Friday, 26 August 2016

Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Blondies

As soon as one mentions specialist diets such as gluten free or vegan many are quick to scoff or turn up their noses. This is of course nonsense, as there is still a cornucopia of delicious treats available to those with dietary restrictions. Just take these naughty banana blondies for instance, which are absolutely delicious! So even if you are a wheat freak or a stone cold carnivore then why not give them a try, you might just be converted. ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 40-45 Mins
200g White Chocolate
275g Ripe Bananas (Mashed)
25g Vegetable Oil
100g Light Brown Sugar
50ml Hazelnut Milk
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Ground Almonds
1tsp Baking Powder (Gluten Free)
100g Chocolate Chips
100g Chopped Pecans

There's a fair few ingredients in this but I promise it's a doddle to prepare. Melt the white chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave (taking care as white chocolate scorches VERY easily). Once melted set to one side for 5 minutes to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a small sized baking tin with baking paper (The one I use is around 22x27cm). In a large mixing bowl mix together the banana, oil and sugar. Add the milk and vanilla extract, followed by the melted chocolate, then in go the almonds and baking powder. Mix together to a smooth batter, then fold through the chocolate chips and chopped pecans. 

Pour your mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 minutes, until golden brown on top. You can test it's baked by inserting a sharp knife. If it comes out with a few sticky crumbs attached then you are good to go. 

Once you are happy the blondies are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, before chilling for a good 90 minutes prior to slicing. Once chilled remove from the tin, slice and serve. Woohoo!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Chocolate Orange Cookies

It feels like AGES since I last made cookies, so I quickly cobbled together this recipe that turned out rather nicely indeed. You could buy orange flavour chocolate, although I find it tends to have little hard orangey pieces in which I find a tad gritty. So I use orange extract, which gives just the right depth of flavour and fragrance.

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 15 Mins
125g Unsalted Butter (softened)
185g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
1.5tsp Orange Extract
160g Plain Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
300 Dark Chocolate (Broken up into little pieces)

So here we go! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a large flat baking tray with baking paper. I forewarn you, you will need to probably bake these in batches so unless you have a MASSIVE oven ready a few sheets! In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and orange extract. Sift in the plain flour and baking powder and mix to a sticky dough. Fold through the chocolate and the dough is ready.

Take a small handful of the mixture and form into a loose ball, around the size of a golf ball. Space your balls evenly apart (as they will spread) and bake in the centre of the oven for around 15 minutes, until light golden brown and darkening at the edges. When you are happy they are baked remove from the oven and carefully slide the paper from the tray onto a wire rack. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. When the cookies have cooled for around 20 minutes carefully peel each from the paper and they are ready to eat warm, or served at room temperature. Nom nom nom!

Friday, 12 August 2016

Memoirs of a Gentleman Baker - Chapter 3, SIZO-1

Following a somewhat regrettable incident involving a hamster, two litres of liquid nitrogen and the Dutch embassy I spent an unfortunate six months as a guest of the Belarusian prison service. After no short amount of negotiation I was able to avoid the unimaginable and enjoy a few short hours a week baking in the sparse prison kitchens. Even armed with the most meagre of tools (a single loaf tin, basic utensils and a few scavenged dishes) I found it surprisingly elementary to create a surfeit of satisfying slices which, when shared resulted in a markedly more comfortable stay. As with you I was happy to share my recipes with my fellow inmates and even now the SIZO-1 Detention Centre’s coffee mornings are quite the highlight of the Minsk social calendar...

Friday, 5 August 2016

This Months Bread Pudding

There is no such thing as a perfect recipe. Nothing is the ultimate or the best ever. Everyone is different and everyone is looking for something different, in cakes just as in anything else if life. Therefore you should never worry about tinkering with recipes, trying out new ingredients and testing new techniques. I've published bread pudding recipes before, but this is my current favourite. I used an day old cinnamon loaf, but if you just have normal white bread then that will work fine too, as long as it's not too fresh. Maybe steer clear of throwing in garlic bread though!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus 60 mins soaking time)
Baking time: 75 Mins
500g Leftover White Bread, Brioche or Sweet Loaf (A day old, torn up)
600ml Milk
1tsp Cinnamon
500g Mixed Dried Fruit
100g Shredded Suet
125g Light Brown Sugar
1-2Tbsp Dememara Sugar

This is actually a realllllly easy recipe! Start by greasing a large, rectangular ovenproof dish and line the base with baking paper. Add the torn bread to a large mixing bowl and cover with the milk. Squelch it altogether and leave to soak for around 60 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Add the rest of the ingredients (aside from the demerara sugar) to your soaked bread and mix until thoroughly combined. Spoon into your prepared dish and evenly press to the edges. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake in the centre of the oven for around 75 minutes, until just springy to the touch. When you are happy the pudding is baked remove from the oven and leave in the dish to cool until warm.

When warm to the touch you can carefully remove from the dish, peeling off the paper as you go. Slice into squares and leave on a wire rack until completely cool. Boom, you're done!