Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sugar Free Banana Tea Loaf

I delight in something sweet with a cup of tea, but now I'm trying to cut down on my refined sugars it can be quite a challenge to find things that hit the spot like a fat piece of cake. Thank heavens then for treats like this tea loaf, as it is sooooo deliciously satisfying and sweetened only with dates and bananas. I love mine with a thick spread of peanut butter. Hey, I said I was cutting down on refined sugars, not EVERYTHING naughty ;-).

Prep time: 15 Mins (Plus steeping time for the dates)
Baking time: 70-75 Mins
200g Medjool Dates
200ml Strong Black Tea
250g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Medium Eggs (Beaten)
2 Ripe Bananas (Mashed)

You'll want to get the dates going a good few hours in advance, ideally overnight if you can. Pit and chop your dates then cover with the hot black tea. Leave to steep for at least 4 hours, until the dates are all syrupy.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line a 2lb loaf tin with a greaseproof loaf tin liner. In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour and baking powder. Make a well in the middle, then pour in the dates and steeping liquor. Add the vanilla extract and beaten eggs, then mix well to combine. Add the mashed banana and mix again until you are left with a lovely consistent batter. Spoon into your prepared tin, even to the edges, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 70-75 mins, until nicely risen and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of the loaf.

When you are happy the loaf is baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for around 15 mins. When a touch cooler tip the loaf from the tin and leave to cool until warm on a wire rack. I love this one warm from the tin, but it'll also keep for several days for when the need arises! 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Coffee and Rum Syrup Cake with Toasted Hazlenuts

As much as I like the idea of drinking coffee, I just find it so ghastly! I'm sorry if this offends any of my coffee fueled cohorts but what can I say, I'm a leaf tea gentleman through and through! Coffee cake though? Well that is a whole other story indeed. I LOVE it! I guess it just goes to proves that one can stomach even the most unpalatable things if they are turned into a dirty great cake!

Prep time: 30 Mins (Plus some soaking time)
Baking time: 50-60 Mins
For the Cake
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
185g Golden Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
215g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
75g Toasted Hazelnuts (Chopped)
1tbsp Cocoa Powder
1tbsp Milk

For the Syrup
100ml Cold Water
100g Caster Sugar
3tbsp Strong Black Coffee
50ml Rum

For the Vanilla Cream
250ml Double Cream
2tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
25g Toasted Hazelnuts (Chopped)
16-24 Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans

Let us begin! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm deep, loose bottomed baking tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl sift in the flour and baking powder, then gently mix through the hazelnuts and cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, along with a tablespoon of milk and mix to a lovely consistent batter. Pour into your prepared tin, even to the edges and bake in the centre of the oven for around 50-60 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

When the cake is nearly done you can start on the syrup. Add the water and caster sugar to a small saucepan and gently stir on a medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up and boil for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir through the coffee and rum.

Once the cake is done remove from the oven and whilst still hot, prick all over with a sharp knife or skewer. Carefully spoon over some of the hot syrup, leave to soak in for around 10 minutes, then repeat. Keep doing this until you have used all the syrup. You want the top to be completely sodden with syrup! Leave the soaked cake to cool completely in the tin.

Once the cake is cool carefully remove from the tin, then you can start on the cream. In a clean bowl pour in the double cream and add the sugar. Whisk until thick, then gently fold through the vanilla. Carefully spread over the top of your cake and level to the edges, then finish with a sprinkling of hazelnuts and a handful of chocolate covered cocoa beans. Your work is done! 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies. Need I say anymore? ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus 60 Mins Chilling Time)
Baking time: 15 Mins
110g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Golden Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla Extract
135g Plain Flour
25g Cocoa Powder
1/2tsp Baking Powder
150g Dark Chocolate Chips
16tsp Smooth Peanut Butter (About half a jar)

These are great to make in advance, so if time is of the essence don't worry about splitting this process in half and leaving the dough in the fridge until your ready, even overnight.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix to a sticky dough. Fold through the chocolate chips and that's the hard bit done!

Take a large sheet of cling film, blob the mixture onto it, then wrap up and leave in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.

Once the mixture is firm you can preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line two large, flat baking trays with baking paper. Take a small handful of the dough, shape into a ball about the size of a golf ball and place on one of your prepared trays. Repeat for the rest of the mixture, evenly spacing the balls apart. You should have around 16 from this quantity of mixture.

For each ball press your thumb into the middle to make a deep dent, then fill with a teaspoon of peanut butter. Don't worry if the peanut butter smears over the edges as you go, as this just adds to their charm! Bake the cookies in the centre of the oven for around 15 minutes, until each cookie has spread and is just starting to crack on top. You can leave them in a little longer if you prefer a crunchier finish.

When you are happy the cookies are baked remove them from the oven and leave to cool on the trays. Once cool peel each from the baking paper and you are good to go. He he he. X