Sunday, 29 March 2009

Golden Polenta Cake

Polenta Cake with ice cream and blackberries

This is a lovely cake designed to be eaten with fruit - and ice cream goes really well too. I found it in a book called 'Trattoria' and assumed it would be very similar to Nigella's Orange Cornmeal Cake, also for eating with fruit. Instead this cake is more like a sponge whereas Nigella's is more moist and dessert-like.

It is very easy to make - you gently mix wet ingredients (egg, oil and milk) into dry (polenta, 00 flour, caster sugar and baking powder) then pour into a loaf tin lined with a strip of baking paper.

Bake in the middle of a 200 C oven for 50-55 mins until top is golden and a skewer comes out clean.

The cake is very plain if eaten on its own, but goes really well with fruit and ice cream, the polenta adding a slight crunch and nuttiness. My children all demolished a healthy-sized bowlful each for dessert today!

175 g Italian '00' flour
175 g coarse polenta
150 g caster sugar (I used 100 g)
2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
175 ml whole milk
6 tbsp sunflower oil (I used olive oil)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Cherry Ripe and Banana Muffins

I made these muffins the using the Nigella Express recipe Banana Butterscotch Muffins, replacing the butterscotch drops with chopped Cherry Ripe bars.

Stir flour, sugar, bicarb and baking powder in a large bowl, then fold in whisked together oil and eggs. Add mashed banana and chopped chocolate bits. Put in muffin cases and cook at 200 C for 15 - 20 mins depending on size (I usually make smaller, cup-cake size muffins).

These rose well, better than my usual banana muffins, and were nice and crispy on the top. I'll be using this recipe from now on, with or without the chocolate.

Some of the chocolate made it into the muffins, but lots didn't!

3 very ripe bananas
125 ml veg oil (I used olive oil)
2 eggs
250 g flour
100 g caster sugar (I used 70 g)
1/2 tsp bicarb
1 tsp baking powder
150 g choc drops/chopped chocolate

Friday, 6 March 2009

Bacon, Tomato and Cheese Quiche

Mum and baby quiche

I know a lot of people make quiche, but I decided to blog about this one because it's so quick and easy and uses an olive oil pastry.

When I was 14 I went on an exchange trip with a school in the French Alps, and stayed with Jo, who I am still friends with lots of years later. Her family and mine became friends too. Her mum (Marilou) is a wonderful cook, and taught my mum how to make this quiche, which uses a very simple olive oil pastry that's just stirred to a dough in the bowl.

In a bowl put 8 well heaped tbsp flour (I use 6 of plain flour, and 2 of wholemeal), 1/2 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 8 tbsp olive oil and 8 tbsp water. Stir together to make a dough. Marilou would leave this to stand for an hour, but I often don't and it still works well.

Roll dough out and line a lightly oiled quiche dish (or two). It's quite a soft dough, and quite elastic, so if it stretches and tears it doesn't matter - just patch it up and it'll be fine. Fold edges over rather than cutting them, tearing off bits that are too long.

At this point Marilou would blind-bake the pastry, but I never do - my quiches have a soft but not soggy bottom and I've never had any complaints!

Fill the pastry case with ingredients. I use chopped bacon or ham, sliced tomato and grated cheese.

In a large jug whisk up 3 eggs, then top up with milk to the 450 ml level (this may vary depending on the size of the quiche dish you're using - I use a 23 cm shallow Pyrex one, and a small one too. Add herbs, pepper and a little salt and mix in. Pour carefully into the pastry cases over the fillings.

Cook at 170 C for 45 mins to 1 hour, until the top is tinged with brown. Leave to cool for 20 mins or so before serving.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Lemon Yogurt Cupcakes

Lots of mini cupcakes

I had some plain yogurt in the fridge that was past its use-by date, so searched for a cupcake recipe to use it up.

I found this one here and adapted it a little. First you whisk together melted butter, sugar and an egg, then yogurt, a little milk and some lemon zest. (The original recipe had lemon juice and lemon extract too, but I decided to keep the lemon volume turned down for today.)

Beat in flour/baking powder/pinch of salt until just smooth, then fill cake cases. Cook at 180 C for 22 - 25 mins until they spring back slightly when touched.

I topped them with a little dob of icing, just because they were a bit pale and uninteresting to look at.

They sort of taste like lemon cheesecake, and the sponge is denser than the usual cupcake sponge - both I suppose due to the yogurt. Pretty tasty!

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
110 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt (about 190 g)
1 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsp milk

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Jam Roly Poly

Jam Roly Poly is one of those old-fashioned desserts that I imagine was popular when food was scarce. Traditionally it was made with suet and steamed, but this is a non-suet version, a bit like slightly spongy jam tart.

It's a fairly plain dessert, but my children get very excited when I make it, and they love it with custard.

First you make a soft dough by rubbing butter into flour, adding a little sugar and stirring in milk. Knead lightly until smooth.

Roll it out to a 20 x 30 cm rectangle, then spread jam over, lengthways. (Don't add too much jam or it might leak out when cooking.)

Roll in the longer sides to meet in the middle. Where the two rolls meet, brush a little water and press lightly together. Put on a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 mins at 180 C. Leave to cool for 10 mins or so, then cut into slices.
Serve with custard or ice cream.

1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
60 g butter, soft
2-3 tsp sugar
1/3 cup milk (add gradually as you might not need it all)
2 tbsp apricot jam
2 tbsp raspberry or fruits of the forest jam
custard or ice cream to serve