Monday, 19 September 2016

Chocolate Banana Toffee Cake

Chocolate Banana Toffee Cake
I quickly post any recipe I find that worked marvellously first time I tried it. This particular one came from the recent Waitrose Magazine for September 2016. The combination of chocolate (milk or dark) with the banana and toffee glaze is so moreish. My only complaint is that it is hard to make the glaze settle on top since the suggested cake tin is a bundt cake pan. Next time I will bake this in a square or rectangular pan so that the delicious glaze will stay on top and nothing will go to waste.

For the Daim chocolate bars, the equivalent of these are Hershey's Skor or Heath bars or any chocolate covered hard toffee bars.

Chocolate Banana Toffee Cake

200 g  unsalted butter - softened
75 g  caster sugar (suprefine sugar)
100 g  light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
4 very ripe medium bananas - mashed (about heaping 1-1/2 cups)
3 Tbsp sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
50 g  cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
225 g  plain flour
50 g  cornflour (cornstarch)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
75 g  chopped Daim bars or dark/milk chocolate chips (plus some chopped for topping)

200 g  light muscovado sugar
75 g  unsalted butter
100 g  double cream
25 g  dark chocolate - chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F. Butter 10-inch bundt pan and then dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess cocoa powder.
  2. In a bowl, mix thoroughly the plain flour, cocoa powder, cornflour, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. In another bowl, add sour cream to mashed banana and vanilla.
  4. Cream the softened butter and the caster and muscovado sugars in a big bowl for about 5 minutes or until light and creamy.
  5. Keep beating while adding eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the banana mixture. Beat until well combined.
  7. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the flour mixture.
  8. Fold the chopped Daim chocolate bars or chocolate chips (whichever you're using).
  9. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Take out of the oven, cool for 5-10 minutes and then invert into a rack and cool completely.

*For the glaze:
  1. Gently heat butter, cream and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat and add dark chocolate, vanilla and pinch of salt. Stir until smooth.
  4. Cool for 10 minutes or until a bit thickened while stirring from time to time.
  5. Drizzle over the cake. Let set for a few minutes.
  6. [Optional] Scatter chopped Daim over the top.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Lemon Sour Cream Cake
How nice to use up my expiring sour cream and a glut of in-season lemons. This is the reason why I like recipes in website that's got reader reviews. You cannot go wrong with a highly rated one with hundreds of reviewers like this keeper of a recipe from my favourite Epicurious website. My daughter and I thought we were going to have a great big mound of a lemon-flavoured pound cake with most of it going to waste. Thankfully we were wrong. We love it to bits so much so that we actually finished it a couple of days later.

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

3 cups cake flour (or plain flour)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup unsalted butter - softened at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs - room temperature
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp grated lemon peel
1 cup sour cream

2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's) - sifted
2 Tbsp lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F. Grease 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess flour.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl - combine well.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until fluffy.
  4. Gradually add sugar and beat 5 minutes.
  5. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition.
  6. Beat in lemon juice and peel.
  7. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture.
  8. Mix in the sour cream. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  9. Bake cake until skewer inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  10. Let cake cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto a rack.
  11. Carefully turn cake right side up on rack (if using tube pan) and cool completely. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Wrap in foil and let stand at room temperature.)

*For the glaze:
  1. Combine the icing sugar and lemon juice. If it's too thick, add water a little at a time to get a pouring consistency.
  2. Once cake is completely cool, drizzle with the lemon glaze.

Lemon Sour Cream Cake

Friday, 15 April 2016

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Date & Apple Bars
We love pasta and we love meatballs, too. We already got a tried and tested spaghetti meatballs recipe but it doesn't stop us to be always on the lookout for any decent meatballs recipe out there in the world. So it's normal that we try out this much vaunted recipe from the Epicurious website that's got a very high review rating from readers. They were right! Only a few adjustments in the recipe and it's all thumbs up from the whole family. The recipe is humongous. Probably enough to feed a horde people for a party. So I promptly halved and reduced volume and spice proportions and it scaled down well.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

*For the meatballs:

750 g  minced beef
250 g  minced pork
1 1/2 cups torn day-old Italian bread (or any white bread)
1 cup whole milk
1 medium onion - chopped
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves - finely chopped
3 large eggs
60 g  [about 1 cup] parmesan cheese - grated
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil (for frying)

*For the tomato sauce:

6 x 400 g  cans of chopped or plum tomatoes
1 medium onion - chopped
3 garlic cloves - finely chopped
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 kg  dried spaghetti

*To make tomato sauce:
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and cook the onions in medium heat until soft - about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until softened - about a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer uncovered stirring occasionally until thickened - about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Midway through cooking, you can crush the whole tomatoes with a spatula or stick blender.

*To make meatballs:
  1. Fry the onions in a wide frying pan on medium heat. Cook until softened while stirring occasionally - about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook while stirring occasionally until fragrant and softened - about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
  3. Soak bread in milk for about 20 minutes or until soft. Squeeze the bread firmly to remove excess milk. Discard excess milk.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the vegetable oil. Mix with your hands just until combined - do not overmx.
  5. Form into balls about 28 g (1 oz) in weight or about 1 1/2-inch in diameter.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in the same pan used with the onion and fry the meatballs in batches without crowding until browned all over - about 5 minutes each batch.
  7. Add fried meatballs into the tomato sauce and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Cook spaghetti according to instructions in the packet.
  • Serve spaghetti with meatballs and sauce with the optional grated parmesan cheese on top.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Date & Apple Bars

Date & Apple Bars
What a nice way of using up my soon to expire dried dates and Golden Delicious apples. The recipe in the Good Food Magazine was found upon googling for any tray bakes with apples and dates as main protagonists.

A lot of the volume of the ingredients were changed though, as per comments of reviewers. And out came a very pleasant and delish tea/coffee fodder. See, that's why I like recipe websites where there are a lot of honest reviewers because you can then adjust the recipe according to real life experiences of real people in ordinary kitchens. That way trial and error (that I often do) is minimised and ingredients and efforts not wasted.
[Gosh this is sounding like a IT project writeup.]

Date & Apple Bars

185 g  [3/4 cups] butter
140 g  [about 1 medium] cooking apple - cored, peeled, and chopped
140 g  stoned dried dates - chopped
200 g  [1 cup packed] light brown sugar
175 g  [heaping 1-1/3 cups] plain flour
1 tsp  bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
100 g  porridge oats
  1. Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/375°F. Grease and line a 18 cm (7-inch) square baking pan.
  2. Put the chopped apples in a saucepan. Add 2-3 Tbsp water and cook until soft and pulpy. This may take between 5-10 minutes and you may have to add a bit more water.
  3. Add in 25 g (2 Tbsp packed) of the brown sugar and the dates. Continue cooking for a further 5 minutes or until the apple is smooth and mixed well with the dates. You should have a very thick paste at this point. Remove from heat and cool completely. You may puree the mixture in a food processor or blender.
  4. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan; cool.
  5. Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and remaining sugar in a bowl.
  6. Add in the melted butter and mix well.
  7. Press half of the flour mixture in the prepared pan.
  8. Spread the apple-date mixture on top.
  9. Cover with the rest of the flour mixture and press gently.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and firm.
  11. Cool copletely in the baking pan. Remove and cut into bars or squares.

Date & Apple Bars

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


I've never had blondies but have read about it in some American magazines for years. It intrigued me enough to put it in my list of things to bake if I have a chance. One came up recently when a colleague had a leaving do where we usually bring all manner of snacks and sweet things for everyone to partake.

My verdict? It's essentially a cookie dough baked in the shape of a bar or square. The dough have to be light in colour of course, afterall 'blondie' is the name. So nothing really like a major discovery here but it is delicious just the same. I adapted the recipe from the excellent The New Best Recipe (by Cook's Illustrated) cookbook.


230 g  [1 3/4 cups] plain flour
1 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  fine salt
185 g  [3/4 cup] unsalted butter - melted and cooled
300 g  [1 1/2 cups packed] light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp  vanilla extract
200 g  [1 cup] chocolate chips (milk, dark, white, or combination)
1 cup  pecans (or walnuts, macadamia nuts) - chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  2. Grease and line a 13x9-inch baking pan with baking parchment.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Mix the melted butter and brown sugar in another bowl.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time while whisking.
  6. Add vanilla and mix well.
  7. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Do not overmix.
  8. Next, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts and mix well.
  9. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for 23-25 minutes.
  10. Cool completely in the pan a wire rack.
  11. Remove from pan and transfer to a cutting board and cut into bars.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Banana Apple Bread

Banana Apple Bread
I've always wanted to combine the two most favourite fruits our family like to include in baking - apples and bananas. The experimentations over the years were not very successful at all. Most of the recipes were from the internet and they range from the really soggy ones (too much bananas) to the dry ones (not enough moisture) and the too sweet ones.

This one fits the bill, although I have to adapt and reduce or increase some of the ingredients, but generally it's quite good and not overly sweet which I guess is why it's called a 'bread'. That's one of my dilemna, do I call it a bread or a cake? For me, it can be classified as a cake but then it's not very sweet so a bread then? Whatever it is, teatime or coffee time would be better with this addition.

Thanks to Kelly in Just A Taste for the great recipe I adapted.

Banana Apple Bread

260 g  [2 cups] plain flour plus 1 Tbsp extra
1 tsp  bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp  fine salt
1 tsp  ground cinnamon
95 g  [6 Tbsp] unsalted butter - melted
150 g  [3/4 cup] granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp  vanilla extract
1/4 cup  buttermilk
1 cup  mashed overripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas)
1 large baking apple - diced small (about 1 1/4 cups)
2-3 Tbsp  demerara sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking parchment.
  2. Combine flour, cinammon, salt, and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
  3. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp flour on the diced apples and toss to coat. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, mix sugar with melted butter.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and beat each time.
  6. Add bananas and vanilla, stir to mix.
  7. Fold dry mixture to the wet mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
  8. Then fold in the apple.
  9. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  10. [Optional] Sprinkle top generously with demerara sugar.
  11. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer pierced in the middle comes out clean.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Sour Cream and Vanilla Bread

Sour Cream and Vanilla Bread

This is more like a cake than a bread to be honest. But it's very very nice especially when straight out of the oven and slathered with butter. This is adapted from the Betty Crocker website and is obviously for a bread machine. You will have convert when doing it manually such as activating the yeast first, then putting them all together in a bowl. Then proving twice and finally baking. Right now I don't have the time nor the energy to do it that way. So to the bread machine I will stick!

Sour Cream and Vanilla Bread

1 sachet [2 tsp] fast action dry yeast
3 cups  bread or strong flour
3 Tbsp  sugar
1 1/2 tsp  fine salt
1 Tbsp  vanilla extract
1 egg  - slightly beaten
1/3 cup  sour cream
1 Tbsp  butter - softened
1/2 cup  water
  1. Put all ingredients in a bread machine in the order given (or according to your bread machine's instructions).
  2. Select White/Basic bread cycle. Do not use delay timings. After baking, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.