Banana, chocolate and raspberry muffins

Banana, chocolate and raspberry muffins

Sometimes baking inventions come from slightly healthier intentions. We have been eating a lot healthier and going to the gym 4-5 times a week. We actually have a couple’s gym membership (although I categorically deny that we sit side by side on the exercise bikes!) As such, there has been a lot more fruit and vegetables in our shopping basket. Enter these muffins. I had some raspberries that needed eating and a hankering to adapt a tried and tested muffin recipe. After all life is about balance and a little of what you fancy does you the world of good.

To make 13 muffins you will need:

3 bananas (slightly overripe is best)

2 large eggs

113g butter, melted

150g caster sugar

230g self raising flour

150g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

150g milk chocolate chunks

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with cake cases. Mash your bananas and the eggs together until there are only small lumps of banana. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Add the sugar, flour and butter to form a nice batter. Once it is mixed in with no dry bits add the raspberries and chocolate.

Put the mixture into the lined cake cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of your test cake clean.

Best enjoyed

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Ginger Whisk Cookery School – A Review

Ginger Whisk Cookery School – A Review

If you love food I’m sure you can appreciate that even the most confident cooks sometimes benefit from a bit of help and guidance to improve in certain types of cooking. Personally, I find using pastry a challenge (curse my naturally warm hands). As such I was absolutely delighted to attend a Pork Pie making class 2 Saturdays ago at the Ginger Whisk Cookery School in Chiswick, West London.

The Cookery School hosts a wide range of classes ranging from baking; teaching university students to cook; children’s cookery classes; soap making; food photography and many more. The class list is diverse and classes are run by a range of people and can include guest teachers.

The pork pie class was hosted by Lucy Cufflin, one of the founders of Ginger Whisk and Lucy Lee-Tirrell. Both were excellent teachers, friendly, encouraging and open to questions. The class sizes are small which gives them both opportunity to offer tips to individuals in an area where they may have been struggling. For example, I have been rolling out pastry too aggressively for years which has led to slightly shrunken pies and tarts as the pastry sprang back in the oven.

The small class sizes gave a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and it was lovely to spend time with other people who enjoyed talking about food as much as I did. As it turns out pork pie making, which previously I was wary of, is actually pretty methodical and it is a pretty perfect thing to make around Christmas time or for a celebration. As somebody who is collecting ideas for a wedding it quite literally gave me food for thought and home made pork pie might make an appearance on the menu in the course of the day.

It was a lovely touch that not only did we get to sample a range of pork pies and local beer.; we also had cheese and wine from Lucy and Lucy’s recent travels to France. As well as being a great way to learn about cooking on an individual basis, attending a cookery class would be a fun idea for a date or even a great corporate team building event. Not only does Ginger Whisk offer cookery classes, there is opportunity for prop hire and a photography studio – used in food magazines and in the production of cook books. So if you’re the next Delia or Jamie Oliver get in touch with Ginger Whisk.

I had a great time during my trip to London and I left with a large pie and instructions on adding the jelly which was a fun post pie activity. I actually made a video of my visit which will be appearing on my Youtube channel soon!

Thank you so much for my invite to your lovely cookery school. I had a great time!

Click here for details of classes.

For information on prop or studio hire click here.

For any general enquiries or business enquiries click here.

I was kindly invited to visit the Ginger Whisk Cookery School to review a class. All opinions stated here are my own.

Healthy alternatives: wholemeal pizza bases

Healthy alternatives: wholemeal pizza bases

We love pizza in this house. Frozen pizza, takeaway pizza, proper Italian pizza, pizza when drinking, hangover pizza, this list goes on. However, I think its pretty common knowledge that pizza isn’t the healthiest option and anything that increases the nutritional benefits of our Friday night favourite has a big fat thumbs up from us.

On top of the nutritional benefits homemade pizza is an absolute steal compared with buying pizza from a takeaway or restaurant and taste better than supermarket pizza so it is better for household economising. It is also a fun thing to make with children as it would allow them to pick their own toppings so there are lots of benefits to making your own.

Pizza dough is so easy to make, even for notice bakers. The only advice I can give is to really follow the instructions about water temperature and yeast and also to allow plenty of time for the dough to rise.

We made steak and rocket pizzas, but obviously mix it up as you wish.

To make 4 pizzas you will need:

500g strong wholemeal flour

2 teaspoons of salt

25g butter, cut into small cubes

13g (1 sachet of dried yeast)

250ml tepid water

For the topping

Passata with garlic and herbs added

1/2 ball buffalo mozzarella per pizza

Parmesan cheese

1 sirloin steak per 2 pizzas or 1 frying steak per pizza

Rocket

 

In a jug, mix together the lukewarm water and yeast. To a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt and butter. Add the water and use your hands to mix this together into a rough dough. Once the flour and water is mixed, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. At this point you can half the quantity of dough if needed and freeze for a later date. Return to the bowl and least it rise for an hour, or until the dough doubles in size and springs back when poked.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Split into 2 and roll out the dough so that it is about 1/2 cm thick. Top the dough with the passata and cheese and cook for around 15-20 minutes or until the base is cooked. While it is cooking grill or fry your steak. (Leave this to rest before cutting). When the pizza is cooked stop with the steak, Parmesan and rocket.

This pizza tastes delicious but is slightly more difficult to eat in slices so you may want to consider using a knife and fork.

Dane actually told me that this pizza was one of the best ones I have made for him, which is high praise indeed.

 

Spinach and tomato pie

This year D and I have been eating a lot less meat. There were several reasons for this but the best thing to come of it (apart from feeling so much better) was the opportunity to try a whole host of new recipes.

Considering D is not really much of a vegetable eater he actually enjoyed this recipe. Alongside having a great many health benefits, spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables. This is also a pretty easy thing to put together after work and packs a punch in terms of fruit and vegetable portions.

To make a pie to serve 4 you will need:

1 pack of lighter puff pastry

2 eggs

450g frozen spinach

50g Parmesan cheese

200g garlic and chive soft cheese (the lighter option)

Salt and pepper

Herbs de provence

4 large tomatoes cut into segments

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 onion, diced

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly fry the onion and garlic on a medium heat until soft. Add the spinach, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and fry until the spinach has cooked down. Once the spinach is cooked; add the cream cheese, Parmesan and egg. Reduce the heat and make sure the cheese and egg is distributed through the mixture.

Place the spinach in a pie dish and top with the (rolled out) pastry. Glaze with the egg. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

This pie also makes excellent leftovers or vegetarian picnic food.

Perfect vegan chocolate cake

Perfect vegan chocolate cake

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or have to follow dairy and egg free diets I have you covered. I think at a push you could even make this nut free if you substituted the coconut oil for soya based spread.

If you are none of those things never fear D and I both loved this cake, the cake tends to crack on the surface but the rise is really good and it is really rich. D and I are not vegetarian or vegan but we are cake lovers and also probably what is now classed as flexitarian.

This is a very much simplified Nigella Lawson recipe based on what I already had in. However it turned out really well considering I forgot to buy sugar and had to use an old pack of demerara sugar I had in the back of my cupboard.

To make a rather large cake you will need:

225 g plain flour

1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder

75 g cocoa powder

300 g demerara sugar

375 mL hot water

75 g coconut oil ( about 90ml)

1½ teaspoons cider vinegar

To decorate

Dairy free chocolate spread

2 squares dark chocolate

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 20cm cake tin (one with a catch to release or a moveable base) with baking parchment. In a large bowl mix together the flour, espresso powder, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In a second bowl (or large jug) melt your coconut oil into your water along with the sugar and cider vinegar. Pour this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and beat together using a hand whisk. Pour the cake mix into the cake tin and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out pretty clean and the cake mix has come away from side. Set aside to cool.

DSC_0079

While the cake is still warm melt the chocolate spread. Prick the cake with a few holes and use a knife to make a thin layer. Grate over the dark chocolate.

Serve warm or cold. This cake will stay fresh when kept in an air tight container if it lasts that long.

Fill n’ Flip Pan Review – Cheesecake brownie cake

Fill n’ Flip Pan Review – Cheesecake brownie cake

I admit I am a sucker for a baking gadget or novelty baking tin. As such I was delighted to try a Fill n Flip Pan from the Create and Craft company. I keep seeing all of these beautiful cakes with a deep layer of filling so I was keen to try a recipe for myself. For my first attempt I tried a brownie recipe – heavier cake recipes tend to work better in more unusual shaped tins. (Also, who doesn’t love cheesecake brownies?)

I know my cake isn’t the most well decorated masterpiece but I always like to think my baking is pretty rustic. Dane actually made a point to tell me how much he liked his cake and it was pretty popular when I took it into work – I think the deep fill means you can add contrasting flavours and really experiment with your baking. I found the cake tins so easy to use and my two cake pieces fit together really well. The tins themselves are incredibly well made. Although you need to grease them to make them non stick, the cakes come out really easily which I suppose is exactly what you want from a cake tin.

To make your cheesecake brownie you will need:

For the cake

4 eggs

315g soft brown sugar

125g cornflour

250g dark chocolate

150g butter

35g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

Cake release spray or extra butter for greasing

For the filling

280g light cream cheese

50g icing sugar

1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam

 

Grease your cake tins. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Beat your eggs and sugar together until fluffy and leaves a trail on top of the mixture. Use a sieve to add in your flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Melt your chocolate and butter together and slowly fold into the batter.

 

Pour into the cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes until a skewer comes out of the thickest past of the cake clean. Remove from the cake tins and set aside to cool.

To make the filling beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla. Spread a thin layer of jam onto the bottom layer of the cake. Add the cream cheese filling into the inner hole of the cake. Press together the two lake layers. Serve to anybody who deserves a treat (including yourself).

 

Thank you to Love Cooking for sending me such an amazing produce. I will definitely be using this again in further baking ventures.

The Fill n Flip Pan is available here.

I was sent the Fill n Flip Pan to review but all opinions are my own.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A few weeks ago D and I went on a jaunt to Amsterdam. I think its safe to say our 4 days in the city reflected its vibe really well. We stayed at the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy, a design hotel that overlooks the waterfront. Within the hotel itself (which is a bit like a maze or like something from a film) there is a chance to explore various art installations dotted around the hotel. But I think given the short duration of our stay I will split the rest of this travel blog into sections.

Getting around: Amsterdam is famous for its cycling, however we actually ended up walking an awful lot so take comfy shoes! There is also a decent and relatively inexpensive tram network which makes the city pretty easy to get around. The train link to the airport is very reliable so getting to your hotel takes only a little bit of forward planning.

Culture: we visited the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. I really would recommend buying tickets for these in advance, particularly the Anne Frank House as they only let limited numbers of people in at once. The Van Gogh museum tells the story of his rather unusual and sad life and his artistic development through a collection of wonderful paintings. Something about being there and actually looking at the texture of the paintings as well as the actual paintings is probably pretty educational for artists of all experience levels. The Anne Frank museum was sad and uplifting all at once. Something about seeing the impact of the holocaust through the experience of 8 people rather than by reading statistics and other historical sources makes it easier to understand on a more personal level. The Anne Frank house has been restored to how it was when they were hiding there and while there are stark reminders of a family who were living in extreme difficulty, it tries to bring home a message of understanding others to try and prevent something on this scale happening again. Anne Frank was a rather wonderful writer and the museum definitely tries to encourage the view of her as a witty, clever but very real girl with her own faults rather that making her seem perfect.

We also had a trip to the Zoo (it was nice to be out in the sun after being inside a lot) and it provided a bit of light relief after being overwhelmed with culture and history. We also stopped by the Sex Museum (it was very cheap) which was as you’d expect. If you’re from Yorkshire and I say it was like the Yorvik Centre but with an 18 Certification you’d understand what I mean but it is extremely tongue in cheek.

Boat trips: you must go on a boat trip. This is a city with canals and you can see so much at a slower pace. There are also dinner cruise options if you’re feeling fancy.

Food and drink: The Netherlands are famous for bakeries and waffles (why do you think I went) and Amsterdam did not disappoint! Lovely cake, lovely stroopwafel. I cannot enthuse too much about it. It is also really inexpensive to eat out in restaurants and there are some amazing options for snacking and street food. Buy patates, you won’t regret it.

In terms of drinking and bars there is really something for most tastes and the atmosphere is really relaxed. Early evening drinking for the win!

Shopping: Amsterdam is amazing for shopping! Take full advantage (unless your debit card was frauded the week before like mine). Also not to be missed – trips to cheese shops, bakieries and the Bloomenmarket.

Where do you recommend we visit next?