Muffin Top

Banana and Pecan Nut Muffins

Before I visited Florida I didn’t like pancakes. Everyone thought I was crazy but I just couldn’t get my head around putting lemon and sugar or chocolate spread on something made with the same batter as Yorkshire Puddings. Yuck! This all changed whilst I was on holiday. As you may know/have seen on TV, pancakes are a major breakfast staple across the pond. Almost every meal, on every menu, in every establishment I visited came with a side order of pancakes. Everyday our breakfast table would be covered with stacks of them – golden, fluffy and smothered in butter and maple syrup. Nothing like the crepe style pancakes I’m used to seeing at home on Shrove Tuesday. When my boyfriend suggested I try one I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were! I was even more pleasantly surprised to find ‘Banana Pecan Pancakes’ on the menu and in the healthy section (albeit “healthy” in American Diners tends to means around a whopping 750 or so calories (which may explain the muffin top I now have!)). The contrast between the fluffy pancake and the crunchy nuts scattered throughout just added to the deliciousness of them.

Upon discovering that the theme for last week’s SBC was ‘Favourite Pancake Topping’, I immediately knew my bake had to be banana and pecan flavoured. I did a little research and found a recipe online for banana and pecan nut muffins. As any baking fanatic will know, Mary Berry, the queen of baking, ALWAYS says to read the recipe twice. We all know this. Did I remember this key point before baking these muffins? No, I forgot. I did think a tablespoon and a half of salt was quite a lot for a standard 12 muffin mix but I pushed the doubt from my mind and continued with the recipe. It wasn’t until I was about halfway through that I took another look at the recipe and realised my error. My boyfriend (an armchair baker at most) took great pleasure in reminding me of Mary’s motto. Luckily, I realised before I had combined the wet and dry ingredients and I had enough spare flour so all was not lost. They ended up turning out really well, not too dissimilar from the pancakes I’d tried Stateside and I have received a lot of good feedback on them since which is always a nice feeling!

The recipe isn’t a complicated one so you may not need to read it twice but clearly I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. Either that or my eyesight is failing me at the grand old age of 23! Let me know if you try them out 🙂

Banana and Pecan Nut Muffins

Ingredients

280g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
170g brown sugar
170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g pecan nuts, chopped
Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170c fan/Gas mark 5 and lightly butter 2 muffin tins or line with muffin cases.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl mash 2 of the bananas well but leaving a bit of texture (kind of like lumpy baby food).
  4. In a freestanding electric mixer, using a whisk attachment, whisk together the remaining bananas and the sugar on a high speed for about 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla and beat well ensuring you scrape any unmixed ingredients from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients until just incorporated and then the same with the mashed bananas and chopped nuts until evenly distributed.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins/cases filling until about half full. Give the tins a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
  7. Bake in the oven for around 18-20 minutes, until a knife stuck in the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes before devouring.

Third Time Lucky!

Swiss Roll

The weekend I made my first bake for the Sunday Baking Club. When I found out that this week’s technical challenge was a Swiss roll I was so excited! I last made a Swiss roll 10 years ago, during a school cookery lesson, when I was 13. I seem to remember the lesson being pretty easy and getting a good outcome, so I thought to myself ‘what a nice easy challenge for my first week with the baking club and first blog post, how hard can it be?’, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

I did a Google search for a Mary Berry recipe hoping it would ensure a fail-safe bake and was pleasantly surprised to see how simple the recipe was, only requiring 4 ingredients and 10 minutes of baking time! I was feeling very confident at this point and already had images of my perfectly rolled, golden, spongy Swiss roll in my head. Ha!

I preheated the oven, prepared my tray and got baking. I started by beating together the eggs and sugar until they were combined, I did this for a couple of minutes, folded in the flour and then stuck it in the oven. 10 minutes later I had a flat, rubbery oblong that smelt distinctly of scrambled eggs! I was devastated, it was meant to be perfect and I could just imagine the disappointed looks from Mary and Paul (when I bake I genuinely believe I’m  a contestant on GBBO!) .  After a couple of hours of wallowing in self pity I did some research and discovered the eggs and sugar probably needed to be whisked for much longer so I decided to try again. The result…another flat rubbery failure! It turns out the flour I had been using had a best before date of Sept ’13!! I was relieved to find out it wasn’t my technique. Determined not to let the Swiss roll defeat me I ventured out into the rain and cold that evening to buy a fresh packet of self raising flour. It was worth it in the end as the final result was the golden, light sponge I had hoped for.

Here is the recipe I used, I actually ended up adjusting it slightly from the Mary Berry recipe I found online:

Ingredients

4 medium eggs at room temperature
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
1 tbsp warm water
Icing sugar to decorate
Plus a filling of your choice, I kept it simple with a classic jam filling this time.

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas mark 7. Grease a 13 x 9 inch Swiss roll tin and line with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together using an electric mixer until the mixture is thick, creamy, pale in colour and has tripled in size. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture leaves a trail on the surface for a couple of seconds. This should take about 10 minutes and should look something like this…

Swiss Roll

3. Sieve half the flour into the bowl and carefully fold into the mixture. Repeat this step using the rest of the flour. Then carefully fold in the tbsp of warm water, this helps the mixture to spread when poured into the tin.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin spreading evenly and bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until it’s lightly browned and starting to come away from the edges of the tin.

5. Place some baking paper onto a work surface and lightly sprinkle with caster sugar, upend the sponge from the tin, place onto the paper and peel away the baking paper. Whilst the sponge is still warm, lightly score it at the end closest to you about 2cm away from the edge, cover the sponge with a tea towel or piece of greaseproof paper and starting at the scored end roll the sponge away from you. Leave the sponge to cool like this. (Rolling the sponge whilst it is still warm and before filling ensures it remembers the shape it is meant to be, covering it with a tea towel or greaseproof paper stops the sponge from sticking to itself).

6. Once the sponge has cooled gently unroll it, evenly spread your filling leaving a boarder of about 2cm (this is to ensure the filling doesn’t all squirt out when you roll it) and then re-roll.  Neaten each end of the roll by trimming off a thin slice and then place the cake on a serving plate and enjoy with a cup of tea! 🙂