cake

super moist apple cake

super-moist-apple-cake-philippa-moore

There is nothing like the smell of a cake baking in the oven to make you feel cosy, snug and homely. Over Easter I had some apples from my aunt’s tree to use up and this recipe made great use of them. I am not a fan of cake recipes that are too complicated or require too many bowls - one-bowl cake recipes are definitely more my thing. I get a bit grumpy having to mix dry and wet ingredients separately, and I very rarely make anything that requires you to separate and whisk egg yolks and whites separately either. Gah! Too much work. Just give me cake.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Super moist apple cake

Based on this recipe

150g butter, melted
420g stewed apple
1/2 cup brown sugar (or a different kind of sugar or sweetener, depending on your tastes/preferences)
2 eggs
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom or nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 160 C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Nice and easy - place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until combined and no lumps of flour or brown sugar remain, taking care not to over-mix. Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before slicing and serving. It keeps well and can also be frozen in individual slices.

I like to serve it with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and, if they’re in season, slices of fresh fig.

inner mary berry bakewell slice

bakewell-slice-tea

With the baking hot weather (no pun intended) we've had in the UK this summer, I have barely turned my oven on. Meals have been mostly salads, breads, cheeses, dips, anything that involved minimal cooking. Vegetables picked from my garden which required blanching in boiling water at the most. 

But then came the most welcome cool change, and I found myself basically turning into Mary Berry last Sunday, baking a cake and a slice to use up the last of the butter, sugar and jam that had found their way into my kitchen after a wonderful visit from my parents. 

In fact, it was my mum who suggested a Bakewell slice to use up all the jam. I'm very partial to a Bakewell, so immediately thought this was a brilliant idea. But, as I say, had to wait for the all-pervading heat to dissipate slightly before I could even entertain the idea of turning the oven on.

I love almonds but I'm not overly fond of a strong, synthetic almond taste that you often find with marzipan and the like. So I used up a bag of ground almonds very happily but forwent the almond essence that was in the original recipe. By all means include it instead of vanilla if you're an almond lover! 

After Tom and I had enjoyed this fresh out of the oven, I knew the solution to avoiding temptation all week was to take the rest of the slice into my office on Monday to share with my colleagues. I don't often take my baking in, as I use a lot less sugar than most people are used to, as that's what I prefer. But to my surprise, the slice was hoovered up and I got so many compliments. So if you're looking to win some brownie points in your office, seriously, make this slice and take it in. I have already been asked to make it again! 

 

Bakewell slice

Adapted from this recipe

1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
Roughly 1 cup (a little less is fine) jam of your choice (I used a mixture of raspberry and strawberry)
200g organic unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
4 eggs
150g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
Dash of vanilla extract
Flaked almonds for the topping

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan). Unroll your pastry sheet, roll it out a little with a rolling pin and then place it, including the baking paper it comes with, into a baking tray of roughly 30 x 20 cm size. Spread the jam over the pastry.

Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Add the almonds, flour and vanilla and stir well. Spread this cake mixture evenly over the jam and pastry.

You can either scatter the top with flaked almonds now and just keep an eye on it and cover with foil once the almonds get brown, or you can add the almonds when the slice has about 10 minutes baking time left. If you choose the latter, they won't be embedded into the cake as much as the mixture won't be wet any more. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For me, I can't stand a burned nut so I'd rather go with the second option and err on the side of caution! 

Place the tin in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown and the cake has risen nicely. If you choose the second option with the flaked almonds, remove after 20 minutes and scatter the flaked almonds over the surface, then return to the oven for the rest of the cooking time.

Allow the slice to cool in the tin. You can ice it, as the original Delicious recipe suggests, but I was happy (and found it sweet enough) with just plain flaked almonds on top. 

bakewell-slice

Cut into slices, take it into your office and watch your popularity soar! It's absolutely perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee. 


 

 

 

whisky banana bread

banana bread

If you have any black, spotty overripe bananas in the fruit bowl, you have to make this. Even the most feral bananas, minutes away from going in the compost, are transformed. 

I love this banana bread recipe. It's delicious, indulgent, low in sugar (though you'd never know to taste it) and - best of all - made with the minimum of equipment! Gemma Burgess got me on to the original Smitten Kitchen recipe and I've Phil-ified it a bit over the years to make it as low-fuss as possible. 

It doesn't matter how many bananas you use - I've even just used one, and it was great. Bear in the mind the more bananas you use, the wetter your mixture will be, so if you use 4 bananas, you might need to add a dash more flour to balance things out.

And the shot of whisky? Essential. It's the perfect use for that tiny bottle you got on the aeroplane. A whisky with sweeter notes is what you want here though - something too peaty and smoky like Laphroaig might not work! Alternatively, you can use rum - the darker the better. 

You can of course leave the alcohol out if you're avoiding it or don't like the taste - but the end product may not have the rich depths that the whisky provides. I must admit, I've never tried it without! 

Whisky banana bread

Based on Smitten Kitchen's recipe

2-4 ripe bananas, peeled and broken into chunks
Splash of almond milk (or regular milk)
75g unsalted butter
75-100g brown sugar (I usually use the 75g, depending on how many bananas I have)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 shot (30ml) of whisky (I like Highland Park for this recipe - anything with a toffee-sweet finish)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or mixed spice)
A little freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
190g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 190 C (350 F). Line a loaf tin with baking paper or a special loaf wrapper like I've used in the picture (you can get them from supermarkets in the baking section). 

Puree the bananas and splash of almond milk together with a hand blender (or in an actual blender) and set aside. Alternatively, smash the bananas thoroughly with a fork if you don't have a blender.

In a large saucepan (which will also be your mixing bowl), melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add the pureed bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla and whisky. Mix until well combined.

Add the baking soda, salt, spices and, finally, the flour to the saucepan. Mix well but do not overbeat. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. My oven is quite hot so I usually check it after 30 minutes. 

Allow to cool and then slice to serve. It's perfect any time of day with tea, coffee....maybe even whisky too. It also freezes well in individual slices if you want to put it in the freezer, away from temptation!

This recipe is so good I sometimes buy a few bananas and deliberately let them get overripe in the bowl, just so I can make this. I'm sure once you've tried it, you'll do the same.