First bake: banana and walnut teabread

Banana and walnut teabreadA few days ago, I found myself in the same situation as the other week, where I had some rapidly ripening bananas to finish off one way or another. So, I had a flick through my trusty BBC Good Food book and found this recipe for banana and walnut teabread – not exactly a traditional Easter bake, but as my family doesn’t really ‘do’ Easter, that didn’t really matter!

Banana and walnut teabread mix

Banana and walnut teabread mix

As always, I had to slightly adapt the recipe according to what I actually had in. I didn’t have enough walnuts so only put two-thirds of what was required in the mix, and topped the teabread with chopped shelled pistachios instead of the remaining walnuts. I think it looks rather good this way, don’t you?

Banana and walnut teabread

There are walnuts in there, honest!

The mix was easy enough to knock up, but it seemed to take far longer to bake in the oven than the recipe suggests – around an hour and a half as opposed to 55 minutes. Still, it wasn’t burnt when I finally took it out, which was a very good sign!

Banana and walnut teabread
All in all, this is a delicious, moist teabread with the right balance of flavours – the savoury walnut threatens to overwhelm at first, but then the sweet banana and sugar kick in at *just* the right moment to provide a rather agreeable treat to have with your afternoon cup of tea.

The recipe

From BBC Good Food’s 101 Cakes & Bakes.



First bake: mango and dark chocolate cookies

Mango and dark chocolate cookiesOne of the many foods I’m completely in love with is mango. It’s only at it’s best in the summer, when a fresh crop arrives from India/Pakistan – otherwise, it’s just not right. However, I impulse-bought some dried mango the other week and just as impulsively decided to fling it in some cookies with some dark chocolate.

Mango and dark chocolate cookies 3

I adapted a cookie recipe in my trusty BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes book for this, and it worked well. I tried a piece of mango before I put it in the dough, and it was rather chewy. I hoped that it wouldn’t be as chewy after baking, but it was still a little tough. However, the combination of the fruit and the chocolate and the lovely, sugary cookie dough was still fantastic!

Mango and dark chocolate cookie dough

Mango and dark chocolate cookie dough

I’m not sure if I’d be able to make these with fresh mango, as the fruit would be too wet. However, it could be worth slightly drying out pieces of fresh mango and trying them that way. Making these cookies has made me determined to invent a mango and chocolate cake in the summer, though, so I think that will be my next mango-based bake!

Mango and dark chocolate cookies

The recipe

Adapted from the recipe for Smarties cookies in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes.

Makes 14 cookies

  • 100g/4oz butter, softened
  • 100g/4oz light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 50g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 75g dried mango pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Line two baking trays with baking paper (or bake in batches).

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy, then beat in the syrup.

3. Stir in half the flour. Stir the chocolate and mango into the remaining flour and stir into the mix, working together with your fingers to create a dough.

4. Divide into 14 balls, space them well apart on the baking trays and flatten slightly with your fingers.

5. Bake for 12 minutes until pale golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

First bake: feta and courgette muffins

Feta and courgette muffinsOne of my favourite savoury bakes EVER is Dan Lepard’s courgette and mozzarella muffins, which are absolutely delicious and ridiculously easy to make. I had a hankering the other day to make something savoury while experimenting a little, so I decided to draw inspiration from both Mr Lepard and my penchant for Greek flavours.

I used this recipe as a jumping-off point, and added a few more ingredients – sundried tomatoes, red onion, parsley and paprika. I nearly added some black olives but decided not to in case it ws overkill, but I think I’ll add them next time, just because I do love a good olive!

Feta and courgette muffin mix

Feta and courgette muffin mix

The result was a lovely batch of soft, flavoursome muffins with a hint of spice. This being me, I would definitely add more paprika and maybe a generous amount of dried chilli flakes a la Dan Lepard, too, as I like a bit of a stronger kick. Otherwise, I would say my little experiment was a big success!

Feta and courgette muffins

The recipe

This is pretty much what I did, but with a few additions to ramp it up a bit!

Makes 12 muffins

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 ml olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 175g grated courgette (about 1 large courgette)
  • 115g crumbled feta cheese (I used Greek-style salad cheese)
  • 2-3 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 7-8 pitted black olives, sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C/gas mark 4 and place paper muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tray.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, paprika and chilli flakes in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and oil in another bowl until smooth.
  4. Stir the courgettes, feta, onion, sundried tomatoes, olives and parsley into the oil mix.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stir until just combined.
  6. Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before eating.

First bake: honey, banana and almond cake

Honey, banana and almond cakeI had a lone very ripe banana hanging around for a few days last week. A lot of banana cake recipes call for multiple bananas, so I didn’t have a clue what to do with it until the excellent Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking blog read my mind and posted a link to a recipe for honey, banana and almond cake, which only requires one banana. Ah, the problems of an amateur baker.

Anyway, this cake was really, really easy to make. The CCC blog adapted the recipe quite a lot, but I chose to stick to the original as I loved the idea of combining honey, banana and almonds. I didn’t have quite enough honey so had to top it up with golden syrup, but other than that I pretty much did what it said!

Honey, banana and almond cake mix

Honey, banana and almond cake mix

The result was a pleasingly moist cake packed full of flavour. The banana was surprisingly strong considering how little of it there was, and the honey provided a great additional level of sweetness. I might add a little almond extract next time to bring out the flavour of the almonds a bit more, but other than that, this cake gets a big thumbs up from me! Great if you want a quick, easy and tasty cake.

Honey, banana and almond cake

The recipe

On the Waitrose website here:

First bake: Viennese whirls

Viennese whirlsMy boyfriend has been pestering me to make Viennese whirls for YEARS. Then he bought me a biscuit maker as a ‘housewarming present’, so I had to make them. Of course. But I’m glad I (or we – he did at least help) got round to it – these lovely little treats are absolutely divine!

The biscuit dough was pretty easy to make – the recipe I used (from the Hairy Bikers) called for everything to be mixed in a food processor, but I had to use an electric hand whisk due to the tiny proportions of my food processor. We reached a slight sticking point when attempting to use the biscuit maker for the first time – it took a bit of trial and error, but we managed to go from producing weird little lumps to churning out lovely star-shaped beauties.

Viennese whirls, pre-baking

Viennese whirls, pre-baking

My biscuit maker. Put the dough in, choose the right attachment and push down on the handle

My biscuit maker. Put the dough in, choose the right attachment and push down on the handle.

Viennese whirls, fresh from the oven

Viennese whirls, fresh from the oven

They only took 13 minutes to bake, although we ended up baking many, many batches so it took a bit longer than that! Once they’d cooled, we sandwiched them together with buttercream and seedless raspberry jam. And ate about a hundred during the process, for, erm, testing purposes.

Viennese whirlsI cannot emphasise enough just how lovely these are. The biscuit is beautifully rich (and I should think so, what with a WHOLE BLOCK OF BUTTER going in the mix) and is set off perfectly by the sweet buttercream and fruity jam. It’s really, really hard to eat just one, or three, or ten. So be warned!

Viennese whirls

The recipe

On the BBC Food website here: