Date, Brazil Nut and Banana Loaf

This tasty and filling loaf is a cake in disguise! Made with banana as its base and succulently delicious dates and brazil nuts added to boost the sheer yumminess of this edible delight, it makes for a scrumptious addition to any afternoon tea cake stand display.

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Ingredients

8-10 slices

175g plain flour

50g polyunsaturated margarine

50g sugar (granulated or castor)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 egg, beaten

3 very ripe bananas, peeled and smashed together

75g dried and pitted dates, chopped

Method

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 200°C electric.
  • Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  • Put the margarine and sugar in a bowl and cream together.

Dawn: With a spoon, start to mix the margarine and sugar together so that they begin to form a thick ‘paste’ and continue to mix until the two ingredients have formed a light and fluffy looking consistency. 

  • Next, beat the egg into the margarine and sugar mixture until all three ingredients are combined. Then add the bananas, a little at a time until they are incorporated into the mixture.
  • Add the chopped dates and mix.
  • Add the bicarbonate of soda and the flour, sifted together.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin and place in the centre of the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown in colour.

Dawn: To test to see if the loaf is baked, simply push a knife blade into the centre and if it emerges clean, the loaf is baked. If there’s googey mixture on the blade, the loaf needs baking a little longer. I’ve recently started using an old, sterilised knitting needle to start testing whether or not a cake is cooked and I simply pierce the cake with the needle – if it comes out clean, it’s cooked. Simple!

  • Serve warm or cold.

Dawn: Adding fruit to a recipe is a natural way of increasing its sweetness factor and it’s worth pointing out that the riper the bananas are, the sweeter they will be so you may wish to compensate for any extra sweet taste by reducing the actual amount of sugar used in the recipe. 

Slices of this delicious fruity concoction taste even more divine with lashings of a delicious preserve spread liberally on them.

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Fit for a King – or a Duchess! As in the case of Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford who born the idea of afternoon tea as a bridge between breakfast and dinner in the nineteenth century. Back then, it was the norm for only two meals to be consumed during the day with dinner being served in the evening so many people found the late afternoon a time of hunger. The Duchess thought of the idea of having a pot of tea, bread and butter and a slice of cake served to help her ward off hunger until her dinner which was served at the fashionably late time of 8pm. And hence, the birth of afternoon tea, whereby the upper classes would take a “low” or “afternoon” tea at 4pm with the “middle” and “lower” classes taking a more substantial “high” tea later at 5pm or 6pm as substitute for dinner. It soon became a traditional which was adopted across the British Empire with its colonies spreading far and wide from India to the West Indies. 

The Cooking Dynamo’s recipe for Banana Loaf can be found here http://wp.me/p3lk3r-qX

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For more delicious treats, tasty meal ideas and food tips, follow this blog – www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com – Twitter @Love_Food_UK and we’re also on MumsNet Bloggers Network. See you over there!

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Foraged Plum Crumble with Almonds and Cinnamon

With the closing of summertime comes an abundance of readily available crops for the diligent forager to harvest. From apples to blackberries through to damsons and sloes, food found in Britain’s great and glorious countryside is pure happiness to collect.

Dawn: And eat! I simply adore foraging! I adore the outdoors…the being with one with the greatest female of all time: Mother Nature. And I adore the ability to feed oneself for only the effort of hand-picking our lush and plentiful earth’s fruits. So what recipe am I bringing you? A lovely and heart-warming wild plums crumble – with a twist.

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Ingredients

Serves 4

For the plum filling:

900g Plums, pitted and halved (shop bought is fine, too)

1tbsp Dark muscovado sugar (brown or granulated sugar is fine)

3tbsp Water

For the crumble topping:

75g Plain flour

25g Porridge oats

20g Low fat spread (or butter)

25g Dark muscovado sugar (again, brown or granulated sugar will work, too)

15g Flaked almonds

1tsp Ground cinnamon

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 190°C electric.
  • Grease a 1 litre ovenproof dish and place the prepared plums in it, adding the muscovado sugar and water. Stir these ingredients together and put the dish into the hot oven.
  • Leave the plums to partially cook for about 10 minutes.
  • While the plums are baking, make the crumble by putting the flour, porridge oats and butter into a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub these ingredients together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs then stir in the flaked almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Gently stir the ingredients together being mindful of retaining the almonds in tact.

Dawn: I like the almonds being whole flakes as they give an extra nutty taste and crunchy texture to the dish when you are eating.

  • Take the plums from the oven and spoon the crumble mixture over them making sure its coverage is even.
  • Pop the dish back into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Dawn: Bake until the crumble has turned a nice golden brown colour and the luscious plums have sneaked a peek out from under their crumble overcoat. Serve immediately either with fresh cream or custard. I’ve used reduced fat crème fraîche which has a rather bitter taste whilst holding the consistency of thick fresh cream which I particularly like. And, what’s more, this beautiful baking recipe has cost pennies to make! 

For more economical and tasty food recipes, follow this blog – www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com and scoot over to Twitter @Love_Food_UK for regular food chat as well as finding the Cooking Sensation over on Facebook (come ‘Like’, please). Oh, not forgetting the fab MumsNet Bloggers Network, too! 

How to Make Buttercream

Buttercream is often used in baking and can be infused with flavour. It’s good for decorative purposes as well as offering a longevity that fresh cream fillings don’t.

Method

  • Use a ratio of 1:2 softened butter to icing sugar.
  • First, put the butter in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it is soft.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar sifting it so as to prevent lumps from appearing.
  • Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. As the ingredients start to combine, they become easier to mix as the sugar dissolves into the butter.
  • Keep mixing the ingredients until they are light and fluffy –  you’ll know when the buttercream is ready because it becomes quite easy to mix.
  • At this point, you can add ingredients such as vanilla essence or cocoa powder (sifted) to compliment the recipe you are making.

For more cooking techniques along with economical, tasty and easy to make food recipes, follow this blog – www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com and click “Follow” over on Twitter @Love_Food_UK for regular food chat as well as finding the cooking sensation over on Facebook (please pop across and ‘Like’ Love Food). Oh, not forgetting the fab MumsNet Bloggers Network and Foodies100, too!