Childhood Banana Bread Muffins

When I was little, my mum had a Winnie-the-Pooh cookbook, our first port of call for any baking attempt. It was full of the basics for an afternoon tea sort of affair, with recipes for breads, cakes, cookies and jam. The pages are dotted with snippets from AA Milne’s best loved poems and stories.

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“‘Don’t forget the butter

for the royal slice of bread,’

The Alderney

said sleepily

‘You’d better tell

His Majesty

That many people nowadays 

Like marmalade instead.’

When We Were Very Young, AA Milne”

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Of all the teatime treats contained in the pages of this little book, our absolute favourite was the Banana Bread. The recipe is ludicrously simple and produces the yummiest, fluffiest cake ever. That Banana Bread was, and is, so well loved that the book falls open on the recipe, the pages dotted with the remnants of sticky batter-covered fingers reaching to read the next ingredient.

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It was always a huge treat whenever we were allowed to bake Banana Bread, made even more special by the fact that it calls for very overripe bananas, meaning that the window of opportunity is fairly small.

Butter and sugar is creamed together, eggs are cracked in, then two mashed bananas are added. For six-year-old me, it was always a case of trying to stick my finger in the butter/sugar combo to sneak a taste before the banana was added, because that always reminded me of baby food and kind of freaked me out. Of course, this also had to be done without Mum seeing. Tricky.

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Even now, at age twenty-one, I am excited to bake and eat some Winnie banana bread! Normally, we would bake this in a loaf tin, playing up to its misnomer ‘bread,’ but I opted for muffins this time. The choice is entirely yours, but of course, muffins will cook a whole lot quicker!

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Banana Bread

the recipe uses cups, as it’s an American book, so I’ve included the metric measurements as well

1/2 cup/ 115g butter (1 stick)

1 cup/ 200g sugar

2 eggs

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 cups/ 250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup/ 120ml milk

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Cream together the butter and sugar, then add eggs and bananas.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add the lemon juice to milk. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the banana mixture alternately, ending with the flour mixture.

Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin or muffin cases and bake at 180 degrees, until the top has a slightly crunchy ‘crust’ and the inside is soft and moist. A loaf will take 50 minutes to an hour, while muffins will take 20-30 minutes. Eat warm. Cup of tea recommended.

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xxR

Courgette Cupcakes with Spicy Ginger Icing

All of my posts recently have been something along the lines of this: ‘At the moment, my mother’s garden is overflowing with [insert fruit or veg here] and, in an attempt to use up all the [said fruit] I have baked…’

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I’m so sorry. What a bore! I wish I could fill these pages instead with great stories and interesting tales instead of what are basically gardening reports. But sadly, at the moment my life is filled mainly with bowls of plums all over the kitchen (transformed into Plum Cakes and Tarts and endless jars of sticky orange jam), figs rolling off the counter (watch this space!) and mounds of courgettes.

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Every meal we are eat has some courgette element, be it hidden or the main attraction, and these cakes are no different.

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In Courgette Cake, the courgette is extremely well disguised, even the most seasoned hater of courgettes would never know! Instead, they add a moist, light texture to a delicious, cinnamony sponge. Basically, its very similar to carrot cake. But hey, nothing wrong with that!

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So if you, like me, are drowning under a sea of courgettes, grate them, mix them into some butter, brown sugar, flour and spices.

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They can be baked as either cupcakes or a loaf, or whatever takes your fancy!

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Topped with ginger spiked buttercream, a fresh courgette flower and devoured immediately!

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Courgette Cake with Spicy Ginger Icing 

(this recipe makes about 12 cupcakes or one smallish loaf)

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For the courgette cake:

2 eggs

100ml melted butter, cooled slightly

100ml olive oil

200g brown sugar

200g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

200g peeled and grated courgettes

Whisk together eggs, butter, oil and sugar until they are all combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and spices, then add them to the egg mixture in two batches, beating well after each addition.

Finally, add the courgettes to the mixture and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases or a lined and greased loaf or cake tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes if cupcakes, or 40-45 minutes if a loaf or cake, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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For the icing:

140g butter

280g icing sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

splash of milk, if needed

Whisk together the butter and icing sugar, then mix in the ginger. If the icing is too stiff, add a small splash of milk to loosen it. Spread on top of the cooled cupcakes or loaf and enjoy!

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xxR

Feast Food Festival, London

Yesterday I ventured very deep into the East London docks for Feast Food Festival. Having been given a ticket, I was a little unsure what to expect, but I figured that someone with as avid interest in food as me was sure to enjoy it. I was not wrong!

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For a start, the building it was housed in, Tobacco Dock, was incredible! It is a huge, old warehouse that has been converted into an exhibition space. It is a combination of bricks, metal girders and open sky, meaning that even when inside, one gets unimpeded access to the summer sun, which was out in full force! Being an old dock, it is situated on a canal, complete with two large ships to create some atmosphere.

I’m incredibly indecisive, so choosing what to eat was a bit tricky, especially with so many tasty looking things on offer! Inside and out, the space was packed with the most delicious and unique food, from duck confit burgers with truffle cheese to contemporary British cuisine to extravagantly topped hot dogs. There were also bars serving everything from alcoholic iced tea, to locally brewed beers to absinthe, as well as a DJ booth. A few vendors I was familiar with, such as The Breakfast Club (who were not serving breakfast, surprisingly), The Meringue Girls (who were serving meringues, unsurprisingly) and Primrose Bakery (who served up a whole host of delicious baked goods from a tiny van.)

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We were keen to try as many things as we could fit into our bellies, which unfortunately was really not that many! We started with a mini portion of Black Paella, dyed with the ink of a cuttlefish. Aside from its intimidatingly dark colour, and the bright contrast of chillis and lemons, it tasted delicious. We sat outside, basking in the sun, almost feeling as though we really were in Spain! Thoroughly satisfied, we moved on in search of our next mouthful.

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And settled on vegetarian indian- a chickpea and tomato curry topped with different chutneys, yoghurt, red onion, puffed rice, coriander and pomegranate seeds. Personally, I think anything with coriander is delicious. But this too was really good.

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It seemed a faux pas to eat a curry, even one this elegant, without beer, so went in search of something to wet our whistles, devoured in front of the ship.

I was feeling pretty full by this point, but my feasting buddy wanted to try a waffle with duck, plum sauce and an egg that he had spied earlier, so we hopped in the queue.

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Being veggie, I didn’t have any of this- but it looked pretty good!

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I decided to end the day on a sweet note with a salted caramel brownie. It was the perfect richness and perfect chocolateyness and we toddled home feeling way too stuffed but very happy.

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I would highly recommend Feast as a day out, especially for a food lover! Sadly, it was only on this weekend, so you’ve missed it- but keep an eye peeled around this time next year for a taste of the action!

xxR