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Marrow Praline Cake

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

Marrows are undoubtedly the bland cousin of the courgette family. Their fairly plain taste, firm outer flesh and strange cotton wool core (which is discarded before cooking) leaves it decidedly lagging behind in the Vegetable Of The Year contest. However, for all that I’ve just disparaged the poor marrow, it acts extremely well as a carrier vegetable which can be stuffed with strong, well-flavoured fillings, allowing the flavours of your chosen stuffing to sing very loudly indeed.

I’ve always asserted that the manifesto of my website is to share my adventures in food therefore, when I spotted a small marrow for the reduced price of 15p in the supermarket the other day I thought I’d attempt to have a small adventure with the humble marrow. After looking on the internet for some advice as to how to approach cooking marrows to get the best results from them I decided to make two things with it. The first experiment was this marrow praline cake and the second is savoury stuffed marrow (a recipe which will be posted on the website soon).

Much like when I first made courgette cake, I was pretty unsure how the marrow praline cake would turn out. Would it have a strong flavour? Would the marrow flesh be too dry or even too wet for the cake batter to cook properly? And how would it work with the gluten-free flours I tend to bake with nowadays?

When I was preparing the marrow I was struck by the fact that it had a lovely fresh, grassy, peanut sort of smell and wasn’t overpowering at all. As a result, the grated marrow worked just like courgette does, adding no real vegetable flavour to the cake sponge, but still infusing it with a fantastic amount of moisture and texture. (I only used about half of my marrow for the cake. I reserved the other half to make stuffed marrow slices for dinner that night, so you probably won’t need to use the whole thing.)

This marrow praline cake is a delightfully moist chocolatey cake that’s dotted throughout with crunchy pieces of hazelnut and sandwiched and topped with a maple syrup-infused hazelnut buttercream. It’s a delight to serve, a pleasure to eat and most certainly elevates the Vegetable of the Year status of the plain old marrow.

A Marrow!

The Inside of a Marrow

 

Ingredients:

300g grated marrow

2 large eggs

80ml vegetable oil

60ml coconut oil (melted)

2 tsps vanilla extract

80 ml rice milk

200g brown sugar

150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

50g cocoa

200g chopped hazelnuts (put 150g into the cake mix, but keep 50g aside to decorate the cake)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

For the buttercream icing:

150g icing sugar

75g butter (or dairy-free butter)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp of rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Line two cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Prepare your marrow by washing it, cutting off the two ends, slicing it down the middle, removing the inner core with a spoon, and grating the remaining flesh. (I used my food processor for this job which made it a lot easier to grate the large amount of marrow.)

Measure all of your wet ingredients into a mixing bowl (the grated marrow, eggs, oils, vanilla and milk).

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and stir until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.

Divide the cake mix between the two cake tins equally and bake for 45 to 50 mins or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out fairly clean. (It’s quite a moist cake anyway, so don’t worry too much if the skewer has a little moisture on it.)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, blend the maple buttercream ingredients together and sandwich the cake together with half of the buttercream before topping the cake with the other half of the buttercream icing.

Decorate with the leftover chopped hazelnuts and serve.

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

Marrow Praline Cake by The Fat Foodie

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Banana Rhubarb Cakes

Banana Rhubarb Cakes by The Fat Foodie

Rhubarb is abundant at the moment, not just in our gardens, but in the supermarkets too so I couldn’t resist using it again to bake a sweet treat. The tart nature of rhubarb needs a very sweet counterweight ingredient that makes its natural tartness sing and I can’t think of a better fruit that is bursting with natural sugars than over-ripe bananas. At first I wasn’t quite sure whether the flavour combination would work, but it most certainly does, producing banana rhubarb cakes that are just the right level of sweet and sharp.

The banana rhubarb cakes are also enhanced by the inclusion of some chopped strawberries I had at hand that needed to be used up. The strawberry is a nice addition to the mixture because the fruit naturally breaks down during the cooking process to become soft, sweet and jammy fruity little nuggets that are peppered throughout the cake batter.

I thought I’d take these banana rhubarb cakes into work tomorrow and had originally planned to just bake one large cake in a standard cake tin, but I’ve noticed that when I take a whole cake into work my colleagues seem to be reluctant to cut a slice for themselves, whereas if I bring in individual cakes they get munched quickly. (Is it the politeness factor or do the cakes simply look more alluring as individual cupcakes?) Taking this into consideration, I baked my banana rhubarb cakes in my silicone bundt cases, but it’s not essential because they’d be fine baked in normal cupcakes cases too.

This is a fairly easy cake recipe to make. Aside from letting the chopped rhubarb and strawberries macerate in the sugar, cinnamon and ginger, it’s simply a case of mixing the wet and dry ingredients together and then spooning the mix into cupcake or bundt cases. Although it’s simple, it’s still a deliciously complex-flavoured cake though, seeing sharp rhubarb being tempered by the sugary-sweet over-ripe banana, moist little chunks of strawberry and a zingy lime icing drizzle. A perfect cake to celebrate early summer’s bounty.

Ingredients:

150g of gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xanthan gum

140g white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

2 over-ripe bananas

125ml vegetable oil

50ml rice milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the rhubarb:

2 – 3 cups of rhubarb (chopped into pretty small chunks)

1 cup of chopped strawberries (chopped into pretty small chunks)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

100g white sugar

For the icing:

1 tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp green food colouring

6 heaped tbsps of icing sugar

Method:

Cut your rhubarb and strawberries into small chunks and place in a large bowl. Scatter the white sugar, cinnamon and ginger over the fruit, stir well and leave to one side.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay your cupcake cases into a muffin tray or place your silicone bundt cases onto a couple of baking trays.

Measure your bananas and wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and the fruit and mix well.

Spoon the cake mixture into the cake cases and bake for 30 -35 mins. (Ordinarily I’d say that when a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean it’s done, but the fruit will be very moist and will possibly give a false result, so just trust your instincts on this one!)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before drizzling with the lime icing.

Banana Rhubarb Cakes by The Fat Foodie

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Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core (makes 12)

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

A few days ago I fancied baking something to fill the kitchen cake tin because it was looking decidedly bare. After giving it some thought and having a good rifle through the kitchen cupboards I decided to make muffins. I had some brown bananas which needed used up soon, there was a peanut butter jar which had only a little bit left in it and I had half a pack of walnuts at hand, so I decided to bake some banana walnut muffins with a peanut butter core.

Muffins are incredibly easy to make because, to a large extent, they simply involve measuring out all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisking until it’s combined. There’s no creaming of separate ingredients involved or anything like that. I’ve never made muffins with an interior surprise, but the peanut butter worked really well. I’m not sure if smooth peanut butter would have been quite as successful because I think the crunchy peanut butter definitely helps keep the core together and the crunch of the peanuts goes well with the crunchy walnuts too.

A while ago my Mum treated me to a Jamie Oliver muffin tin and although I wouldn’t ordinarily buy something purely because it’s got celebrity endorsement, I have to admit that this muffin tin is fantastic due to the depth of the muffin sections which helps to keep the shape of the muffins as they rise. Well done, Mr Oliver.

This recipe makes a lovely soft, moist banana flavoured muffin with an inner core of crunchy peanut butter that’s complemented by the flavour of the walnuts. They’re ideal for accompanying a mid-morning cuppa or as a tasty after dinner treat. Actually, they’re pretty good at any time of the day!

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

150g dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

150ml vegetable oil

3 large bananas (my bananas weighed in at 320g)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

150g chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay out your 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk until it’s all combined.

Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffin cases and (if you like) top with a walnut half.

Bake for 30 to 35 mins and leave to cool before munching.

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

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