“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
NOTE: I am away at the moment helping my mother with her treatment for lung cancer. I have set up a few posts to post whilst I am away as a special surprise. Some are new and some are reposts of old favourites that you may have forgotten, or if you are a new reader may not even have seen. I'll be back at the end of May, but in the meantime . . . Enjoy!
PS - I will only have sporadic internet use, so if you ask a question and I don't get back to you . . . it's not that I don't want to. It just may take me a while.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
(Another repost from an earlier date! Tis one is my favourite one!)
One day last year I was baking this lovely loaf and I went out the front door to check on something and the wind from the back door blew the front door shut. This was somewhat of a disaster as if the front door closes and you don't have a key . . . you can't get back in. There I was stuck in the front garden, with a loaf in the oven, a small puppy at large inside, no cell phone on my person . . . and a padlocked 10 foot tall back gate that I had no hope of scaling. Thank goodness it wasn't raining.
I knew the back door was open but I was so worried about Mitzie, who wasn't very old at that point and also the cake in the oven. What to do . . . what to do . . .
In the end, I did what anyone would do . . . I knocked on the next door neighbor's front door and asked him if he had a ladder I could use to get over the back gate. He had a ladder of course, but better than that, he did the climbing! Then he just walked through the house to the front door and let me in. Whew!! You cannot imagine how grateful I was.
Once the cake was finished, and cooled . . . I packaged it up and took it over to him and his wife as a thankyou. I think they were somewhat surprised . . . I don't think it's something that a lot of people over here do, but in North America we are always taking casseroles, cakes and other baked goodies to neighbours as welcome to the neighbourhood gifts, thank you's, helping out when someone has a new baby or has been sick, or when someone in the family has passed away. It's just a neighbourly thing to do.
They must have really liked it because just before Christmas this year he asked Todd if I would be willing to bake them another one that they could take to their sons. They said they would pay for the ingredients, etc. I baked one and gave it to them as a thankyou for all the nice things they do for us through the year . . . keep an eye on our house when we are away, take in mail and other deliveries when we are out, etc. I was quite happy to bake them one and then I thought to myself . . . sometime I better bake one for myself, if it's so delicious!
Today was the day. I had enough ripe bananas and I was in a baking mood.
The recipes comes from a cookbook I have had for quite a while, called Everyday Easy, Cakes & Cupcakes by DK publishing. Everything I have baked from this book has been just fabulous and this beautiful banana loaf is no exception!
It's moist and filled with flavour . . . lovely banana, sweet dried cranberries, toasty chopped walnuts. I'm not surprised that the man next door fell in love with it, for I have too. This has become my favourite banana loaf of all time, and I don't say that lightly! I made two small loaves today and I am struggling with the thoughts of giving one away . . .
The recipe does state that you can freeze it up to 3 months . . . hmmmm . . . should I be selfish and keep them both??? Nahh . . . I have an elderly friend who will just adore this and I think she deserves a bit of a treat! (We all need a little pick me up from time to time.)
I really DO hope you will bake this too. I think you'll find that my claims about it's scrumminess are NOT exaggerated in the least!
*Banana, Cranberry & Walnut Loaf*
Makes 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves
(one for keeping and one for giving!)
A moist banana loaf chock full of sweet cranberries and crunchy walnuts.
4 ounces butter, at room temp (1/2 cup)
175g of caster sugar (3/4 cup)
2 large free range eggs, beaten
1 tsp milk
300g of plain flour (scant 3 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice (see my recipe in the side bar on the right side
of the page)
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
85g dried cranberries (generous 1/2 cup)
60g toasted walnuts, chopped (scant 1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Butter 2 small loaf tins, or 1 large loaf tin and line with baking parchment.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs and the milk, mixing all together well.
Whisk together the flour, salt, soda and spice. Stir this mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir in the bananas, cranberries and walnuts. Divide the mixture between the two small tins or spread into the large tin. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes for small loaves, or 1 to 1/1/2 hours for the large tin, until well risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This cake will keep for up to 1 week when stored in an airtight tin.
(Not sure why, but there seems to be an issue with some of my cooking photos. They have disappeared and I can't get them to show up. Finger's crossed that these ones do!! Computers can be so frustrating at times!)
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
(Another repost from an earlier time. A delicious blueberry cake. We love blueberries, and I try to incorporate them into our diet as regularly as I can. We have about six of our own high bush berry bushes now, and they really produce a lot during picking season. Yum! Yum!)
I wanted to use up some of the blueberries that I have stored in my freezer. I always have some there. Whenever the store puts them on special I buy up extra punnets of them and stick them straight into the freezer.
That makes them ever so handy to use in cakes and puddings, crumbles and pies.
You can use them straight from the freezer without thawing them out. They work like a charm as long as you are using them to cook with.
I have never tried eating frozen blueberries, except in smoothies, and they work pretty well in those as well. A little frozen fruit makes a smoothie a beautiful thing in my opinion.
I remembered this fabulous recipe I have for a blueberry crumb cake, that has a wonderfully moist texture and is topped by a delicious crumble crunch.
You will love this. Your family will love this. Your guests will love this.
EVERYONE will love this!!
It's a KEEPER. Need I say anymore???
I think not! Let the pictures speak for themselves.
*Blueberry Crunch Cake*
A delicously moist cake, stogged to overflowing with blueberries and topped with a lovely sweet crunch! This is fabulous.
280G (2 cups) flour
300g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
5 1/2 (2/3 cup) ounces butter
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
250ml (1 cup) milk
2 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1 X 200g (approx. 2 cups) blueberries
pouring cream or custard
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter a 9 X 13 inch nonstick baking pan. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour and sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine dry bread crumbs. Remove 3/4 of a cup of this to use for the topping, and set it aside. To the remainder add the salt and baking powder. Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla and milk. Blend together well.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the batter. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over top of all. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over top of the blueberries.
Bake in the heated oven for 40 top 50 minutes, until the cake is well risen and golden brown along the edges and is completely set in the middle and tests done. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool and serve warm from the pan with some pouring cream or custard.
Note - the leftovers are delicious!
(Another repost for you this morning. I'll be home in just a little bit more than a weeks time, but in the meantime I want to share with you another tasty recipe from my delicious archives. This one is a really tasty one. It's also really nice in Strawberry season along with a few sliced fresh berries on the side. Enjoy!)
I want to tempt you just a little bit this morning with a tasty recipe from my Big Blue Binder. This is a big blue plastic covered binder that I have been carrying around with me since I was a little girl. (I was 9 or 10 when I started it.) It is old and tatty now, and bulging at the seams . . . but it is also filled with beautiful gems . . .
A beautiful collection of fantastic recipes that I have prised and garnered from family and friends through the years . . . and tried and loved so much that they have become my tried and true's and solid go to's . . . time tested and tested over time, they are my old faithfuls. So much so that I wrote a cookery book which contains some of the very best ones of all. You can read more about that here. But we are not talking about my cookery book today . . .
Today we are talking about Lemon Cake Pie. Or as it is affectionately known as over here . . . Lemon Delicious Pie. Different name . . . same thing.
You know that lemon pudding which, when baked, magically separates into a delicious cake on top and a lovely custard on the bottom . . . this is the same thing . . . except it is in a pie people.
A PIE! Yes . . . a pie. And we all know how much I love pie!!! There is no such thing as a bad pie . . . (Don't burst my bubble!)
This is gorgeous. I have been dragging this recipe around with me for yonks. It never fails to please anyone who I bake it for.
I wanted to take a picture of it whilst the light was good today and so the pie hadn't actually set up completely and was still a bit warm when I cut a piece to photograph . . . but I promise you a couple of hours in the fridge and it sets up perfectly.
Unfortunately it is sooooooooo delicious that the missionaries I baked it for ate it all up before I could get a picture of it set up. You'll just have to make do with these photos . . .
and trust me when I say . . . as delicious as it may look . . . it tastes even better. Seriously.
Try it today. You won't be sorry. I promise!
*Lemon Cake Pie*
Makes one 9 inch pie
One of our favourites. Lemon Cake and Pie together. How much better can life get?
7 ounces granulated sugar
1 TBS butter
3 TBS plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
the finely grated zest and juice of two unwaxed lemons
2 large free range eggs, separated
375ml of milk (1 1/2 cups)
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell
Whipped Cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Roll out your pastry, fit it into a 9 inch pie dish, trim and flute. Set aside.
Measure the sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest into a bowl. Rub in the butter until all are completely rubbed together and the mixture resembles sand. Beat in the two egg yolks and the lemon juice. Whisk in the milk. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold these carefully into the mixture. Pour this into the pie dish. Carefully move the pie dish to the heated oven.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until lightly browned, set with just a little jiggle in the centre and a knife inserted close to the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Cut into slices to serve and top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
In The Cottage today a delicious Bacon, Egg and Cheese Toastie.
Monday, 20 May 2013
( Another repost from an earlier time, but hey . . . Some things really ARE worth repeating!)
I was really craving something different this morning for breakfast. I wanted something like pancakes, but not like pancakes, if you know what I mean. I decided to make these little Breakfast Batter Puddings. (I cut the recipe in half, which was plenty for Todd and myself.)
These things are amazing! I think they are known by all sorts of other names, such as Dutch Babies, German Pancakes, etc. . . . but they're batter puddings to me.
They always puff up so huge!! You will think that they are going to almost explode they puff up so much! But don't worry they won't. They always deflate when you take them out of the oven after a few minutes too, but that's ok, because when they deflate . . . it leaves a nice little dip in the centre for some fruit filling.
Today I just used some pie filling that I needed to use up before it's sell by date. (I don't know why I buy the stuff! I never use it!) But you can use jam if you want, (Blueberry is a favourite of mine.) or even lemon curd.
Lemon curd is really nice with fresh berries sprinkled on top. Strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. They all work well.
You can dump them out of the ramekins if you like . . . but I like to keep them in. It makes for a nicer presentation I think. Just pop them onto a plate and dust them with a bit of icing sugar, and then . . . pass the fruit, or jam or whatever!
Your family will want to kiss your ring. Seriously. You'll be like royalty to them, all day long.
*Breakfast Batter Puddings*
Puffy little batter puddings, filled with your favourite fruit filling! (I like cherry!)
250ml of milk (1 cup)
6 large free range eggs
100g of plain flour (1 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 ounces of butter, melted (1/4 cup)
your favourite fruit filling
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Butter 6 to 8 glass ramekins very well and place them on a baking tray.
Put the milk, eggs, flour, salt, vanilla, lemon and melted butter into a tall container (or your blender container) and blitz until smooth. (I use my stick blender. It's quick and it's easy and I can pour the batter right into the prepared pans from the blender container.) Divide the batter equally amongst the prepared ramekins. They should be at least three quarters full.
Bake for 15 minutes, until puffy and golden brown on top.
Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and your favourite fruit filling.
Saturday, 18 May 2013
(The 19th May is International Baking Day! What will you be baking? I am still in Canada, and taking care do my mum who is now home from the hospital . . . Yippee !!!. . . And so I'm not really baking much at the moment, but if I was, these would go down a real treat! I do so love Ginger bread . . . And fairy cakes. A repost from a few years ago. Enjoy!)
Over here in England they call cupcakes Fairy Cakes. How can you not just love something which is called a Fairy Cake!!! A name like that gives something that is already scrumptious, an even more mythical mystical scrumdiddlyumptious quality!!!
I mean . . . if the fairies are feasting on these kinds of cakes, then they must be very good indeed!
I love to visit the Tate & Lyle site and am a fan of their We Love Baking page on Facebook. Every so often they post a link on their back to their baking site and the recipe of the month, which this month, happened to be these Sticky Ginger Fairy Cakes.
As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to bake it. We both are big fans of gingerbread in this house! This recipe was right up my alley.
I wanted to kick up the spice a notch though and so I added some additional warmth by adding some ground cardamom and cloves . . . and some vanilla.
Oh my but they are moreishly tasty. Of course you can get the recipe in it's original form on their baking page. Or you can just print out my variation. Their page is definitely worth a peek though, as there are other yummy recipes there as well.
*Sticky Ginger Fairy Cakes*
Adapted from the Taste and Smile page on Tate and Lyle.
5 ounces Dark Brown Soft sugar
(3/4 of a cup)
4 ounces Golden Syrup**
3 ounces Black Treacle**
(slightly less than 1/2 cup, halfway between
the half and the 1/4 mark on your measure)
6 ounces unsalted butter
(3/4 of a cup)
8 ounces plain flour
(1 1/2 cups plus 2 TBS)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 TBS ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
(5 fluid ounces on the measuring cup)
For the Icing:
the juice of one lemon
175g of icing sugar, sifted
(about 1 1/4 cups)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/Gas mark 4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
Place the butter, golden syrup, dark treacle and sugar into a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted. Allow to cool somewhat. Whisk in the milk, vanilla and the eggs.
Sift the flour into a bowl along with the soda and the spices. Pour the wet ingredients over top and quickly stir together. Pour this mixture into a large measuring jug and them divide the mixture equally amongst the lined muffin cases, filling them about 3/4 full.
Bake in the heated oven for 30 minutes, until well risen and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once they have cooled completely whisk together the icing sugar and the lemon juice, adding only as much of the lemon juice as you need to make a thick drizzable consistency. Drizzle over top of the cakes with a spoon and allow to set before serving. Delicious!
**Note - you can substitute an equal amount of mild molasses for the syrup and the treacle.
I was going to wait until the weekend to show you these . . . but I can't. These biscuits (cookies) are so stupendous that you deserve to hear all about them right NOW!
They're not much to look at I admit . . . In fact, they look just like any other cookie on this planet . . . but that is where the similarity to any other cookie on earth ends . . . don't let their simple homey appearance fool you. Beneath the surface this cookie is like the Brad Pitt and George Clooney of all cookies! Be still my heart!
Imagine a biscuit so buttery and moreish that you have a hard time eating just one . . . you have a hard time eating just two . . . you have a hard time eating just THREE!
In fact . . . you just want to sit down and eat them all in one sitting . . . before the hubster gets home from work . . . before the kidlets get home from school . . . before the dog wakes up from his afternoon snooze . . .
They'll return home to find you in a Heavenly stupor . . . with buttery cookie crumbs clinging to your indulgently satisfied smile . . .
Chock full of lovely chopped dates, all sticky and sweet . . .
Studded with creamily delicious white chocolate chunks . . .
Buttery, soft and chewy in the middle, and yet . . . crisp and crunchy on the edges . . .
in short . . . the most perfect cookie ever baked.
Super indulgent . . . scrummy . . . *oh my word . . . lock these away, they're so darn tasty I can't trust myself with them* good . . .
Yes, I kid you not. If you don't bake these today and declare them the best cookies you have ever EVER baked, then there's no hope for you . . .
There really isn't. Don't say I didn't warn you . . .
Now stand back . . . I'm goin in for more!
*White Chocolate and Date Biscuits*
Makes about 15
Superdy duperdy delicious! You will want to double this recipe, or even triple it. These are fantastically heavenly.
50g (about 3 1/2 TBS) unsalted butter, at room temperature
80g golden caster sugar (1/3 cup, plus 1 tsp)
few drops of vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
70g whole, pitted dates, cut into chunks
(about 1 cup)
50g of good quality white chocolate, cut into chunks
(about 1 cup)
130g plain flour (a scant 1 cup)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ Gas mark3. Line two baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.
Beat together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and egg, mixing it in well. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate and the dates.
Drop walnut sized drops onto the prepared baking tins, making sure that you leave a lot of space between them as they spread. I do 7 or 8 per baking sheet at most.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until they are pale golden brown, and a bit crispy on the edges. (I move the trays around halfway through the baking time so that they bake evenly.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.