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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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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banana, date and cacao nib muffins

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A few months ago, I read about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book ‘It’s All Good’ in the Sunday paper. ‘Delicious easy recipes that will make you look good and feel great’… yes please! The book grew from a tricky patch in Gwyneth’s life (look at me talking about her, like we’re friends), but her story was something I could relate to. Last year I took our family down the whole foods path, and let me tell you, we are all the better for it.

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I like to keep seriously sugary treats for just that, a treat. When I bake for a special occasion, whoa, I don’t hold back! But for everyday, I try and sneak in as much nutrition as I can. Occasionally we still succumb to an emergency muffin whilst out and about, but I much prefer to make snacks of my own. This allows me use less refined sugars (to get all of the nutrition from them you can) and add in some sneaky nutrients! So here are some muffins, inspired by Gwyneth’s, which use better sugars and include a superfood! High five to me!

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Banana, date and cacao nib muffins inspired by Banana-Date Muffins in It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen

  • 2 bananas, roughly smashed
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30g cacao nibs
  • 40g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g dates, chopped into small pieces
  • 100ml rice syrup
  • 30ml maple syrup
  • 150ml milk
  • 120ml oil of your choice (I used grapeseed, but I think coconut oil would be an awesome substitute)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers.

Whisk together the flour and the baking powder. Add cacao nibs and chocolate chips into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

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In a separate bowl, combine the rice syrup, maple syrup, milk, oil and smashed bananas (a few chunks are just fine). Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture, then add the dates (try to separate them from each other, they are super sticky!) and mix until combined.

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The mixture will look and feel really runny. Don’t stress! They will puff up beautifully in the oven and taste totally delish. Divide the mixture among the muffin cups and get ready to put your feet up. Pretty simple, huh? Bake them in the 200 degree C oven for 18 mins or until beautiful and golden and your house smells like an amazing banana wonderland.

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Then tuck into them, as fast as you can!

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