Happy Birthday Time Again

Well the year has whizzed by once again and arrived back at the annual bake off. I am still not convinced that the birthday person should provide the treats. Ho hum! Reading and maths assessments marked for the evening left me a little time to craft these bad boys. Bon apetit tout le monde (I may have a sliver too).

Same old Vicky sponge with cream and fruit followed by Granny’s chocolate fudge cake.

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Happy Birthday To Me

Another year has zipped by and the staff room tradition pervades. I dutifully created these two offerings so that my work colleagues could celebrate with me. The first is my Grandma Sybil’s chocolate cake recipe in a bundt tin with added orange zest and a few dark chocolate chips.Victoria sponge topped and filled with whipped cream (jam in the middle) and adorned with fresh fruit.  Well it was my birthday after all. Both were deliciously moist as I watched the baking time closely and went close to under just to make sure. Nom Nom!

Birthday Cake 2 Birthday Cake

Affogatto

This has got to be one of my favourite after dinner treats. So simple yet seems indulgent at the same time. This can be a quick midweek pud or a crafted explosion of flavour, temperature and texture. The premise is very simple – coffee and ice cream.

I first encountered this delight many years ago in the coastal town of Ayr, Scotland, at an Italian deli come gelateria 500 yds from the sea. The key to its success being the quality of its ice cream and coffee. This is why I say the affogatto can be simple or indulgent. The quality of ingredients have an exponential effect on the end product.

My recipe is

  • 2 scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream
  • Double shot of fresh espresso
  • Amaretti biscuits crumbled on top

Banana Bread (Loaf)

This is a recipe that I have used and abused many times over. The great thing about it is that it is the perfect conduit for a multitude of flavours. I have no pictures at the moment because it never lasts more than 30 minutes. I have yet to ice or dress it for precisely the same reason. It is one of our cake tin staples. Enjoy.

You will need

a 1lb Loaf tin- greased, for following quantities
or 2in deep tray bake tin if making more – greased
Oven 170 deg C

2 eggs
3-4 over ripe bananas – smushed
4oz butter/marg
4oz sugar black/white/brown ( but not yellow)
5oz SR flour
tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla

– use a pan that everything will fit in
melt butter with sugar
add flour & baking powder and mix to stiff paste
add vanilla and eggs to smushed bananas and mix
add this to paste in pan and mix in well

at this point you can go freestyle if you wish and add 100g of either

chocolate chunks
raisins/dried fruit
diced apple
nuts
etc etc

or even a combination of anything you fancy. I would avoid minstrels (hard coated chocolate) though as they tend to go green for some reason. Replace vanilla if you want too, cinnamon, lemon zest, coconut. Go for it!

Pour into tin / tray then

bake in the middle of the oven for 45 – 60 mins. Usual checks, springy in the middle, moved away from edge of tin, clean (ish) skewer. Moisture is a bonus at the end so don’t dry it out.

This picture is from the internet but looks similar.

Banana Bread.

Coconut drops

 

No oven to work with I decided to use the stove top to create these ginger fuelled nibbles which instantly transported me back to my childhood. Growing up in Jamaica, with punitive import taxes and an equatorially high average temperature, chocolate was not a widely available sweet treat. As a result we had these ‘drops, (so called as there is a drop onto a surface at the end) along with tamarind seeds rolled in sugar, on a regular basis.

Jamaican Tablet

The coconuts were won by my son at the local school fair. These are very easy to make.

  • 3 cups chopped coconut (nuggets)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger (fine dice)
  • 1/2 cup water

Boil everything until you feel the sugar start to crystallise (30 mins), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. The pan will look like this after you’ve dropped dollops onto a baking sheet.  It should form and hold this shape very quickly, a bit like scottish tablet.

Nom nom!

Can’t wait to get my new oven though.