Saturday, 23 May 2009

Banana Carrot Bread

I really enjoy making quick breads such as this one and I always buy bananas in the knowledge that if they aren’t eaten at least I will have a good excuse to bake. This moist bread combines banana and carrots for a different take on banana bread and is packed with lots of flavour. It is the perfect breakfast when you want something a little sweet for breakfast but that is also healthy at the same time.

Banana Carrot Bread

⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 cup grated carrots
½ cup chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to the creamed mixture alternately with bananas. Stir in carrots and pecans. Transfer to a greased 9 x 5 x 3-in/2lb loaf pan. Bake at 180oC/160oC fan oven/350oF for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, 22 May 2009

White Chocolate & Orange Cookies

I seem to be on a cookie mission this week since receiving my new book, 500 Cookies. This book is definitely a cookie lovers must have, with an extensive variety of recipes. My boys are appreciating this book no end, no sooner has a batch of cookies cooled they are flying out of cookie jar and barely touching the sides! The Neiman Marcus cookies were a perfect example of this, not lasting 12 hours. This latest batch of White Chocolate & Orange Cookies have been another roaring success and since baking them yesterday afternoon there is only a handful left. These cookies are light, crispy, chewy and full of intense orangey chocolate flavour. I dare you to make them and have them last more than a day!

White Chocolate & Orange Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

115g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 egg
Grated zest of 1 orange (2 to 3 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ baking powder
¼ tsp salt
225g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan oven/375oF/Gas mark 5. Beat the butter and sugar. Add the egg, orange zest and vanilla extract.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients and chocolate chips into the butter mixture and combine.

Roll into balls. Use your fingers to flatten onto a non-stick baking sheet 5cm/2in apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool for five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

When cool, store in an airtight container for up to four to five days.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Infamous Neiman Marcus $250 Cookies!

The rumour that gave this cookie its rise to fame tells of a customer who inadvertently paid $250 for this cookie recipe, thinking she was being charged $2.50! Apparently the story is one of the most famous urban legends in baking history. The story has been going around for over 50 years and it is completely untrue! Neiman Marcus nonetheless published the cookie recipe to quell rumours. If you love your cookies crispy and chewy then you will love these, they have the perfect texture. The centres are chewy, chocolaty and sweet, with the espresso powder adding a sophisticated element, which is wonderfully balanced with the rest of the cookie. If you have never made these famous cookies, I think you should go and get your butter out right now and make them!! These babies will fly out of the cookie jar once my boys arrive home and take that first bite of what has to be one of the most expensive chocolate chip cookies in the world, even if it is untrue.

Neiman Marcus Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

115g unsalted butter, softened
200g light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp instant coffee powder
225g plain chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan oven/375oF/Gas mark 5.

Beat the butter and sugar together, and add the egg and vanilla extract.

Sift together the remaining dry ingredients, including the coffee powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix in the chocolate chips.

Roll into balls. Use your fingers to flatten onto a non-stick baking sheet 5cm/2inch apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and then place on cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


After his two days away I had to bake something for hubby’s return and had promised him cookies. I received my inspiration whilst browsing through blogs when I stumbled on these Snickerdoodles at Living with a Boy blog (check out her Snickerdoodles, gorgeous)! Having made Snickerdoodles before from a recipe by Nigella Lawson, I knew they would be a hit and I had yet to try Rachel Allen’s version from her latest book, Bake. These Snickerdoodles have a speckled, crinkly surface that is formed from the flecks of cinnamon and sugar, while the interior has a soft and cakey texture. They are very moreish and you won’t be able to stop at just one cookie!

Buttery Cinnamon Goodness!!


Makes about 26 biscuits

125g butter, softened
110g caster sugar, plus 1 dessertspoon extra, for rolling
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¾ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 dessertspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas mark 4.

Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the 110g caster sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.

Sift in the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt and gently mix together to form a dough.

Mix the dessertspoon of sugar and the cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl. Using your hands, roll the dough into walnut-sized balls then roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture and place on two baking trays (no need to grease or line), each ball spaced about 3cm/1 ¼ in apart. Flatten them down with the palm of your hands.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they feel firm around the edges.
Allow to stand for 2 minutes on the baking trays, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Triple Chocolate Muffins

Triple Chocolate Muffins=Chocolate heaven! Why have just regular chocolate-chip or even double chocolate chip muffins, when you could be having Triple Chocolate Chip muffins? That’s right, THREE times as much chocolaty goodness! These decadent muffins are seriously good, quick and easy to make and taste fantastic. If your a chocoholic these muffins are sure to satisfy and hit the spot.

Triple Chocolate Muffins

Makes 15 large or 30 small muffins

450g self-raising flour
225g caster sugar
1 level teaspoon baking powder
225ml milk
225g unsalted butter
2 medium-sized eggs, beaten
75g each of white, milk and dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4 and have 15 muffins cases ready in the muffin tins.

Mix the flour, caster sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Heat the milk and butter together until the butter melts. Allow to cool, then add the dry mixture with the eggs. Add the chocolate chips and stir through.

Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes (6-8 minutes if you are doing mini ones).

This muffin recipe comes courtesy from my latest new book, Avoca Tea Time!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes

I had promised that my next recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook would be the Nutty Apple Loaf but don’t get me started on that!! I went ahead and baked the said recipe and everything was great until I turned out the loaf and ended up with half of the loaf in the tin and half on the cooling rack. So I won’t be making that mistake next time I use that recipe. Besides how it looks, the loaf itself is truly delicious and full of flavour and I will be making it again (I will not be defeated)! Because the loaf was less than photogenic I decided to make up for it by trying out another recipe from the book and opted for these Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes. These cupcakes were quick to whip up and the sponge on them is super light and fluffy and bursting with so much flavour. What makes these cupcakes even yummier is the chocolate frosting that is swirled on and finished off with chocolate sprinkles. These more than make up for my mini baking disaster with the loaf!

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 12

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
2 eggs (medium)
120g peeled banana, mashed

Chocolate Frosting
300g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
40g cocoa powder, sifted
40ml whole milk
40g dark chocolate, grated with a cheese grater into shavings or sprinkles of choice

A 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Preheat the oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the eggs and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Stir in the mashed bananas by hand until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Chocolate Frosting on top and finish with chocolate shavings or sprinkles.

Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Add the milk to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Banana Loaf

A few weeks back I finally received a copy of The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and the wait was really worth it, the book has an amazing collection of recipe after delicious recipe of cupcakes, muffins, brownies, pies, cakes, cheesecakes and cookies. I couldn’t wait to start baking from the book and I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use up the bananas going ripe in my fruit bowl and also bake my first recipe from the book. I’ve baked many banana loafs over the years and have several firm favourites but I’m always happy to try out new recipes. This recipe was seriously quick and easy to make and I loved the simplicity of this loaf, no nuts or chocolate, just a basic banana loaf that is moist and full of flavour! You could of course add nuts or chocolate, or even better add both. I’m now looking forward to trying out more recipes from the book and have plans to make the Nutty Apple Loaf next, so watch this space!

Banana Loaf

Makes 8-10 slices

270g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
200g peeled bananas, mashed
280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
140g unsalted butter, melted

A 23 x 13-cm loaf tin, greased and dusted with flour

Preheat the oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3.

Put the sugar and eggs in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until well incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas.

Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger to the sugar mixture. Mix it thoroughly until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the egg mixture. Pour in the melted butter and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes ~ Sweet and Simple Bake!

The time has come again to show case our monthly bake over at Sweet and Simple Bakes and this month Rosie presented us with this absolutely adorable recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes! It seems cupcakes are all the rage and the “new black”, they’re hip and retro and who could resist a frosting-laced cute and delicious cupcake! I had so much fun making these and anything involving luscious pastel coloured buttercream and sprinkles gets my vote. These cupcakes are an all-in-one method, making them quick and easy to make. I am looking forward to another great round-up and can’t wait to see everyone’s cupcakes! Please pop over to Sweet and Simple Bakes to view more cupcake entries.

Vanilla Cupcakes + Buttercream + Sprinkles = Love

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 12

175g (6 oz) self-raising flour
1½ level tsp baking powder
175g (6 oz) butter, softened
175g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream Frosting:
150g (5oz) butter, softened
300g (11 oz) icing (confectioners) sugar, sifted
1 tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Edible food colouring(s) of choice, optional
Sprinkle(s) for decoration of choice

You will also require 12 holed muffin tin lined with 12 paper muffin cases

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Sift the self-raising flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and then add the butter, caster sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Beat together until well mixes, trying not to over mix the mixture. Spoon the mixture equally into the prepared paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out to completely cool on a wire rack.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar and stir until it’s just mixed in, then add the milk and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Divide into as many bowls as you want different colour(s) and add edible food colouring (you only require a few drops). This is purely optional should you wish to leave out the edible food colouring(s) and keep the buttercream natural. Spread the icing on thickly with a palette knife on top of each cupcake or put the icing into a piping back and make a large swirl on top of each cupcake. Decorate each cupcake with your chosen sprinkle(s).