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.

Toffee

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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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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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.

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

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My kids have pretty strong opinions about cake.

This should come as no surprise really, given the amount of cake that is often being whipped up and going out of our kitchen. Always eager ‘helpers’, they often come up with their own combinations and drawings to articulate exactly what they mean. There were some pretty fancy numbers being dreamt up this year, let me tell you.

Speculation was rife as to what kind of cake everyone was going to have for their birthday. Some prefer tradition, whilst others have constantly evolving ideas throughout the year; the anticipation was huge.

Finally, after the usual intense brainstorming of ideas, it was decided that strawberry cupcakes with raspberry icing would suffice. But only if they were in the style of a fairy garden. Vision AND flavour, you see what I mean.

No worries, strawberry and raspberry, a berry-licious combination, as Strawberry Shortcake would say. The only challenge now, to make one that all our kinder friends can eat. Nut free, dairy free, egg free.

I got my substituting brain on, and remembered a birthday cake from my own childhood. A strawberry and coconut cake, which we baked in a heart shaped tin. Inspiration drawn, I got a-baking.

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

(nut free, dairy free, egg free)
  • 120g spelt flour
  • 140g raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g coconut butter (not coconut oil), the more fragrant the better
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg
  • 100g chopped strawberries

Put out all of your ingredients, and allow them to come to room temperature. Cross fingers for a day that is not too cold so your coconut butter will be soft and pliable (please use coconut butter versus coconut oil. The butter is made with the whole coconut flesh, not just the pressed out oil, this gives it a much more voluptuous consistency as well as maximum tropical flavour! My favourite by far is Niugini Organics; they work with local communities in PNG to produce their coconut butter, so not only is it totally delicious, it’s good for karma points too.)

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with some pretty cases.

Measure out your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on slow until the mixture looks uniformly sandy, without any large lumps and bumps.

Pour in the coconut milk and the splash of vanilla, and mix until well combined. Add your constituted egg replacer and give it a spin on medium speed until everything is nice and smooth.

Stir in your chopped strawberries, or if they are a bit on the cold side, drop them directly into the cupcake cases (so you don’t give that coconut butter a cold shock!)

Divide the mixture amongst the cupcake cases, it will be runny but don’t worry! These cupcakes turn out sweet, delicious and fragrant and not at all dry (if someone knows a better word than ‘moist’, then please, let me know).

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. My cupcakes didn’t go very brown, I think this is to do with using coconut butter rather than normal butter, so don’t rely on ‘golden brown’ being your indicator for the cupcakes being done!

Let the cupcakes cool down a touch before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Now, I wish I could give you a super awesome dairy-free and delicious frosting recipe. Unfortunately I can’t. I did experiment using coconut butter, icing sugar and fresh raspberries to create a super yummy and good for you frosting, and…. it was an epic fail. It went straight to the chickens. So instead I had to default and use a standard frosting recipe, just substituting dairy-free spread (I used Nuttelex) and coconut milk instead of cow’s. A dash of raspberry oil (from some macaron-ing days) added the required raspberry element. I would have way rather used fresh raspberries, but after one botched attempt, I just needed to get these babies done. I’ll put conquering that frosting recipe on the to-do list, and if you have an awesome dairy-free frosting that doesn’t use vegetable oils, then please let me know!!

Oh, and decorate to your heart’s content xx

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Coconut Berry Loaf Cake

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The past few weeks I have been having an existential crisis of sorts… a baking related existential crisis. There are definitely worse things than baking crises. But things have been on my mind, none the less.

My particular deliberation is basically this. I love to bake. For sure. It is a space where my creativity is in flow, and also a platform from which I can nurture others. And on the other hand, I have recently made the decision to go sugar free for a while. I have Type 1 diabetes, an auto immune disease (gosh, I really don’t even like labelling it as that) and have been reading the buzz lately about others reversing their various forms of auto immune by going sugar free. I just want to say, I am not recommending any of these changes to anybody else, in fact my doctors are pretty much dead set against the whole idea of going sugar free (somewhat ironic, no?) but tired of merely managing my condition, I’m seeing what I can do to help support and heal my body.

So, how to marry these two ends of the spectrum? Sugar free yet love to bake. Oh, and the fact that I have a small business making delicious sugary cakes for other people?!

If you’ve visited here before, you will notice that many of the recipes I post tend towards the wholefoods side of things. I like creating and eating food that is delicious and full of nutrients. I want to have my cake, and get some additional goodness from it too. Goodness for the soul and for the body, if you like. And with a beautiful little girl by my side who has a definite sweet tooth, I want to make sure I can get as much good nutrition into her as well, whilst still giving her something she will want to eat for afternoon tea.

I will continue to make special treat cakes for others who are having celebrations, but have decided that I also need to work on a range of sugar free and wholefoods cakes that also taste delicious and look beautiful, so that people who have these different wants and needs can be catered for. And I guess I will also allow some room in my life for the freedom to have some treat cake when the time is right. But amazingly, having been sugar free for about 7 weeks now, I am not wanting it so much.

Anyway, my beautiful girl is totally in love with coconut at the moment, so here is a quick after kinder treat we whipped up. Low sugar, low fructose, high in protein and pretty darn delicious.

Coconut Berry Loaf Cake

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  • 200 g wholemeal spelt
  • 100 g coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • scant 1/3 cup stevia (I use a one for one stevia which is mixed with erythritol to make it measure as you would for sugar, however, if you use pure stevia please put this in to taste as a drop of the pure stuff goes a long way!)
  • 1/3 cup rice syrup
  • 400 ml buttermilk
  • 120 g berries
  • handful of coconut flakes

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a medium bowl, combine the  spelt flour, coconut flour, baking powder, vanilla powder and stevia and give a good stir.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add in the rice syrup and warm until just loosened. Pour the butter and rice syrup into the flour mixture and stir.

Stir through your buttermilk; the coconut flour is very dry and will absorb lots of moisture, it will make a fairly firm batter.

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Pour your mixture into your loaf tin, and push in the berries however you feel. Try not to eat them all along the way.

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Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes. Place towards the bottom of the oven, to stop the coconut flakes from burning, and bake for 60 – 65 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

This is a subtly sweet, rustic style cake, very comforting and delicious with the pop of soft juicy berries. It is delicious eaten warm as is, or would also be good served with some orange or vanilla scented ricotta.  It keeps well in an airtight container for up to 4 days, although we gobbled ours all up long before then.

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