Sunday, May 6, 2012

Banana gingerbread

This is a recipe I wanted to try out because a friend of mine said she loved bananas. It just made me want to bake with them. Also, everyone loves gingerbread. You can’t exist if you don’t. So I pulled out one of my biggest and most wonderful books and baked up a recipe that looked way too delicious for its own good. I did substitute the main ingredients. I know I almost always end up changing recipes to my own liking, but I simply don’t have black treacle and malt extract around and I wouldn’t know where to buy it. If you do have some, use two tablespoons of each and omit the vanilla extract.

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Ingredients:
275 grams flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons mixed spice or cinnamon
115 grams soft light brown sugar
60 ml oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 eggs
4 tablespoons orange juice
3 bananas
115 grams raisins


1. Sift the flour together with the soda and spices. Add the brown sugar and the dry ingredients together.
2. Mash the bananas with a fork or put them into the mixer. If you like, leave the raisins in a bit of orange juice to swell.
3. Make a well in the center and add the oil, vanilla extract, eggs and orange juice. Mix thoroughly.
4. Lastly, add the raisins and bananas and mix again.
5. Pour the mixture into a greased brownie tin and bake in a preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes.

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Cut them into slices and serve them warm straight away or if you can resist leave them to cool. Don’t cover this cake straight away or it will get a bit sticky from the condensation. Other than that, I don’t have much to say. It turned out perfectly after my first try and it’s just really nice. On the other hand there will never be anything I make that will be good enough, so this time I’m complaining about the pictures. They’re horrible and in no way do they display the beauty and deliciousness of this cake. Forgive me for that one and enjoy the recipe!

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Apple Crumble Spiced Muffins

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It takes you longer to say the name than to eat these muffins. I can assure you!
I made these because I wanted to make something sweet for my grandparents for when they came by and just baking a Focaccia wasn’t enough, especially not sweet enough. So I decided to make muffins and stick with one of the best recipes for muffins that has yet to fail me: Doughnut muffins. This time an apple crumble variation! It wasn’t exactly in the spirit of Queens Day, in which the Dutch have the colors orange and our flag-colors: red, white and blue all over the place. I didn’t have anything to fit those colors, but they enjoyed it and we ate about 8 of the 15 in one day with the three of us together. That says enough. It also brings me to the point that, somehow, when it comes to cupcakes and muffins, I always have at least 3-5 extra, even though the recipe always claims to make the standard 12. Having extra cupcakes to eat can be so very frustrating!

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Topping
Ingredients:
50 grams flour
40 grams butter
30 grams sugar
30 grams chopped almonds


Muffins
Ingredients:
275 grams self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 grams caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spices
75 ml sunflower oil
150 grams (Greek) yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 apple
1-2 hands-full of raisins


1. Start with the topping by adding the flour and butter and ‘crumbling’ it with a fork. You can also use a food processor for this.
2. Add the sugar and the chopped almonds and mix.
3. On to the muffins: chop the apple into small pieces and, if you like, leave the raisins to soak in apple or orange juice until needed.
4. Sift the flour, the bicarbonate of soda, sugar and spices together.
5. In a separate bowl add the oil, yogurt, vanilla extract and eggs together and whisk. Add the apple and (strained) raisins to the mixture.
6. Then add the dry ingredients and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Try not to beat the batter any more than necessary as the muffins might be dry.
7. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cups and drop a spoon in each case. Crumble the topping over each muffin.
8. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the muffins in for about 16-20 minutes.

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One thing I learned with making these muffins is keeping the wet and dry ingredients separately until the oven is done preheating. Then mix them and quickly pour them into the cupcake cups. This reduces the time in which the wet and dry ingredients are in contact with each other and thus reduces the chance that the muffins are tough and dry.
Other than that you just can’t go wrong with this recipe. I always use a bit more yogurt than needed for this recipe, just because it makes me feel healthier. I haven’t dared to omit the the oil altogether, something might go wrong when I try although I have no clue what exactly.
I made these apple spice muffins a few times without the topping which is certainly worth a try as well. Somehow the topping makes them look cuter though.
Enjoy!

Focaccia

I felt very much like making bread this week and decided this was one of the most lovely breads around so I had to make it myself. It turned out just as lovely! It just proves how you can never go wrong with flat breads or anything Italian.
Well, the first time I made it was for my grandparents who came that same day. The bread I made didn’t rise, was quite tough and very salty. Apparently salt destroys the capability of yeast to make bread rise so the problem might’ve been in the salt. That, or the fact that I put the oven on the lowest temperature to make some heat for the dough to rise, but 50 degrees Celsius could be slightly too much for dough to handle. Even through the fails I quite liked it and my grandpa said he loved the ‘spice’ of the bread. Anyway, I learned from this and two days later I made the bread again for my family. I cut the salt inside the bread and sprinkled some on stop last moment instead. Also, I added herbs for more taste and just to be cautious I added slightly more yeast than needed. It was lovely! I made two loafs and they turned out perfect! Both of them were gone that very evening. The only comment I got was that I could cut on the salt sprinkled on top, but that apparently was also one of the best parts of it. Perhaps next time I could slightly variate the two breads to fit everyone’s taste.
Here is the recipe for two focaccia loafs:

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Ingredients:
500 grams flour
2 teaspoons salt
7 grams instant yeast
325 ml water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, etc.)
Topping like sea salt and rosemary


1. Sift the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the yeast in the middle together with the water and olive oil.
2. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and firm.
3. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with cling-film and leave it in a warm place for about 1-1,5 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Knead the dough again and add the herbs. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape them into a circle. Put the shaped dough in a greased cake or brownie tin. Cover with cling-film again and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
5. Poke holes into the dough and lightly oil the top. Sprinkle your topping over the dough. Cover with cling-film and leave the dough for another 30 minutes.
6. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When the bread has doubled in size place it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
7. When done remove the breads from their tin immediately and leave to cool on a wire rack.

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If you leave the breads to cool on a flat surface or leave them covered for a bit they will become slightly softer as the bread will still loose steam, but this steam has nowhere to go when the bread is completely or partially covered. This does give a softer effect provided you don’t cover the bread for too long, otherwise it will become soaky.
Also, like I said before, go easy on the salt in the bread. I’m not sure what effect adding herbs in the first step would have. It would spread the herbs out more evenly and I don’t think it’ll have an effect on the rising process, but I’m not sure.
The last time I made this bread I used a package for white bread, with flour, salt and yeast added already. It might be handy for those of you who don’t make bread that often anyway and don’t want to buy a whole pack of flour and yeast. It works just the same as well.
There’s no more tips or notes I can think of for you so I just hope you enjoy this Italian flat bread!