Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Baking day.

Today, i decided to do some baking.    I mentioned I got a great present from my sister for my birthday of “Bake” cook book by Rachel Allen.  I absolutely love this.  It’s so great, so easy to follow and there’s a whole 278 pages of deliciousness!!
Rachel goes through basic recipes and techniques like cake decorating and fillings; pastries; equipment; jams & preservatives and sauces…….it’s a great baking bible!

The professionals:
When it comes baking, I love Anna Olsen and love to watch her show.  She is so thorough and very easy to follow.  She takes you step by step through fantastic recipes, from the basic to the more difficult. 
I also love Rachel Allen.  Her books are great.  In a recipe she will give variations and tips.  She has a rustic country home feel to her recipes also. 
When it comes to old fashioned recipes or real home cooked/baked recipes, I tend to turn to Delia Smith.  I have a book published in the 70s called “complete cookery course” and I call it my bible.  It is so useful to the beginner as to the experienced cook.  It has great traditional recipes and tips from roasting to bread making.  It’s simple cooking at its best.  A great book to turn to at Christmas time when entertaining or simply creating a warm Christmas feel in the home. 
One of my favourite shows to watch on the food network channel is Ina Garten – Barefoot Contessa.  Again, Ina gives great step by step guides to her cooking.  Her desserts are delicious and easy to follow.  It’s great for home cooking but equally great for dinner parties.  Her show caters for everything and she does a question and answer at the end too.
When we talk baking, I have regularly turned to the Odlum’s website as I know I am guaranteed hearty home baked recipes, with simple ingredients and easy to follow recipes. 

I have tackled a couple of the recipes from “Bake”, most recently the Italian hazelnut cake that I posted.  Today I tackled the banana bread: (recipe is not exact to Rachel’s as I may have tweaked it to suit us)

Banana Bread:
1.      Preheat oven to 170°.  Lightly grease a brownie tin.
2.      Sift 250g/9oz self raising flour, pinch of salt and 1 level tsp baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
3.      Add 150g/5oz caster sugar, 50g/2oz chopped walnuts and 100g/3 ½ oz butter at room temp.  

      Using your fingertips, tub it in until the mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 

4.      In a bowl whisk 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract. 
5.      Add 4 small bananas to the egg mix and mash very well with a potato masher. 
6.      Add 100g bag of chocolate chips and mix in.
7.      Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mix.   Gently but thoroughly bring all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, and then pour into the prepared tin.  

      Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 1-1 ½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
8.      Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the cake from the tin.  

I have to say, I have a sweet tooth.  I like my food…..savoury and sweet.  Baking all these delicious cakes and treats is proving hard to have “just 1 slice”!! 
So, I’m trying to come up with some healthier choices for treats.  Please let me know if you have any tips or healthy treat recipes…..please!
In the meantime, I tried these out…..

Fruit and nut flapjacks:
1.      Preheat the oven 180°.  Lightly oil cake tin.
2.      Melt 75g/3oz butter, 125g/4oz soft light brown sugar and 3tblsp golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat.  Remove from heat.
3.      In a large mixing bowl add 50g/2oz sultanas, 50g/2oz chopped walnuts, 175g/6oz rolled oats and 4 tblsp mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  To this add your melted mix and mix well to combine.
4.      Spoon evenly into prepared tin and press down well.  Transfer to oven and bake for 20-25 mins.
5.      Remove from oven and leave to cool in tin.  Cut into bars while still warm.
6.      If you fancy a thin icing on top, sift 50g icing sugar into a bowl and gradually beat in 1-1 ½ tbsp lemon juice a little at a time to form a thin icing.
7.      Drizzle this in fine lines across the flapjacks.  Allow to cool and serve. 

Enough baking for one day....Now for a cuppa and to taste my yummy treats!

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