Sunday, 29 January 2012

Bananas about butterscotch

Manny has occasionally accused me of buying too many bananas just so we have some left for baking banana bread. If I was American I'd say here that 'I plead the fifth', but I'm not so I won't.

Due to my occasional over buying of bananas I have baked a lot of banana bread - one of my favourites being to bake the bananas in the oven with some rum and sugar first before adding to the bread batter, however we may have found a new favourite. Even better than rum baked bananas?

I give you my new favourite baking ingredient - butterscotch morsels. I was given two packets a while back by an American friend and oh my they add a touch of deliciousness to everything. And are quite tasty straight from the packet too.

Banana bread isn't the prettiest is it? Butterscotch morsels make it taste great but don't do much for the look of it. It didn't help that my house has been completely dark for the last week due to massive mounds of earth outside due to Overground engineering works - so sorry for the incredibly dark pics.

The recipe I tarted up is from How to be a Domestic Goddess and is bake for this months Forever Nigella hosted by Maison Cupcake.

The recipe can be found here and to make my version all you do is take out the sultanas and replace with butterscotch chips. Butterscotch beats sultanas every time surely?

Oh and I may have overdone the walnuts a little - I like a lot of them in my banana bread - as you can probably see. Just follow the recipe if you don't like quite so many. I promise it makes a lovely banana bread - delicious with a cup of tea.

Btw does Nestle Tollhouse remind anyone else of the Friends episode with Nezle Tulhouze?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Poofy Woolly Biscuits

This morning I woke up to a spate of references to Lamington's on my Twitter and Facebook feed, as incase you didn't know, today is Australia Day. I don't really know what Australia Day involves but it seems to involve the eating of Lamington's and Anzacs. Or maybe that's just people I know who celebrate.

When I worked in an Aussie run cafe over the summer baking all their lovely cakes and biscuits I became sick to the back teeth of Anzacs - rolling 100's of syrup'y balls at 6am will do that to you, so I decided to make some Lamingtons to celebrate. Any excuse for cake. And I had been meaning to make them for ages - I badgered the owners of the cafe to let me make them but they said they were 'boring'. I notice now they have an Aussie baking person they're making them..tsk.

There are several accounts of where the name Lamington comes from but most agree it was named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. Ironically he is said to have hated the cake named in his honour and called them 'poofy woolly biscuits'. See I wasn't just being offensive with the title.

These are pretty simple to make. Bake a quite basic vanilla sponge. I used Dan Lepard's recipe, adding more vanilla, from his wonderful book Short & Sweet, which was turned out ok, except the cooking time was about 5 minutes less than stated. Then you section the cake, split each section in half and slather on some jam. Then it gets messy - the cakes are dunked into a chocolate/cocoa coating, then covered in coconut. I suggest being near a sink when doing this - I made a proper mess.

They're not really much to look at but they do taste good. Next time I may use a coconut sponge instead to give it a bit more ooomph.

Happy Australia Day everyone - I'm off to have a Lamington and a cup of tea.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kicking off 2012 with a healthy(ish) cupcake..and some not so healthy

When I first saw that Lola's were introducing four healthier cupcakes this month made with all natural fruit I was slightly dubious as we've not done well with previous healthier cupcakes. Yes Petit Pois I'm looking at you and your crapcakes from hell.

However I found myself in Selfridges last week and thought I'd give them a try. And I'm glad I did. I opted for the passion fruit and it was incredibly nice. Really soft sponge with a passion fruit custard and topped with really tasty frosting. 

As well as passion fruit they have raspberry, blueberry and banana. I think they're only available till the end of January so be quick if you want to try them!

Also scoffed recently was this lovely cupcake from Lily Vanilli's new(ish) cafe just off Columbia Road. We visited on a Wednesday night before Christmas, but usually the cafe is only open on Sundays -it's worth travelling for. 

My gingerbread cupcake was fabulous - with a brandy buttercream frosting. I had a LV cupcake from Harrod's over a year ago and was not impressed, really dry and flavourless but this was totally removed from that - very fresh and bursting with flavour. In the background you can see perhaps the best sausage roll I've ever eaten - well I can't really say eaten - the tubby one whose sausage roll it was didn't share - I had a bite, but it was a good bite. Then again, can anything that comes surrounded in a duvet of lardon filled puff pastry be bad? I think not. 

As well as a sausage roll, Manny managed to scoff a brownie - and it was a slab of a brownie. Again I got a bite - melt in the mouth delicious. I would definitely go back just for the brownie. And maybe a sausage roll. And a cupcake. This is why I'm fat. 

The cafe looks pretty cool too - covered in a zombie style mural at the back to go with the theme of Lily's book. 

Also eaten recently, although not a cupcake I HAD to include this amazing Guinness cake I had from Bea's of Bloomsbury's Kings Road branch last week. I had popped to Jane Asher to stock up on edible glitter amid rumours that it's due to be taken from our shelves soon due to stupid people not understanding that you need to use EDIBLE glitter on cakes not just any random glitter (I call that Darwin's law - weeding out the stupid people) and needed coffee and a sit down and Bea's isn't too far away. 

The Guinness cake was very moist and the frosting was divine. Just sitting in the cafe was enough to tempt you to buy lots of cake - there was so much on offer, including cupcakes.

I enjoyed it so much I actually made this very cake from Bea's book last Saturday as a welcome home for Manny after he'd been to Germany to play a gig. The cake itself came out really well, but I followed the recipe for the frosting and it was a gloopy mess - it didn't seem to have enough icing sugar listed in the recipe. Luckily, I managed to save it and really liked the inclusion of golden syrup in the frosting although it meant it was very sweet. And I must learn, stop licking the syrup spoon, I was on a sugar high for hours. 

Sorry the pictures crap - it was about midnight when I finished making it - I find it hard to sleep when Manny's away. 

Finally, my final cupcake ever from Love Bakery. Just before Christmas I received a DM on Twitter from the lovely Rebecca to ask me had I heard that Love Bakery was closing down - I hadn't heard but checked out Sam's blog and discovered they were closing the very next day, 23rd December. Obviously I had to go one last time.

Sorry about the festiveness of the pics, I was meant to blog this ages ago. I've been a bit lax at blogging lately due to some issues with photo theft etc but aim to blog more in 2012.

Anyways, the cakes were really good, especially my rhubarb cheesecake one, and Love Bakery will definitely be missed from the London cupcake scene.

So there you go - I've eaten a few cupcakes lately and not a crap cake amongst them - a good end to 2011/beginning to 2012!