Fluffy Banana Pancakes

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Most Tuesdays I work from home, which is one of my favourite things to do.

I can wake up an hour later than usual, make a giant mug of coffee (half-caf), and sit down to work in my pyjamas, with Minka (my cat) by my side (and occasionally stepping all over the computer keyboard and meowing loudly for attention).

On this grey November Tuesday, as I was well into the morning, the bananas I had planned to bake something with but had never gotten around to, and that were now teetering dangerously towards being too brown, were poking around at the edge of my mind. And so, since I aspire to never leave any brown banana behind, I decided to turn them into pancakes, and got to googling recipes.

These are quite possibly the loveliest, fluffiest banana pancakes I’ve ever had.

They are in fact so good, that I managed to eat three whilst standing at the stove top making them, and then decided I was too full to eat any more just now, but still ended up sneaking into the kitchen afterwards to eat the two trial ones I’d made first and cast aside…

They have a delicate banana flavour to them, not too sweet but sweet enough that you can eat them on their own, should you wish to, and they’re really light, and slightly crispy on the outside. They take about 2 minutes to whip together, and another 10-15 minutes to fry. And about 30 seconds to eat, with or without maple syrup.

As I was working I didn’t manage to take any pictures other than the one above (so I’ve supplemented with some Autumn leaves and a few shots of my cat). But I still wanted to post the recipe, since they are quite possibly my new favourite thing, and very different to the recipes for oatmeal pancakes I’ve posted before.

So here’s to the loveliest, fluffiest and sunniest banana pancakes you will ever eat on a grey November morning.

The Best Banana Pancakes
adapted ever so slightly from once upon a chef

  • 185 g (1 1/2 cup) flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium, (over-)ripe banana
  • 240 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (or any vegetable oil you have on hand)

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, mash the peeled banana with a fork, whisk in the eggs, then milk and vanilla extract.

Whisk the banana mixture and the three tbsp of oil into the dry ingredients; don’t over-mix, just until there are no visible streaks of flour (it’ll be slightly lumpy, but that’s perfectly fine).

Heat up a bit of oil in a non-stick pan, and drop smallish quarter-cups of batter into the frying pan. Fry over medium to low heat until the pancakes start to look cooked around the edges, about 30 seconds to a minute, then flip them over and cook through. Be careful that they don’t burn, and turn down the heat if they seem to be getting too dark. They don’t need very long, and will still feel lightly squidgy in the middle if you poke them with you finger, but they will be cooked through, don’t worry.

Transfer the finished ones onto a plate, and keep going until you’re out of batter – I got about 16 medium pancakes out of mine!

These are best eaten right away, as they’ll still be crispy around the edges. But they’re also perfectly fine eaten later, and if you warm them up in the oven they regain some of their crispiness. They’re also perfectly lovely microwaved, especially with maple syrup on top.

Bon app’!
🙂

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Minka, drinking a Capri-Sun

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Butterscotch Blondies on a Sunday

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… a little caramel origami bird (•ө•)

Last Sunday was kind of perfect. Grey and cold outside, I spent the day inside, warm and cosy, a slow day with soft light, not getting out of my pyjamas, the smell of coffee, and my favourite person hovering over their laptop trying to get things done while I baked blondies and drank tea, and also a bath, and naps, and copious episodes of friends.
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I’ve never had blondies before, but my parents got me the Violet Bakery Cookbook for my birthday, and I was itching to try out one of the recipes. The whole entire book is just beautiful, and all of the recipes seem straightforward, and look and sound delicious. The cakes and bakes, savoury and sweet, are rustic and very, very pretty, with, heavy emphasis on flavour over fancy (i.e. not a single decorative and fussy but ultimately dry and boring cupcake in sight). And the photos are gorgeous.

I decided to only add caramel shards to half of the pan of blondies, because I was a bit worried I may have made the caramel a tiny bit too dark. I don’t think so after all, now, but I’m glad I tried it, because the result was two very distinct kinds of blondie, one akin to chewy salted chocolate chip cookies (!!!!), and one a tad more sophisticated, but also a bit sweeter.

I personally go back and forth between which version I prefer (I was eating them for three days, so I had plenty of time to reflect on the matter), and those I’ve made to try them have been split down the middle, too. I guess it depends, then, on what you’re going for – a blondie that’s a tad more decadent, and a bit more impressive, with chewy pockets of butterscotch, or one that is basically just a giant chewy salted chocolate chip cookie. I just don’t know. Luckily I made both 😈 I think I may also try a version with both milk and dark chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

What I’m getting at is that this is a very, very yummy blondie. One that I will definitely make again. It’s rich, dense, chewy, and best eaten in small amounts, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can finish off the entire pan…. Like my mum said, sarcastically, does this contain any butter? 😏

And, unlike a cookie, which I prefer completely fresh out of the oven for that perfect crisp to chewy-gooey ratio, I actually liked these blondies even better the next day, after they’d had time to really chewify (yes, I may have made up that verb).

They keep really well for days, too (three days tops though). Happy munching! 🙂

The Violet Butterscoth (and/or Chocolate Chip) Blondie
From The Violet Bakery Cookbook / the happy foodie – yield: 12-16 blondies

  • 250 g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter (if you only have salted, simply half the amount of salt used below), plus a bit for greasing the cake tin
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g (1 3/4 cups) light brown sugar (I used cane sugar)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanillla extract
  • 240 g (1 3/4 cups) flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 125 g (4 ½ ounces) milk chocolate , broken/chopped into smaller pieces
  • 75 g caramel shards (if using): 2 tbsp water + 150 g caster sugar*

* This makes 150 g of caramel shards, i.e. twice the amount needed for one portion of butterscotch blondies, and in my case, since I made only a half portion with caramel, four times the amount needed; although you can keep the caramel shards in the freezer for future use, I think you’d be ok to half the amount of water and sugar, though, and only make one half portion – I will try this out next time.

For the caramel shards:

Cover a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Make your caramel shards by placing the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium to low heat. Don’t stir, just let the sugar start to dissolve. Once it does, increase the heat to medium-high, still not stirring, to avoid crystallisation. Watch the mixture closely as it begins to darken (if some of the sugar isn’t melting properly, give the pan a gentle twirl to distribute the melting sugar a bit more evenly).

When the bubbling caramel is a deep dark golden brown, carefully pour it onto your greaseproof paper. Twirl the baking sheet around until you have a thin, even layer of caramel. Leave to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces, either (carefully) with a knife, or by scrunching the greaseproof paper with your hands. If not used more or less right away, place in a container or freezer bag and place in the freezer, as it will go sticky and soft quite quickly.

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For the batter:

Grease a 20×30 cm baking tin, and line with baking parchment; preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F.

Chop the milk chocolate.

Melt the butter (either in the microwave for just under a minute or in a small pan), and set aside for a moment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, then whisk in the melted butter.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, then fold this and the milk chocolate pieces into the egg and sugar mixture with a silicone spatula, just until combined/there are no streaks of flour.

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Pour into the baking tin and smooth out with your spatula, then distribute 75 g of the caramel shards evenly on top, if making butterscotch blondies, 35 g over half of the batter if making half/half, and none, if making simple chewy chocolate chip blondies.

Bake for 30 minutes, until they are golden and set but still a little soft and gooey in the middle.

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Let cool completely before cutting into pieces (although I did yield and have some while they were still warm 😉 ).

Keep leftover blondies well-covered in the tin, or in an air tight container. They travel very well, and keep for about three days, should you decide not to share them with anyone else.

•••

P.s.: A few of the other Violet Bakery Cookbook goodies I can’t wait to try out are these rye chocolate brownies and coconut macaroons, and the ham, cheese and leek scones (not pictured):

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No Banana Left Behind

Blueberry-Banana Poppy Seed Muffins

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I haven’t really been craving anything banana-ey lately, and so I put off making anything with the pile of super brown bananas lying in my fruit bowl. Then on Friday my friend Nadia brought me some brown bananas she’d had lying around, and, not wanting to chuck the lot, Sunday night I decided to just get on with it, use the damn bananas. I feel kind of bad saying it, I mean I LOVE bananas, and most any kind of baked good with them in it, but the past weeks I’ve just been daydreaming about fudgy brownies and cinnamon rolls. But, in my kitchen, no banana is left behind.

I first made Luna Månebarn’s vegan banana bread in November of last year, and have been making it again and again and again ever since. It’s so good, and so quick to make, better than most non-vegan banana breads out there. Then a little while back, she posted a recipe for blueberry muffins with bananas and poppy seeds, and I printed it out and put it in my ‘to try’ pile. It’s a ‘mix everything together in one bowl’ kind of recipe, which takes about 10 minutes, tops, to mix together and distribute into your muffin pan, probably less time than it takes to heat up your oven, which is my most favourite kind of recipe. Especially when it’s 10 pm on a Sunday, and I have a bunch of brown bananas looking at me with sad, reproachful eyes.

And these muffins – oh man. They’re kind of surprising, I wouldn’t normally think to pair bananas and poppy seeds! But these are so light and moist, sweet with just the right amount of salty, and the delicate sweetness and satisfying crunch of the poppy seeds and bursts of tangy blueberries that offset the sweetness… I’ve already eaten six.

I whipped them up in less than 30 minutes, start to finish. They are just lovely and kind of delicately wholesome, and at times almost taste like they have chocolate in them (maybe the combination of poppy seeds and super ripe bananas does that?! I don’t know, but some bites taste almost chocolatey to me). I made a double portion to use up more bananas, the recipe doubles super easily. I might add 50 g more blueberries next time, I like my blueberry muffins heavy on the blueberry! Other than that, to me at least, these are kind of perfect.

Though do make sure to check your teeth after eating one, poppy seeds love to hang around 😏 😁

Blueberry-Banana Poppy Seed Muffins
adapted slightly from maanebarnet / yield: 12

  • 150 g (1 1/5 cups or 1 cup and 3 tbsp) flour
  • 150 g (3/4 cups) sugar (I use cane sugar)
  • 50 g (a scant 1/2 cup) blue poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 ½ very ripe bananas, mushed
  • 50 g oil (1/4 cup) (I used coconut)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 100 g (1 cup) frozen blueberries + 1 tbsp flour

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, salt and baking soda.

Mush your bananas, then add these, along with the oil and the vinegar (or lemon juice) to the dry ingredients. Stir everything together well, but don’t over-stir – just until you’re sure there are no streaks of flour. Toss the blueberries in the tbsp of flour, then quickly and gently fold these into the batter.

Scoop into your muffin liners, then bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins are nice and golden. Let them cool in the pan.

Eat one as soon as you can 🙂 they keep well for several days at room temperature. I’m sure they also freeze well (the banana-nut ones do), but I will test this and report back!

Banana and Nutella Swirl Muffins

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Oh, the dreary January weather has hit Brussels. And how. It’s true couch-weather, surely one shouldn’t be allowed to go to work on dreary, cold January days, which scream out for blankets and cocoa and movies and naps. I’ve decided to leave my Christmas decorations up until at least my birthday, which is later this month. I feel as though January-weather makes cosy, twinkly lights even more imperative than December-weather does, and I’m not completely ready to let go of Christmas just yet.

According to an old Danish and Swedish Christmas song from around 1700, Nu er det jul igen (‘it’s Christmas again’), Christmas lasts all the way till Easter, except it’s broken by the Lent. Danes traditionally dance around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, holding hands and singing Christmas carols, and this song is one of the more up-tempo ones, where we keep changing direction as we’re singing, and everyone gets winded and confused! It may sound a bit nuts, but it’s super fun, and apparently this type of dancing, where you hold hands and almost run, is called a kehraus, dates back all the way to the 1750s, and is rooted in an even older kind of folk dancing from the middle ages (says this article, unfortunately in Danish, from the National Union for Danish Folk Dancers’ magazine! I find the fact that such a union exists extremely comforting, for some reason!). People used to do this not strictly at Christmas, but whenever there was a celebration such as a wedding, first in their home, and then around the entire village, holding hands. And Nu er det jul igen has become the most popular ‘jule-kehraus’ (Christmas kehraus) 🙂

Anyways, my ‘when should Christmas be over’ musings brought the song lyrics to my mind, and the line about fasting/Lent piqued my curiosity. So I took to Google, and according to wikipedia, Lent is only really observed in Catholicism, not in Protestantism, which is the main form of Christianity in Denmark. Not that I’m very, if at all, religious, mind you – but in Denmark you become a member of the Danish Church when you’re baptised, which I was, and Christmas was, traditionally, a religious holiday… even if now it’s become more cultural than religious, to most people I know. But should you observe Lent, the interwebs tell me that it begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on the 10th of February this year. So as far as I’m concerned, keeping Christmas lights up for the better part of January is completely reasonable, Lent or no Lent.

I’ve nearly reached the bottom of my Christmas cookie tins, so it’s time to fill my tummy and pantry with other comforting baked goods, in the name of Winter. I saw a recipe for Nutella financiers on Instagram, which looked delicious and made my mind go one step further, to some kind of beautiful banana and Nutella mess. So again I Googled, and came upon this recipe which I had to try. Nutella swirls? Yes please. The original recipe said it makes for 12, but I made 1 ½ portions to bring some to work with me as well. But I ended up with 30 little muffins! So I guess one portion makes for 20 🙂 I also put in slightly less Nutella because I figured my muffins must be smaller, since there were more of them… but next time I’m going to put a full tsp in each, as the Nutella is really what makes this muffin… I’m also going to put in more bananas, as I found that I wouldn’t mind an even moister and more banana-y muffin. Once I’ve experimented further, I will update this post posthaste 🙂

Banana and Nutella Swirl Muffins
Adapted from myrecipes.com – yield: 20 little muffins

  • 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour or a mixture of all-purpose and whole-wheat (I used all all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 115 g (8 tablespoons/1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (as mentioned above, I’m going to use 4, next time)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 75 g (2/3 cup) chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts (I used hazelnuts)
  • 20 tsp Nutella

Anyways, my ‘when should Christmas be over’ musings brought the song lyrics to my mind, and the line about fasting/Lent piqued my curiosity. So I took to Google, and according to wikipedia, Lent is only really observed in Catholicism, not in Protestantism, which is the main form of Christianity in Denmark. Not that I’m very, if at all, religious, mind you – but in Denmark you become a member of the Danish Church when you’re baptised, which I was, and Christmas was, traditionally, a religious holiday… even if now it’s become more cultural than religious, to most people I know. But should you observe Lent, the interwebs tell me that it begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on the 10th of February this year. So as far as I’m concerned, keeping Christmas lights up for the better part of January is completely reasonable, Lent or no Lent.

I’ve nearly reached the bottom of my Christmas cookie tins, so it’s time to fill my tummy and pantry with other comforting baked goods, in the name of Winter. I saw a recipe for Nutella financiers on Instagram, which looked delicious and made my mind go one step further, to some kind of beautiful banana and Nutella mess. So again I Googled, and came upon this recipe which I had to try. Nutella swirls? Yes please. The original recipe said it makes for 12, but I made 1 ½ portions to bring some to work with me as well. But I ended up with 30 little muffins! So I guess one portion makes for 20 🙂 I also put in slightly less Nutella because I figured my muffins must be smaller, since there were more of them… but next time I’m going to put a full tsp in each, as the Nutella is really what makes this muffin… I’m also going to put in more bananas, as I found that I wouldn’t mind an even moister and more banana-y muffin. Once I’ve experimented further, I will update this post posthaste 🙂

Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F, and line your muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes, then beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour a bit at a time, then fold in your nuts, making sure to mix just until combined, no more, so the muffins don’t become heavy.

Scoop the batter into your muffins tin, and spoon 1 tsp of Nutella onto each muffins, swirling it into the batter with a toothpick (I found this rather tricky, although I keep my Nutella at room temperature – I think this may be because the cookie liners kept moving around as I was attempting to ‘swirl’! I ended up using two toothpicks to swirl simultaneously, but I may have over-swirled slightly. Next time I think I’ll deposit the Nutella as three little blobs instead of one big, and swirl those around slightly 🙂 ).

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Bake for about 22 minutes until the muffins are golden, and a toothpick inserted in a less Nutella-y bit of muffin comes out clean. After they’ve cooled a bit in the pan, place on a cooling rack to cool completely. The muffins keep for several days in a cookie tin or plastic container.

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I’m going to Milan this weekend, and these are coming with me! ❤

(FYI – stuffing them in a plastic bag and stuffing said plastic bag it into your suitcase, running out the door with your bags because you’re going to the airport straight from work, then realising you left your passport at home and turning back, wasting almost an hour and slightly manhandling your bag in the process, like I did, will result in pretty smushed muffins).

 

Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon-Orange Frosting

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I first tried making these moreish little cakes about a month ago. They’re super moist (‘dejligt svampede ‘, as my Danish colleague said, which translates roughly into ‘nice and mushy’ – which appeared to be a good thing).

(Side note: I’ve stopped freaking out about the word moist – am I alone in that? Most people get really bummed out at the mention of the word, but I say we take it back, because it’s so useful when describing cake. I mean, what alternatives are there, really, to describe cake that isn’t dry? ‘Wet’ certainly won’t do. Neither will ‘damp’. ‘Squishy’? I really don’t think so. I say we reclaim ‘moist’, at the very least for baking purposes. End of side note.)

Aaanyways, these are super moist, super quick to make, and super easy to eat. And who doesn’t love carrot cake? I really don’t know.

The first time I made them it was without frosting, as I’m really not a fan of cream cheese frosting, and I personally think that carrot cake is so delicious on its own that it really doesn’t need any frosting to begin with. I know that to many this is a slightly controversial statement, and I know a lot of people go mad for cream cheese frosting, but… meh! I don’t know, it just doesn’t do anything for me. And neither does buttercream frosting, I find it a bit off-putting and not all that interesting-tasting… BUT – on this particular Sunday, feeling adventurous, I decided to google ‘alternatives to cream cheese frosting’, and came upon an orange frosting that uses a little bit of butter, but not enough to be off-putting to me (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE butter in cake, and on fresh bread or toast, but I just can’t see the appeal when it’s mixed into sugar and milk and vanilla, in an unbaked form…). While I really liked the orange frosting, I still didn’t find it tangy enough, so I added some fresh lemon juice, and lo and behold, it turned into a lemon-orange frosting delight! At least I think so 🙂 And my colleagues seemed to really enjoy them when I brought them into work! Though they do tend to be rather forgiving whatever type of (more or less successfully) baked good I bring in, they were especially vocal about these ones. I’ll test the few ones that are left on my friends later today.

I also decided to forego the ginger in the original recipe this time around, and upped the cinnamon content slightly – although I love ginger, I prefer my carrot cake to be a little more on the cinnamon-nutmeg side 🙂 I also swapped part of the sugar for brown sugar, I’m not sure whether I’ll do this next time, but it does add a bit of ‘oomph’. And finally, while I personally don’t think they need any frosting,
it doesn’t hurt, and this one is dreamy, adds a lovely tang and off-sets the spices in the cake nicely. If you are a die-hard fan of cream cheese frosting, I’m 100% sure the original maple cream cheese frosting from smitten kitchen will more than do the job! And if you’re into something in between a thick glaze and a buttercream frosting with a nice zing of lemon juice and orange zest, then do give this one a go 🙂

Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon-Orange Frosting
Adapted slightly from smittenkitchen

  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • (optional: 100 g/1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts)

Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners, and preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F.

Peel and finely grate your carrots, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda. Stir the mixture into the wet ingredients, followed by the grated carrots (and nuts, if using). Scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling the cupcake liners about 3/4.

Bake them for about 15-20 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean. These are almost impossible to over-bake, but you don’t want them to burn on top. I do, however, find that it’s best to err on the side of 20 minutes, to make sure the cakes aren’t too wet at the bottom (they really are extremely moist). It’s also a good idea to turn your pan around halfway through baking, to ensure the cupcakes rise evenly, and not more on one side than the other.

Let cool for five minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Lemon-Orange Frosting
Adapted from be-ro

  • 50 g (2 ounces) butter, melted
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • 225 g icing sugar

Beat together the melted butter, orange and lemon juice, orange zest and icing sugar, beating for a good 5 minutes or so, until the mixture becomes light and airy, and has a spreadable consistency. Set aside until the cupcakes have cooled completely, then add little dollops to each cake, spreading it out with a knife.

Makes 24-28 little cupcakes, depending on the size of your cupcake liners.

 

 

Vegan Banana Cake :)

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I have a very problematic relationship with vegan baking. My lovely, vegan friend Klaudia is always missing out on dessert whenever we have a dinner party or some such, which made my sweet-toothed heart cry for her. Determined that she should want no more, I got googling and baking. But these adventures in vegan baking have been very tough on my baking self esteem. However, having wasted crazy amounts of perfectly good chocolate, and many, many bananas, I am happy to report that here is a vegan cake that doesn’t taste… well, vegan.

I know a lot of people say  it’s easy to bake tasty vegan cakes, but I think they must have forgotten what butter, milk and eggs taste like. I’m not a fan of margarine or soy milk, and I always try for recipes that don’t need anything ‘out of the ordinary’ to work. But in the end, I always find that, at the most, they taste ok, but lack something. Either in flavour or consistency. Maybe I’m mistaken, and I’ll happily be proven wrong, it’s just that I’ve tried (and failed) at so many vegan cakes now, that I’ve become very apprehensive at the idea of wasting any more chocolate. Some of these cakes have tasted fine enough.. But not in the way that you’d want to make them again.

And don’t even get me started on vegan chocolate cakes… I just cannot express how many times I’ve been disappointed, when the cake that smelled so good coming out of the oven, was just… meh. So much chocolate wasted. So. Much. I’ve also tried making ganache with coconut oil, but I just find the subtle taste of coconut distracting. Anyways, do please send me your (non-fussy) vegan chocolate cake recipes, if you have any, maybe I’ve just been unlucky!

Whilst more or less an omnivore, I tend to gravitate towards vegetarian food, simply because it makes me feel better after I eat it, and I feel as though I digest it better. And the way we produce and farm animal protein really disturbs and upsets me. I try to be conscious of where I buy my eggs and butter from, but even so… long story short, I’m always happy to find recipes that are vegetarian or even vegan!

I already have a favourite (non-vegan) recipe for banana cake, but this one is, dare I say it – just about as good. And vegan to boot. It’s from a Danish blogger, Månebarnet, which means the moon child 🙂 and it’s everything a banana cake should be, in my opinion – it’s really, really, crazily moist, studded with dark chocolate and walnuts, and strikes a perfect balance between salty and sweet. I’m really curious to try out some more of her recipes! This one turned out so yummy, and she has a lot more interesting and yummy-looking recipes.. albeit in Danish 🙂 I’m especially tempted to try out this courgette/zucchini cake. I shall report back!

Moist Vegan Banana Cake 🙂 (makes one round cake, or 20 little muffins*)
From Månebarnet

  • 200 g (1 3/5 cups) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 130 g (1 1/3 cups) sugar (preferably cane sugar)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar/powder/extract
  • 100 ml (just over 6 1/2 tbsp) vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 3 ripe, mashed bananas (about 250 g)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • 50-60 g (1/3 cup or 2.1 ounces) chopped dark chocolate (obviously one containing no dairy!)
  • 100 g (1 cup or 4.3 ounces) chopped walnuts

Whisk together all your dry ingredients in a medium bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar, as well as vanilla if using vanilla sugar/powder). Mush up your bananas, then chop your walnuts and chocolate.

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Add the lemon juice or vinegar, the oil and the mushed bananas (and the vanilla, at this stage, if using vanilla extract) into the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined (don’t over-mix, as the cake will become heavy). Add the chocolate chips and chopped nuts, and transfer to a greased springform tin (about 20 cm/9 inches in diameter).

Bake for 45-55 minutes at 160°C/320°F, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool before attempting to cut (although it’ll taste phenomenal, it won’t cut very neatly otherwise!).

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Keeps for several days, wrapped in tinfoil or covered with a cake dome. 🙂

P.s.: I may try drizzling a bit of dark chocolate over this next time I make it! Where other vegan banana cakes I’ve tried weren’t quite sweet enough, and were easily tipped over the edge towards too bitter with the addition of dark chocolate, this is quite a sweet cake, so I think it could handle a bit of a decorative dark chocolate drizzle. Not that it needs it, but it wouldn’t hurt at all! I also think this would make for wonderful little banana-nut muffins* – with or without chocolate 🙂

*Update: I’ve now tried making these as muffins, too, and they were wonderful! And somehow even more appealing, because they’re slightly easier to eat/transport etc, in this format 🙂 The recipe makes for about 20 little muffins. I added about 100 g finely chopped walnuts on top of the muffins, to add a nice crunch and make them a bit more appealing, visually. Bake them in muffin liners, at 160°C/320°F for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Havuçlu Kek (Turkish Carrot Cake)

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This Sunday I made two different carrot cakes, 1) because I was curious to try out this recipe, and 2) because I’d grated too many carrots for the one I had initially decided to make, which was already in the oven, and so it seemed meant to be that I should bake this particular cake right this instant.

Please excuse the lack of pictures – I managed to gobble up all of the cake but for one little tinfoil-wrapped piece, which I hurriedly took a picture of before eating it for breakfast a few days ago. This is different to any carrot cake I’ve tried, more a cinnamon-spice cake really, than a classic carrot cake. It’s super moist but somehow less ‘wet’ than most, containing about half the amount of grated carrots than other carrot cakes, sweet and subtle and perfectly studded with roughly chopped walnuts. It’s my favourite carrot cake to date, and that’s saying a lot, as it’s hard to go wrong with any carrot cake, in my opinion. While I don’t think any carrot cake really needs frosting to begin with (I know that this may come as a shock to most of the die-hard classic cream cheese frosting fans out there, but I am not one of them!), this cake is somehow even more unassuming than other carrot cakes, and is just perfect as is – no muss, no fuss, and no frosting. Just perfectly moist cake with cinnamon and walnuts, and a hint of grated carrot. I even ended up bringing all of the carrot cupcakes with lemon-orange frosting I’d just made to work with me the next day to give to my colleagues, although they were perfectly delicious, because I only want to eat this one right now. It also seems completely perfect for this time of year, red and yellow leaves on the trees and ground, and brisk autumn winds and all 🙂 the same way spiced cider and big, woolly scarves do.

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Long story short, I’ll certainly be making this again 🙂 and most probably not just in autumn.

Havuçlu kek (Turkish carrot cake)
Adapted slightly from Hayriye’s Turkish Food and Recipes

  • 3 eggs
  • 300 g sugar (1 1/2 cups)
  • 240 ml (1 cup) olive oil (or whatever oil you prefer)
  • 250 g (2 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt (I used 1 whole tsp because the salt I have is fleur de sel, but if you’re using fine table salt, then I suggest cutting the amount to 1/2-2/3 tsp)
  • Grated zest of one half to one whole lemon, depending on how big your lemon is. If in doubt, go for half (I didn’t have any oranges, but I will try adding orange zest as well, next time I bake this) (*I’ve now tried adding the zest of one orange as well, and while I don’t think it makes a huge difference in taste, it certainly doesn’t hurt!)
  • 1 cup finely grated carrot (240 ml)
  • 100 g (1 cup) roughly chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale and foamy. Add the oil, and mix well. Add in the grated carrots, lemon/orange zest and chopped walnuts. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, then fold this into the wet ingredients.

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Pour the batter into a well-greased and lightly floured bundt cake tin, and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin, then carefully cut around the edges with a very thin knife, to loosen it from the sides of the tin. Turn the cake out onto a plate, and enjoy 🙂

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Keeps well for several days wrapped in tin foil.

 

Marble Crumb Cake

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A while back, I’d planned on making a blueberry crumb cake to bring to a dinner I was going to. I was also going to make a tomato tart, and a vegan tahini and orange blossom cake. It didn’t quite work out that way, because on my way home from work, I got caught in a summer storm (told you it was a while back!) of epic proportion; it was pretty great 🙂 I love a bit of dramatic weather. I left work, and the heat and humidity hit me like a wall as soon as I left the clinically cool air conditioning of my office. Everyone was wearing shorts and skirts and mellow ‘gee it’s hot ‘ end-of-the-work-day expressions. I was  sitting on the tram, lost in thoughts about the week, when the sky went almost completely black. When the tram stopped and the doors opened to let people on and off, you could feel the drop in temperature, the wind picking up, and a sort of collective sigh of relief going through the passengers, despite the sudden darkness and promise of rain.

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I got off at my stop, and immediately big fat raindrops began to hit the hot asphalt, so I legged it to the supermarket, trying to dodge the worst of it (unsuccessfully, but gleefully – lightning and thunder overhead, and the wind making my umbrella turn inside out). I did my shopping, drenched. And legged it on home with my groceries.

But when I emptied my shopping bag, lo and behold, I’d forgotten blueberries. And the tomatoes. And also several of the ingredients for the vegan cake. It didn’t really seem all that dramatic, what with everything else in my head, so I just sort of shrugged my shoulders, and decided I’d buy a Spanish tortilla the next day, to bring to the dinner instead of the tomato tart, and, in the name of improvisation, to make the crumb cake, but to try substituting apricot jam for the blueberries (this really, really amazing apricot jam I got in Provence). But let me tell ya, it did not taste good. Way too sweet, too much lemon zest, and the jam just sort of fused itself to the crumble topping, making a sort of hard but chewy layer, rather than crispy, buttery crumbs. I must have not swirled the jam into the batter properly. But at least I learned that, were I to make it again, and this time with actual blueberries, I will definitely cut both the lemon zest and sugar quantities down a bit.

Anyways, there I was, sans (edible) cake. So I flipped through one of my baking books, and, since I’d had my heart set on crumb cake in particular, decided to try out this one recipe I’d been meaning to for years but somehow never got around to (and for which I happened to have all of the ingredients): a marble crumb cake – vanilla and cocoa pound cake with chocolate chips, and a thick layer of dark cocoa streusel on top. And thankfully, it was really good! Phew 🙂 And very, very moreish. I had a piece of it warm, at 11 pm, for testing purposes. And another for breakfast, still for testing purposes. Still good. And even though there were plenty of other desserts at the dinner the next day, there was barely any cake left over to bring home. Even my friend who doesn’t like chocolate cakes liked it. I think everyone likes crumble 🙂 I even made it again a couple of times over the following weeks ’cause I was craving the dark and not too sweet, intensely cocoa-ey streusel topping.

So here is a super comforting, super easy, and super quick-to-make cake, one that can very easily be made the day before as it doesn’t go dry. I baked it in a square baking tin, but I think next time I might try a loaf tin! I’m really into baking things in loaf tins at the moment. Like carrot cake. And this dense chocolate loaf cake.

I don’t think there are many situations or shitty weeks that can’t be made a little bit better by including cake of some sort; and if nothing else, it can’t make things worse… And the process itself, even if the result isn’t always what you’d hoped, is so soothing… at least to me. It’s the only thing that makes my mind go quiet for a bit. I’m terrible at meditation, and making my mind be still. It’s always buzzing, ah-ing and ooh-ing over something, thinking about that thing that I forgot to do, or that thing I need to do tomorrow. Or that time, 10 years ago, where I spilled coffee all over myself and the floor of a newsagent’s when trying to purchase a newspaper, by dropping said newspaper, bending over to pick up said newspaper, spilling the hot contents of the coffee I’d just purchased 5 minutes earlier all over my hand (ouch) and said newspaper. With people all around, staring. You know, stuff like that. Buzz buzz buzz. Anyways, my point: baking quietens that buzzing. And then, afterwards, there’s cake. 🙂

A friend of mine sent me this article from the guardian because it made her think of me, all about how baking is inherently feminist, even though some consider it to be a feminine cliché, a step backwards for feminism. The author posits that “Women who bake and write about it want you to understand what is impossible to understand without personal experience. They want you to know about the magic of it: how you combine a heap of powders which have no real-world meaning (to conceptualize flour, for example, feels impossible), and add something wet, and heat it up, and watch it change. There’s some power in this. And more than that: baking requires (and imbues) a kind of trust that is absent in everyday cooking.”

And I loved this sentence: “People can’t see wild yeast, even though it’s all around us all the time. Wild yeast is what is used in sourdough bread, but here’s the thing about it: you have to catch it.” 🙂 🙂 🙂
I need to start baking some bread. But in the meantime, there’s cake.

Marble (Chocolate Chip) Crumb Cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s recipe from How to Bake

Crumb topping:

  • 125 g flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 75 g cold butter
  • 75 g sugar (preferably light brown or unprocessed cane sugar)
  • a few good pinches of flakey sea salt

Cake batter:

  • 175 g sugar
  • 175 g butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
  • 175 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped into medium chunks

Line a cake tin (about 20 cm/9 inches) with baking parchment, and preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.

Make the crumb by mixing the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl, then rubbing the butter into it with your fingers. Add a few drops of cold water to the mixture to bring it together, leaving some bigger chunks in amidst the rubble-like crumbs, and set aside while you prepare the batter.

Make the batter: In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter till light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder, then beat this into the butter mix.

Spoon blobs of batter around your pan, leaving gaps, using about 3/4 of the batter. Mix the remaining 1/4 with the cocoa powder, and stir in the chocolate chunks. Spoon blobs of the chocolate batter into the pan, between the blobs of vanilla batter, then make swirls with the handle of a wooden spoon. Even the batter out a little bit but not too much. Little peaks and valleys are nice 🙂

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Bake for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and add the crumb topping. Bake for a further 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out with no batter
on it.

Leave to cool in the tin (but be sure to taste some as soon as possible – be careful not to burn your tongue on the buttery crumb topping). I don’t like milk, but if you do, I imagine this would be very good with a glass of cold milk.

Should keep for at least a few days covered in tin foil, if you have any left over.

Travels well in the tin. Serves 8-12 people 🙂