Banana, ginger and chocolate cake

banana ginger chocolate cake

I realise there’s been a rather manic, end-of-month flurry of activity on the blog but here’s another last minute recipe, which I just had to squeeze in just in time to make the deadline for this month’s Spice Trail challenge.

The theme for March has been ginger and I’ve received a brilliant selection of ginger goodies; the round-up promises to be a real treat.

This last entry from me is a very easy-to-make banana sponge, featuring delightful chunks of chewy, crystallised ginger and dark chocolate chips, lavishly topped with a gorgeously decadent chocolate buttercream. It’s certainly not one for the weight-watchers I’m afraid, but my family made light work of getting through it, and as the cake does contain three bananas there is a little goodness in there as well as the naughty stuff. Life is all about balance, after all.

banana ginger chocolate

Banana, ginger and chocolate cake

Serves 12

120g soft butter, plus a little more for the tins
250g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
160g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
3 ripe bananas, mashed
75g dark chocolate chips
30 crystallised ginger, chopped into small chunks

For the chocolate buttercream

150g good quality chocolate (dark or milk, you decide)
225g butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

I also used Dr Oetker chocolate hearts to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.

Butter and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, vanilla and milk. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and then fold in the mashed banana, chocolate chips and crystallised ginger.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in a microwave on a low setting or in a bowl over a pan of just-simmering water. Leave to cool a little. Beat the butter in another bowl until pale, and then beat in the icing sugar and vanilla. Add the chocolate and mix well.

Spread the chocolate buttercream generously over the cake and, if you like, decorate with chocolate hearts or something similar.

Enjoy!

banana ginger chocolate cake

 

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The cheeky monkey smoothie

cheeky monkey smoothie

A delicious smoothie packed full of goodness – plus your chance to win one of eight Passion 4 Juice recipe books

If one of your New Year resolutions was to take a healthier approach to food, then starting the day with a delicious juice or smoothie is surely one of the easiest way to pack in a whole heap of goodies. For the last couple of weeks, this is what I’ve been doing and I feel fantastic. I’m gradually working my way through the Passion 4 Juice recipe book, created by my good friend Trish Tucker-May, which features some brilliant recipes for juices and smoothies made from both fruit and vegetables.

Together with her husband Joe and two young sons, Trish spends half the year in the UK taking their mobile juice bar from one festival to another, and then the other half of the year she does the same but back in her homeland of Australia. Now doesn’t that sound like an amazing way to live? Before she headed off to warmer climes down under, she gave me some of her fabulous recipe books to give away to readers of Bangers & Mash. I’ll tell you how you can get hold of a copy at the end of the post, but first over to Trish to tell you a bit more about why she loves juicing…

“I feel really lucky as we leave the UK and head Down Under for the summer of festival fun. Spending six months in the UK and six months in Australia, keeping people healthy at festivals, is an unusual but rewarding way to live my passion. But it seems right to me as I get to go home and see family and friends. Also escaping the UK winter has its benefits!

“I have been juicing and making smoothies for 30 years now and I love introducing people to new taste sensations. Here are some other great reasons to make juices and smoothies every day:

  • Best way to fulfil daily recommended fruits and vegetables
  • Rapid intake and assimilation of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, enzymes and antioxidants in the body
  • Very cleansing/detoxifying – assists in the removal of toxins
  • Weight loss
  • Very alkalizing – diseases thrive in acidic conditions
  • Clears the mind and balances moods and blood sugars
  • Improves your complexion
  • Increased energy
  • Improves your hair, skin and nails
  • Improves your overall health.

“Why not kick-start each day with a taste sensation that will revitalise, inspire and rejuvenate you? With our on-the-move lifestyles and chaotic schedules, it is difficult to find the time to prepare and consume a meal that has sufficient energy and nutrients to sustain a balanced and healthy way of life. Quick and wholesome refreshments, rich in vital nutrients, are in high demand. This is the kind of daily boost we need.

“If it’s a tangy wake-up call, a smooth pacifier or a zesty jump-start you’re after, your personalised fresh pressed juice will do the trick.

“In the Passion 4 Juice book,  I have collected some of our bestselling recipes, plus some of my favourite juices and smoothies from around the world. This handy little book is in a wipe clean format, so it doesn’t matter if it gets splashed with juice. Keep it next to your juicer or blender and have a bit of fun trying some of my favourites.”

As I mentioned, I’m enjoying working my way through the Passion 4 Juice book. My favourite juice concoctions so far have been The Morning After featuring ginger, carrots and pineapple and Buzz Juice with apples, celery and beetroot.

And the whole family loved this gorgeous smoothie recipe from Trish called The Cheeky Monkey, made with almond milk, banana, raw cacao, dates and spices. We served ours cold over ice, but Trish recommends this served warm as a lovely winter warmer. We also left out the chilli from the children’s helping.

cheeky monkey smoothie

The Cheeky Monkey Smoothie

1 banana
1 cup of freshly made almond milk
a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli – the stronger for me the better
1 heaped tbsp raw cacao
1 tbsp peanut butter
3 dates

Blend all the ingredients in a liquidiser, and then warm in a pan on the stove top – don’t overheat but give it just a bit of warmth so it stays raw and delicious. This should warm you up on the coldest of winter days.

Win the Passion 4 Juice recipe book

All you have to do to win one of eight Passion 4 Juice recipe books is leave me a comment below, providing your ideas for new smoothie or fresh juice combinations. Trish will select her eight favourites to receive a prize.

The closing date for entries is Sunday 2 February 2014 and please note that books can only be shipped to UK addresses.

I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

Banana eggy bread

banana eggy bread

Eggy bread (otherwise known as French toast) is a popular lazy day breakfast in the Bangers & Mash house. Actually, pretty much anything to do with eggs is popular here. But eggy bread in particular takes me back to my own childhood, as I have very fond memories of my Mum making this for me, which I’d sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper and eagerly wolf down while it was still piping hot, serving after serving. And so I rather like making it now for my own daughters.

Making eggy bread with mashed banana sandwiches is perfect for anyone with a bit of a sweet tooth, and yes I’m thinking primarily of little ones here. It’s an easy way to get some extra fruit into them too.

banana eggy bread

Banana eggy bread

Serves 4

2 ripe bananas
4 slices of fresh, white bread
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil

Peel the bananas and mash roughly with the back of a fork. Spread the mashed banana onto two of the slices of bread, cover with the remaining slices to make sandwiches, and cut each one in half.

Crack the eggs into a shallow dish, add the milk and gently whisk together with a fork. Place the banana sandwiches into the eggy mixture, and turn a few times to allow the bread to soak up egg like a sponge.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Carefully lift the eggy sandwiches from the dish, allowing the excess egg to run off, and pop them into the frying pan.

Fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. Allow the banana to cool a little before eating. For a treat, you might like to serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

banana eggy bread

As this banana eggy bread is a delicious way to encourage your children to eat more fruit, I am entering it into this month’s Family Foodies. This is a challenge run by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, and it is my turn to host. January’s theme is Hidden Goodies.

family-foodies

I think it would be also rather nice to serve up this banana eggy bread at tea time, so I am also entering it into January’s Tea Time Treats, hosted by The Hedge Combers and Lavender & Lovage. The theme this months is Eggs.

teatimetreats

Strawberry and honey super smoothies

Strawberry super smoothie

We slurp our way through a fair few smoothies in our house. They’re the perfect way to use up ripe bananas, especially when it’s way too hot to consider baking banana bread, and they are a brilliantly healthy start to the day. Although saying that, quite often our smoothies are rather indulgent, especially when my husband makes them with lots of vanilla ice cream.

This strawberry and honey super smoothie is of the healthy variety. It features a couple of spoonfuls of rolled oats, making it extra thick and creamy and perfect for a fuel-filled breakfast.

And of course they’re ridiculously easy to make, which is essential first thing in the morning.

strawberry super smoothie

Strawberry and honey super smoothies

2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
400g strawberries, hulled and chopped
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp rolled oats
1 pint ice cold milk

Simply pop all the ingredients into your food blender and whizz until smooth and frothy. That’s it.

Serve alongside your bowl of cereal or dippy eggs and soldiers for a top brekkie.

strawberry super smoothie

Because these super smoothies are so easy to rustle up and contain this month’s trio of ingredients (honey, oats and berries), I’m entering them into the Recipes for Life challenge, which I also happen to be hosting.

wpid-swallow-recipes-for-life.jpeg

July is the penultimate month for Recipes for Life. Each month we challenge food bloggers to create tasty, healthy and easy-to-make dishes using three key ingredients.

I’m running the challenge on behalf of a brilliant charity called SWALLOW, which supports adults with learning difficulties. Their cookery club will have a go at making the recipes themselves and the best ones will be included in a new cookbook later in the year.

Perhaps you’d like to get involved in the challenge? Find out more here.

 

Easy banana yoghurt puds

easy banana yoghurt pud

I found myself with a bunch of over-ripe bananas the other day. Normally the first thing I’d think to make would be banana bread but on a warm June afternoon, following a day spent in a stuffy office, the last thing I wanted to do was bake.

So I came up with this very quick and simple banana yoghurt dessert, with a base of trifle sponge – something else I needed to use up.

trifle sponge

I felt very virtuous knowing I’d avoided filling the food waste bin and we had a scrummy pudding in less than ten minutes. Result.

easy banana yoghurt pud

Easy banana yoghurt puds

Serves 4

6 trifle sponges
apple juice
4 or 5 ripe bananas
500g natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp runny honey
blueberries (or any other fresh berries) to garnish

Break up the trifle sponges and divide between four glasses or small bowls. Drizzle over a little apple juice – just enough to soak into the sponges and make them soft.

In a blender, simply whizz up the bananas with the yoghurt, vanilla extract and honey. Pour the banana mixture over the trifle sponges in each glass and garnish with blueberries or whatever berries you might happen to have in the fridge.

It’s so easy it hardly warrants a recipe but you’ve got one anyway!

Banana, apricot and chocolate bread

Banana apricot and chocolate cake4

I don’t know a single child who would turn down a slice of banana bread and my daughters are no exception. And for us parents, giving our little ones a slice of homemade banana bread when they get home from school feels just so, well, wholesome.

This is a lovely take on the standard banana bread; the addition of apricots keeps it extra moist, while the chunks of chocolate are a gooey treat. My recipe is loosely based on one I found for banana loaf in Baking with Kids by Linda Collister. It is indeed a great cake to bake with your children, who will no doubt enjoy mashing the banana, beating the eggs and licking the bowl at the end.

Banana, apricot and chocolate bread

100g butter
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
75g demerara sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
75g plain chocolate, chopped
100g dried apricot, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Grease a 900g loaf tin with a little butter and line with greaseproof paper.

Gently melt the butter over a low heat and set to one side to cool slightly.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl, add the sugars and combine. Make a well in the middle.

Pour the melted butter and eggs into the well, and add the mashed banana, chocolate and apricot. Mix everything together thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. When it’s ready, the top should be a lovely golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow the banana bread to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the tin and peeling off the paper.

If you liked this, you might also like…

Parsnip and carrot cakes

Parsnip and carrot cakes

Maple syrup and banana cupcakes

Maple syrup and banana cupcakes

Chocolate orange cupcakes

Chocolate orange cupcakes

Simple banana smoothie

Normally my children have pretty healthy appetites, so when they tell me they’re not hungry that’s a sure-fire sign they must be poorly.

Over the past couple of weeks both my girls have been a bit ill – and my husband too – and so I’ve turned to the good old smoothie to make sure I get some sustenance into them. Even when they’re feeling pretty grotty, they can generally manage a glass or two of smoothie.

Of course these smoothies are too good only to have when illness strikes and they’re a brilliant way to use up those over-ripe bananas. You can also add any soft fruit you happen to have in. We keep a bag of berries in the freezer and I like to chuck in a handful or two of those. But here’s the basic banana recipe.

Simple banana smoothie

Serves 4

3 or 4 bananas
4 tbsp plain or Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp runny honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 pints of cold milk

Chop the banana into a blender or smoothie maker and add the rest of the ingredients. Simply whizz up until smooth and serve to your patients.

Peanut butter and jelly super smoothie

I adore smoothies. They’re so easy to make and, for me, they constitute the perfect breakfast on those days when I don’t really fancy eating all that much. They’re great for kids when they’re feeling poorly and off their food. And this particular super smoothie, with the addition of oats, is an ideal post-run drink to give me a much-needed energy boost when I’m absolutely exhausted.

Peanut butter and jelly (jam to us Brits) is the most wonderful combination. I think I could probably live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if I could get away with it. It also works really well in this super smoothie. With the oats and banana it makes for quite a substantial smoothie; pretty much a meal in a glass.

While I’d usually use milk and yoghurt in my smoothies, I’ve come up with this recipe for Blue Diamond using their unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk. It’s free of sugars and has less than half the calories of skimmed dairy milk and half the calories of soya milk, which makes it a great alternative for those wanting to avoid dairy and/or live a healthier lifestyle.

Peanut butter and jelly super smoothies

Makes two glasses

1 banana, peeled and roughly chopped
200g strawberries, hulled
60g rolled oats
3tbsp peanut butter
3tbsp strawberry jam
275ml Almond Breeze almond milk

Simply place all the ingredients in a liquidiser or smoothie maker and blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and enjoy as a super healthy start to your day.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free sample of Almond Breeze so that I could develop a recipe for their competition.

Maple syrup and banana cupcakes

My two girls almost ate us out of house and home during the Easter holidays. And now that they are back to school and nursery, they are coming home in the afternoon absolutely ravenous. There’s no way they can keep going until tea time without a quick snack as soon as they get through the front door.

These maple syrup and banana cupcakes are perfect, and they’re also good as a lunch box treat. They contain wholemeal flour and fruit so they’re also vaguely healthy!

Maple syrup and banana cupcakes

Makes 12

150g self-raising flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g Demerara sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 tsp cinnamon
60g margarine, very soft
2 large ripe bananas
50g sultanas
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6 and line a bun tin with 12 paper cake cases.

Mix together the self-raising and wholemeal flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the soft margarine and mash it into the flour using a fork until well combined.

Mash the bananas using a fork and stir this into the mixture, along with the sultanas.

Add the beaten eggs, maple syrup and milk and beat until the mixture is well combine and dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and sprinkle a little Demerara sugar on top of each one.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool. Eat them as they come or make into more of a pudding by eating warm drizzled with more maple syrup.

 

Banana and chocolate cupcakes

If you ever need to rustle up some cakes for a school cake sale, these should do the trick.

Totally unsophisticated, completely garish and obscenely sweet. Just what little children are looking for in a cupcake.

I made these last week for the Christmas Fair and they disappeared in minutes of doors opening.

And they can’t be that unhealthy; they do contain banana after all.

Banana and chocolate cupcakes

Makes 8 cakes

1 large ripe banana
110g soft butter
110g caster sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
110g self-raising flour

For the icing
60g plain chocolate
25g butter
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
Sweets of your choice for decoration – Smarties, jelly beans, dolly mixture – go crazy!

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas mark 4. Line a muffin tin with eight paper muffin cases.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl, then gradually add the eggs to the butter mixture, beating well.

Peel and mash the banana and stir into the butter mixture. Sift and fold in the flour.

Fill the muffin cases with the mixture and bake for 20 minutes, until risen and golden. Leave to cool.

To make the icing, put all the ingredients in a bowl and microwave on a medium heat for a minute or two, and mix well.

When the cupcakes are cool, spoon over the chocolate icing and decorate with your chosen sweeties.