Posts tagged cinnamon

Speedy (Health Conscious) Millionaire Shortbread

I

‘ll start by warning (yes warning) you that this recipe should not be compared to the decadence of the traditional millionaires shortbread. Firstly is the reduciton in indulgence ingredients, mainly butter and sugar, that I love so very much and praise. However, if you have a craving for this dangerous treat, but also want to balance this guilty indulgence with some form – even if tiny – of health awareness then its a good one. That said, it really is a speedy way to make your own version! The traditional version takes time – baking the shortbread base, making the caramel and then applying the chocolate. This, can be done in an hour!

If you do want to make a recommended amendment if time isn’t your’e enemy here, I think this recipe could be equally as good as the real thing just by changing the base for a traditional baked shortbread. Use 50g caster sugar, 125g unsalted butter and 150g plain flour – example recipe here. I personally think the date caramel is far tastier than the normal boiled sugar version! Firstly, its less rich so you can eat more of it…and secondly its natural sugar. Yes, still sugar but its far healthier.

(Based on a recipe by ‘The Plant-Based Londoner’)

Base

  • 90g oats
  • 130g nut of choice (cashew, brazil, almond)
  • 1 tbsp lacuma powder (optional)
  • 6 tbsp of nut butter of choice (try substituting in some coconut oil. Note, it will dominate the flavours)

Caramel & Topping

  • 300g pitted dates
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g dark chocolate
  1. Start on the base. Pulse the flour, lacuna powder, nuts and nut butter in a food processor until you have a soft dough that holds together. If it needs to be more moist add a little more nut butter. Tip out into a lined baking tray (line with parchment, foil or cling film) big enough so that the mixture is about 1 cm deep. It doesn’t matter what dish you use, just use one that is a suitable size.(20cm x 20xm recommended) Cover and chill in the fridge.
  2. Next, pulse the dates, sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla in the food processor. Add a splash of water and keep adding until you get a smooth but thick date caramel.
  3. Spread this caramel evenly over the chilled base and then cover and chill again.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until fully melted.
  5. Tip the chocolate over the chilling date layer and smooth out until even and completely covering the caramel.
  6. Cover again and chill until the chocolate has set hard.
  7. Once hard, tip the bar out onto a chopping board and cut into the desired square/rectangle. Please note – the top layer WILL crack where unwanted and not every piece will look perfect, if any. The 3 in the image I have are the only ones that did not misbehave. But the look isn’t everything so cut randomly into chunky morsels. Its more tasty that way.

 

Pecan, Cinnamon & PB Energy Balls

C

alling all sports fanatics, runners, lycra glad cyclists and yogis. Energy balls. In the fast paced and immediate society we now live in (London specifically), time is something that we so regularly abuse…’I’m just so busy I didn’t have time’. Which has carved the way for the new found energy ball to eat on the go before that lunch time pilates class or to fill a void between your next avocado. The happy balance being convenience and keeping a healthy lifestyle.

The energy ball currently populates the nation from supermarket to sport shop and will in the oh so near future be a much bigger part of my life (cliff hanger). Many health bars/snacks on the market are unhealthily and sneakily filled with naughty ingredients and additives. But homemade energy balls really are pure and clean. And full of….energy!? And I’m more than pleased to add that these really are as quick to make as they are to gobble down before that spinning class.

Provided you have a food processor (I’m being presumptuous) then all you need to do is pulse it all together! I mean…if you want to squat at the same time then be my guest. And hey…who said they had to be balls? Make them triangles if you have the time.

Adapted from ‘Deliciously Ella’

Ingredients (makes about 20)

  • 400g dates (pitted). I also threw in a handful of prunes for good measure
  • 100g oats
  • 100g pecans
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (feel free to use any other nut butter)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Blend the oats and pecans until a fine mixture in a food processor.
  2. Add the other ingredients and pulse until you have a sticky mixture.
  3. Roll into balls (golf ball sized) and chill in the fridge (covered) until needed

Turkish Spiced Meatballs

Jess - Meatballs3

W

hilst the weather today has been glorious and sunny its still felt a little chilly around the ankles and certainly not the April weather I was hoping for! But as long as it isn’t April showers and May holds more promise then I can cope with that. So a Sunday evening after a long and satisfying gym session, run and ahem…jacuzzi session….a home comfort was required to replenish the nutrients and fuel me for another challenging week at work. But nothing on ‘forage in the pantry’ can be complete without the odd scattering of spice, dusting of chopped herbs or middle Eastern influence. So with Istanbul on the mind as the new top draw on my prized ‘must visit’ list, Turkish meatballs sprang to hungry mind and it wasn’t long before I was enjoying a satisfied hunger.

Serves 2

Meatballs

  • 450g minced lamb
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Sauce

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, crushed
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50g pearl barley/100g giant cous cous
  • Large handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  1. Start by combining the meatball ingredients in a large bowl with some seasoning. Shape into 8 large golf ball sized meatballs and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Simmer the pearl barley/giant cous cous in boiling water until cooked according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside to keep warm.
  3. Preheat the over to 170°C and remove the meatballs from the fridge. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  4. Fry the meatballs to seal and brown for 2-3 minutes. Once well browned on the outside, wrap in some foil and place in the low oven to bake slowly while you prepare the sauce.
  5. Fry the chopped onion in the leftover lamb juices in the same frying pan adding a little more oil if needed. Soften for 5 minutes until translucent and beginning to brown. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Add the ground spices and mix to coat the onion.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes and a little hot water to thin the sauce to the desired consistency and add some salt and pepper.
  8. Simmer for 5 minutes before adding the vinegar, the drained barely and all but a handful of the parsley. Taste and adjust accordingly. Add a little more water if needed.
  9. Remove the meatballs from the over and add, with any juices from the foil, to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes to heat through.
  10. Serve in deep warmed bowls topped with a scattering of the remaining parsley.

Jess - Meatballs4Jess - Meatballs

Affogato

Jess - Affogato Small 2

I

ts a brand New Year. Without sounding cynical and old before my time I’ve always hated the pressure that comes with this shiny promising New Year and the new ‘you’ that will suddenly look and feel better and hopefully get a pay rise? Whilst its a great starting point for change and ambition January 1st is just another day and sadly your problems will follow you here and continue to exist in 2016 so its time to tackle and importantly embrace these!

But it is the perfect time to write down those ambitions, resolutions, plans or even bad habits with a permeant pen and a piece of real paper. I stress this because for me 2015 was filled with Macs, iPhones, technology, contactless payment, more technology, digital memories and even more technology. However with such reliance on this new digital age to hold our memories what happened to the good old paper ones that will no doubt last a lifetime, don’t need an expensive external hard drive for back up, cannot be deleted at the click of a button (I’m talking about you resolutions) and are more personal than ‘Times New Roman’. So one of my resolutions this year is to get back to using the pen and paper for recipe ideas, food styling, menus, ideas and thoughts.

Being a New Year, many use this time to kick start their diets. Whatever the diet purpose i’m sure we’ve all learnt from 2015 that the diet will probably involve less refined sugar? Which can only be a good thing? I personally don’t have a sweet tooth so you’ll rarely catch me gorging on a cake however this hasn’t always been the case. When younger I could devour bowl upon bowl of cereal, manufactured cheesecake or sweet sugary chocolate. It wasn’t until overdosing on chocolate one Christmas that I kicked off Easter lent without it. And in an unprecedented turns of events I didn’t touch the stuff for 7 years (rest assured I do now). But the point I’m getting at is that even 40 days with no sugary chocolate and very little sugar, my body began to crave it less and less to a point where I no longer needed or wanted it at all. Sugar addicts out there are probably rolling their eyes at this well used cliche but you only have to persevere to realise the truth here.

However, this be said, if you are a sugar addict and have planned on changing your diet you may not want to cut sugar out completely if you are that way inclined. Try reducing your intake bit by bit until you no longer feel the need to take sugary tea or to go back for that double helping of dessert. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about moderation within a diet. They should include sweet special delights and rewards but special they should be and for that you need an element of rarity. So in an attempt to help inspire, this little recipe will satisfy any post-dinner sugar cravings. Bitter, warm, earthy black espresso coffee poured lovingly over ice cold velvetly cinnamon ice cream. It is a perfect cleansing low sugar finish to a filling meal providing a satisfying hot and cold feel and to hit the sweet spot kindly and the stomach gently.

Jess - Affogato 1Jess - Affogato 2Jess - Affogato 4

I

‘ll admit this hardly calls for a recipe and is more an assembly but use it here for inspiration. Ice cream flavour is obviously open to taste. I have used my left over Christmas Cinnamon Ice Cream (found here). You’ll be pleased to know a sweeter ice cream works well here to balance the bitterness of the coffee.

With an ambition for 2016 to buy those ingredients I’ve ‘always wanted to try’ or try that new technique I aim to make my own match latte (authentic green tea for those unaware). Being partial to a matcha latte takeaway treat I am salivating now just thinking of the perfect combination of warm velvety, bitter and creamy green tea poured lovingly over some sweet white chocolate ice cream!

  • Ice cream of choice (I have a modest list of homemade (cheat and non-cheat) ice cream recipes in the archive
  • Hot dark coffee (espresso is traditional)
  1. Ball the ice cream into deep bowls
  2. Pour over a shot of your hot dark freshly brewed coffee

Jess - Affogato Spoon

 

Galette des rois and Cinnamon Ice Cream

Jess - Galette 3Jess - Galette 2

G

alette de rois probably combines some of my most favourite ingredients yet criminally I’ve never made it!? Puff pastry, almonds, frangipane, a cheeky splash of booze, not much else says Christmas like that for me. And not only is it a sweet comforting crowd pleaser its a festively appropriate one too….in France anyway. Traditionally eaten on Twelfth night to welcome those famous Kings around the festive season it is normally the hiding place for two figurines that when found by the lucky eaters crown them Kind and Queen for the day and the chance to make a wish. I had many wishes this year that I can’t confess its just a shame I forgot the figurines!

Eaten a little early I’ll agree but neither are we in France! Accompanied by homemade cinnamon ice cream and a warm spoonful of spiced apple compote this went down a treat. And you can barely call this cooking as it simply involves a round of shop bought pastry and a quick frangipane.

NOTE: You can spoon some of the apple jam onto the base of this pastry as an alternative to apricot jam or serve alongside as I did.

Serves 10

Galette

  • 1 x block 500g puff pastry (I recommend you don’t use the ready rolled version – it doesn’t ‘puff’ and rise as much in my experience)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g softened unsalted butter
  • 50 g flaked almonds
  • 2 eggs, beaten and 1 extra for glazing
  • 1 tbsp/large splash cognac or dark rum
  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam

Cinnamon Ice Cream

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 300ml single cream
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped (reserve the pods for using to infuse a jar of caster sugar)

Spiced Apple Compote/Jam – recipe here

  1. Start with the ice cream. Heat the single cream until just about to simmer then remove from the heat. Add the scraped seeds from the vanilla pod and whisk the cinnamon in thoroughly.
  2. Whisk in the condensed milk and leave to the mixture to cool completely.
  3. Freeze the ice cream in a tupperware container or dish. This is a non-churn ice cream but you may need to whisk after 3-4 hours when the ice cream should be nearly set but still loose to distribute any ground cinnamon that has risen to the surface. Freeze until set
  4. For the galette, cut the pastry block in half and roll out each into a square about 25cm x 25cm. Use a plate or dish around 23cm in size (approx.) and cut out two discs. Place them on a parchment lined baking tray and chill in the fridge.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. Whisk the butter and sugar until combined, soft and fluffy in a food processor or using a hand blender.
  6. Slowly add in the beaten egg and mix until combined followed by the cognac/rum.
  7. Fold in the ground and flaked almonds until combined. Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  8. When ready to cook remove all elements from the fridge. Spoon the apricot jam (or apple compote) onto the bottom of one of the pastry rounds leaving a 2cm border. Spoon on the frangipane, again leaving a 2cm border, slightly heaping the mixture in the centre.
  9. Brush the 2cm border with beaten egg and place the second pastry round on top.
  10. Press the edges together well to seal.
  11. Using a knife, nick little slices into the edges to seal the pastry together and create a rough pattern. Finally score the top as seen in the pictures in a wheel affect.
  12. Brush the galette with beaten egg and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  13. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C. After 20 minutes, brush again with beaten egg for a golden coating and then cook in the oven for about 30-35 minutes until golden and cooked through.
  14. Leave to cool slightly before dusting with icing sugar and serving alongside some creamy and festive cinnamon ice cream.

Jess - Galette 5Jess - Galette 4

Dorset Apple Cake

 

T

here is nothing like a bit of baking on a cold, drizzly weekend to ease and nourish the soul and there is nothing like the warming spices of cinnamon and ginger combined lovingly with a spongey sweet cake and some juicy sharp seasonal apples to bake! Devoured cold with a warm brew or warm and spongy with lashings of Ambrosia, ice cream or just a trowel-ful of clotted cream you’ll fail to not be comforted by this festive tray bake. Open to additional ingredients this cake batter would be beautiful marbled with chunks of sweet marzipan or topped with some flaked almonds or toasty pecan nuts.

Adapted from Marry Berry

Makes about 18 large pieces

  • 3 large cooking apples (About 550g)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a tray bake tin (about 30cm x 23cm)
  2. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Slice each thinly and place in a bowl. Squeeze over the lemon to prevent browning.
  3. Now, using an electric hand mixer or food processor, blend the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, half the cinnamon and ginger together before adding the eggs. Beat well adding a splash of milk to loosen for a few minutes until golden, glorious and combined.
  4. Spoon half into the lined baking tray. Top with halve the apples slices scattered randomly but evening over. Sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon
  5. Spread over the remaining batter and even out with a pallet knife
  6. Top with the remaining apples slices, pushing them into the batter slightly.
  7. OPTIONAL: Top with flaked almonds or nuts or a sprinkle or crunchy demerara sugar.
  8. bake for about 40 minutes until golden, spongey and firm and just communing away from the sides of the tray.
  9. Leave to cool before cutting. Serve warm with ice cream, custard or cream or at room temperature with a nice cup of tea!

Jess - Dorset Apple Cake3

Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamon Buns

L

ovely Stockholm. Sweden must have been the longest standing contender on my ‘must-visit’ destinations list. Without even having stepped foot in this glorious country I had already fallen in love with the culture, people, lifestyle and not to mention the food. Ah the food. Rye bread, salmon, cray fish and beetroot. Dill and cardamon and cinnamon. Dreamy matcha and cardamon lattes and high champagnes kisses. And some of the most fantastic restaurants in Europe. Stockholm’s foodie scene was therefore a must see and it certainly lived up to expectations. With only a short whistle wind tour in two days this certainly warrants another visit not only as I am still to sample the hay smoked creations of Ekstedt….thats for next time.

The beautiful water-hugged city cleared our lungs and wooed us with its romance. Exploring the old town of Gamla Stan was by far the most enjoyable delight. Lunching like kings at ‘Kryp In’ (which I highly recommend) tucked secretly down a cobbled side street in the old town before fast forwarding to the future to the Gondelen in Sodermalm which in summer has the best sun kissed terrace and high city views in town. However, with a crisp chill in the air, we enjoyed our sparkling champagne in the warmer, gorgeous and hipster-filled bar overlooking the city before gliding through the restaurant to the ‘Kitchen’ area, an informal and casual bistro like setting, where we were immersed in the action. The food was perfect and the wine….strong.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

A

fter the effects of the ‘strong’ wine, after a slow morning we had a day of touring the city, sadly in the persistent rain. However, warming cardamon lattes and cinnamon buns soon warmed our souls at the quaint and authentic Vetekatten in Kungsgatan. But dinner was by far the highlight of the day. New modern Nordic cuisine with excitement, imagination and most importantly, flavour. ‘The Flying Elk‘ was the perfect gastropub to warm our bodies and dry our sodden feet. An amazing menu starting with a delicate and ‘jump-up-and-down-on-your-seat’ tasty carrot and foie gras macaroon with creamed corn and cress. This I did not share. You would not have either. This was followed welcomingly with an aurora salmon salad with vanilla marinated crayfish meddled with sweet yellow carrots among a bowl of fennel, lemon verbena salad, orange and almonds. This menu was an absolute highlight. And with the Flying Elk book perched on the neighbouring window sill the entire evening, it isn’t a surprise I left with one in hand. Slight technical hurdle is the Swedish dialogue and no copy yet in English translation….but we’ll get over that.

With the sun in full power on our final day, we ventured to the island of Djurgarden, a stone throw and hop over the bridge from the old town. A beautiful island. Tree lined cycle paths hugged the river but we chose to amble in the crisp sun on foot, past the joggers, boating site-seers and keen cyclists. We rested our weary feet and an true Swedish hidden gem. Rosengard Tradgard, and organic cafe and garden centre set in following fields and orchards. We quenched our thirst with homemade teas, juices and lemonade. Organic produce and home baked spiced breads littered the shops and entertained our senses. A true delight which I can only compare to the delights of the infamous ‘Petersham Nurseries‘ in Richmond for ambiance, intention and style. Being on the island was 10 minutes escape from the city into peace. Even if it meant being dragged there on foot….

IMG_2016

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

But one of the highlights in Sweden. Cinnamon. Finally a country that appreciates this festive spice just as much as me. With cinnamon buns and fresh OJ for breakfast it was time to recreate the scene at home once back on UK soil to sooth the post holiday blues.

Makes about 15 (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

  • 7g dried yeast
  • 250ml almond milk/whole milk
  • 60ml boiling water
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Pearl sugar (optional)

Filling

  • 75g softened butter
  • 25g dark brown soft sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  1. Combine the water and milk and stir in the yeast. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, salt, flour and ground cardamon.
  3. Make a well in the centre and stir in the warmed yeast mixture and the oil. Mix until combined before getting your hands in and bringing together into a dough.
  4. Tip onto a floured surface and knead the dough together until you have a smooth springy dough. This should take about 10 minutes. Oil the bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rest and prove in a warmish place for about an hour until doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. combine the ingredients until you have a really soft spreadable paste.
  6. Once the dough is risen, roll it out on a floured surface to a 35cm x 35cm square. Spread over the cinnamon butter filling evenly.
  7. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter and roll into a rough rectangle (20cm x 35cm)
  8. Cut the dough into 20cm long strips about 2-3cm wide. Take strip and twist it as seen below.
  9. Now for the tricky bit – the knot! I found this link very useful as it contains a video and is where I have based my recipe on with a few adaptations. (Basically, grab one end and coil around your hand twice. Then over the top and coil and tuck the loose end at the bottom. As I said, the video helps!)
  10. Place the shaped buns onto a lined baking tray and preheat the oven to 180°C.
  11. Leave the buns to rise again until doubled in size for about 30-40 minutes.
  12. Brush with a little beaten egg if you like and to be really authentic, sprinkle with pearl sugar or almonds.
  13. Bake for about 15-18 minutes until golden.

Jess - Cinnamon

Jess - Cinnamon3Jess - Cinnamon2

Gingerbread Latte Ice Cream, Salted Pistachio Brittle

image

Its Easter, a foodie occasion so I cannot forgo a dessert menu without this icey sweet delight. Coffee is such a crowd pleasing and moresih dessert flavour (if you’re a caffeine lover) as it naturally tops off a dinner and satisfies those bitter fans and the sweet toothed. From tiramisu to coffee cake I love it. But in ice cream….well need I say more. With the subtleyly of the ginger and cinnamon it makes for a ironically warming flavour in this cooling ice cream. Acoompanied with a warm lava centred chocolate fondant it was the perfect finale to Easter lunch.

Ice Cream (Serves 6 modestly)

  • 300ml single cream
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp coffee granules
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Heat the cream until just coming up to the boil. Add the coffee and spices and whisk until all combined off the heat.
  2. Leave to cool.
  3. Whisk in the condensed milk until thoroughly combined and transfer to a container or tupperware to store int he freezer.
  4. Freeze until set! You can remove it from the freezer about 5 minutes before serving to make it easier to serve.
image

Salted Pistachio Brittle

Very general measurements and method here! If in doubt use a sugar thermometer.

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g roughly of golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 60g pisatchios, crushed
  • 1 tsp malden salt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Line a baking tray with non stick parchment (grease with oil if you want)
  2. Crush the nuts and mix with the salt and set aside.
  3. Mix the sugar, syrup and water in a pan. Heat on a medium high heat but do not be tempted to stir. Allow it to melt and begin to caramelise and bubble. Leave for 5-10 minutes or so bubbling away until the syrup beings to turn golden. Watch very closely here as you don’t want it to catch and burn or turn too dark. When a golden brown colour add the butter and remove from the heat and quickly pour onto the baking tray.
  4. Immediately scatter over the salty nuts evenly and leave to set. It will harden quickly, within 10 minutes! Once poured out and still soft though you can move the tray around to make it thinner if required by tilting.
  5. Once set, peel from the parchment and break carefully into shards for each guest
image

Banana and Blueberry Bread

How on earth we are already in March I don’t know?! I began the year with a triumphant new years ambition to develop my humble blog, challenge my culinary skills and pepper it with new recipes. However due to a number of unexpected hurdles over the past months this hasn’t been actioned as much as I’d like! With a very busy and eventful week at work under my belt and a browning bowl of bananas sitting provocatively on the kitchen table I thought of nothing better than to create the comforting, warming and homely delights of a banana bread loaf to scoff with tea. Studded with crunchy pecans and soft sharp blueberries it is delicious eaten alone or toasted with ice cream. I love the use of muscovado sugar in this recipe which was a deviation from my usual (and reliable) recipe using a more refined caster sugar. But its treacle like flavour and depth adds a decadent dimension to this classic.

Makes 1 loaf or 4 mini loaves

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 125g softened butter
  • 235g muscovado sugar
  • 400g ripe bananas (about 4 )
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g blueberries
  • 50g chopped pecans
  • 1-2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line 1 x 400g loaf tin or 4 small loaf tins
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and muscovado sugar until creamy and fluffy.
  3. Gradually beat in the eggs, bit by bit.
  4. Mash the bananas with a fork in another bowl and add the vanilla extract. Combine thoroughly with the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mixture and fold in to combine.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries and pecans until evenly distributed
  7. Spoon the mixture into the lined tins.
  8. Scatter the top with a generous dusting of ground cinnamon and then top with the crunchy demerara sugar to create a nice crust.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes for the small tins and around 50 minutes for a large loaf tin. Check after 30 minutes regardless and remove from the oven when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Leave to cool in their tins and then remove.
  11. Slice and serve layered with cinnamon mascarpone, yoghurt or warm with ice cream.
image
image
image

Pear and Cinnamon Cake with Lotus Buttercream

 

imageimage

I

wanted to create an Autumn cake that would fit with the seasons. Having been a bit of a stranger to baking recently, a gloriously empty leafy weekend back home seemed like a good time to reassure myself that The Great British Bake Off hadn’t detered me from the cake world! Pears seemed like a good choice here and I’m a cinnamon addict. After recently discovering the delights of ‘Lotus spread’ I felt it needed a place in one of my recipes so is used here in a crunchy coffee tainted buttercream. The chocolate leaves are a nice Autumnal touch here for a special occasion but feel free to leave these off if life is far too short in your eyes…

Makes 2 small cakes or 1 large one

Cake

  • 740g pears
  • 40g butter
  • 3 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • ½ heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 200g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  1. Peel, core and halve the pears and diced.
  2. Heat the 40g butter, sugar and cinnamon in a frying pan until melted.
  3. Add the pears and cook until the pears and softened and the caramel thickens and coats the pears. Set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170°C. and grease and line 2 small cake tins (15cm wide) or one large one (24cm spring form tin)
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs bit by bit with a little flour if it curdles.
  7. Fold in the flour and baking powder
  8. Finally fold in the pears and their syrup and spoon into the tins.
  9. bake for about 35-40 minutes until springy to touch and cooked in the middle. Leave to cool.

NOTE: Cake tin size: I used two small tins. This isn’t really a recipe that could make a tiered cake due to the pears which make it more of a dense cake. So either use 2 small tins for 2 cakes or one large one. I also had some extra mixture so made a few muffins (which will take about 20 minutes to bake) as gifts to take to some willing friends.

image

image

Topping

  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 80g ‘Lotus biscuit spread’, crunchy
  • 90g ish icing sugar
  • 40-50g dark chocolate
  • Handful mint leaves
  1. Start with the chocolate leaves. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over some simmering water until melted.
  2. Use a pastry brush and coat the back of the mint leaves very thickly. Done too thinly and they will snap when ready. Don’t worry about doing these really thickly. Lay over a rolling pin to dry and pop in the fridge.
  3. Once set, remove from the fridge. I won’t lie, this bit is fiddly and I think I only ended up with 2 whole leaves. But, the effect is still good. Make sure your hands are really hot and carefully peel the mint leaf from the chocolate. Repeat and set these aside carefully.
  4. For the buttercream, cream together the butter, spread and as much icing sugar to taste. This is a guide and your tastes will vary.
  5. Spoon into a piping back and use to pipe your cakes
  6. Decorate with the leaves and serve!

image