Banana Muffins

It’s been quite a busy sort of week. Lots of work going on (actually, that wasn’t very busy. Apparently people don’t want to be buying cards at the moment), plots and new ideas developing, and picking up the details of the wedding to tidy up now that time is speeding up and we’re into the last few months.

So this week, we finally sorted out the invites. I know, I know. We’re being slow. We’ve already received an invite for a wedding happening after ours. It took us a while to agree on the invites. Partly because I didn’t want to spend a fortune on them (seriously, prices can be extortionate! I’d e-mail it, but my partner insisted on proper invites. In the same way that I’d’ve preferred to elope – and in fact, I’ve always told my mother I would (and she’s offered me the train fare) – but he wouldn’t let us). Partly also because we (by which I mean he) didn’t want anything too flowery or butterflies. Which rules out quite a lot.

But we found some. Eventually. And they arrived the other day. So we can start sending them out. Before Royal Mail put up stamp prices.

Anyway, this week’s recipe is a sugar-free Banana Cake with cranberries and chocolate chips, courtesy of BBC Good Foods (the cranberries and chocolate chips are my addition).

Technically, this was supposed to be a loaf, but I don’t have a loaf-tin, so I made muffins instead.

DSCN0074

You will need:

3-4 Ripe Bananas, mashed

50g butter, melted

1 egg

Vanilla essence

1 tbsp milk

125g self-raising flour

Half tsp baking powder

Ground cinnamon

75g dried fruits

Opt.: chocolate chips. To be sugar-free, I used 100% cacao chips

Mix together the bananas, butter, egg, vanilla and milk in one bowl, and the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, dried fruits and chips (if using) in another. Pour the ‘nana mix into the flour bowl and mix thoroughly.

Spoon into your chosen tin/muffin cases.

If you’re making a loaf, it’ll need 30-40 minutes; if muffins, 20-30 minutes at 180C/160C fan oven/Gas Mark 4. Or until a skewer comes out clean.

Chocolat

I love chocolate. At one point I toyed with the idea of becoming a chocolatier. My siblings liked this idea. They like the idea of there being lots of chocolate at hand. I have lots of chocolate-making stuff: moulds, jars of chocolate drops, cocoa butter and chips of cacao for making my own. I make truffles, fudge, cakes. If it’s a chocolate recipe, I’ll try it. I lace bolognaise with a chocolate red wine.

I won’t lie. Being a chocolatier was not something I’d thought about growing up. Not until I read Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

Something about the book is just magical. I’ve read it in its original English and its Swedish translation. In both languages, I spent the afternoon in a swirl of scents and smells and tastes. Chocolate and spices. It’s difficult to really explain just what it is about the book which makes it so wonderful. I don’t really remember much about the details of the story. But the feeling that the book gives me – well, it’s pretty much indescribable.

Just, you know, read the book.

Not made by me!

Not made by me!

The chances of me ever making it as a chocolatier are slim. I haven’t the patience or the busyness to be a full-time retailer. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t dabble for fun. I annoy people by being slightly picky about chocolate. I refer the ones which use less sugar. Not necessarily dark chocolate, just the less sweetened versions. I like good chocolate.

That’s not to say that sometimes, Cadbury’s (for example) makes a nice bar with exciting things strewn throughout which makes it worth buying. Just, I don’t normally.

In any case, this year’s Lenten challenge is similar to last year’s. I’m giving up refined sugar. I’m allowing honey this time because Mark and I still have to choose cakes. But unless it specifies honey as the sweetener, I’m not eating it.

Apple and Mango Flapjack

DSCN1766

I was experimenting, based on my previous flapjacks. This was nice and simple, merely melting butter and mixing that with mashed banana, chopped fruits and nuts and oats and baking for about twenty minutes. Apparently it worked. Certainly it’s tastier than muesli, so I reckon it’d make a good breakfast.

I didn’t start off with the idea of apple and mango. I wanted to make more flapjack. Since I needed to get more oats, I pottered to the dried fruits section to have a look. Always a mistake. Fortunately, though, the majority were sweetened, so they were ruled out. The mango, though, was fine. So that went into the basket. Since the other dried fruits were out-of-bounds, and apple and mango go well together, it was decided that chopped apple would be added.

So. Butter melted over a medium heat while the various fruits were being chopped or mashed. Chopped mixed nuts were chucked in as an afterthought. One of those “Yeah, that’d work, why not?” thoughts. So in they went. Then the butter, now a yellow pool, and oats. All was thoroughly stirred and dolloped into a lined baking tray. Into the oven for about twenty minutes.

DSCN1767

It came out smelling like a crumble.

And tomorrow I get to eat sugar again (Church counting ends Lent on Good Friday: count the days (but not Sundays!) if you don’t believe me!). Normally I go to Easter Sunday, but my mother makes the best hot cross buns in the world, and she only makes them on Good Friday. So it’s stop ‘early’ or miss out. I’d rather stop early…

Banana Date Flapjack

It’s a simple recipe today (sadly no pictures: stupid camera’s having a tantrum – hopefully it’ll work again before I’ve eaten all the flapjack and a picture can follow shortly…). A tasty one though. It has to be quick at the moment, I’m supposed to be writing my dissertation!

However a quick, easy and very tasty recipe, which is actually quite sweet, despite the lack of added sugar/honey/etc.! I know dates are full of fructose, but this is quite sweet enough! Apparently I’ve become very used to unsweetened foods and my sugar tolerance has dropped.

Anyway. Set the oven on at 175C/Gas Mark 5 and grease/line a baking tray.

Take 2-3 small bananas and mash them up. Add 1 cup (about 200g) chopped dates and 80ml olive oil. Mix it up. Add 2 cups oats and 1tsp vanilla essence and stir. Let it sit a moment so that the oats can soak up the oil. Fill the baking tray. Put in oven; make a cup of tea.

Bake for approx. 25 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool and eat 🙂

Sugar-Free Apple Flapjacks

Sugar-Free Apple Flapjacks

I was hunting recipes the other day. I needed something sweet, but without sugar or other sweeteners because of my Lenten fast from such things. This is usually all well and good (I’m not having any cravings or anything) except for that moment in the month which all women have because of hormones. My friend and I went on a hunt and we found this…It’s really good. Really good. And smells fantastic while you cook it.
Ingredients – I think we made about a dozen with this…
• 3 apples, cored and chopped – we used Bramleys
• 100% pressed apple juice – enough to cover the apple pieces in a saucepan. Half a litre, maybe…
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon – meh. Just sprinkle as much as you like in.
• 2cm piece fresh root ginger, grated – or more, if you like ginger.
• 250g whole rolled oats
• 30g sunflower seeds – we skipped these. We used more raisins instead…
• 160g raisins
Preparation method
Oven: 180C/Gas 4; decent sized lined greased tin.

Slice and core the apple , but leave the skin on for a good source of pectin. Place the apples in a pan with the juice and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Puree in a food processor or with a hand-held mixer. We didn’t find this necessary. If the apple is properly stewed it should be nice and mushy anyway, in which case smoosh it a bit more with the wooden spoon you were stirring it with and it’ll be fine.
Stir the grated ginger, cinnamon, oats, sunflower seeds and raisins into the apple puree and mix well, then tip it into the tin and spread out evenly.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until firm and golden brown. Cool slightly, cut into wedges then leave the flapjacks to cool completely in the tin. Or, if like us you can’t wait that long, give it about 15 minutes (enough time to finish the washing up and stick the kettle on), scoop some out into a bowl (it’ll fall apart) and add some yogurt/sour cream/double cream/ice cream/whatever and enjoy!
Substitution
Other healthy alternatives include swapping the raisins for dried cranberries. Or when making the puree swap the apples for prunes.

Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Biscuits

You know, I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I’m getting a funny sort of feeling about this Lent…It goes along these lines, this feeling: I’m not allowed anything sweet so I must substitute the sugary stuff I normally eat. I shall substitute this sugar with…wait for it…CHEESE! I may have to branch my experimentation out further to fully embrace a sugar-free existence.
I’m not saying, by the way, that cheese is bad. Of course not. I love cheese, especially a good, strong cheddar (I particularly like the Snowdonia Cheeses…). I’m just saying that I might be limiting myself by not trying other ingredients for cakes and biscuits…
Having said all this, for my first foray into savoury biscuits, I’m starting with this nice simple cheese biscuit recipe. Mostly because it involves a whole three ingredients: butter, flour, and cheese. The actual recipe I found called for Parmesan, but meh. I have a nice cheddar in the fridge that’ll do.
So you will need: 150g of plain flour; 120g of butter; 130g of grated cheese.
Basically, rub it into a good dough, leave to chill for at least an hour, roll out and cut shapes, then bake at 180C for 15 minutes or so, et voila! Cheese biscuits. I suppose you should let them cool before consuming, washed down with a nice cuppa…
And yup, these are Hallowe’en shapes…It was that or stars…These are way more cool…