Monday, November 24, 2008

Today, I...

..am friggen tired.

It's been a while since I slogged so much in the kitchen on a SUNDAY. It's SUNDAY, people should be relaxing, putting their feet up on a SUNDAY. But.. no.. somehow, inspired by some unknown factor, I set out and did all these things today:

Brunch: Ricotta Hotcakes

...followed by

Afternoon baking session of: Butterscotch banana cake

...followed by

Dinner: Lasagna (click here to see my dinner)


and to top it off. I blogged... not only once! but twice today(!)

Heck that's heaps more in one day than I have done in the 6 months!

What's wrong with me???? could I be sick?? *places palm on forehead*
No, I don't have a fever....

Perhaps.. it is a start of something... or could it be.. the return of...INSPIRATION?

A bit premature maybe... but... one can hope.. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Nevertheless, I am very proud of myself today. I made some thing old and some thing new. *nod nod*

Me old boss has been down with the cold/flu for the last few weeks now and the poor guy's a wreck. When I saw him last week he asked when I was baking for him again. I said "sure... How about Monday? Tell me what you feel like eating and I'll make it for ya."

After some deliberation, he said "Banana cake. I like banana cakes."

I said: "Ok. No problem boss. Banana cake it is."

Now here, lies my problem. I'm not a big fan of the 'nanas unless it was a deep fried and dripping with oil. (read: banana fritter) I've only baked something 'banana-y' once and it was a "Banana and oat muffin" that's in my blog archive somewhere. One of those, I made last year and should've been posted over a year ago but hasn't surfaced the blogosphere. (What to do? What to do?) One of my girl friends swears by the combination of bananas and blueberries. I've had the loaf that she bakes fairly often. It's not bad. But it's a bit sweet for my taste. I could ask her for the recipe...

But then I figured, if I was P and I've been hankering from some good old banana cake, I'm not sure I'd be very happy it was 'contaminated' with some blueberries, no matter how good they (the cake) are. I thought it was best to look for something a little more old fashion.

Butterscotch banana cake


So I went and looked up friend google. Trolled through tons of recipes but found that most of them were a bit.. umm... lacking. I envisioned my banana cake to be.. caramelly, with a soft and moist texture, a little bit of nuts on the top and fragrant - banana fragrant that is.

Only one problem. I saw P on Friday, I said I'd deliver on Monday. 2 days is not enough to ripen the bananas to the ripe and sweet banana-y fragrant that I was after. (Read: London doesn't do (sell) ripe bananas at the shops.) There was no way I was going to get sweet ripen bananas and I was going to have to compensate it someHOW..

The HOW came in the form of this recipe.

Butterscotch banana cake

Butterscotch Banana cake
adapted from this recipe here

Ingredients:

Butterscotch Bananas:
150g caster sugar
250g banana flesh, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
25ml water

Cake:
100g caster sugar
175ml sunflower oil (I used Rice Bran Oil instead)
2 large eggs
150g plain flour
75g spelt, rye or wholemeal flour (I used wholemeal flour)
2 level tsp mixed spice (I used all spice)
2 level tsp baking powder
½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
50ml plain yoghurt

a handful of walnuts (optional)

Butterscotch bananas
  1. Peel and cut bananas into 1 or 2 cm slices.
  2. In a saucepan, bring to boil caster sugar and water.
  3. Cook over high heat until the sugar turns to a dark/red caramel.
  4. Add the bananas, butter and vanilla, and simmer until the bananas become soft, mushy and becomes a part of the caramel. The mixture should be thick now.
  5. Remove from stove and set aside to cool.

Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan-forced oven)
  2. Grease and line a loaf tin. Approx 20cm long.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs until mixture is thick and airy.
  4. Mix in the bananas and the yoghurt.
  5. Sift the flours, spice, baking powder and soda together (two or three times)*
  6. Fold flour into the banana mixture.
  7. Pour into tin.
  8. Top with chopped walnuts.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
*The recipe suggests that the bran should be poured back into the flour mixture at the end the sift. I found out the hard way that this may or may not be a good idea. Depending on whether you like finding bits of wheat in your cake or not.

Butterscotch banana cake

The verdict:
Soft, moist and slightly fragrant banana cake. Just how I imagined it to be. The butterscotch/caramel flavour makes up for the lack of fragrant as the bananas were not as ripe as I'd wanted them to be.
A traditional yet slightly special banana cake.
I might just grow to like this banana cake thing. =)


Butterscotch banana cake

Some things never change...

Ricotta Hotcakes


...like my love for Ricotta Hotcakes, Bill's Ricotta Hotcakes to be specific.

The first time I made this was over 2 years ago. Pretty much, not long after I started this blog. Check out the before and after shots eh?

It was like, I found my first love.. all over again...... except this time it's with ricotta (cheese). Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean. The first time I tried ricotta cheese, I turned my nose up and bah humbugged it. It was a baked ricotta with cumin and some salt and pepper.. I think.

Of course, that was many moons ago, when I was none the wiser.

After the hotcakes discovery, I went ricotta mad for a bit:
  • Ricotta on toast with honey
  • Ricotta on toasted bagel
  • Ricotta on toasted raisin bread
  • Ricotta cheesecake
  • Ricotta and spinach cannelloni
  • Ricotta this,
  • Ricotta that....
... I think you get the picture.

The last time these fluffy hotcakes lined my plates were over a year ago right, just before we left Melbourne for London. Ironically, it was only this week that I started craving for them again.

Ricotta Hotcakes


Ricotta Hotcakes

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups ricotta
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs separated
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
50g of butter

  1. Combine ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a bowl (mix well).
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt until just combined.
  3. Beat eggs white in another bowl until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine flour mix and ricotta mix.
  5. Fold in egg white into batter in two separate lots.
  6. Heat some butter in the pan and place 2 tbsp of batter onto the pan.
  7. Cook until the top of the mix starts to bubble and flip over gently.

*Should make about 8 or 9 hotcakes depending on the size.

Oh, in case you're wondering, that blob on top of the hotcakes is actually Honeycomb Butter topped with more Honeycomb. Extravagant... but overrated. The butter bit was nice but I'm not sure I like the honeycombs. They tasted kinda... waxy.. haha. Maybe.. it's just me... ;)