Friday, 2 January 2009
Okay so I'm going to start going through the backlog of recipes from the christmas period. I made a few gift packages of baked goods and bravely tried all new recipes. I had a lot of luck really and made my first real foray into loaf cakes.
I chose loaves as they're easy to fit into a box for shipping, tend to keep well, are easily customisable and are easy to make. This season I chose a traditional tea loaf and a chocolate banana bread. Absolutely delicious.
The tea loaf was from a recipe by Simon Rimmer. It's very easy but does require you to soak the fruit overnight and bake the cake the next day. I found the original recipe here [note: there is a mistake in that the recipe doesn't mention what to do with the sugar - I add it in with the flour etc.] but I made my own changes.
225g mixed dried fruit (chopped dates, raisins, sultanas, cranberries all work well)
300ml/½ pint tepid Earl Grey tea
250g/9oz self-raising flour
200g/7oz soft light brown sugar
1 free-range egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1. Place the dried fruit and tea into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave to soak overnight.
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 175C/325F/Gas 3.
3. Add the flour, sugar, egg and spices to the bowl with the fruit and mix well.
4. Grease two 1lb loaf tins and carefully share the mixture equally between the two.
5. Transfer to the oven and bake for one and a quarter hours, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
It is suggested that this loaf be served with butter and jam but I find it moist and quite sweet enough without. It goes nicely with a cup of tea and a natter with friends. Feel free to use whatever fruit you like and spice according to your own tastes.
The second loaf cake I went for was a banana bread from Nigella. I had some bananas that were at the perfect banana bread stage (black skinned, soft and sweet) and I had someone in mind when making this one. I had seen this recipe mentioned on Dressing for Dinner and again it seemed like an easy one to customise as necessary. I left out the dried fruit and booze soaking (though I will soon try it with these steps left in) and added cocoa powder and a packet of chocolate chips as I had them sitting around.
This cake was delicious and moist and chocolatey. Seriously, it was amazing. You could taste the banana sweetness and the cocoa powder complimented this with a slightly bitter chocolate flavour. The chocolate chips were yummy in the way that chocolate chips always are. I used two 1lb loaf tins again and divided the batter between the two.
The recipe for this can be found here.
I think I have now decided that loaf cakes are the perfect sweet treat for sending to friends. I'm sure I will continue to make them in various combinations as they are endlessly variable.