Peanut Butter Brownies (fool-proof)

1504460343597Last year I baked alongside GBBO each week and posted the recipe here, creating something for the majority of the time the show was airing. This year I’ve decided to completely ignore whatever everyone else is doing, and just give you some random baking that I personally like eating each week. Starting with these fool-proof brownies topped with peanut butter.

The basic recipe is the recipe my brother and I would make with my mum when we were small. Very little batter was actually baked. I think the recipe came from a Blue Peter episode years ago (and I mean years ago, because I was never a Blue Peter fan, so it must’ve come from when my mum was young). But how do you make a good thing better? You add nut butter, that’s how… Continue reading

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Pumpkin & Maple Scones

wp-1477844825886.jpgPumpkin-fever isn’t quite over yet.

With the pumpkins still hanging around after Halloween, it seems like every one is just a bit sick of a certain orange vegetable. I know I’m sick of picking pumpkin seeds out of the plug hole in our kitchen. But for those die-hard pumpkin fans, or anyone looking for something a bit different to showcase their pumpkin, I have a quick recipe for you…

These scones use pumpkin puree, which is pretty much available year-round, and saves you hacking at a pumpkin past the 31st. The best way to eat them is warm with a bit of butter, or some jam…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree, tightly packed (make sure you get 100% pumpkin puree, nothing with anything added)

Continue reading

Pistachio, Date & Coconut Flapjacks

img_20161002_202939.jpgMy Dad’s side of the family are pretty crap at cooking. Dad’s own repertoire includes pork in cider, beef stroganoff, and *insert meat/fish* in a brandy cream sauce.  Baking wise, he does a little better: he can make bread, pizza dough, Anzac biscuits, gingerbread- and this flapjack. Ironically, my mum got hold of the recipe, and she makes the flapjack even better. Because when my Dad makes flapjack he presses it into the tin so tightly that it breaks your teeth once baked. His excuse is that it’s ideal to dunk into a cup of tea.

Anyway, the flapjack recipe both my parents use belongs to my great grandma on my Dad’s side. Possibly the last great baker on that side of the family. It’s buttery, has a hint of coconut, and (unless my Dad makes it) has a beautiful half chewy/ half crumbly and crisp texture on the top.

I can, of course, publish the original recipe for this flapjack if this post goes down well- but today I’ve added in the extra flavours of pistachio and dates, and swapped up some ingredients to make it a little healthier. This flapjack is beautiful half dipped into dark chocolate. And I enjoyed making to so much, that I’m planning on creating a Christmas themed one as well. Continue reading

Banana & Pineapple Loaf

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I eat a lot of banana bread. If I make a loaf of banana bread, it is gone in one week flat. And so I’ve experimented with several different variations of banana bread- including my Hunky Monkey Banana Bread (chocolate, hazelnut, and banana. Recipe right here: https://ecstaticallyem.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/hunky-monkey-banana-bread-chocolate-hazelnut-banana/ ). I’ve even made banana bread style muffins with banana, pecan, and maple flavour (recipe right here: https://ecstaticallyem.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/maple-pecan-butter-banana-blender-muffins/ ). Check both of these out, because I’m sure that you’ll love them.

But today we’re going all tropical (it is meant to be summer after all), with some banana and pineapple bread. This still tastes like a lovely, soft banana bread- but with a fruitier undertone , and with some pineapple kicks in the shape of chunks of that delicious fruit. And don’t worry- no fancy ingredients required: canned pineapple works just fine, and its what I opted for here.

This loaf freezes wonderfully, and can be defrosted when you need banana bread pronto. It’s delicious warm with a scoop of fro-yo or icecream, or toasted for breakfast. My freezer shelf is packed with it.

Lets get going… Continue reading

Hunky Monkey Banana Bread (Chocolate, Hazelnut & Banana)

In the background of the above picture you see a regular banana bread- in the foreground the Hunky Monkey Banana Bread. A combination of hazelnut butter, cocoa, and banana that is to die for- but also fairly good for you compared to most cakes. This moist and gooey loaf contains nut butter for some protein and healthy fats, no refined sugar (we’re using honey instead),cocoa for a hit of antioxidants and rich chocolate flavour- if you have cacao then you can up the antioxidant count even more- and banana, for natural sweetness, some potassium, fibre, and moist texture. This loaf also freezes well, and can be defrosted easily in the microwave when needed.
Anyone who knows me, knows I point blank adore my banana bread. I have a tearoom near me in Newcastle that makes an amazing chocolate-banana cake, and a banana bread recipe I found on Scola Dondo’s blog which I have used faithfully for a couple of years now I think. But the one thing I always feel is missing from anything banana (or banana and chocolate) is a good dollop of nut butter. Which is why this loaf had to be created. I eat this as a snack, or for a dessert with a scoop of fro-yo, or ice cream. You could even eat it toasted for breakfast I suppose. If you have a real chocolate addiction…


Ingredients (makes 12 slices)

  • 6tbsp hazelnut butter (I used Meridian’s. You any other nut butter you like, although I would recommend trying this with their hazelnut butter. I can eat it off of the spoon, it’s that good)
  • 3tbsp cocoa (or cacao if you have it, but don’t worry if you don’t)
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4cup plant based milk (I used coconut-rice milk, but if you aren’t a fan of any of the plant based milks then you can use cow’s milk- or goat’s milk. If you like goats.)
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup porridge oats
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 3/4tsp baking soda



Method

  • Grease and line either a 2lb loaf tin, or two 1lb loaf tins, and preheat the oven to 170*c.
  • In one large dish mix the mashed bananas, honey, egg, and milk.
  • Place the hazelnut butter into a microwavable dish, and heat just enough to make it runny- this will be literally seconds. Pour into the wet ingredients and stir to incorporate.
  • In a separate mixing bowl combine the cocoa, cinnamon, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and oats. Again, stir everything until it is well combined.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat together, before pouring into your loaf tin(s), and placing into the oven for 40-60 minutes. The exact time will depend on if you have a fan oven or not. After 30 minutes you can insert a skewer in to the loaf: if it comes out clean, or nearly clean as the finished product should be moist inside, then the loaf is done. If not, then shove it back into the oven for a little while longer. If the top of the loaf is beginning to catch a little then cover it with foil.
  • Once cooked remove from the oven, and turn out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool before tucking in, if you can wait that long…

The Easiest + Tastiest Pumpkin Loaf

Doesn’t that just look stunning? That slab of pumpkin loaf was the last piece, and let me tell you: that makes it taste all the more gorgeous. This loaf has to be one of the easiest pumpkin loaves in existence, and also one of the tastiest: it has a moist, dense, and delightfully squidgy interior flavoured with rich pumpkin and autumnal spices, all contained within a crisp crust. And one of the best things? It’s also healthy. For one slice (12th of the loaf) you get 122kcal, 1.6g fat, 0.2g saturated fat, 25g carbohydrates, 3.4g fibre, 8.2g of all natural non-refined sugar, 3.9g protein, and 50.5% of your vitamin A requirement. So good that I may have just eaten two slices in one go with the above picture.

Before I get into the recipe I want to tell you all where the recipe I adapted to make this came from. I used the amazing Scola Dondo’s banana bread recipe as the basis for this and then gave it a good few tweaks to perfect my pumpkin loaf. You can check out Scola’s blog, and find her banana bread recipe, right here: http://thatfitnesslife.blogspot.co.uk/ . Now, on to my  slightly more autumnal feeling pumpkin version…
Ingredients (Serves 10- 12)
  • 1/3 cup runny honey
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (make sure it is 100% pumpkin puree; I used Libby’s)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup plant based milk (I used Alpro coconut)
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
  • 1 cup oats (proper oats, not the sachets)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 3tsp ginger
  • 1 large pinch nutmeg
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180*c, 170*c if it’s a fan oven. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin: to do this rub the bottom and the sides of the tin with a little butter, oil, or cooking spray, and also place baking parchment on the bottom of the tin.
  • In one bowl whisk together all of the wet ingredients (the pumpkin, the honey, the egg, and the milk).
  • In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients (the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all of the spices).
  • Pour the wet ingredients in to the dry ingredients and mix everything together until well incorporated. Pour this into the loaf tin, smooth out, and then place the loaf tin into the oven for 35-40 minutes.
  • Once a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean you can remove your loaf from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then loosen it from the loaf tin, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack- if you can wait that long…

GBBO Quarter Final: Giant Creme Patissiere Profiteroles

Unfortunately for you guys (or maybe fortunately, if these posts are becoming too tempting), we will be pretending that I was kicked off of Bake Off in the quarter final; with a job prospect on the horizon, and a lot of uni work to do, plus being on a budget, I can’t really continue baking at the frequency I have been doing.
Here I have what will be the last in the GBBO series, and so something extra indulgent: Giant profiteroles filled with rich and silky vanilla crème patissiere (a thick, sweet custard), and topped with melted chocolate. And you know what? The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Choux pastry is fun and simple to make, this was my first time making crème pat and it was doddle.  I have to say I wish I’d done it before now- it’s that easy.

Ingredients (Makes 6)
For the choux pastry:

  • 90g all purpose flour, sieved
  • 60g butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 150ml water
  • 2 eggs

For the crème patissiere:

  • 3 large egg yolks (don’t chuck the whites: use them to make an egg white omelette or scramble)
  • 65g golden caster sugar
  • 15g all purpose flour
  • 15g cornstarch
  • 300ml milk (I used semi skimmed, feel free to use whole. I have no idea how plant milk would work in this recipe, but feel free to give it a go)
  • 2tsp vanilla essence (if you have the money I definitely recommend using a vanilla pod though!)

To top:

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate


Method

  • Begin by making the crème pat. as this needs to cool. Whisk the egg yolk and sugar together using an electric beater. Then whisk in the corn-starch and flour; the mixture formed should be pale and creamy. Now switch to a hand whisk. In a pan heat the milk and vanilla until just boiling. Pour gradually into the eggs whilst whisking continuously. Transfer back into a saucepan over medium heat, and whisk vigorously and constantly until it obtains a thick custard texture that the whisk leaves trails in. Pour into a bowl and lay cling film directly over the surface of the crème pat, to prevent a skin from forming. Cool completely and place into the fridge.
  • Now to pastry. Preheat the oven to 220*c and grease a tray. TIP! Sprinkle water onto the tray- just a little- this creates steam in the oven, which helps the choux pastry to rise and become light and airy.
  • Into a pan pour the water and the butter, melt on a medium heat, until it reaches a rolling boil.
  • Remove from the heat and add the flour in in one go, beating it in  quickly and until a mixture forms that leaves the side of the pan, coming into a ball.
  • Allow to cool slightly and then beat in the eggs a little at a time.
  • Dollop on to a tray, into six even dollops (each equivalent to roughly three heaped teaspoons). Smooth slightly but don’t flatten them.
  • Place into the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until risen and a light golden colour. Once out of the oven make a small hole in each to let out the steam and allow to cool completely.
  • Once the choux pastry has cooled you can either fill a piping bag and pipe the crème pat. in, or carefully cut each in half and smooth a good dollop into each giant profiterole.
  • Melt the two types of chocolate together, and drizzle over the giant profiteroles with a spoon. Either eat whilst the chocolate is still warm, or chill in the fridge before consuming. The giant profiteroles will keep for a maximum of 3 days when stored in the fridge- enjoy!