Sunday, May 18, 2014

Twice Baked Banana Cake for World Baking Day 2014

I hope you get to bake for someone you love or admire this fine Sunday! The act of baking a cake from scratch to me shows how much you care for someone and my someone this World Baking day is Jane Goodall, even though this is just a token gesture I bake for Jane in the spirit of great admiration, honour and respect for a genteel, kind and elegant woman who has spent her life studying, caring for and fighting for the rights and humane treatment of great apes. I was honoured to recently learn that we share the same birthday, April 3rd - me, Jane and Doris Day!
Here is the mission of her world renowned institute:

"Founded by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, the Jane Goodall Institute is a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. Our work builds on Dr. Goodall’s scientific work and her humanitarian vision. Specifically, we seek to:
Improve global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, public education and advocacy
Contribute to the preservation of great apes and their habitats by combining conservation with education and promotion of sustainable livelihoods in local communities
Create a worldwide network of young people who have learned to care deeply for their human community, for all animals and for the environment, and who will take responsible action to care for them"

To add a bit of wit to the day, as indeed the powers that be at WORLD BAKING DAY have chosen to do over on their website, I chose to make a Twice Baked Banana Cake for Jane for as we all know monkeys, chimpanzees and other apes are fond of their bananas. The cake has a banana layer beneath a layer of frangipane - almond cream. It is a quiet cake but substantial, it's not too sweet and it's great with a good hot cup of tea and as Jane is English I thought perhaps that might be her beverage of choice! 

Without further ado I give you:
adapted from a recipe in British Country Living magazine - my favourite magazine in the whole wide world!!!
Assemble your ingredients:
This is for a 9" cake, have all your ingredients at room temperature and set your oven to 325F, butter and flour your baking tin.
For the cake:
2oz/ 1/2 stick of butter 

3.5 oz/ 1/2 cup sugar 

2oz/ 1/3 cup toasted almonds ground - I toast in a 325F oven for about 8-10 mins until fragrant and crisp, allow to cool and then grind in a coffee grinder in small batches
(of course you can do all your almonds at the same time as you will need 4ozs more of ground almonds for the topping) 

2 fluid ounces/ scant 1/4 cup whole milk 

1 very ripe banana mashed until smooth

1/2 teaspoon baking soda/bicarb of soda 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated 

1 teaspoon almond essence/extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract 

2oz white flour and 2 ozs of spelt flour (1/2 cup each) - the spelt gives it a nice nutty flavour

1. Sift the dry ingredients together. 

2. Cream the butter and sugar together. 

3. Mix in the mashed banana, the almond essence/extract.

4. Fold in the dry ingredients in 3 goes and mix until smooth.

5. Spread evenly in the baking tin and pop into the oven for about 35 mins. until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes during which time make your frangipane topping for which you will need:

4ozs/ 2/3 cup toasted almonds ground as above 

2.5ozs/5 tablespoons butter (I always use salted for my desserts) very soft

4ozs/ heaped 1/2 cup sugar 

1 whole egg plus one egg white 

A goodly pinch of salt  

1 teaspoon almond essence/extract

A couple of tablespoons of flaked almonds for the top

(Truth be told I could have happily had twice as much of the frangipane so if you want to be decadent double this topping and hope it fits in the pan!)

1. Place all the ingredients except the flaked almonds in a bowl and beat until smooth - you could also do this in a food processor.
2. Smooth over the slightly cooled cake:
3. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over evenly - unlike mine - and bake for another 25 mins or so at 325F until set and golden brown thus:
Allow to cool completely in the pan then flip over onto a cooling tray and then back over again onto your plate - get the kettle on, make yourself tea, cut a nice neat slice and enjoy yourself this Sunday!
A cup of tea and Twice Baked Banana Cake in honour of JANE GOODALL!! Brava Jane!
Here's a beautiful video of Jane Goodall at work :) 

As a caveat let me tell you I originally made this cake in a 6" round 3" tall pan - my usual pan of choice for my cakes - I made double this recipe above, I messed up by adding way too much baking soda and not enough baking powder (according to the original recipe which I have since tweaked), I got my timing all wrong, I had tea soaked raisins in it and although it looked great as below you can see a problem beginning to unfold in the middle top of the cake...although my test skewer came out clean (but not clean enough) I came back after a few minutes of allowing the cake to cool to find it had completely collapsed in the middle leaving a cavernous hole filled with hot cake batter - it tasted good but was not quite the cake I had hoped for so rest assured not all recipes come out well first time!
I wish I had taken a picture of the collapse!
BTW if you are interested in the background fabric in these pics. above - it's from my Spoonflower shop, it's called "Homespun Quilt Patchwork" and it's available as fabric, wall paper, wall decals and wrapping paper HERE Thanks!
My friend Anne over at CARRINGTON LANE BAKERY -  who happens to be a professional baker with an ETSY SHOP
has also been baking for today - she made Chocolate Babka for her hubby James, Anne does such beautiful work and everything she makes tastes as good as it looks!

In the inimitable style of the true wit she is my good friend Elizabeth Loonan changed the title to "World Bacon Day", as she did last year too!, and created this gorgeous "Diner" Breakfast Special cupcake: white cake  with blueberry maple compote filling, dipped in coffee ganache, coffee maple cream cheese buttercream frosting, garnished with candied bacon and a maple drizzle. Cupcake Wars - watch out! 
Beautiful photos by Elizabeth's husband Antonio Rosario

Can you guess who Elizabeth baked for - sad to say it took me a while to figure it out!!

So who will you be baking for today?

Here's my recipe from last year - which was all about Baking Brave - and yes I did....with a combination of Stilton Cheese and Rhubarb -'s was definitely different!

BTW if you need a really good, simple and very instructive weights and measures conversion site try The Pastry Scoop!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Iris Nouveau - a new design in my online shops and new items at Society6

My latest design "Nouveau Iris" - or "Iris Nouveau" I can never decide which way round I prefer - began her journey many years ago as a small watercolour painting, a fifth of a full circle section created specifically with dinner plates in mind. Poor little thing has been languishing in my flat files waiting to be chosen, scanned and created into a full circle design and then reworked into allover patterns to be uploaded to my various online print on demand shops applied to many and sundry items for you and your home, as gifts to yourself and your family and friends. She has always been a favourite of mine - how odd you can have favourites of your own work!, and I am so glad to see her finished!

I give you:
As a greetings HERE
as a HERE
on the new V-neck t's at HERE

and the new Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 cases, and iPhone cases HERE
...on iPad cases - click HERE

...mugs - click HERE
pillows/cushions - click HERE

and newly added rugs in three sizes...HERE
...shower curtains two ways...HERE as seen above
and below HERE
 and tote bags too...HERE
All the above are available at my Society6 shop in two different sections... HERE and HERE ( just click on the words HERE :)

Iris is also now available in my Spoonflower shop as fabric:
and wallpaper:
and wrapping paper:
and finally it's available as an archival print in my Etsy shop too!

Phew - I'm exhausted methinks I need a cuppa and a piece of the cake I have baked for World Baking Day tomorrow Sunday May 18th - the recipe will be up tomorrow!