Banana pops

13 06 2010

I spend a lot of time perusing my favourite baking blogs, saving recipes, enjoying the amazing pictures and often drooling over the beautiful food.  Sometimes I save a recipe and it languishes on my computer for months.  Other times I see something and know that I just have to make it as soon as possible.  These mini banana pops from http://www.joythebaker.com/ are one such recipe.  Despite our weather being a little hit and miss these days we’ve had a few hot days when only an ice cream or ice lolly will suffice.  I convinced myself that the banana make these healthy, let’s just ignore the calorific chocolate and sprinkles involved!

I used 4 small bananas and chopped them into 3 inch chunks & skewered them individually, kept them separated and froze them overnight.

Although Joy used dark chocolate and chopped nuts I decided to use some Cadburys milk chocolate buttons and a variety of sprinkles as I was testing these on people with varying tastes.

Dip the frozen banana pops in the melted chocolate, work quickly as the chocolate hardens fast, roll each pop in sprinkles of your choice. Put them back in the freezer for half and hour to harden fully then wrap individually for a nice ice treat at any time.

As well as the usual sugar sprinkles I decided to spice things up with some popping candy!  I’ve been waiting to use some in baking for a while and I thought this was a perfect opportunity.  These are a great idea for kids, I’m not even a very big banana fan and I thought these were divine.  A perfect alternative to the usual freezer wares.

You can see Joy’s original post here:

http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/07/mini-chocolate-dipped-bananas/

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Sacher Torte (Gluten Free)

12 06 2010

I’m often asked if I do gluten free baking and I’m embarrassed to say it’s not something I’ve ever attempted before.  As it’s becoming more common to have intolerances to certain foods or ingredients I thought it was about time I tried something that would appeal to those who usually can’t enjoy my baking.

I’ve had the Murphys Ice Cream Book of Sweet Things for months and had yet to try any of the recipes. I had a lot of eggs and almond meal and the Sachertorte immediately jumped out as being something I could try and it was gluten free.  I also appreciated that this recipe uses raspberry jam instead of the traditional apricot as I love the combination of raspberry and chocolate.

Sachertorte

200g of 70% chocolate

200g butter – cut into pieces and slightly softened

15g butter for greasing the tin

200g sugar

200g almond flour (ground almonds)

8 eggs

400g raspberry jam

Ganache:

85g unsalted butter

225g of 70% chocolate

150ml golden syrup

15ml (1 tablespoon) cognac or good rum (I omitted this)

Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas mark 4

Melt the chocolate

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cake tin. Don’t flour or cocoa the tin if you want to keep this cake gluten free.

Mix the butter and sugar for 5 minutes.  Break and separate the eggs.  Slowly add the egg yolks and continuing mixing for 5 minutes.

Mix in the almond flour.  Add the melted chocolate.  Continue mixing at a slow speed, being careful not to over-mix.

Beat the egg whites in a cold, dry bowl until soft peaks form.  Don’t over-beat.

Gradually fold the beaten egg whites into the dough until combined.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes (Mine was in a 10 inch tin and took a little under 40 minutes) Remove from the oven and immediately spread the raspberry jam over the top of the cake.

Leave in the baking pan for 1 hour.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate.

Melt the butter over low heat in a separate pan (dont let it get too hot)

Stir in the golden syrup then the cognac or rum – stirring hard until it is smooth and glossy.

Pour the warm ganache over the cake, allowing some of it to run down the sides.

Spread it gently with a spatula until it covers the entire cake.  Allow to cool.  The ganache should set before serving.

I brought this into work for my colleagues (my regular baking guinea pigs) and it got seriously mixed reviews.  Many people couldn’t place the different flavours especially the almond and raspberry.  I had mixed feelings about it myself.  It was beautifully moist but the almond meal gave it a slightly odd texture and I wasn’t sure about the raspberry.  Although I was unsure about the flavours other people loved the combination including someone who is coeliac.

I doubt I will be making this as regularly as I make some of my other cakes but I’ll definitely try it again.





Step by step: Victoria Sandwich

11 06 2010

This very overdue blog post is a back to basics.  I finished my exams and during the post exam euphoria somewhere in the back of my mind was a voice saying isn’t it time you started baking again.  Well, that was always the plan but I realised something while finally relaxing after so many weeks of studying; I quite liked not stressing out about baking.  This was a strange revelation for me.  I felt like I’d lost my baking mojo.  I was still checking all my favourite baking blogs, buying new edible sprinkles and saving recipes BUT I still hadn’t actually baked anything.

I avoided baking for a few weeks but knew that I had to try something to help me decide whether I was able to continue baking.  I attempted a simple chocolate nut upside down cake.  It was a complete disaster.  Everything that could go wrong did, and it tasted disgusting too.  I figured I needed to get straight back on the proverbial horse and that led me to the Victoria Sandwich.  I hoped that starting with something I’ve made hundreds of times would be easier than attempting another new recipe.  It worked & this post is my step by step guide to a basic Victoria Sponge.

See the rest of the step by step after the jump:

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