Category Archives: Bread

Scandilicious Baking: Banana Bread

Banana Bread (7946)If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know how much I enjoy a good banana bread. Those who know me well can tell you that I’m continually looking for the best recipes for banana bread around. I think that I have found the best one yet. You can find it in Signe Johansen’s book Scandilicious Baking. I bought this after trying some of her recipes from her first book, which was also my first encounter with Scandi cooking. There’s no need to repeat how much I enjoyed, and still enjoy cooking from book number one. The second book, dare I say it, is even better and I’m glad I have it now because it’s a great book to have in the run up to the Christmas season. It’s a baking book after all, and for me baking is a perfect way to spend the autumn/winter months. I have also discovered a love for spelt flour!

Banana Bread (7945)Two days ago, on Twitter, I read a tweet by @akentishkitchen about Signe’s Banana Spice Cake, which I mistook for the Spelt Banana Bread recipe found on the opposite page. My mistake, but if you have the book you will know what I mean. Both recipes are next to each other, and though made with the same ingredient, they are very different. I’m sure the spice cake is delicious, but here is my take on the bread recipe. I’m sure Signe won’t mind…she’s such a lovely lady. If you have some fruit which is starting to go all mushy on you, try this. You won’t regret it. Really.

  • 3 medium bananas, ripe or very ripe and mashed
  • 100ml milk with a few drops of lemon juice, or buttermilk for that matter
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 75ml maple syrup, or golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 50g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 4 tablespoons porridge oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 170ºC or 150ºC fan (Gas Mark 3-4) and grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.

In a large bowl pour in the bananas, milk/buttermilk, butter, syrup and egg, and give everything a good mix. Add both flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and fold till the ingredients are just mixed in, and stop right there.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and with a spatula spread the batter out evenly. Bake for around 55 minutes in the middle shelf of your oven, till the cake turns golden brown on top. To make sure that it is done, insert a skewer or knife into the centre. If it’s clean when it’s out, then it’s ready.

Allow the banana bread to cool for a good 20 to 30 minutes in its tin before taking it out on a cookie rack.

Store it wrapped in kitchen foil in an airtight container and it will keep for a good three to four days. It is good. One of the best recipes I have even tried. Thank you Signe!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, Saltyard Books, 2012.)

Bread pictures.

Half and Half Burger Baps (6559)

Spring seems to be a long way away at the moment. It’s really really cold and so I bake. I spent last Saturday in the kitchen; I am the happiest when I’m in full baking/cooking mode. When I am there alone I am much calmer. I may be covered in flour, with a wet brow, and perhaps a bit hot and bothered, but I enjoy it. I can compare it with climbing. It helps you to focus on the task ahead, and your mind doesn’t have the time to wander around something else. There’s no distraction.

Half and Half Burger Baps (6561)

Soft-Baps-(5944)

I don’t have a recipe for you here, although I will try to have something for you in the coming few weeks, but till then I still wanted to share with you some pictures we took while making some baps the other day. I hope you like them.

I’m taking some days off, but I will be back soon. In the meantime take care of yourselves.

Rob x

Cornbread

Cornbread-(6423)

My only regret while living in the US is the fact that we didn’t travel much. There was no logical reason for this but hey, that’s life sometimes. Having said that, we did enjoy the few places that we went to. We moved straight to Michigan for the first two years of our marriage, and after settling down in campus, we took a trip to Seattle and then Washington DC. I immediately took to Seattle. It only rained once during that week (honest) and we had the most gorgeous view of the mighty Mt. Rainier from our charming B&B. For the first time in ages I didn’t miss my family; being in a foreign country and getting used to married life proved much tougher than I imagined. But I felt relaxed and rested and I couldn’t wait to explore the city.

We ate simply – there was no eating in fancy restaurants during those years but I didn’t mind it that much. Also, since I was just a few months into my culinary journey I didn’t care much for (or rather, I did not yet discover) spices. I was raised in an environment where seasoning meant adding salt and pepper. That. Is. It. Well, perhaps a bit of curry powder or mixed spice. A bit meaning “ponta ta’ kuċċarina” loosely translated as “the tip of a teaspoon”. Do you, the 30-somethings from my little Mediterranean rock, know what I mean? I have a feeling that you do. But that’s another story. All I can say is this: luckily the tables are turning…

My imaginary love of bland food ended pretty quickly right after that trip. While staying with some friends in Washington DC, I discovered the wonderful world of Mexican food. I asked J why we never tried it before. The answer he gave me was something on the lines of I-did-not-know-you-would-like-it-so-much. A good answer…

I am *not* a food expert though and I haven’t done sufficient research on authentic Mexican grub but I like to think I make a good cornbread. It’s one of J’s favourite things and it’s really easy to prepare. We had a Mexican night at home very recently (minus Tequila, *sigh* ha!). It was so much fun – we really should do it more often. Here’s our take on cornbread. It’s great with guacamole or tomato salsa, or both!

Just a note before we start: preferably you would need a cast iron tin for this recipe, but don’t fret if you don’t have one. A good thing to try is to put a non-stick loaf tin in the oven while it is preheating.* When the oven preheats and the batter ready, take the pan out of the oven and tip the mixture in it. Be careful how to do this – the tin will obviously be very hot. You will need:

  • 190g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 230g plain flour
  • 95g yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 200ml milk
  • 120ml corn oil or vegetable oil
  • 10ml orange juice (with the pulp removed)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.*
  2. Place the sugar,salt, flour, cornmeal and baking powder in a large bowl and mix them well together using a whisk.
  3. In another mixing bowl or a large measuring jug tip in the beaten egg, milk, oil and orange juice.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix well. You need some elbow grease for this one but I use a whisk. There’s no need for any electric mixers.
  5. Take the loaf tin out of the preheated oven and spray the very hot tin with non-stick baking spray. Tip the cornbread mixture into the cake tin and bake for around 1hour. As always, keep an eye on it and when it turns golden insert a knife or skewer in the middle. Let it cool slightly in the tin, then take it out and serve warm.

It will keep for two days in foil, but you could also freeze it for up to a month.

For more Mexican recipes (or Mexican-inspired) there’s a list for you here. There will be more recipes from my Mexican fiesta to come. Enjoy!

Rob x

Snacks.

Hobz-biz-Zejt-(4688)

These are only a few simple ideas. One of the most wonderful things to eat whenever I want to go back home without going to the airport is to make Ħobż biż-Żejt. It’s so easy: take one Ftira or two thick slices of Maltese sourdough bread, tomato concentrate, fresh sliced tomatoes of you can, canned tuna, olives, capers, anchovies (optional but I love them), lettuce, spring onions and loads of freshly ground black pepper. I make crusty baps to go with that; unfortunately I don’t find good sourdough where I live.

Cheese-Mushroom-and-Tomato-Melt-(4696)

If you don’t like the sound of this, though I still have to find one person who doesn’t, try making a panino with sliced fresh tomatoes, any kind of cheese you want, spring onions and mushrooms, pepper with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Now imagine a terrace, fresh air, tea or coffee or whatever you fancy. You might also decide to indulge in something sweet. Summer is definitely in the air…

Enjoy!

Rob x

Tea time cakes Continued: Banana Bread

Nigella's-Banana-Bread-(4656)

I like to try two similar recipes using one base ingredient and compare tastes and textures. The reason is simple really: this happens because usually I have one ingredient I buy too much of. The idea for the cake in the previous post and this one here came from having a couple of unused fruit lying around.

The following is taken from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which as I think I have said before, it is a must for all home bakers to have. But I will not go into that again, don’t worry! What I will tell you now is that on page 33 there’s a recipe for Banana Bread. Nigella has adapted it from Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book: Recipes from an American Childhood and it’s very similar to the first banana loaf recipe I wrote about. There’s some alcohol in it in the form of bourbon or dark rum as she suggests. I had neither on hand so I used some brandy. It is simple, delicious and ideal for sharing. You will end up with a heavier cake but adding the alcohol plumps up the sultanas and makes them tastier. You will need:

  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml bourbon or dark rum (or brandy)
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 teaspooons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Around 300g (without the skin) very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 60g pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Place the sultanas and the alcohol in a small pan over the heat. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from the heat and let it soak for around an hour or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the alcohol. Drain using a sieve.
  2. In the meantime preheat the oven to 170ºC/338ºF/Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm).
  3. In a medium-sized bowl put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir everything together well.
  4. Now mix the melted butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together; then add the eggs one at a time and continue whisking.
  5. Add the mashed bananas, walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Mix lightly and start pouring the flour mixture slowly. Add half and beat, then add the other half and beat again.
  6. Pour the completed cake batter into your loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for around 1 to 1¼ hours, always keeping an eye on it. When ready the skewer or knife used to check it shouldn’t come out clean because you want a gooey cake. Don’t worry because the cake will continue to cook when you take it out of the oven while cooling. Leave to cool for a while in the tin, then take it out on a rack. If you line the cake with overlapping baking paper (see my lemon cake from a while back) handling it will be super easy.

Nigella’s variation of this cake, which I still have to try would be to replace 25g of the plain flour with good quality cocoa powder and adding 100g of dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips. I’m sure I will like it!

Enjoy!

Rob x