Sweets

Banana Bread

This is banana bread with a twist. It has lime juice and substitutes olive oil for butter which makes it even easier to make. As with all baking, never trust the timer exactly so check it with 15 minutes to go to see how it is cooking.

1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 very ripe bananas
1 lime zest/juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs

Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

  1. Place the sugar, flour and coconut in a large bowl and combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and lime zest/juice.
  3. In another bowl whisk the eggs with olive oil
  4. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the other two bowls. Mix together until just combined and then pour into the loaf tin
  5. Bake for 60 minutes (I think mine cooked in 50 minutes though) or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Serve warm or freeze for a later day.

Tiramisu

This recipe is taken straight from Italian Food Safari. It seems like a lot to do but once you get started it’s not too hard. Don’t be turned off with needing a sugar thermometer, you will know when it’s ready by pouring a little bit of the boiling syrup into cold water.

I also substituted the liqueurs with homemade limoncello.

Amaretti

1 cup icing sugar
4 large eggs, egg whites only
500g almond meal
1 ¾ cup (385g) caster sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon almond essence (optional)
100g glaced cherries, halved

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees, do not use fan forced oven and line two flat baking trays with baking paper

2. Place icing sugar on a place or shallow bowl

3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy, a fork works fine too

4. In another large bowl, combine almond meal, caster sugar & baking powder. Make a well in the middle and add foamy egg whites gradually mixing together the mixture with a wooden spoon until blended.

5. Then with your hands, mix thoroughly to form a sticky dough. It should be firm but not dry.

Now you are ready to make the biscuits.

Roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and then roll it through the icing sugar until covered and place on the baking paper tray. When finished, add the halved cherry and bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.

The are ready when they are lightly covered, risen and cracked. Be careful not to over cook them as they will be tough and crunchy. Leave them to cool on a wire rack before storing in an air tight container. You can freeze them as well for later if you wish.

Inspiration: Nonna

Limoncello

12-16 lemons (ripe yellow skin)
1L alcohol (190 proof)
1L water
650g sugar

Finely peel skin off the lemons and cut into tiny pieces using a sharp knife and put into a large jar. Add the vodka and close the lid tightly. Leave in a cool, dark place to ferment for 2 weeks, shaking every other day or so. A cupboard is fine for this.

After 2 weeks, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and you have a sugar syrup (only a few minutes).

The next step is the most important and the best. You need to add the sugar syrup and taste until you have the right consistency. I keep some of the alcohol to the side in case I add too much syrup and the limoncello becomes too sweet. Once you have it at the required strength, bottle it and leave to cool. Store limoncello in the freezer. You can also keep the lemon alcohol for when you need it as well.

Inspiration: Family recipe

Crema di limoncello

This is a milky variation of limoncello. I find it rather sweet and prefer the traditional version however this is worth a go.

12-16 lemons
1L alcohol (such as vodka)
2kg caster sugar
2L Long-life milk
3 x vanilla powder (available from Italian delis)

Finely peel skin off the lemons and cut into tiny pieces using a sharp knife and put into a large jar. Add the vodka and close the lid tightly. Leave in a cool, dark place to ferment for 2 weeks, shaking every other day or so. A cupboard is fine for this.

After 2 weeks, bring the milk to a boil in a large pot and remove from heat. Add the sugar and vanilla. Return to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. You need to control the heat and ensure it doesn’t overflow. It is more like a simmer-boil. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, strain the vodka through a muslin cloth.

Once cooled, add the alcohol, bottle and freeze.

Add half the milk to the alcohol and then continue to mix until you get the right strength. If you pour it all together straight away you may be left with a limoncello that is too sweet which is not ideal.

Lemon Yoghurt cake

1 ½ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 cup plain greek yoghurt
1 ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease/line a loaf pan with baking paper

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. In a separate bowl, which together the sugar, oil and eggs. Then add the yoghurt, lemon zest and almond extract. In batches, add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, whisking and folding to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until nicely browned and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Inspiration: Scarpettadolcetto.wordpress.com

Apricot crostata

Pastry:

200g plain flour
140g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
½ tsp baking powder
3tbs caster sugar
½ orange zest, grated
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tbs milk, chilled

Pastry can be difficult, so if you trying this for the first time, I recommend buying extra ingredients in case you need to start again.

Filling:

2 heaped tbs good quality apricot jam
4-5 ripe apricots cut into segments (8 per apricot)

Beat the flour, butter, baking powder, caster sugar and organge rind in mixer with a paddle attachment (or use your hands) until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the milk and egg ad beat only till it comes together.

Lightly flour a workbench and knead the dough for a few minutes and then roll. The pastry should be easy to manage and quite thin. Line the base of a 23cm tart tin with a removable base with the pastry, pressing it down. Cut the excess so the pastry goes half way up the sides of the tin. Prick the base several times aiwth a fork, cover in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll the excess patry into a rectangle, wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge. This will be used for the lattice.

Preheat the over to 200 degrees. Place the jam on the pastry base and arrange the apricot pieces in a circular fashion. Top with the lattice, which is made by cutting the rectangle pastry from before. Based for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

You can substitute apricots for other stone fruits such as plums, peaches, nectarines.

Choc chip cookies

Makes about 20

160g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
1 firmly packed cup (220g) light brown sugar
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 ½ cups (335g) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup (175g) chopped milk chocolate
1 cup (150g) salted peanuts

Use an electric mixer or your hands to beat together the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla extract, followed by the eggs 1 at a time, mixing well after each one. Fold in the flour, baking powder, biocarbonate, chopped chocolate and the peanuts, mixing well. Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm.

Preheat over to 180 degrees and line two baking sheets with baking paper. Take about 3 tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Place cookies on the tray giving plenty of space in between them. Press gently on the cookies until they 1cm thick and 6cm across.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until golden brown around the edges, switching the position of the tray half way through.

Remove the cookies whilst they are still soft in the centre – this ensures they remain chewy while cooling. Let the cookies rest for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool properly. Repeat the process until you have no more dough.

Chocolate and orange flourless cake

6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 oranges
50g cocoa
orange peel to taste
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g almond meal
250g caster sugar

Put the whole oranges in a pan with some cold water, bringing to the boil and cook for 2 hours or until soft. Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove any big pips. Then pulp everything – pith, peel and all – in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and butter/line a 20cm springform tin.

Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run the motor gently until you have cohesive cake mixture but slightly knobbly with flecks of pureed orange.

Pour and scrape the mixture into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a cake tester should come out pretty clean. Check this after 45 minutes because you may have to cover with foil to prevent the cake from burning.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin then move to a cooling rack. Decorate with strips of orange peel or grated zest if you wish however it is darkly beautiful it its plain, unadorned state.

You may also like to add a shot of limoncello to the cake mixture.

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