banana cake with rum caramel

16 Apr 2018

As soon as I knew Ottolenghi's new cookbook Sweet had been published, I ordered it. Life has been busy and until now I haven't had time to bake many items from the book. When I returned home from my Easter break I had 2 over ripe bananas in my fruit bowl, so I turned to Sweet to see if there was anything banana flavoured hiding in the book.

I found a recipe for banana cakes with rum caramel but having battled with my little bundt tins just last week I wasn't in the right frame of mind to do battle again so I opted to make one larger cake. I didn't have any malted milk powder (the original recipe includes two 15ml tablespoons) so I left it out. I also played around a little with the technique and reduced the quantity of rum caramel as I knew I wouldn't need as much with only 1 cake to ice. I took a punt that the cake would need about 45 minutes to cook and I was right on the money.

The kitchen smelt wonderful as the cake baked, redolent of bananas and rum, a match made in heaven. The caramel quantity was still generous so after the cake was iced I ate spoonfuls of the leftovers. Thankfully I'd skipped breakfast so I didn't feel too guilty.

If you'd like to make the cake here's the recipe for you, which makes one small cake or 6 individual bundt cakes. The smaller cakes require less baking time ~ 25 minutes in total but you'll need to double the quantity of rum caramel topping. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs and the UK measurements in the book have been adapted accordingly. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Banana cake with rum caramel, adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into small cubes
70g caster sugar
70g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
110g self raising flour
Pinch salt
¾ tsp bicarbonate soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
30mls malted milk powder (optional)
100g ground almonds
225g mashed ripe banana
100g sour cream
30ml dark rum

Rum caramel
100g caster sugar
65mls water
65g double cream
10mls dark rum

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a small bundt tin and set to one side. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Sift the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon (and malted milk powder if using it) into a large bowl and stir through the almond meal until all the lumps are removed. In a separate bowl combine the mashed banana, sour cream and rum. Mix well. Starting with the dry ingredients add a quarter to the butter mixture beating on low speed to incorporate. Add a quarter of the banana mix continuing to beat until combined then  add the remaining wet and dry ingredients in batches until everything is combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the batter comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside until completely cold. When cool invert the cake onto a wire rack with a tray or piece of baking paper underneath.

While the cake is in the oven combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until the caramel is amber brown. Try not to stir the mixture while it’s cooking but just gently swirl the pan from time to time to distribute the heat. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream and rum. If the mixture seizes return the pan to a low heat and stir the mix until smooth. Set aside for about 15 minutes in the pan then drizzle liberally over the cake, allowing the icing to drip unevenly down the sides.

The uniced cake will keep for 5 days in an airtight container. Once iced the cake should be eaten within 24 hours, though I can't see that being any kind of problem.

Not long until my overseas trip, so come May there will be a lot less baking and a lot more travel photos coming to the blog. As I'm going to London, I may just pop into the nearest Ottolenghi to pick up a sweet treat for myself.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


little lime olive oil bundt cakes

9 Apr 2018

Work has been very busy the past month and I've been away 2 of the past 3 weekends. With my overseas trip less than 4 weeks away now, I'm a bit time poor at the moment. I had some errands to run on Saturday morning so when I came home I was looking for something easy to put together for the blog. I looked through a few of my recipe books; checked what I had in the fridge and decided to make a lime olive oil cake. 

I was going to make a larger cake before remembering I was meeting a friend for dinner Sunday night. I always like to bring along something sweet to share, so at the last moment I decided to make some little bundt cakes.

Despite greasing and flouring the moulds, I find cakes made with olive oil instead of butter tend to stick to the tin. They didn't release easily so I had to do a bit of digging to encourage them onto the cooling rack. Thankfully the lime glacé icing covers a multitude of sins!

Here's the recipe for you which makes either 4 small bundt cakes or an 18 cm cake. The larger cake will take 10-15 minutes longer to cook. If your limes aren't very juicy you can top up the liquid volume with some lemon juice. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Little Lime Olive Oil Bundt Cakes - makes 4
Cake Ingredients 
cup caster sugar 
2 limes, zest grated and juiced
2 eggs 
100ml extra virgin olive oil 
1¼ cups self-raising flour 
½ tsp baking powder 
Pinch salt 
¼ cup lime juice  

For the icing 
½ tsp softened butter 
½ cup icing sugar, sifted 
½ tbs lemon/lime juice
½ tsp reserved grated rind 

Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Grease and flour 4 small bundt tins. 

In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, the grated lime rind and the eggs. Gradually add the oil and mix thoroughly. Sift the flour with the baking powder and the pinch of salt and stir into the egg mixture in thirds, alternately with the lime juice. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. The tops should be golden and when tested, a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins before turning out onto a rack. 

In a bowl cream the butter with the sifted icing sugar. Stir in the icing sugar. Mix well and using a palette knife, drizzle the icing over the cakes. Allow the icing to set before serving.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


passover week 2018 - fig, orange and almond cake

3 Apr 2018

The last bake for Passover week 2018 was originally going to be an upside down rhubarb, orange and almond cake but last week rhubarb was really expensive in the fruit shop so then I was going to make raspberry frangipane tarts until the tart shells I baked inexplicably crumbled. Saturday at 5.00 p.m. I raced back to the shops to buy some figs so at the last moment, the cake became a fig, orange and almond cake. 

The cake is an adaptation of last year's lemon and almond cake with white chocolate ganache, with just a few tweaks and I kept my fingers crossed it would turn out just as well.

Once it came out of the oven I doused the cake with some orange flavoured and scented syrup and once cool, I glazed the fruit with some warmed apricot jam. I can't tell you how wonderful the cake smelt. As the recipe has such a small quantity of flour, making this cake Passover friendly was way too easy.

Here’s the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C. 

Fig Orange and Almond Cake  
4-5 small figs, sliced 
Handful of raspberries 
1 tbs caster sugar 
1-2 tbs sieved warmed apricot jam 

2 oranges 
100g unsalted butter 
100g caster sugar 
140 g ground almonds 
2 large eggs, beaten 
25g potato starch or flour 
25g superfine matzo meal 
pinch salt 
1 tbs orange juice

40 g caster sugar 
60mls orange juice 
1 tsp shredded orange rind 

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Lightly grease a 18cm round tin and line the sides and base with baking parchment.  

Finely grate the rind of one of the oranges before juicing. Reserve the juice. Put the butter, the sugar and the orange rind into a bowl and mix. Do not work the mix too much or incorporate much air. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing to fold through. Add the eggs gradually, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. Add the remaining almonds, the potato starch, matzo meal and salt, and work until the mix is smooth. If the cake batter is looking a bit dry, then add a tbs of the orange juice. Gently spoon the cake batter into the tin. Decorate the top of the cake with the sliced figs and raspberries then generously sprinkle the fruit with the caster sugar. Bake for 60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. 

While the cake is in the oven, shred about a tsp of rind from the remaining orange and if necessary, juice as well. Combine the sugar with the reserved juice and shredded rind and stir until the sugar has dissolved. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour all the syrup over the cake and leave to cool. Once cool, remove the baking paper and serve the cake as it is or glazed with some apricot jam and topped with a dollop of cream. 

For such a last minute change I think the cake turned out really well and best of all, the rest of the cake is in the deep freeze just waiting to be defrosted and consumed.

I hope you all enjoy your Passover/Easter break. I'll be back again next week.

See you all again soon,


passover week 2018 - pistachio and lemon shortbreads

2 Apr 2018

Whilst looking through my bakes for Passover 2018, they all looked a bit fancy and time consuming so I thought I should throw in a simple cookie recipe, one that you could make in a stand mixer or even a food processor. This shortbread recipe is adapted from the Ottolenghi cookbook recipe for pistachio shortbreads, which were flavoured with cardamom. Cardamom isn’t allowed during Passover so I added grated lemon rind instead and needed to add more Passover baking mix to make a workable dough.

This a throw everything in recipe which takes no time to make, but you have to chill the dough before baking because it’s very soft. Once the dough is chilled you brush the roll with egg before coating with pistachios then refrigerating again before slicing. I managed to forget to top the cookies with the vanilla sugar before I baked them - I do seem to be getting increasingly forgetful in my old age. The cookies are lovely but they’re very fragile so let them cool completely before removing the tray or they will shatter. They keep for ages in an airtight tin.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams; I use unsalted butter and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. Passover baking mix is equal quantities of superfine matzo meal and potato flour (starch).

Pistachio and lemon shortbread - makes about 30
200g unsalted butter
330g Passover baking mix
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
½ tsp salt
50g caster sugar
60g pistachio kernels
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbs vanilla sugar

Place the butter, baking mix flour, salt, lemon rind and sugar into an electric mixer or food processor and mix at a low speed until the mixture just comes together into a paste. Remove the dough from the machine and shape into a log, about 3-4cm in diameter. Wrap the log in cling film and place into the fridge to firm up for about 1-2 hours.

Chop up the pistachios fairly finely and scatter over a flat plate or tray, ready for when the dough comes out of the fridge. Using a pastry brush, brush the log with the beaten egg and then roll it in the finely chopped pistachios. Wrap the log back up in cling film and refrigerate once again for about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (conventional) and line a baking tray with parchment/baking paper. Remove the log from the cling film and slice into 5 mm-1 cm rounds. Place on the baking tray, allowing about 2 cm between each shortbread to allow for spreading. Dust the tops of the shortbread with a little vanilla sugar and place into the oven for about 20-30 mins until lightly golden. These biscuits are very fragile, so allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before storing. These cookies are very nice served with a cup of tea or coffee.

See you all again tomorrow with the final Passover baking recipe from my kitchen for 2018.

Bye for now,



hot cross babka

29 Mar 2018

I just love hot cross buns and every year I either try out a new recipe or a new iteration. Today I'm taking a break from Passover Week to share with you my newest take on the classic hot cross bun. 

This year as I'm still enamoured with all things 'babka', I decided to make a hot cross babka, albeit without the cross.

I used my regular babka dough but reduced the sugar as I knew I'd be adding a load of dried fruit to the mix. 

I decided to forgo the complicate divide and twist and went for a simple twist instead. As the babka dough is so full of fruit I knew the cinnamon filling would be barely visible once baked.

For the past few years I've plumped the dried fruit in Earl Grey tea but instead of dousing the babka with a sugar syrup once it came out of the oven, I decided to use the leftover liquid from the soaking process which tasted of orange rind and apricot.

hot cross babka photo blog-5_zpsaefqhhld.jpg

The whole babka thing is a labour of love. I soaked the fruit on Friday night; made the dough on Saturday then shaped, baked and ate the babka on Sunday. I had my slice still warm from the oven topped with a knob of butter. The verdict - absolutely delicious!

Here's the recipe for you, which makes one loaf. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. 

Hot Cross Babka - makes one loaf

Dried Fruit Soak
75g each sultanas and currants
50g dried apricots, chopped
1 cup hot Earl Grey tea
2 tsp finely grated orange rind

Yeast Mixture
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp flour
1 tsp sugar
1-2 tbl water

75 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
40g caster sugar
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 to 2 tbl milk or water, if required

80 g soft unsalted butter
100 g brown sugar
1 tsp golden or maple syrup
4 tsp ground cinnamon
50 g almond meal

⅓ cup of the fruit soak liquid
2 tbs caster sugar

A few hours before making the dough, prepare the fruit soak. In a small bowl place the dried fruit, then pour over the hot tea. Let soak for one to 2 hours or until the fruit is plump and juicy. Drain the fruit, reserving the liquid, then add the grated orange rind to the fruit and set to one side.

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp sugar and sufficient water to make a paste. Cover and set to one side for about 10 minutes until the mixture froths up, then continue on with the rest of the recipe.

In a small bowl, combine the cooled melted butter and vanilla. Add the egg and mix until well combined. Sift the flour, spices and salt together into the bowl of a stand mixer then stir in the sugar. With the dough hook attached, add the yeast mixture, the well-drained fruit and sufficient liquid to make soft dough. If the mixture is looking a bit dry, add another tablespoon or so of milk or water. Mix the dough for about 10 minutes before removing the soft dough and placing into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour before placing the dough in the fridge to rest overnight. 

Bring the dough back to room temperature while you prepare the filling. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, the syrup and the ground cinnamon. Mix in the almond meal to form a paste, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture.

Grease and line the base and sides of a loaf tin with baking paper. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 cm). Trim the sides to make them even, then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ in/2 cm border all around. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end of the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.

Trim about ¾ in/2 cm off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife then gently press the 2 ends together to form a loop then twist each end of the loop in the opposite direction (like wringing out a towel) to create a simple twist. Gently lift the babka into the loaf pan then cover the pan with a large plastic bag, knotted loosely and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. The cake will rise by 10 to 20 percent.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for the oven to heat fully. Remove the babka from the plastic bag and place the babka on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 45 minutes, until dark brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If not ready, return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the fruit soak and sugar in a saucepan; place over medium heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat and simmer the syrup for a few minutes until slightly thickened. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the syrup over. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cake until it is just warm, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing the babka and serving it with a dab of butter.

I'll be taking a break from posting tomorrow and will be back on Monday with the last of my Passover bakes.

Wishing every-one a peaceful Easter.

Bye for now,



passover week 2018 - passionfruit macaroon tarts

28 Mar 2018

Last year I made a few treats for Passover which I planned to share with you this year. That was until I broke my external hard disc drive while on holidays and lost all the images stored on the drive including these lemon macaroon tarts. When I returned home I couldn't locate the sd card so I remade the tarts this time using a mixture of passionfruit and lemon juice. Of course just last weekend, once I'd remade and photographed the tarts, I located the missing card. Life's like that isn't it?

I've tried and failed to make decent Passover shortcrust pastry in the past so I decided to make the tart shells using a coconut macaroon mixture. I've done this many times before but I've always filled the baked shells with a curd mixture. This time I wanted to bake the mixture in the shells using a classic lemon tart filling.

That's when I discovered the coconut tart shells are not waterproof and are inclined to leak - everywhere. When I remade the tarts I had a brilliant idea and wondered what would happen if I baked the tarts in muffin liners? I'm still patting myself on the back because it worked like a charm.

I'd planned on using paper liners because I'd forgotten I had some silicone cupcake liners which I rediscovered whilst riffling through my pot drawer. Instead I used the silicone liners and once the tarts were cooked,the liners peeled off easily. Don't try doing this with paper liners - just bake and serve!

Here's the recipe for you which makes 10 tarts. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. If you can't find passionfruit just make these tarts using lemon juice. They're equally delicious.

Passionfruit Macaroon Tarts 
2 cups desiccated coconut  
2 egg-whites  
80g caster sugar  
1 tsp grated lemon rind 

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place the coconut, egg-whites, the sugar and lemon rind in a bowl and stir to combine. Press mixture firmly into the base and sides of 10 cupcake liners placed in the holes of a muffin pan. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until just golden. Allow to cool before filling. 

2 egg yolks 
whole eggs 
125 grams caster sugar 
75 mls passionfruit and lemon juice 
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind 
125 mls double cream 

To decorate
double cream/passionfruit pulp

Lower the oven temperature to 160°CPlace egg yolksthe eggssugar, juice and rind in a bowl and whisk to combine, then whisk in cream. Heat the mixture in a saucepan over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until warm, then pour into prepared cases and bake at 160°C for 20-25 minutes or until just firm. Cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container. Store in the fridge until serving time. Dollop with cream and top with the passionfruit pulp.

I took the tarts into work and they were devoured very quickly and received the thumbs up from all concerned.

I'll be back again tomorrow with some more Passover baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

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