Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Something that might surprise a few of you: there is only one food I won’t eat. Bananas. Ever since I was a young child, they are the only food my body can’t handle.  I’ve tried many a time to rekindle our relationship, attempting to eat bananas in many guises, but it never worked. Banana bread, however, I’ve always admired and longed to enjoy. Soft, squidgy and sweet, it’s all the things I love, so I was determined to find a way to make a loaf that I love.

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It goes without saying that peanut butter makes everything better, so incorporating spoonfuls into my batter, which I make by sautéing the bananas in butter and sugar to caramelise and soften them, was always going to be a hit. I didn’t quite realise how much of a hit though; I was thrilled that I’d made a loaf including banana that I actually enjoyed eating, but my housemates RAVED about this cake. It’s moist and sticky, buttery and chocolatey with notes of caramel running through the whole thing.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread


 

 

Shrove Tuesday: sweet and savoury pancakes

Forget Valentine's Day; this year it has been upstaged by our nations love of pancakes. I take pancake day as a great excuse to eat pancakes for every meal of the day. It is a great example of a day of crowd-pleasing, entertaining food that is simple to create – everyone loves a pancake! For the last few years, I’ve developed a recipe that works every time to create thin, crepe style pancakes: the 1-2-3 method. Easy to remember and even simpler to create. Here are my favourite sweet and savoury twists on my basic recipe; spinach and herb pancakes with salmon and browned butter pancakes with butterscotch and toasted pecan nuts.

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Basic Batter

Ingredients:

100g plain flour
2 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Free Range Eggs
300ml milk
Butter, for frying
 

Method

1. To make the basic batter, whisk together the flour and eggs in a large bowl until smooth, then gradually add the milk to make a runny batter. Alternatively, place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. Cover and set aside for up to 1 hour, or until ready to use.

2. Heat a 20cm frying pan over a medium heat, then test the pan by ladling in a small amount of batter. It should take around 1 minute to brown on the bottom. If it browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly, and do the opposite if it cooks too slowly and becomes rubbery.

3. When the pan is at the right temperature, add in a small knob of butter and then pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then allow the pancake to cook for 1 minute on each side, or until cooked through. Keep covered and warm in a low oven while you fry the rest.

Martha's spinach & herb pancakes with smoked salmon

Ingredients

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1 x basic batter
50g butter
50g spinach
Small handful of fresh green herbs
(I use coriander, basil and sage)
Pinch sea salt flakes

TO SERVE
2 x 100g packs Waitrose Mild Scottish Smoked Salmon, torn into pieces
125g soft cheese
¼ x 25g pack chives, chopped

Method

1. Melt the 50g butter in a 20cm frying or crepe pan that you will fry the pancakes in. Remove from the heat.

2. Place the pancake batter and all the remaining pancake ingredients into a food processor then add the melted butter. Blitz until the mixture is smooth. Don’t worry if there are small pieces of spinach or herbs in the batter – this adds texture to the pancakes.

3. Heat a 20cm frying pan over a medium heat, then test the pan by ladling in a small amount of batter. It should take around 1 minute to brown on the bottom. If it browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly, and do the opposite if it cooks too slowly and becomes rubbery.

3 When the pan is at the right temperature, add in a small knob of butter and then pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then allow the pancake to cook for 1 minute on each side, or until cooked through. Keep covered and warm in a low oven while you fry the rest. The green becomes more vibrant on cooking.

4. Serve the pancakes warm with smoked salmon, soft cheese and chives. These are best eaten immediately.

 

Martha's brown butter pancakes with butterscotch sauce & pecans

Ingredients

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75g butter
75ml double cream
75g soft light
brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt, or to taste
1 x basic batter
50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
 

Method

1. Place 50g of the butter into a small saucepan over a low heat until completely melted. Cook the butter, stirring occasionally, until the white solids separate out and begin to brown at the bottom of the pan. The butter will foam and start to smell toasty. Remove the pan from the heat immediately and add the browned butter to the pancake batter.

2. To make the butterscotch sauce, place the cream, remaining 25g butter, sugar and vanilla extract into the saucepan you used to brown the butter and heat gently for 3-4 minutes or until the ingredients are well combined. Turn up the heat and allow the mixture to bubble for a further 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Season with sea salt to taste, then pour into a jug and set to one side.

3. Heat a 20cm frying pan over a medium heat, then test the pan by ladling in a small amount of batter. It should take around 1 minute to brown on the bottom. If it browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly, and do the opposite if it cooks too slowly and becomes rubbery.

3. When the pan is at the right temperature, add in a small knob of butter and then pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then allow the pancake to cook for 1 minute on each side, or until cooked through. Keep covered and warm in a low oven while you fry the rest.

4. Wipe out the frying pan and add the chopped pecan nuts. Toast the nuts for 2-3 minutes, keeping them moving around the pan so they don’t catch.

5. Serve the pancakes with the butterscotch sauce and the toasted pecan nuts. These are best eaten immediately.

Source: http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/e...

Breakfast bites: honey and sesame granola and tropical energy bars

Happy January to you, Baking Martha readers! Starting the new year made me think about how i can improve the start of each day, so i've come up with a few easy, homemade breakfast options. It's cheaper to make your own than to buy at the shops, and you control exactly what goes in.

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I only really discovered granola last year, and instantly loved it as every mouthful is a little bit different from the last. The best thing about making your own is that you take control over what goes in. Like it sweeter? Add more honey. Prefer nuts to fruit? Swap out some dried fruit for nuts. This is the recipe I like best; just the right about of nuttiness matched with toasty sesame with just enough honey, dates and apricots for sweetness.  Eat by the bowlful with yogurt and fresh fruit or simply with cold milk.

For those mornings where time just runs away, try my mango and passionfruit bars – perfect for a breakfast on the go! They are zingy with a fresh yoghurt topping, and will leave you feeling full with all the energy you need. They don't even need to be baked!

 

Martha Collison's honey & sesame granola

Ingredients

125g clear honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame or sunflower oil
½-1 tsp flaked sea salt, to taste
350g jumbo oats
50g mixed seeds
4 tbsp sesame seeds
100g macadamia nuts, halved
50g flaked almonds, 
1 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Egg white
75g dried apricots, chopped
75g chopped dried pitted dates
 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2, and line a large baking tray with parchment. Warm the honey, oil and salt in a small pan. Combine the oats, seeds and nuts in a mixing bowl. Pour over the honey mix and stir until coated.

2. In a small bowl, lightly whip the egg white until frothy, then stir through the granola mix. Tip onto the baking tray and spread evenly.

3. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn the tray and give it a quick stir before baking for 10-15 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the granola to cool completely so it’s crisp, then stir in the dried fruit.The granola will keep for up to 1 month stored in an airtight jar.  

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Martha Collison's mango & passion fruit energy bars

Ingredients

100g flaked almonds
100g desiccated coconut
60g essential Waitrose Rice Pops
150g oats
50g dried mango, chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
300g clear honey
1 large passion fruit
75g white chocolate
2 tsp natural yogurt
 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Grease and line a 34cm x 22cm brownie tin with baking parchment. Arrange the flaked almonds and coconut on the lined tray and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until golden and fragrant – stirring halfway through to get an even colouring. Once toasted, tip into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice pops, oats and chopped mango to the toasted ingredients and stir to combine.

2. Meanwhile, place the sugar, honey and passion fruit pulp into a medium sized saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for 7-10 minutes. It will look slightly thicker in consistency.

3. Pour the hot mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well coated. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and use a spatula to press it down firmly into an even layer. Place into the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.

4. When the bars have set, make the drizzle. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water, then stir in the yogurt. Spoon into a piping bag and drizzle over the top of the set bars. Leave to cool completely, then slice into 24 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
 

Source: http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recip...

Christmas canapés and Moorish Dip giveaway!

Christmas canapés for Christmas parties are up there with some of my favourite things to make in the festive period. I love creating bitesized morsels, and love eating them even more! Here are a few tips to help your Christmas parties run smoothly!

1. Make ahead

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A classic tip, but a great one!   Make-ahead canapes are a great trick to have up your sleeve, and choux canapes is especially great as the empty shells defrost in minutes. Make the shells up to three months in advance and freeze, whip up a filling, fill, and you’re good to go. I’ve shared my favourite three easy fillings below: smoked trout with horseradish, goats cheese with sundried tomato and a sweet chestnut and chocolate variation.

2.  Self-serve drinks

My family have a big Christmas Eve party every year, and something that works really well is a make-your-own drinks area. We allocate a small table or end of a worktop to all our glasses (the more shapes and sizes the better!) and then have spirits, mixers - all kinds of beverages, on the counter too. No faffing with getting everyone a separate drink, and creates a relaxed vibe almost immediately.

3. Food for sharing

Stock up on easy sharing foods. Warm camemberts, dips, oils and breads - it's easy to prepare crudités and makes your guests feel healthy too! I've recently discovered Moorish Smoked Dips, and they are absolutely heavenly - they SMOKE humous, why has no one else done this?! They've generously given me a whole crate of their delicious dips, from smoked humous to garlic and lemon aioli and nutty babaganoush. The lucky winner will automatically have their Christmas off to a great start. Enter below:

The best potato dauphinoise

I may well have found my favourite form of potato. Don't get me wrong, I love a crispy roast potato (especially *these* maple syrup roasties I enjoyed recently at a Waitrose Christmas Together event). But with this potato dish, you can have crispy, creamy, salty and tender all at the same time. It's the perfect winter warmer - I can't think of anything more comforting that I'd rather have on a cold, dark evening.

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Potatoes, drenched in garlic infused cream (there is a fair bit of cream, but i promise it is worth the naughtiness!), made complete with a sprinkling of nutty gruyere cheese.  It is unbeatable as an accompaniment to roast lamb when served bubbling and hot, topped with crispy bacon and laced with salty anchovies to cut through the cream. Floury potatoes work best here, as they soak up the delicious cream. The liquid would roll off waxy potatoes too easily.

I wrote this recipe for Waitrose as part of a Martha Bakes column on cheese, where my whole baked cauliflower cheese also features.

Martha's potato dauphinoise

Ingredients

1kg Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes, peeled
450ml double cream
150ml whole milk
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4-5 anchovies, from a jar, drained
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
50g Gruyère cheese, grated
 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Slice the potatoes into thin discs using a mandolin, food processor with a slicing attachment or a sharp knife.

2. Pour the cream and milk into a large pan and add the garlic and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer, then add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they start to soften.

3. When the potatoes are partly softened, layer the mixture into a large rectangular baking tin (I use a 28cm x 33cm tin), scattering the anchovies between the layers, and pouring any remaining cream over. Lay the bacon strips over the top of the dauphinoise and sprinkle with cheese.

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the top is golden brown. Serve immediately. 

Source: http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/e...

4 Minute Ad Bakes with British Gas!

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I am often impatient when it comes to cooking, and love bakes that can be created quickly and easily. When I crave a flavour or a particular bake, I try to have a few shortcuts up my sleeve to achieve them more quickly than usual. Crave is a book all about this phenomenon, containing some ‘instant’ recipes that can be made in less than 20 minutes, ranging to recipes that are worth waiting for.

I’ve gone one step further, simplifying my recipes even more so that when you get a little peckish in the advert breaks, you can nip into your kitchen and whip up some treats!

I’ve joined forces with British Gas to create bakes that are not only super fast, but use so much less energy than regular bakes too, shown by my smart energy monitor connected to my smart meter. I care deeply about the environment and changing climates and the effect this has on people across the globe, which is why I work with Tearfund, so this is a small step in the right direction. Ready in just a few minutes, these recipes also use energy-efficient methods to encourage smarter baking, such as using the microwave rather than the oven, only filling the kettle with the exact amount of water needed, and using a bit of elbow grease instead of the food processor.

Here are 4 of my favourite quick-fix recipes that you can knock up instead of watching the ad breaks. Try them for yourself in the next ad break and share photos of your creations with me on social using #adbakes!

 

Peanut butter truffles

Adapted from Twist

Ingredients:

Makes 10 tasty truffles

     1 tbsp (15g) butter

   50g smooth peanut butter

   1 tbsp soft light brown sugar

   50g icing sugar

   75g chocolate

Method:

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1.     Pulse together the butter and peanut butter in a food processor until they are well combined.

2.     Add in both of the sugars and pulse again until the mix starts to clump together - it will be quite crumbly.

3.     Roll the mixture between your hands into small evenly shaped balls and place onto a baking tray. You can shape all the mixture now, or make a few truffles and save the rest to shape later.

4.     Put the chocolate in a heatproof piping bag and melt in the microwave, then drizzle the truffles with the melted chocolate.

5.     Eat immediately or chill and enjoy later – they’re great for giving as gifts!

 

Energy saving top tip: Use the microwave to melt the chocolate, rather than a saucepan on the hob – it’s quicker and uses less energy.

 

 

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 Lemon and pistachio cheesecake pots

Adapted from Crave

Ingredients for the base:

     4 digestive biscuits

    40g pistachio nuts + extra to decorate

25g butter

Ingredients for the cheesecake:

200g full-fat cream cheese

 ½ lemon, juice and zest

 2 tbsp icing sugar

2 tbsp lemon curd

Method:

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1.     Melt the butter in the microwave for around ten seconds.

2.     Crush the biscuits in a sealed baguntil they are finely ground, then add the pistachios and roughly crush.

3.     Add the butter and stir through the crushed biscuits, then divide the mixture into two small glasses, pressing it down to create an even layer.

4.     Beat the cream cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar together in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth.

5.     Stir through half the lemon zest, saving the rest for decoration.

6.     Add a layer of the cream cheese mixture and then lemon curd alternately on top of the biscuit base, finishing with a spoonful of cheesecake.

7.     Top with the remaining lemon zest and a few chopped pistachio nuts – and enjoy!

 

Energy saving top tip: Melt the butter in the microwave instead of on the hob for half the energy use. For even more energy saving, crush the biscuits and pistachios by hand using a handy rolling pin rather than the food processor – you’ll burn some calories too!

 

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  Martha’s microwave brownie

Adapted from Twist

Ingredients:

 50g butter

1 egg

 2 tbsp light brown sugar

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp chocolate chips

 Whipped cream and chocolate shavings, to decorate

Method:

1.     In a small bowl, mix together the butter and both types of sugar.

2.     Microwave for one minute, stirring halfway through – the sugar and butter will start to melt together.

3.     Leave the sugar to cool for a minute, then beat in the cocoa powder followed by the egg.

4.     Fold in the flour gently - you want to avoid developing too much gluten, which would make it rise too much and take on a tougher texture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

5.     Divide the mixture between two ramekins – you can refrigerate this and microwave later on for a midnight snack.

6.     Microwave for a further 30-45 seconds - it will rise and fall a little while cooking and it should still be slightly gooey when done.

7.     Serve with a big dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and then get stuck in with a spoon!

Energy saving top tip: Make sure to only use the microwave for a short time to keep your brownie nice and gooey – you’ll save energy and avoid over-baking.

 

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  Coconut and lime teacup pudding

Adapted from Crave

Ingredients:

 50g butter at room temperature

50g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar

 1 egg

25ml coconut milk

½ lime, zest and juice

 25g granulated sugar

Method:

1.     Grease two porcelain teacups or ramekins with plenty of butter and set to one side.

2.     In a small bowl, beat together the butter, flour, caster sugar and egg until they resemble a smooth, thick batter.

3.     Fold through the lime zest and divide the mixture between two teacups.

4.     Mix together the coconut milk, lime juice and granulated sugar in a small jug.

5.     Pour this mixture over the top of the two puddings so the top is covered in liquid.

6.     Save the cost of heating up your oven and cook in the microwave on full power for two minutes until the cake is risen and the top is springy – it’s quicker and far more energy efficient.

7.     Allow to cool for a minute or two before turning out onto a plate or enjoying straight from the cup.

 

Energy saving top tip: Forget the ten-minute technical, pop your brownie mix in the microwave instead of the oven for a fraction of the time and energy.

 

 

To find out more about energy efficiency in the kitchen, take a look at British Gas’ tips here

 

 

 

Post-Easter Smash Cookies

We’ve reached that post-Easter lull, where the food, festivities and bank holidays are over and normal life has resumed. I get so excited about collecting all the chocolate, but I am TERRIBLE at eating Easter Eggs! There is a stash in the corner of my kitchen of half eaten chocolate shells, and even a few unopened eggs still in their shiny foil wrapping. I’m lucky to receive so many from generous friends and family, but I struggle to have more than a nibble without getting a bit bored of the overwhelming sweetness.

For years I have been using up my leftover Easter chocolate in the form I love most – baking. My grandma actually got wise to the fact that I melt most chocolate I’m given into bakes years ago, so has resorted to giving me bars of cooking chocolate at Easter instead of an egg. I find having a few clever recipes up your sleeve that can use up odds and ends really useful. These cookies are a recipe I turn to week after week, adding handfuls of whatever I’ve got leftover to create deliciously different biscuits every time.

This recipe is a twist on my cookie recipe from my recipe book, Twist. I spent months trying and testing all manner of cookie recipes, combining ideas and methods until I’d settled on what I think is the perfect cookie (and I’m picky, so I don’t use this term lightly!). I use a combination of caster sugar and soft light brown sugar so the dough takes on a caramel-like sweetness from the molasses in the brown sugar but also holds together well. I also use both plain and strong plain flour, finding that the extra gluten in the strong plain gives the cookies another level of chewiness.

Chilling the dough is a really important step, as it allows the butter to solidify which means your cookies will spread more slowly when baked, which is what creates that gooey melt-in-the-mouth softness that we crave from a good cookie. I often freeze a few shaped balls of cookie dough too, as they always taste best fresh and you can bake them from frozen (15-17 minutes at 160oC fan). Use an ice-cream scoop to get perfectly circular cookies every time!


Post-Easter Smash Cookies

Adapted from Twist: Creative Ideas to Reinvent Your Baking

Makes 15 large cookies

Ingredients:

150g plain flour

100g strong plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

140g butter, softened

120g light brown sugar

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

100g-150g broken Easter chocolate (I used a mixture of mini eggs and chocolate eggs)

1. In a large bowl, beat together the soft butter with both the sugars using a wooden spoon. Beat the mixture until they are well combined, but there is no need for it to be light and fluffy.

2. Add the vanilla extract and egg to the butter mixture and beat again until all the ingredients are smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. You need the raising agents to be evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough so they all get the same rise, so make sure they are well mixed.

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and fold using a spatula until a stiff dough forms. Mix in the easter chocolate last, until well combined. 

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes (up to 72 hours for optimum flavour and texture). Preheat the oven to 170oC. Grease and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper or a silicon baking sheet.

6. Use a small or large ice-cream scoop (a teaspoon or tablespoon will work too, but won’t be as regularly shaped) to form balls of dough and place onto the trays, leaving enough space for each to spread out. Try not to roll the balls of dough, as the ragged top created by the scoop will give the cookies the traditional cracked surface.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the mixture has spread out and browned around the edges. Remove from the oven - they should look undercooked in the middle - and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.