Super moist bananabread with pecans!

IMG_0429

First things first: Is it banana bread? Or is it banana cake? To me, it´s cake. I mean, when I can choose between cake and bread – well, the answer it pretty much given… And another thing, why would one call it bread, by any means? It contains lots of sugar, butter, fruits and no yeast – unlike any bread. But you do, usually, bake it in a bread-like-pan…. So I guess that´s why it´s got it´s bread-name. Anyway, who cares, as long as it tastes like cake! And when you can present it as bread, though in reality it is a cake, everyone´s concience is clean: The baker´s and the eater´s. (Or mine, as it would be called in my case…)

I had some very overripe bananas lying around – and so starts every story of a banana bread. (cake)
Actually, I had kind of let them overripe on purpose, so I could have an excuse to bake with them! But only partly…My mother bought all kinds of food, and pretty much filled my fridge and freezer before she left, so it was inevitable that something would – not go to waste – but, end up in baked goods. Maybe that was her plan all along. Ahh, she knows me too well!

So, Sunday came, the bananas were brown as ever, and I had cake-cravings! Off to the bookshelf to find a nice recipe. I do have a couple of winner banana-bread recipes, that are just amazingly good, but I´m kind of in this getting-to-use-my-cookbooks-flow for the moment, so I grabbed three candidates and started the search. I almost turned to Dorie, again, but then it would be a bundt, and not a loaf. I wanted a loaf. And I feel with her, I shouldn´t change the recipe too much, I have a feeling it´s best to leave it to her. And I wanted to use some yoghurt and nuts, cause that´s good stuff in a banana bread. So, finally, I picked the banana pecan bread, from Leila Lindholm´s Piece of Cake. The picture of that bread was one of the first things that got stuck on my mind from that book, along came many other things… And one of the reasons I got the book! Besides, it´s so pretty! But, I haven´t really baked anything from it yet besides a bread, so it was about time I started the serious business – on to the cakes!

I adapted the recipe slightly, substituting some of the butter with yoghurt, powdered sugar with sugar, and some of the flour with whole wheat, but the original recipe goes like this. And I only had 3 bananas… But I don´t have the measurements I used, so I present to you the original recipe!

Pecan-banana bread

150 g butter
1 dl sugar
2 dl powdered sugar
4 ripe bananas
2 eggs
3 dl flour
1 ts baking powder
pinch of salt
75 g pecan nuts

Stir the sugars and butter light and creamy.
Mash the bananas (keeping a few chunks if you like – I know I do!) and stir them into the batter. Add the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients and pecans, and gently fold them into the batter. Pour into a buttered loaf-pan, and bake the cake for about 30 minutes in the center of the oven. (Mine needed longer) A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow to slightly cool, and dig in!

This cake can be served pretty much any way you like: Warm or cold, with our without butter, nutella, ice cream….you get the picture. I thought it was really good straight from the oven, warm and nice, so that the butter I added just melted into the cake. But on the other hand, it´s also really good the second, or third day, when it has had time to set – then you really get the moistness of this cake… Yummy either way!

IMG_0442

Old fashioned chocolate cake

Another birthday, another cake. Usually I’m thrilled about birthdays solely because of this fact. The fact that there will be cake. To be made and to be eaten. I often volunteer to bake, since it’s a nice opportunity to try out new recipes. And this birthday was no different. My little sister turned 24, and I volunteered to bake, knowing that she’d request a classic simple chocolate cake. Unlike me, she’s not much of a cake person, exept for chocolate cake. I baked, we ate, the cake was tasty. She was happy, I was happy. But now, I quite frankly feel I’ve had my share of cake for a while. Like, a few days. No, seriously. July has been nothing but a baking cake-eating birthday marathon. It started on the very first day of the month, with my birthday. Then my niese, then a collague, then a friend, then my boyfriend’s aunt, my sister, and to top it off, I’m having a late celebration with a friend this weekend too! And that probably doesn’t sound all that bad, but in my family, we don’t like to be short on cake, whichs means there’s always leftovers. Meaning after every birthday there’s been a few days binging on leftovers. So, you’re getting the picture… But I’m guessing after a few days I’m ready for some more. This is probably the “I-shouldn’t-have-eaten-that-last-piece-right-before-bed-just-to-make-room-in-the-fridge” part of me speaking. Cause the cake was good, already!

The cake and the recipe comes from my eternal flame….eh, source of inspiration; Nigella Lawson.
From her book Feast. It has an entire chapter of chocolate cakes, and embarresingly enough, I haven’t made any of them until now. I did try one, but failed. So bad. Soo bad. But it was time to move on!
And as she suggests in her book, I started with this one. (Maybe that’s where it went wrong, I started with another one…) I was very in doubt whether to make this or not, cause I’ve heard so many different opinions. And most of them were either loving it or hating it. I decided to make it after reading a review from someone loving it, saying that some people just can’t bake. And I think I can bake. So I challenged myself. The ultimate proof. Luckily it came out well. Phew! That beeing said, I have the best choclate sheet cake recipe, and ever since that came into my life, everything is compared to that. And nothing beats it. It’s so unbelievable moist. I have to get back to that in another post. So this was one of the first times I baked another chocolate cake than that for a very long time, and I feared dryness. But it wasn’t dry. It was quite tall (maybe not after US standards) so if it wasn’t for the icing in the middle it could have been. So don’t skip that part folks! The extra icing is essential.


Old fashioned chocolate cake
(recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast)

FOR THE CAKE:
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g best-quality cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

FOR THE ICING:
75g unsalted butter
175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
sugar flowers, optional
Serving Size : Makes about 8 slices

1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.
3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor
4. and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.
5. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.
6. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.
7. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.
8. While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz. This is by far and away the least tedious way of removing lumps.
9. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.
10. When you’ve done, you may need to add a little boiling water – say a teaspoon or so – or indeed some more icing sugar: it depends on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker; or indeed it may be right as it is. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.
11. Choose your cake stand or plate and cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it (this stops the icing running on to the plate). Then sit one of the cakes, uppermost (ie slightly domed) side down.
12. Spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the two together.
13. Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing and leave a few minutes till set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.

Valentine chocolate lava cakes

Don’t you just love any excuse to have cake?
I know I do.
Legally cake, how can you resist? I tend to find reasons to celebrate with a cake a bit too often, any reason to whip up something sugary and sweet is a good reason. So needless to say – Valentines is cake day. This year it turned out to be the same day as mother’s day and lent. Puh! I couldn’t get around to do all the required things like buying my mother flowers, making her cake, making traditional fastelavnsboller, spending some quality time and food with my man in one day alone. I don’t multitask very well. Priorities had to be made.

I spent the saturday in my sister’s house, and my parents came over for breakfast on Sunday. So I got to see my mum. Check! Later when we got home I did some reading and we went for a walk. We passed the bakery and thought of buying fastelavnsboller, or just plain buns and put them together with cream and jam at home. After all it was lent. But we decided to make buns next weekend instead. So again, check! Mother’s day and Lent was taken care of, only V-day to go. Foodwise or any-wise, actually, we didn’t really have any plans for the day. But suddenly hunger hit us and we had to go out. Neither of us was really in the mood for cooking, and I got a sudden craving for mexican food, so we went out and I had a delicious veggie quesadilla. Ok, I’m blabbing, and this seems to be going nowhere, but the thing is, on our way home I suggested to make chocolate fondant for us. What better day to put my cute heart shaped ramekins to use! My boyfriend, not to say myself, loves anything chocolate, especially lava cakes. To say this was a special Valentine treat for him or us – well, it would be a lie. I make this a little more often than I like to admit. Not every single weekend, but at least once a month. But it’s soo good! And it’s soo fast! And it looks quite impressive with very little effort, that’s always a plus! I never get tired of it. Hot chocolate goo oozing out of a baked chocolate exterior? I rest my case.

Chocolate lava cakes (Paula Deen’s Home Cooking)

Ingredients
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
8 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips (any type of chocolate chips will work but I recommend semi-sweet or a combination of bitter and semi-sweet)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
OPTIONAL : 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (Kahlua) OR 1 tsp. instant coffee powder

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F/ 200 C. Spray 6 -6 ounce ramekins or cupcake tin. In a medium microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments until smooth (about 1.5-2 minutes total). Add flour and sugar to chocolate/butter sauce. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Add vanilla and coffee liqueur/instant coffee and mix everything until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the each cups. Place cups on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates or you can serve each molten lava cake still in the cup.

Normally I just eat it straight from the cup, but then again, I make this a LOT. There’s usually no occasion other than a chocolate craving. But sprinkled with powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream added or some red berries, this is a sure way to anyone’s heart. Valentines day or not.

Caramelized banana cake

I never buy bananas for eating. Quite logically, since I don’t like them. But what I do like, is anything banana flavoured, exept bananas. Weird, I know. Banana bread, banana ice cream, banana fudge, banana milkshake, banana cake – you get the picture. It just transforms into something way better. So I never end up with overripe bananas by accident, “forcing” me to make banana cake, because I don’t buy them in the first place. Which is kind of sad, because I love banana cake, and you’re excused to make it when your bananas turn black. But when life doesn’t give you overripe bananas – go out and get and get them! So when I spotted a big bag of brown-turning-black bananas at the supermarket for a give-away-price, I immediately visiualized this banana cake, and bought them. This was my sign! The supermarket aka life gave me over ripe bananas for this purpose. I’m sure. Well, not a moment too soon. I bookmarked this recipe a long time ago, but for the lack of bananas in my life, making it just never happened. The recipe is from J’s Kitchen – a beautiful blog with just as beautiful photos and mouthwatering food. She made 3 versions of this banana cake, I decided on the last attempt which she said was the best. Although they all look good to me. She also said it wasn’t very sweet, but I thought it was more than sweet enough. At least for breakfast. The perfect monday morning breakfast. I actuallt skipped the gym this morning and replaced it with banana cake, quality butter and cinnamon coffee. It was the right thing to do.

Caramelised Banana Cake

70 + 10 gr butter
40 + 40 gr caster sugar
2 bananas thinly sliced
2 eggs
180 gr plain flour
20 gr cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
80 ml milk

Preheat oven at 180C and prepare baking pan.
Caramelise the bananas: in a nonstick frying pan, heat 40 gr sugar and 1 tablespoon water until it starts to caramelise. Add 10 gr butter. Let the butter fully melt, then add sliced banana. Cook until softens – mash while cooking. Cool.
In a bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, and baking soda.
Beat 70 gr butter and 40 gr caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Add cooled caramelised banana.
Fold in flour mixture alternating with the milk in 3 additions, starting and ending with flour mixture.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (depending on pan size).

(The original recipe says makes 4 mini loafs. I made one regular loaf instead, and baked it for 40 minutes. It could probably have baked a little longer, but I was hungry and I like slightly gooey cakes.)

Vørterbrød (Wort bread)

Vørterbrød is the Norwegian name for wort bread, apparently. I really didn’t know how to translate this, or what to call this bread, until now, that I found a definition of what vørter beer, one of the main ingredients, is.

Vørter beer (wort beer) is a non-alcoholic, unfermented drink produced through the carbonation and sterilisation of wort made from malt, hops and water. It is thus, per definition, not a beer and should not be labelled beer, but was given a dispensation to this in the Norwegian Beer Act of 1912 regarding production and taxation of beer. The reason for this is found in the history of Vørter beer.

Vørterbrød is a type of the traditional Christmas bread with raisins like panettone, stollen and other variations that seems to be part of many different Christmas cuisines around the world. Here in Norway there are two kinds: Christmas bread and wort bread (or cake, as some call it) The Christmas bread is made of wheat, raisins and sometimes succades.

Wort bread, one the other hand, is made of part wheat, part rhye, raisins and spices like anise, ground cloves, cinnamon and pepper. All good Christmas things into one. It has a much richer taste, and maybe it takes some getting used to, because it tastes a lot more than the ordinary Christmas bread. More spices, more syrup, more dense, more of everything and a lot better in my opinion! I love it. And the smell…..Oh, the smell. Lovely licorice-like and a dark brown colour from the rhye and the syrup.

You have to try it. Warm thick slices straight from the oven with a thick layer of good quality butter. Or a slice of Norwegian brown cheese – gjetost, if you’re into that. I’m not, but a hear this is the perfect combo. Well, what do you know. I’m back from my divine lunch, and I have a confession to make. I’m a brown cheese convert. That wasn’t bad at all. It was delicious. I, a non-brown cheese eater, can recommend brown cheese on wort bread. It’s delish. The bread is quite spicy, well not spicy, but filled with spices and flavour. And the cheese is very sweet, so together: A match made in Christmas heaven.

I found a recipe on the net that I was going to use. For some reason, I started to flip through the pages of one of my breadbaking-cookbooks from the bakery Åpent Bakeri, and found a recipe there. To simplify, meaning not having to write down the recipe from the net or dragging the computer into the kitchen, I decided on this recipe instead. And when the dough was done and I was done kneading, it hit me: The wort beer! I forgot it! I read through the recipe to check, and to my surprise, no wort beer in the wort bread recipe… That is strange. Well, at least I didn’t do nothing wrong. So I guess I’ll have to use it next Christmas. Or sooner. Or else: One more year in the fridge. (yes, I had some left from last year.)

Vørterbrød
250 g raisins
5 dl water
600 g wheat
400 g rhye
10 g (2 ts) sea salt
100 sugar
50 g yeast
100 g syrup
0.5 ts ground pepper
0.5 ts cinnamon
0.5 ts ginger
0.5 ts ground cloves
0.5 ts ground anise
50 g butter

(You’re supposed to soak the raisins for one day, but I didn’t and it tasted fine, so you can leave that part. I also left out ginger and pepper. Didn’t have any and it was too snowy outside…)

Directions

Add sugar, egg, butter, salt, cardamom and 2 cups flour; mix well. Stir in raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Use as little flour as you can, the dough should be a little sticky. Place in a big bowl covered with clingfilm. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each portion into breads. (I made one bread and the rest buns. Of course you can make only buns too, if you prefer) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush the breads with one whisked egg.

Bake at 200 degrees C or 395 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until dark golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve while still warm with butter, cheese or jam. Have yourself a merry little Christmas moment.

Glutenfree apple cake

apple cake

Finally, the season’s first applecake was made. At least my first. I’ve been longing for this moment, but life got in the way, I guess. It’s a sure sign that summer is over, and autumn is upon us, when applecakes and other apple creations are being made around every other home. The sweet sweet smell of cinnamon and apples sneaking around the house, meaning apple cake is on its way sure is on my top list of why I love atumn! Together with the crisp air, that I get to wear my collection of scarfs, flea markets, Norwegian apples and plums, and of course staying inside baking and munching while the rain is pouring down! Ahh, nothing better than that.

Of course, apples are available all year round, but nothing compares to the crisp and tangy Norwegian apples that are to be found only this time of year. They are perfect on their own, but they are also ideal for baking. They have enough taste and sourness to them to survive the baking process and still remain tasty. I want to taste the apples too, not just the cake.

And I had the perfect apples for this. You see, there is a park close to where I live, with apple trees….. And nobody seems to pick those apples, so I did! I mean, public apple trees, means public apples, means the apples are meant for the public (me). So my conscience is clean! Even though I tried to hide the best I could. I am a grown woman after all, with my pockets bursting with apples. Ahem.

Anyway. They maybe weren’t all ripe, but that means even more taste. Stolen apples = baking. And I had a specific recipe in mind. Applecakes are always good, but I seemed to remember this as a really nice one from my glutenfree diet a year ago. So here’s my virgin apple cake for the season – let there be many more!

Ingredients
150 g real butter
150 sugar
3 eggs
250 g glutenfree flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
About 6 apples, depending their size

Mix butter and sugar well. You can easily use brown sugar – that’s even better!
Stir in one egg at a time.
Sift flour, bakingpowder and vanilla sugar, and stir into the mixture.
Pour the batter in a greased spring form.
Cut the apples in thin slices. Put them in a bowl with loads of sugar and cinnamon, and toss them around, making sure they are all covered in sweetness. Then press them down and into the batter, as many as you can.

Bake in a preheated oven set to 175 C for about 35 minutes.
(The recipe says 30 min, but the last time I made it the center was running, but this time, after 45 minutes, it was a little overbaked, so my best guess is 35-40 minutes, but keep an eye on it! Every oven is different.)

Serve lukewarm with whipped cream, watching the rain pouring down outside. And realize, autumn isn’t too bad after all.

Blueberry crumble cake

blueberry crumble cake

The image of this cake has been stuck on my mind ever since I stumbled upon the recipe and the blog quirky cupcake. Not this picture, though. I didn’t quite capture the loveliness of this cake, but there it looked like a little piece of heaven, and I don’t know how many times I visited her blog just to look at that picture. It looks sooo good. Check it out! The blog is great as well!

So today seemed like a nice day to give this a go. It’s Asencion Day, it’s pouring down (at least when I started to bake) the shops are closed and last but not least, I’ve been wanting this cake badly! The perfect occasion. I’ve had my freezer packed with blueberries since I picked several liters last autumn, and now I could finally put the last berries to use. I love blueberries, so I don’t want to spoil them on any random recipe, especially when I’ve handpicked them. It has to be special, and this cake looked like it could be blueberry-worthy. It most definitely was.

The recipe was a previous TWD recipe, from Dorie Greenspan. She’s not known here in Norway, but I understand she is quite the baker. I found the recipe here, and when accidently scrolling down the page I found so many mouthwatering pictures of various sweet delights, I think I have to get her book! I realize I’ve been missing out! Well, not anymore. Thank you internet!

I followed the recipe strictly, only leaving out nutmeg which I don’t care much for. And replacing buttermilk with regular milk, as I didn’t have any and the shops are closed. And apart from the fact that the batter ran over the edges of the pan, and I didn’t have a sheet under, meaning the batter poured over and on to the oven, started burning, developing a thick smoke and almost causing a fire, which made me take it out of the oven before it was done, allow the oven to cool, then wash away all the burned batter, turn on the oven again and put the cake back in for the last 20 minutes to finish – it turned out great!

blueberry crumble cake

It was absolutely delicious. And worth the extra effort, thank God. It would be really annoying if the cake was dull and dry after all the mess I created, but it wasn’t at all. It was a perfect combo of a thick, crunchy, buttery crust and soft cake and gooey berries underneath. Blueberry worthy? Indeed-e-o. Can’t ask for more!