fond childhood memories to the littlies, I have planted a tree of each variety in our yard, but I’m getting in early and trying to introduce the love of persimmon by slipping some crunchy slices into a lunch box here, making a yummy persimmon, avocado and sesame salad there, and baking some into a cake. By the time our trees are producing their own, I hope to have two fellow persimmon (and whimsy) advocates standing at my hip.

My husband says this cake reminds him of Pfeffernusse – those delicious German spice biscuits with the crunchy white tops… I guess it has that same gentle spicing but with the aroma of persimmon. Total afternoon tea material, just add a nice cup of tea.

Persimmon and Maple Spice Cake

adapted from Desserts for Breakfast, who adapted from Tartine

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  • Pulp from 3 very soft persimmons (around 300g)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 150g sugar
  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 250ml grapeseed oil
  • 3 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a 6-cup bundt tin and set aside.

Puree the pulp from your persimmons (discarding any skin or seeds) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, salt and spices and give a little whisk.

In another bowl, whisk the persimmon puree, oil, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until they are homogenous. Add in your eggs one at a time, whisking each one in well before adding the next. Now gently mix through the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour the cake mixture into your prepared bundt tin and bake for 50 or so minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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I served my cake for afternoon tea with dollops of greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup, and just for a bit more persimmon love, some wedges of the firm variety.

Big thank you my super talented friend Sarah who took these lovely photos xx

Autumn arrives, and brings cake…

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The harshness of Summer has started to fade, and the gentle breeze of Autumn is making itself felt.

After a long, hot and sometimes oppressive Summer this year, I am welcoming the ease of a more forgiving season. With change in the air comes a change of palate; the desperate need for refreshment is making way for more homely comforts and glimpses of sweet spices and buttery aromas.

This cake seems to match the natural progression of the new season, with the overlap of plums and pomegranates, and the warm sweet fix taken care of with an oozing butterscotch sauce balanced by the tartness of pomegranate syrup. Rosy red and full of a gentle sense of decadence; a simple yet grand way to welcome the clear air and crisper nights. Devour it whilst still warm and sticky or at room temperature with some thick cream or creme fraiche.

Thanks Autumn for arriving, and for bringing cake 🙂

Plum and Pomegranate Syrup Cake

170g butter, softened and divided into two equal parts
160g brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
8 or so plums, quartered
180g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
pinch of salt
130g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or seed from 1 vanilla bean
125ml milk

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Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place a tray in the bottom of the oven to catch any sneaky drips that may ooze from the delicious cake you are about to create.

Grease and line a 21cm springform cake tin.

In a frying pan over a medium heat, melt one half of your butter (85g) along with the brown sugar and honey. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or whisk until you have a luscious thick butterscotch sauce. It will be tempting, but don’t dip your finger in – it’s hot! Set aside.

Place flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, cream the other half of the butter (85g) and the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until homogenous – you can add a tablespoon or two of the flour if the mixture is curdling and being stubborn. Once it is looking smooth and creamy, gently fold in the remaining flour mixture and milk, until smooth and luscious once again.

Pour your delicious thick butterscotch sauce into the base of the prepared tin. Scatter with the quartered plums until the base is completely and generously covered. Drizzle the plums with the pomegranate syrup.

Now pour the cake batter into the tin, and smooth the top with a palette knife.

Bake for around 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan before inverting directly onto your serving plate. Choose a plate that has a bit of a lip, as there will be an abundance of delicious butterscotch goodness, and you wouldn’t want to waste any.

This cake has it all – buttery cake base, soft baked fruit and sticky sweetness. If you like things a little more tart, add an extra drizzle of pomegranate syrup to the top once it is on your serving plate (I did). And if you have a lush pomegranate at hand’s reach, then sprinkle some of it’s beautiful jewels on top.

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Jewelled Orange Blossom Florentines

Inspiration. It comes from all around. A word here, a picture there, even perhaps a smell snatched whilst en route.

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Florentines. Why did you pop into my head and consume my thoughts? Perhaps it’s the Christmas decorations that have started to adorn the streets; an invitation to dinner; a flick through some cookbooks?  I’m sure it’s a combination of all these things and probably more.

Traditionally florentines are flavoured with either orange peel (of which I am not particularly fond) or orange zest. Neither of these did I have. But what I did have was inspiration! Hurrah. So I took a more middle eastern route and flavoured mine with sour cherries, cranberries (okay, maybe that’s just Christmas inspiration) and orange blossom. Dark chocolate drizzled on top, of course.

Crunchy, tangy, sweet and delicately fragrant. And festive, oh yes, definitely festive.

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Jewelled Orange Blossom Florentines

Makes 30 – 40 biscuits
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey, or 1 tablespoon honey plus 3/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 1/4 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 20g flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 70g dark chocolate, melted

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Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Line two baking trays with aluminium foil, matte side up.

In a small saucepan, place your butter, sugar, milk, honey and orange blossom water over a low heat until the butter has melted. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up just a little and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching on the bottom of the saucepan, until the mixture reaches 115 degrees celcius on a sugar thermometer, or soft-ball stage.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, then stir in the flour, salt, almonds and dried fruit.

Place scant teaspoons of the mixture on the lined trays. Allow lots of room between the drops of mixture, as the mixture spreads tremendously while it bakes! See before, and after baking…

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You may need more than two trays, in which case you can bake in two batches.

Bake in the oven for 6 – 8 minutes, or until the florentines are deep golden brown and smell like sweet buttery heaven. If they are not baked enough they will stay sticky, so check on them and give them an extra minute if needs be.

Transfer the florentines still on the foil to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

While they are cooling, melt your chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Drizzled the melted chocolate over your florentines.

Allow to cool completely before gently peeling the florentines from the foil. They are quite fragile, but this is part of what makes them so delicate and delicious. They will keep in an airtight container for up to one week.

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a little romance with some Persian Love Cake

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Life’s big experiences always feel a little easier when you have someone to share them with. Having your first baby changes you immensely, and I was lucky enough to make two dear, dear friends just after we all had our first babies. We’ve shared hard times and happy times, day to day hum-drum and excitement, and now our children have the most special kind of friendship that hopefully they will take with them through their entire lives, friends you have had since birth.

These ladies are my kin, and our families feel interwoven.

Times may come when we don’t get to see each other as much as we have in these formative years, but I know that we will always hold a special place in each other’s hearts. My life has been so much richer for having grown alongside them.

Congratulations to beautiful H + D, we love you and all you are. Another of life’s big moments, what a treat to share it with you.

And whilst I made this as a wedding cake, it really is perfect to share for morning or afternoon tea with some close friends or loved ones.

Persian Love Cake for H + D…

honest and exotic just like you, to help celebrate your declaration of love xx

adapted from Nutmeg Love Cake by Amber Rose, from Love Bake Nourish.

  • 80g mix of toasted pecans, almonds and pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 260g spelt flour
  • 200g rapadura sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 280ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 large free-range egg

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a 20cm springform cake tin.

Measure the flour, salt, sugar and nutmeg into a medium bowl and stir to combine.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and maple syrup together, until liquid.

Pour the butter and syrup into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the butter has been incorporated. Press half of this mixture into the base of your cake tin.

With the remaining half of the butter/flour mixture, stir in the natural yoghurt, egg and bicarbonate soda. Mix well until there are no lumps, it will be quite runny. Pour this mixture into the cake tin over the buttery base.

Sprinkle your chopped nuts on top and place in the middle of the oven (pop an oven tray on the bottom of your oven to catch any buttery drips) and bake for around 40 minutes, or until the centre of the cake springs back when you touch it. I baked mine a little longer at H + D’s request, turning the oven down to 160 degrees C after 40 minutes to avoid burning the nuts. If you bake it until the centre just springs back, the middle layer will have the consistency of a thick, set custard… if you bake it a little longer it will be chewier and a bit more spongey.

Let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing the springform.

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Because this cake was for a celebration, I decorated mine with crystallized rose petals, nut praline, edible glitter and a touch of edible gold leaf. But really, the nuts look beautiful on top just as they are. Honest, comforting and delicious.