Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Autumn has definitely arrived, with the days getting shorter and the nights getting colder; it's the perfect time to cook and bake delicious comfort foods. Blackberry and Apple is a classic autumnal combo of flavours and one we always enjoy in our household, whether it be in a crumble, cake or muffins. I have previously made similar versions of this cake but I could not pass up this recipe from one of my current favourite cookbooks, "A Passion for Baking". This loaf cake was everything I imagined it would be and more. I cannot begin to describe how absolutely delicious it was. It has definitely made its mark and resides in my top 5 bakes. A must bake!

Blackberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Serves 6

60g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
80g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp demerara sugar

170g self-raising flour
170g unsalted butter, softened
170g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
170g (prepared weight) apples such as Braeburns or Cox's, peeled, cored and diced
70g blackberries

You will also need a 900g (2lb) loaf tin, the inside buttered and the base and ends lined with a strip of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oC/160oC fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

Combine the topping ingredients: rub the butter into the flour and sugar either in a food processor using the pulse button or with your hands. Once the mixture reaches a crumble-type consistency, put it to one side while you make the cake batter.

Tip the flour, butter, sugar and eggs into a bowl and, either using a free-standing mixer or an electric hand whisk, beat until really light and creamy. Gently fold in the diced apples and blackberries using a large metal spoon.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread level and sprinkle over the crumble topping in an even layer.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes away cleanly.

Cool the cake in the tin for about 5 minutes and then carefully lift it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

I was so excited when I found out Nigella Lawson was releasing a new book, Nigellissima, I even pre-ordered it on amazon. Unfortunately it has not captured me in the way some of her previous cookbooks have, I had the same feeling with her other book Nigella Express. In reading the recipes a lot of them don't appeal to me or my taste, sorry mackerel in pasta doesn't do it for me! Another disappointment was the lack of bakes and desserts in the book, I was expecting more. I decided to bake this Italian breakfast banana bread as my first recipe, I liked the addition of espresso and it really worked well. I enjoyed a slice for breakfast and it was even nicer dipped in my coffee. It's definitely a recipe I would recommend trying and one I will make again. As much as I'm on the fence about this cookbook I will try more recipes and report back!

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

Cuts into 8-10 slices

150ml flavourless vegetable oil, plus some for greasing
3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp instant espresso powder

1 x 450g/1lb deep loaf tin

Slip a baking sheet into the oven, and preheat the to 170oC/150oC fan oven/gas mark 3. Get out a loaf tin, and line it with baking parchment or a loaf liner, or lightly oil it.

Mash the bananas with the vanilla extract and salt and then beat in the oil.

Now, beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sugar.

Mix the flour with the bicarb and espresso powder, and beat these dry ingredients into the runny batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin, and pop it into the oven, on the baking sheet, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bulgingly risen.