Sunday, 29 April 2012

Banana cake

I made a banana cake the other day and decided to jazz it up.

I have a great banana cake recipe. It comes from Jo Seager in a book called A Treasury of New Zealand Baking. It's deliciously moist and is always well received.

1 c sugar
100g melted butter
3 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 c milk
1 tsp baking soda
150ml yoghurt (either plain or fruit) - sour cream also works well
2 c flour
3 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Grease and line a 20-22cm cake tin.
Beat the sugar, melted butter and eggs until thick and creamy. Add the bananas and beat well (if you bananas are really ripe, just throw them in whole, they will mash up with seconds of the mixers hitting them. This saves some extra work, and some extra washing up).
Heat the milk in a pot on the stove or glass jug in the microwave (it has to be glass, milk goes crazy in anything else in the microwave, believe me, I know from experience). Stir the baking soda into the milk and then stir this into the banana mixture. Add the yoghurt, flour and baking powder and mix well. Pour into the tin.
The recipe says to bake for 45-50 mins, but I always find mine needs a bit longer. Check after 45 mins using a skewer, but don't worry if it seems like it needs longer.
Once cooked, take out of the oven and cool in the tin for 5 mins, then completely on a wire rack.

I iced it with a cream cheese icing. I don't use exact measurements for my cream cheese icing - it's about a tub of cream cheese (250g) to about 150g of butter, both at room temperature. Beat this well. Don't use light cream cheese as it will split. You can't be skinny on this one - you have to go for the full fat version. Add sifted icing sugar slowly, while still beating. Keep adding icing sugar until you have the consistency you want. Add lemon juice and zest to taste if you want, I find lemon helps to cut through the sweetness. Adding vanilla is also tasty, but just bear in mind that if you add real vanilla, you will end up with the seeds showing through the icing.

After icing the cake, I popped it into the fridge to help the icing set. While the cake was chilling, I melted some dark chocolate over a double boiler.

Then came the fun part. I literally took spoonfuls of the chocolate and drizzled, splattered, flicked and dropped it all over the cake. It made a bit of a mess, but it was a deliciously fun mess.

This is just such a simple way to jazz up an otherwise plain cake, just to make it that little bit more special.

ANZAC biscuit bake-off

New Zealand and Australia commemorated ANZAC Day this past Wednesday. After the Dawn Parade, I decided to bake some ANZAC cookies. I had seen advertising for the Chelsea Golden Syrup ANZAC recipe, so I decided to try it. Then, I decided it would be interesting to do a bit of an ANZAC biscuit bake-off. Pit two recipes against each other to find the best ANZAC biscuit. The obvious choice for the second recipe was the Edmonds Cookbook recipe.

The Chelsea recipe can be found here. I stuck to the classic recipe and didn't add sunflower seeds, although I really like the idea of adding seeds for extra crunch.

These ANZAC cookies were really, really tasty, but they were not how I consider a traditional ANZAC cookie should be. They were the texture of a brandy snap, I think due to the really high sugar content. So they were super crispy and crunchy. They also spread so that they were super flat.

The Edmonds recipe is similar, but does not contain as much sugar.

1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
2/3 c coconut
3/4 c rolled oats
50g butter
1 T golden syrup
1/2 t baking soda
2 T boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats. Melt butter and golden syrup. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water and add to butter and golden syrup. Stir butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Place spoonfuls onto cold greased trays and flatten gently. Bake for about 15 mins, or until golden.

These were delicious. The right amount of crunchy, soft and chewy. Not too sweet. There really was no comparison between the two. One flat and crunchy and one soft and chewy.

The moral of the story? You can always count on Edmonds.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Dessert party

Dessert, dessert and more dessert!

I had a wine and dessert party recently. Girls only. The idea was, bring a dessert, or a dessert wine, or both. Pot luck. We would then spend an evening indulging in deliciousness. What a plan!

We ended up with a mouth-watering array of desserts and dessert wines and had a fun evening.

I'll start with the wines.

We started with Italian sweet bubbles, what better start is there?

Next came the dessert wines.

Unsurprisingly, because the excellent Martinborough is so close, three of our wines came from Martinborough. I wish I had taken a photo of each wine, because they were all so different. So different and so delicious. The Brown Brothers wine was fruity and flowery, the Schubert was so thick and glossy, Margrain was sticky and luscious, and Ata Rangi was sweet and flavourful. We matched each wine with a dessert, but in no particular order. We just each took a turn grabbing a wine out of the fridge.

The desserts were such a mixture, and again so delicious.

We had a banana cake with white chocolate icing.

I made a chocolate mousse cake. The recipe is here. It was so super easy to make, and was the texture of a brownie on the outside, and an almost-gooey mousse on the inside. Delicious.

Another friend made the most adorable chocolate mousse cups. They were a bit-sized morsel, and packed an amazing chocolate punch. She made them from scratch, which I think was so very clever!

I also made a cheese platter. Turns out that the salty cheese and crackers were a welcome relief from the massive sugar hit of the desserts.

We had a chocolate chip biscuit pudding. If you have not had this before, you have to try it! Take Griffins chocolate chip biscuits and dunk them really quickly in either sherry or orange juice (or both!) and sandwich them together with cream. This dessert is best if left for a few hours so the biscuits become soggy. You have to try this to understand how delicious it is. It's seriously so good!

Finally, I experimented with an ice cream cake. I have never made one before, but wanted to give it a go. I decided on rocky road ice cream cake. I made a layer of chocolate cake for the base, and took a tub of vanilla ice cream. I split it in half and to half I added chopped chocolate and peanuts. To the other half I added chopped marshmallows and cherries. I put a layer of chocolate ganache in between each layer of ice cream - in hindsight this didn't work as well as I had hoped. It went very hard, so made cutting the cake quite difficult.

I made the cake, layer by layer, in my springform cake tin. This made it easy to make it even, and also made it easy to remove. After I added each layer, I popped it back in the freezer before adding the next layer.

I was pretty please with how it turned out, but there was way too much of it!

All up, we had a fabulously fun sugar-filled dessert party. I recommend it to anyone!