Tuesday, December 2, 2008

...like a fish needs a bicycle.

I've come to the conclusion - after many tantrums, tears and late night phone calls to my ever-patient friends - that I just don't have the ego to be friends with the Ex-Love.  

It always ends badly and last night I cracked it, was nasty via Facebook (how pathetic is that?!) and went to bed feeling really sad.  I woke up still feeling sad but by tonight I've decided enough is enough.  I'm admitting it - I don't have the patience, the angelic good will or the tough skin to say 'okay, so I offered you everything and you didn't want it... but that's cool - let's hang out!'.

What I do have, however, is two overripe bananas that need baking up.  Now there's something I can use...

Banana Cake from Belinda Jeffery's Mix & Bake

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon bi-carb of soda
2 - 3 very ripe bananas 
1 2/3 cups raw castor sugar
2 eggs
125g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
100ml buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180C.  Butter and line a deep, round tin.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt and bi-carb soda into a food processor and whiz together for about 15 seconds, then transfer to bowl.

Mash bananas and put in (now empty) food processor and then add sugar and eggs and whiz for 1 minute. Add the butter and whiz again for another minute or until mixture is thick and creamy.  

Add buttermilk and vanilla and pulse to just mix.  Add the flour mixture and whiz again in quick bursts, scraping down the sides and mixing in until it is just combined (don't overmix or cake will be rubbery).  Scoop into prepared tin.

Bake for 30 - 35 mins until skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (it won't rise much as is quite dense).

Monday, November 17, 2008

A little bit spicy...

I made this cake for my gorgeous friend Voula's birthday.  It suited her - it's a little unusual, it's sweet, spicy, nutty and it's sophisticated.  As we ate it, someone commented "This is chocolate cake for grown-ups".  Indeed.

Chocolate, Apricot and Pistachio Cake by Tobie Puttock

100g pistachios 
100g slivered almonds
165g butter, unsalted
100g castor sugar
4 eggs, separated
100g dried apricots, chopped
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
pinch sea salt

for icing (my own addition):
100g dark chocolate
50g butter, unsalted
small handful extra pistachios

Preheat oven to 190C and grease and line a 25cm spring-form tin with baking paper.

In a food processor, whiz 2/3 of nuts until finely ground.  Roughly chop remaining nuts by hand and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy and pale.  Add egg yolks one at a time, then sir in nuts, apricots, chocolate, cardamon and vanilla seeds.

Whisk egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form.  First, gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake mixture, then fold in the remaining egg whites.  Pour into cake tin and bake for 45 -50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For icing:

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Add butter and allow to melt while regularly stirring.  When combined, spread over cooled cake with a knife dipped on hot water to create a smooth, shiny coating of chocolate.  Sprinkle over extra pistachios which have been lightly crushed with the side of a knife to expose their beautiful green colour.

Put candles on for the beautiful birthday girl or just serve as is! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We PeCan Pie!

Short Crust Pastry 
175g plain flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 iced water

Pecan Filling
1 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses 
1 tablespoon bourbon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs (free range of course)
1/4 cup cream
2 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

For pastry:

Place flour, salt and sugar in food processor and process until combined. Add butter and process until it resembles large breadcrumbs.   Process again while pouring water in a long, continuous stream through the funnel of mixer.  Stop when dough just holds together when pinched (you may not need all the water).  Do not over-process.  Turn dough onto floured work surface and roll into a ball.  Cling-wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C.

When dough has been chilled, unwrap on floured surface and roll out to fit your pie or flan tin.  Use plenty of flour to prevent it sticking. Place in greased tin, folding edges down to make sides uniform height.  Blind bake for 12 minutes or until just golden brown.

For filling:

In a large saucepan heat brown sugar, molasses, butter and bourbon until boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.  In a bowl, whisk eggs then fold into cooled mixture with the cream.

Scatter the pecans over the pastry case.  Pour over filling evenly and bake 30 - 45 minutes until the filling is just set.  If pastry edges are getting too brown, cover with foil. 

Serve hot or cold with cream or ice-cream?  Yes We Can!


I am trying to imagine what baking would befit the joy that is the election of Barack Obama...  Obama-Banana Bread? Barack-Flap-Jacks? Yes We Can Chocolate Cake?  Or Bomb Alaska to send off Sarah Palin?!

I'm also remembering the Black and White Cookie from Seinfeld... 

Will have to think about this one a bit more - it needs to be something special.

p.s. And how cute about the puppy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

from cock-ups to choc-chips

On a scale of one to full-blown-trauma it is pretty low (I mean, the world is a pretty nasty place and I'm mostly doing pretty damn well) but seeing your Ex-Love on TV with his current, very young girlfriend really cocks-up your Tuesday evening.  So I think I'll ditch the study plans and make choc-chip cookies.  It's the best way to meditate on the emotional experience and prepare to move on...  and there will be cookies!!

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Mix together well (with an electric beater or in a stand mixer):
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Mix in another big bowl:
2 cups SR Flour
2 and 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda

Combine the two mixes and add:
1 cup of your favourite nuts, slightly crushed
375g choc-chips (I like a mix of dark, milk and even sometimes white - crazy!)

Roll into golf ball-size and place on ungreased tray with plenty of room between them for spreading.  Lightly press down.  Cook approx. 12 - 15 mins depending on your oven and how chewy/crunchy you like them.

Enjoy and remember - you dodged a bullet!