I know, I know. Pause. I can just see you rolling your eyes at me right now, but I just can’t help it. Yes. This is another banana loaf/bread* recipe. Listen, it’s getting warmer now and I feel my baking days for this Spring/Summer are on their last leg. I’m not really looking forward to that, but one of the joys of this blog is for me to have a record of what I made throughout these past 6 years. Woah…6 years? Yes, and a few months. I can’t believe how much C&T helped me, changed me and taught me.
It’s a public holiday here in Malta and I just had a day and a half. This week we are having some work done at the house and we needed to get ourselves prepared. Things needed to be stored and placed out of the way – I’m dreading the dirt and dust that will undoubtedly be going around in the air during the next few days but I keep telling myself that it will pass. In the meantime I am bracing myself. Now on to the more enjoyable stuff…
I know that you will forgive me for revisiting some recipes with you this evening. The photos you are seeing in this post were taken during a get together in the form of an afternoon tea at our place a few months ago – on the 29th June to be exact (another public holiday coincidentally. I’m not doing this on purpose. Promise.) J’s uncle, aunt and cousins came over for a visit from the land of Oz for a few months and instead of worrying about preparing dinner, the idea of tea and coffee plus a few goodies seemed appealing. I never had people over for afternoon tea, so this was a first.
After much deliberation I’ve decided that the last recipe for 2014 will be one of the best I’ve tried this year. When I say the best I mean it in every sense of the word, including the easiest. I make this recipe again and again and it turns out good every time without fail. I also like to make it when I’m in a rush, or before I head off to someone’s house for lunch or dinner. Or when celebrating 4 years of C&T!
Time flies, but I’m stating the obvious there.
I’m a wuss when it comes to trying new things. Yep
with an emphasis on the p. *stops for a pause* I have been wanting to try this recipe for weeks, but somehow it moved towards the back of my to-do list as other bakes took over. The reasons are many, not worth mentioning. Some might not even make sense, but there is one that does. Paul Hollywood…master baker…The Great British Bake Off…those piercing blue eyes telling you off for a disappointing cake…and Mary Berry’s eyes of course! Phew! Now it’s not as if Mary and Paul were in my kitchen watching my every move, but their books with their lovely faces looking out at me sure make it seem like it sometimes! (See photo below!) And this is Paul’s recipe, so really there’s no pressure. (Don’t you feel tense while watching GGBO?!)
Seriously though (as if I wasn’t earlier) Mr. Hollywood’s marble cake is quite straightforward, easy and fun to make, and home baking should be fun. Lots of people ask me which book of his to get, assuming they cannot get all of them. For me, there’s no hesitation: definitely How to Bake. It is an all-rounder.
- 200g butter, unsalted and softened
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 250g plain flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 40ml milk*
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
- Some icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven at 180ºC (fan 170ºC) and line a tin loaf with a baking paper.
Put the butter, 180g of the caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and beat together until the mixture turns light and airy. Then beat the eggs in, one by one. Sift the flour plus baking powder over the mixture, and add 2 teaspoons of the milk, folding it slowly. Tip two-thirds of the mixture into the lined loaf tin.
Sift the cocoa powder over what remains of the mixture and fold this in with the remainder of the sugar, that is 20g and the rest of the milk. (The recipe calls for full-fat milk*; I have made this with semi-skimmed and it worked well too.)
Slowly spoon this chocolate mixture over the vanilla one in the tin.
Now comes the forming-of-the-marble-bit (as I like to call it). Take a fork and run this through the batter. Go for it, do it slowly but don’t be afraid of it.
Bake for around 55 to 70 minutes. It will be done when a skewer or knife comes out clean. Leave it to cool for a while in the tin, then on to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before dusting it with icing sugar.
(Recipe adapted from How to Bake by Paul Hollywood, Bloomsbury, 2012.)