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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Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

I’m a huge fan of pastry, particularly puff pastry because it’s such a versatile base ingredient upon which to base a meal around. I tend to keep a block of it in the freezer for whenever inspiration strikes so when I looked in the fridge the other day and saw that there were a number of summer vegetables that needed to be used up I decided to make a tomato and mozzarella tart with them.

Puff pastry is a very cheap way to make a tasty meal that can be topped with loads of delicious ingredients and it works particularly well with soft, sweet roasted vegetables, such as tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and the likes. I’ve recently discovered (and fallen in love with) jars of roasted red peppers. Although they’re on the expensive side to buy from supermarkets, I’ve found them to be fairly cheap in discount stores (such as B&M and Poundstretcher’s). They’re gorgeous stuffed into sandwiches or served on the side of salads, but I’ve also been adding them onto pizzas because their natural sweetness goes really well with creamy, melted mozzarella.

The beauty of this tomato and mozzarella tart is that you can add any other ingredients you fancy. I’ll bet some chopped bacon or smoked ham would be lovely on top of it or some shredded pieces of roast chicken. I dare say a few strips of smoked salmon would be outstanding on it too, especially if you served the tart with a fresh green salad and a cold, crisp glass of white wine.

This tomato and mozzarella tart is a celebration of summer vegetables. It’s a crisp, flaky puff pastry base that’s topped with walnut and basil pesto and adorned with a plethora of delicately roasted tomatoes, courgettes and black olives which are nestled underneath a crisp blanket of grated creamy mozzarella. It’s simply an excellent dish for a summer lunch or dinner.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

500g block of gluten-free puff pastry (or normal puff pastry)

2 large tomatoes (sliced)

1 courgette (sliced)

1 red pepper (jar)

8 black olives (halved)

Freshly ground black pepper

50g grated dairy-free mozzarella (or normal mozzarella)

For the walnut pesto:

15g fresh basil

40g walnuts

30g sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

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

Line a flat baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry on top of the greaseproof paper and use a plate to cut a large circle out. Cut a second circle that is slightly smaller than the outer circle, leaving a gap of around 1 cm around the edge.

The rolled out puff pastry base.

Lay the puff pastry circle onto your baking tray.

Make your pesto by blending the pesto ingredients together (I used my Nutribullet) and spread the pesto over the puff pastry base.

Spreading the walnut pesto over the puff pastry base.

Lay your tomato and courgette slices on top of the tart and add freshly ground black pepper.

Laying the tomatoes and courgettes over the tart.

Add the pieces of sliced red pepper and black olives.

Adding the red peppers and olives.

And top with grated mozzarella before baking in the oven for around 30 mins.

Topping the tart with grated mozzarella before baking.

Once the vegetables are soft and the pastry is cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

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Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

A while ago I made chocolate bundt cakes to celebrate my 100th blog post and the sponge I made them with was so tasty that I wanted to try making other things with it. I’ve always loved whoopie pies, but sometimes shop-bought whoopie pies can be a bit too sickly because they have too much filling inside them and the quality of the buttercream icing often leaves a lot to be desired. The beauty of baking your own therefore, is that you can control the buttercream icing to baked sponge ratio to suit your own taste.

Although I used a proper whoopie pie tin it’s not completely necessary because you could just use a yorkshire pudding tin or something like it to bake your whoopie pies in. All you’re looking for is something that’ll control the spread of the sponge as it bakes and allow it to rise. In fact, if you don’t mind your whoopies looking a little odd you could even use a traditional fairycake shallow tin to bake them in.

I made my whoopie pies traditional chocolate ones, but you could omit the cocoa powder and make them with other flavours instead, such as vanilla (using 1 tsp vanilla extract), lemon (using the zest of 1 lemon) or bake them as a plain sponge but sandwich them with fruit jam as well as buttercream icing.

I can highly recommend making the chocolate whoopie pies though because they result in two rich, moist chocolate sponges that are bonded together with a lightly whipped decadent cocoa buttercream, creating the perfect cake for one. Stopping at only eating one is a different matter entirely though.

Ingredients:

220g dark brown sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
80g cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream:
150g dairy-free butter
170g icing sugar
30g cocoa
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your whoopie pie tins and give them a light greasing before dusting them with flour.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and give it a stir.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the whoopie pie tins.

Bake in the oven for around 10-12 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack before taking the whoopie pies out of the tin.

Place your buttercream ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once cool, sandwich the whoopie pies with the buttercream icing.

Whoopie Pies by The Fat Foodie

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Citrus Cupcakes (makes 12)

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Sometimes I bake cakes purely because a pretty cupcake case has caught my eye that begs to be filled with something delicious. This was the case (excuse the pun) when I saw some beautiful, bright, sunshine-coloured cupcake cases in Flying Tiger the other day. (I tried to find a link to their website so you could buy them yourself, but they don’t have them listed on their site unfortunately.)

Ordinarily I’m a real chocolate cake fan, loving the deep, moist fudginess that is inherent within all decent chocolate cakes, but I recognise that sometimes there’s nothing nicer than a light fruit-flavoured cake and these cupcake cases were ideal for making gluten-free citrus cupcakes in.

As the days are getting sunnier and warmer it’s nice to move away from the heavy puddings and crumbles of winter and embrace lighter flavours, such as those found in citrus fruits. Although I made my citrus cupcakes flavoured with lemon and orange you could choose to flavour them with lime or even grapefruit if you had a mind to. All you’re looking for are the strong oils in the fruit’s zest to impart a citrus note into the cake’s sponge.

These citrus cupcakes are light, but moist (even though they’re made with gluten-free flour) and keep for a good few days in an airtight tin. Although if your family’s anything like mine it’s highly unlikely that these delicious bakes will last that long. I might need to make another batch…

Ingredients:

220g caster sugar
120g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour
90g ground almonds
60g dessicated coconut
A pinch of salt
The zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
120g dairy-free butter
100g coconut oil (melted)
4 eggs
60ml rice milk
For the buttercream icing:
100g dairy-free butter
240g icing sugar
1 tbsp rice milk

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Lay out your cupcake cases onto a flat baking tray.

Measure all of the wet ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into each of the cupcake cases, lay them on the baking trays and bake in the oven for around 25 mins. (They’re cooked if a skewer pushed into the middle of a couple of the cakes comes out entirely clean.)

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Make the buttercream icing by placing all of the buttercream ingredients into a jug and whisking until a smooth icing is produced.

Once the citrus cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the buttercream icing.

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Citrus Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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