Are you being healthy this year? We’re trying to be, but that’s not why I discovered this recipe! You see my sister is sugar obsessed – as in the NOT eating sugar, obsessed. It’s not a weight issue for her. She looks after her teeth. She avoids sugar at all costs and has these runs of being completely sugar-free. The most recent one was eighteen days! Each time she re-starts she tries to get a longer chain.
I have to say that she’s on her own there! Even though Mr MT and I are eating a healthier diet, I still have one treat a day and it ALWAYS has sugar in it. But when you know that your sister is on a long chain and the family is coming round for Friday night dinner, you want to find something that everyone can enjoy for dessert. That’s where these Sugar-free, oaty banana cookies come in.
The best thing about this recipe is that it ticks so many boxes – sugar-free, dairy-free AND vegan. It’s all good. Also, once cooled they’re cookies but eat them 10 minutes fresh out of the oven and they’re lovely and warm served with ice cream for a dessert and that’s exactly what I did when the family came round.Also, as a side note I reheated them for 10 seconds in the microwave a few days later and drizzled them with honey (no judging-I said I loved sugar!) and they were deelish!
You see I think there is a theory that if you get the balance right you can use banana to mush practically anything together! Oats and banana just work don’t they? And they are naturally sweet and sugar-free to boot! It’s a win, win! I wonder what they’d be like with a touch of cocoa? Hmmm?
3 ripe banana (mine were 270g once peeled) mushed up
200g rolled oats
20g ground almonds
120g dried/medjool dates- chopped into small pieces
85ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanillia extract
Make sure the bananas are well mashed then add the rest of the ingredients and mix in well.
Set to one side for 15-30 minutes. This allows the wet ingredients to saturate the dry and form a solid mix.
Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC Fan oven) and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
Use a ice cream scoop to grab some of the mixture and place on the baking sheet leaving a little space between each one. They don’t rise as much as spread a little.
Bake for 20 minutes until the edges start to brown slightly. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely. They are delicate and will fall apart if handled straight out of the oven. As they cool they become more stable to be handled.
Oooooh don’t you just love a mini Christmas cake? I made some last year as gifts and they went down really well. This time I decided to give them a touch of Jack Daniels and I have to say they are gooooood!
I made these ones for a local food bank on behalf of the charity I bake for Free Cakes For Kids. Lots of bakers have made lots of mini cakes so lots of families would have a special cake and it always feels great to be giving and baking for others at this time of year- don’t you think? If you want to join in the fun check out the FCFK website to find your local group. I’m yet to find a group of bakers who aren’t really friendly!
I made these cakes really last minute (meaning I didn’t start in October so I could ply the cake with alcohol) so I had few cheats. I soaked the fruit in the JD for a week before baking the cakes and once they were out of the oven I gave them another really good brush/soak with the good stuff. If you add the alcohol while the cake is still warm the liquid soaks right in. I think a Christmas cake still tastes great even if it hasn’t been drowned in alcohol for weeks or months before.
Once baked I decorated half the cakes with marzipan and white sugarpaste and the other half with just the sugarpaste so there were some nut free options – also so I could eat the marzipan that was left over.
How to decorate Christmas cakes the non traditional way.
I didn’t want to go for red or green decorations this year. My original plan was to have a little forrest of sugarpaste Christmas trees standing on top of the cakes but once I had decorated one I realised that they would be really difficult to transport to the food bank and for the families to take home too so I opted for a 2d version.
The Christmas tree decorations were made up a day ahead in pale blues, pink and white so that they could be layered up without drooping. The gingerbread men were also made up ahead of time. After 24 hours the faces were drawn on with a clever food dye pen in ‘liquorice’ black. The trees and gingerbread man were then stuck in place with a little royal icing.
To give the cakes a really professional finish I placed ribbon around the cake and wrapped them in cellophane. I was really happy with the end result. I hope the families will be too when they pick them up later this week.
I wrote this post before I delivered the cakes to the food bank. I feel now looking back that I brushed over the food bank part. For me this was supposed to be about sharing my recipe for a Jack Daniels Christmas cake. It is in fact about a lot more than that. There are so many people in need in our country and right on our door steps. You may not even be aware that there is a food bank on your high street, in your church or by your community centre. These places are amazing. They’re run mostly by volunteers and the people who need them are often in dire situations.
When I delivered these cakes I met with a band of very jovial volunteers who are loving and caring and so, so knowledgable. There was a young mum who was there as I dropped off. She was collecting a couple of blankets from the centre. She had been housed in the hostel around the corner. The week before she had left a violent relationship with nothing but the clothes on her back and her teenage daughter. She had nothing. She was housed in a hostel so they were safe. The hostel is an amazing resource with a bedroom and some furniture and a kitchen along one wall but that’s it. It’s very, very basic. No bedding, no plates, no comforts. I’m sure she was grateful for a safe and warm roof over her head but having just spent a few hundred quid on presents for my two daughters to then see this young woman with so little but still with a grateful smile on her face was incredible humbling.
So I’m asking you to do something and not just now – for the foreseeable future. When you’re doing your food shopping pop an extra tin of something or a bottle of shampoo in your basket and leave it in the food bank bins which are always situated just behind the checkout. All the big supermarkets have collection bins and the extra pound or two probably won’t make much of a difference to you but it will make a massive difference if we all do it for others.
If I get asked for one recipe (other than Madeira cake) over and over again it’s lemon cake. You guys seem to really love it. I haven’t made a ton of lemon cakes so I needed to find an opportunity to make one just so I could share it with you. Now, my ever expanding hips don’t want me to just make a cake and have it sitting looking at me every time I walk into the kitchen so I needed to have an opportunity to take it out of our house. I can’t for the life of me remember where I took this Lemon Victoria Sponge cake. I know there were kids involved and I know I had to apologize for having cut a slice to take photos and I then put it back again to take it with us. I don’t think any of my friends mind that one little bit!
The opportunity to make this Lemon Victoria Sponge Cake was also well timed as I needing to find a recipe that I could use the brand spanking new baking tools from JosephJoseph on – you know the ones I was talking about last week in the lemon curd recipe? Well the two newest products are the Fin bowl scraper and the Glaze – fillable pastry brush. That is why this regular lemon Victoria Sponge cake became a whopper of a beast. Cake +lemon curd + creme fraiche + lemon syrup glaze!
The Fin is very easy to hold and manoeuvre around the inside of a bowl. As you can see from the photos above it leaves next to no cake mix once it’s been scraped around. This is one of those really handy bits of baking kit and in true JosephJoseph style it’s ergonomic and has a wide base so it will stand up on it’s own and not leave smears of cake mix all over your kitchen. The Glaze is going to be a very handy piece of kit for me. I add sugar syrup to all my Madeira cakes so this will make it a much cleaner and easier job. Glaze comes with two lids – one with lots of holes which is perfect for adding glazes and the other with one central hole which will make light work of egg washing pastry. The pastry brush simply fits over whichever lid you choose. The bottle is soft silicone so you can squeeze it to allow the contents to flow out to your desired speed. The bottle is really tactile as it’s so soft. You just want to squidge it.
As you can see from the shots above I used it to glaze the top of the cake and then not content with the amount of sugar already in this cake I proceeded to dribble even more lemon glaze over the sides! To say this was a sweet and tangy cake would be an understatement.
I’ve been using this fab tool to glaze my cakes and I simply pour the warm glaze into the bottle and then leave it to cool down before adding the lid and brush. It’s so much easier than using a pastry brush and bowl as you don’t get those sticky, sugary drips all over the place. The last point to make about the Fin is that the whole unit is dishwasher safe. No brainer really.
Every now and again I get asked by companies if I’d like to review their products. Sometimes they’re a bit abstract, sometimes they are nothing to do with baking (life insurance anyone?) and sometimes they are spot on. As I am sure you can guess if JosephJoseph contact you with a new baking product you’re pretty much going to jump at the chance. Once I knew what the products were I had to come up with a recipe. Lemon curd has been on my mind since I talked to a friend about it a few weeks ago. We both agreed that you never really finish a whole jar. It’s great for a while but then we tend to go straight back to the strawberry jam. So I decided to make a small batch – enough for a tiddly jam jar plus to fill one 8″ cake.
These are just some of the JosephJoseph baking products I selected to bake with for this post. The new all singing, all dancing product is the Fin scraper which works a treat – tune in next week for the lemon Victoria Sponge cake post where I really put it to the test! The other item is the Glaze. Now as you probably know I am all about sugar syrup – especially when it comes to keeping Madeira cakes moist. This is the perfect product for that as you can store your syrup in the bottle till you’re ready to ‘glaze’ your cake. I love a silicone bristle don’t you? Especially when your dealing with very sticky sugar syrup that can be cleaned up in a jiffy!
Anyway, I digress! To make the lemon curd I used JospehJoseph’s amazing lemon zester. I recently broke my old zester. Plastic gadgets are not normally EmmaMT friendly! So I was really pleased to get my hands on this beauty. Now, I do know that it’s just a zester and I’m not normally a one trick pony – kitchen gadget kinda girl but I really love this zester. The thing about JosephJoseph gadgets is that they are designed by product designers who understand ergonomics and answer a basic troublesome need. I have a degree in Product design – bet you didn’t know that? So I REALLY appreciate well designed products and this is one of them.
What’s so good about this zester then?
Well, the handle makes it easy to hold – to start with. It’s got a really fine stainless steel blade so your zest is fine and super zesty – rather than chewy and most of all – and this is the bit that wowed me the most, it has this really nifty integrated blade wiper which you sweep across the blade and it scoops up all that hard to release zest and forces it up to the top of the zester where there’s a hole for it to drop through. Genius! The blades are so sharp that it comes with a handy protective sheath. Want to know what I do? I put the sheath on while zesting so it catches all the citrus then I use the wiper. You get so much more zest that way.
How to make Lemon Curd
Makes enough to fill two small jars or one small jar and to fill an 8″ cake or one regular jar
40g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
1 medium egg
1 egg yolk
Juice of 2 lemons (around 6 tbsp)
1 tbsp lemon zest
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat.
Cook for 10-12 minutes at a slight simmer. Stir often to prevent the bottom becoming burnt.
To sterilise your jam jars heat your oven to 160C-180ºC. Wash your jam jars in hot soapy water, rinse then place the wet jars and lids in the oven for 15 minutes.
Once the curd has cooled down place into the jam jar and pop a piece of silicon paper over the top and add the lid.
Store in the fridge for 3-4 weeks if it lasts that long!
One last thing!
I just have to share with you all this beautiful Arena draining board. I’ve been looking at it since we re-did our kitchen four years ago. Fab isn’t it? I can’t tell you how hard it is to find a good looking draining board that will do the job too. This JosephJoseph Arena one has rubbery sections to fit practically anything. The spout for excess water reaches over the sink for easy disposal and it comes in a gorgeous grey which matches my kitchen perfectly and meets my grey obsession and at the moment the white and green is on offer.
To make easy work of cleaning up the mixing bowl The Flume folding draining board is a must. It’s the perfect place for oversized mixing bowls and sieves. Once finished with you simply pick it us and fold the edges together then aim the water towards the sink. I’ve used my one every day since I got it – but I do bake a lot and use every pot and pan I can when cooking!
So, check out next week’s post for the Lemon Victoria Sponge cake where you’ll get to see the scraper and glaze in action.
Happy baking and have a zesty week
Disclaimer: Thank you to JospehJoseph for providing me with the baking products in this post. They make baking even more fun and twice as easy. All thoughts, opinions and ramblings are entirely my own.
The only choc chip cookie recipe you’ll ever need!
Do you ever have one of those days when only a choc chip cookie will do? I love them but Beau simply adores them. Whenever I’m baking that’s what she wants – Freezer cookies. So, when I went to make her a quick batch I discovered that I actually didn’t have all the ingredients I needed so in true EmmaMT style I just made up teh recipe as I went along and used similar alternatives. What I discovered was a batch of the most moreish, soft, gooey chocolateyness I have ever tasted. I had to hide them just so I wouldn’t eat them all before I had shot them. In fact I am alone in my house right now as I type this and I know that there are still five more calling me from downstairs
“Emma! Come and eat us. We’re all soft and warm and bursting with waaaayyyy too much chocolate to resist us!”
But resist them I must. I promised Tim that I wouldn’t eat them all and that there would be some when the girls get home too! Pfew! My waistline thanks him for that!
Alternatives that work
The thing about these cookies that took me by surprise it how good they taste when made with margarine instead of butter. I knew that the brown and granulated sugar would work instead of soft brown sugar but I expected them to be a bit soggy not perfectly gooey. They were just right. Another benefit is that you can use margarine straight from the fridge as it’s soft to begin with. I used Flora’s Buttery as I have a post I’m writing for them in April and had it in the fridge already. It’s goooood!
The trick to getting the perfect soft cookie
… is to not over bake them. This is something that has taken me years to perfect. They only need 9-10 minutes in the oven. The edges will start to turn golden brown but not brown-brown- if you know what I mean? They’ll be light and puffy and they’ll look under baked. They’re not. Just take them out of the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack and leave them for 20 minutes before removing them. I know, I know. Warm cookies from the oven are too good to resist so just do your best! As they cool they wrinkle and look like the ones above. Chocolate heaven.
Even after nearly forty minutes the chocolate was still all warm and melted. See? It’s hard to resist! Hence there are now only five left from the batch – which makes 18. (just so you know I’m not completely greedy I did bake these yesterday. I haven’t eaten them all by myself in one go!
I thought I would share with you how I plan the recipes on CakesBakesAndCookies and how I’ve got just that little bit more organised with this cute recipe storage tin.
When I bake a recipe I write down on a piece of paper the ingredients I use, the temperature and how long it’s baked for. I then take that scrappy piece and type it up and for some reason I can’t throw it away! I mean I have it saved on my blog so I have it forever. I don’t need to keep it.
Normally I’m a real clutter buster. I don’t keep much. I like a clean surface and to be able to find things easily – my kitchen drawers are all organised. I don’t have one of ‘those drawers’ but these scrappy recipes just never seem to go. I’ve done over 150 recipes on here now but here they are still clipped together.
At Christmas I was given a recipe tin by DotComGiftShop.com as a little thank you and boy has it sorted my life out. At first I was a bit hesitant – not wanting change and all that but then I unclipped the current messy storage system – a.k.a. a couple of clips that sit on my window ledge and et voila! Organised.
The tin’s design is really sweet – or should that be tweet! Sorry, couldn’t resist. I have the Blue tit design but there’s also a poppy, rose and apple design
It comes with these really cute recipe cards – so I won’t need to write on scraps anymore! There’s also a set of dividers for all kinds of recipes. To be honest I’m just glad I now have a place to keep everything together now and in the kitchen too!
I have a large cardboard box in another cupboard in the kitchen which is affectionately known as the ‘somewhere safe box’ as in “Where did I put my book/my favourite pen/the letter for school.” Oh I put it somewhere safe, and this has become that for recipes – my somewhere safe for recipes tin and I love it.
So, what do you do with all your recipes? Do you have a system for the ones you tear out of magazines? I’d love to know
Disclaimer: Thank you to Dotcomgiftshop for sending me this Blue tit recipe tin, I love it and to Mr A S – PR extraordinaire for always making me smile. No-one else calls me Morton-Turnip! All thoughts, opinions and ramblings are entirely my own.