Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Delicious Banana Loaf

Just recently there have been a swag of beautiful new cook books published. One that I was waiting for is Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen. I have been a fan of Peggy’s for some time, admiring her gorgeous cake decorating. This book focuses more on baking and less on decorating (although the way she presents her baked treats is just amazing!). It is a beautifully presented book, and I couldn’t wait to try some of the recipes.

I started with a less challenging recipe, this one for banana loaf. I had two bananas languishing in the fruit bowl, so a good opportunity to use them up. I’m not usually one for icing my banana loaves, but the icing in the photo in the book looked so appealing, I decided to. This recipe, as with most loaf recipes, was very easy to make. I like the fact that it had both walnuts and chocolate chips added to it. I find banana loaf a bit bland without some additions. I used some gorgeous fresh walnuts which I bought at the Hastings famers market at Easter and had stored in my freezer. Chopped finely they add some wonderful texture to the load and a lovely flavour.

The icing on the load is delicious. A cream cheese icing with the addition of some frozen banana pulp. I was a bit nervous that it may go a yucky brown colour, as mashed banana does if you don’t add something like lemon juice, but it didn’t. I wonder if that was because the banana pulp was frozen first? I used a banana which had been in the freezer for months. Often when we have a yucky looking banana in the bowl, I throw it in the freezer for future use. They are perfect for baking with.

I would definitely make this loaf again and also using the icing – it would be a delicious icing for banana cake or cupcakes. I’m looking forward to making some more things from Boutique Baking.

Also, thank you all for your lovely comments - it' the fact that people are reading my blog which is what makes me want to keep doing it. Leaving comments is the only way I know you are reading :0)

Banana Loaf (from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen)

100g butter
200g sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
300g mashed bananas (I used two large bananas)
180g flour
1 tsp baking powder
60g chocolate chips
80g walnuts, chopped

• Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time.
• Beat in the banana and then on a low speed mix in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Lastly stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.
• Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake at 180c for 50-60 minutes
• When cold, icing with the following icing:
100g cream cheese
100g butter
250g icing sugar
25g frozen banana (defrosted)

• Cream cream cheese and butter
• Beat in icing sugar and then banana. Continue beating until smoothe.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Back in action

After a long blogging hiatus, I have decided to start blogging again. I can't promise that I will be as regular as I was BH (before Harry!), but I will be aiming to blog at least twice a week. I have continued baking the last two years, but not a lot of things that I would consider inspirational. However, just recently my passion for cake and cookies decorating (amateurish as it is!) has returned. To keep me blogging though, please leave lots of comments - I love to get them and that is really what inspires me.

My youngest sister is also a fanatic baker. She and I have been baking our way through the fabulous book, Cake Days, and just recently decided to also bake and decorate our way through Celebration Cupcakes, a book by a new zealander, Tamara Jane. The challenge is to not just bake the cupcakes, but also attempt to decorate the cakes in the same way as in the book.

The first recipe we chose (chosen by our mum) is for these chocolate vegan cupcakes. The recipe was chosen completely for what the finished product looked like, rather than the fact that the cakes are vegan. I've been fascinated by the photo of these gorgeous looking cupcakes since I was given the book last year. The intense purple of the icing was so gorgeous and I loved the flowers on top. My version isn't as stunning as that in the book, but I must say I was pretty pleased with my attempt. A word of warning though, I wouldn't eat the icing as the amount of purple food colouring I had to add to get that deep purple colour was frightening! My flowers need a bit of work, but hopefully with some practice, I will improve.

The cakes themselves are delicious. Mine weren't truly vegan as I did use cows milk, not having the recommended rice milk to hand. These would be a great recipe to use if you felt like baking but had run out of eggs and butter. They are also very easy to make and keep well.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes (from celebration cupcakes by Tamara Jane)

240ml rice milk (i used cows milk)
1 tsp white vinegar
150g castor sugar
80ml vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
1 tsp vanilla
120g flour
1/2 tsp b soda
1/2 tsp b powder
40g cocoa

- combine milk and vinegar and set aside for five minutes to curdle
- add the sugar, oil and vanilla to the milk mixture and whisk until well combined
- sift together the dry ingredients and then add in two batches to the liquid
- spoon into twelve cupcake cases and bake at 180c for 20 minutes
- when cold ice with butter icing and to make it truly vegan, make with something like olivio