Strawberry Shortcakes: Behind the recipe

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Making strawberry shortcakes is a good marker of the start of summer. Shortly after we revamped our garden, about 5 years ago now, I planted five strawberry plants, which due to my inattention, have multiplied and spread many times over. We now have a huge patch of gangly strawberry plants, which bring a lovely glut of fruit at this time of year. We have to share with the pigeons, but now there are so many, I don’t really mind that.

Preserving the flavour and taste of strawberries beyond their short season is always a challenge. Jams and preserves work really well, concentrating the flavour as they cook. You can also make simple preserves by roasting or cooking gently in syrup to create something that will last for several weeks in the fridge.

As for making the most of the fresh ones, strawberries and scones always seem the perfect match to me. A slightly crisp-edged scone acts as the perfect support to thick, whipped (or clotted) cream, which is the ideal partner for strawberries.
Slice and macerate the strawberries in a bare sprinkle of sugar and a drop or two of balsamic, and they will be glossy and sweet and with just enough acid to counter the rich cream.

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The American approach is to make shortcakes – close relatives of the scone, but with a good deal more butter in them, and slightly more sweetened. Like scones, they get their rise from baking powder, and the liquid and dry ingredients are combined at the last stage, and the dough mixed just enough to come together. With the extra fat, they get extra tenderness and richness, so they are bit more protected from overhanding than a regular scone (good news when it comes to toddler-assisted baking!).

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Behind the recipe

There are two levels of why this works. First, the shortcake itself should be barely sweet, a little crumbly, crisp on top and light inside. These contrasts are part of what makes it work. Butter, or in some recipes, cream, coats the flour and gives that crumbly texture, that’s also rich. The baking powder lifts the whole thing up and creates that fluffy, open texture. A high oven temperature gives a nice rise and gets the tops a little brown and crisped. Using an egg helps keep the whole thing together and stops it getting too crumbly, so it will still hold up to being spread with cream, jam and fruit.

The other reason it works is because, in the final assembly, you are putting together lots of exciting contrasts. What makes a dish satisfying is often lots of changes of flavour and texture. They give you the feeling that each mouthful is different, and fool your brain into trying a bit more. Here, the bland, rich shortcake is set against the cool, thick cream and the sweet-sharp acid of the strawberries. Adding a drop or two of vinegar to the strawberries enhances that sharpness, which makes the contrast with the cream more interesting. The crisp and crumbly textures of the shortcake contrast with the smooth, rich feel of the cream, and the soft resistance of the berries.

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RECIPE: Strawberry Shortcakes

adapted from Nigella Lawson in How to be a Domestic Goddess

I adapted this recipe to use the Thermomix or a food processor, rather than the Nigella method, which involved grating the frozen butter. For the original, handmade approach, use Nigella’s link above.
I also converted it to use double cream in place of single, as you are likely to buy some anyway to serve with the strawberries. But single cream or a mixture of cream and milk, would also work fine.

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

  • 325g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, cold from the fridge
  • 1 large egg
  • 125ml double or whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/400F.
  2. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar to the bowl of the processor. Add the butter in chunks.
  3. Pulse the processor /Thermomix until the butter is cut into chunks no larger than peas (I took mine further, until more like breadcrumbs, and they turned out fine).
  4. Beat the cream with the egg, and add almost all of it to the flour - leave a couple of tablespoons of mixture in the cup. Mix gently together with a spatula until all patches of loose flour have disappeared. It’s easier to do this in a separate bowl, but I usually can’t be bothered, and just do it in the Thermomix bowl, working around the blade. If it seems too dry, add a little more liquid. If you can, keep some back to glaze the shortcakes with.
  5. Turn the shaggy, crumbly dough out onto a floured work surface. Fold it over on itself a few times, scraping up the loose and crumbly bits,  until it starts to form a single piece of dough. Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten it out to about 2 cm thick, and cut into shapes, either using cutters or just dividing it into squares. I think those using cutters tend to rise better. Re-roll the scraps to use up the dough.
  6. Place the shortcakes on a lined baking tray. Brush with any remaining egg and cream mixture (add a splash more cream if there’s not enough). Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden on top.
  7. Allow to cool, but they are good served warm.
  8. To serve:
  9. Wash, hull and slice strawberries. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of sugar, and add a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar. Leave to macerate for 30 minutes or so.
  10. Whisk double cream until it holds a trail from the whisk (or use whole fat creme fraiche or clotted cream, which didn’t need whisking).
  11. Slice open the shortcakes, and pile on the strawberries and cream just before serving.
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Further reading

Claire Ptak’s recipe for shortcakes with apricots – another sweet-tart fruit that works well with cream and crumbly shortcakes.
The secret to James Beard’s mother’s shortcakes is supposedly a grated hard-cooked egg yolk!
Ruth Reichl’s strawberry shortcake recipe is very simple – just flour, baking powder and cream.

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Sunday food links – 19 June 2016

Part 2 of #reasonstobecheerful : roses. This climbing rose in my garden is spilling over with blossom at the moment, and smells amazing. If you're in the UK there's sure to be one near you too - if not in a garden, then in a park or garden you can visit.

Welcome to the new Using Mainly Spoons! After a bit of technical fiddling around with all the settings today, I am now moved over onto a self-hosted WordPress platform, which means a fresh new theme, and hopefully some new functionality. Although there shouldn’t be much noticeable difference, apart from the look and feel, this means I will have a lot more control over things like the ads that appear here, and I’ll hopefully be able to do some more interesting things with the blog layout in future. It’s been a bit daunting to get to this point, but I’m glad to have made the switch, and I’m looking forward to trying out the new plugins and seeing what additional things I can do with them.

This week was our return from holiday, back to work on Wednesday. As the Co-Parent was travelling, it also meant lots of lovely meals from Mum and Dad, who came up to stay with us. So a very easy return to work for me!

We returned to a strawberry patch overflowing with fruit, so there will be more on things to do with strawberries coming up. It’s nice to be at that point in the year when days are getting reliably warmer – if not sunnier – and the cherries and strawberries come in. I’m not the only one who was left feeling saddened and disheartened by the news this week (I wrote about this on Instagram) My solution has been to try and find the positive things in each day, even little things. To fight the hate with love, with the good things that we can achieve and enjoy together. And one of those things is roses, like the one above. They seem to be having a spectacular year, and a proper lungful of real roses is a marvellous thing.

Recipes:

  • Lamb kofte from Delicious Magazine’s June issue – with tomato and yoghurt sauces and rice (inspired by the yogurtlu kebab we used to have at Efes in Cambridge)
  • Strawberry Shortcakes – from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess
  • Barbecue chicken – sauce from Dinner: A Love Story – marinaded and then baked in the oven. Served once with new potatoes, and again as tacos with avocado and black beans

Without a recipe:

  • Fish curry – Haddock, flat beans, tomatoes, new potatoes in a Spice Tailor pre-made sauce
  • Mum’s lasagne

Reading:

Sunday food links – 12 June 2016

#lovecornwall #makelightessentials

This week we have been on holiday in Cornwall. Like a fool, I packed based on the chilly, grey London that we had the previous week, all layers and thin jumpers, opaque tights and jeans. And we’ve had a glorious week of mainly sunshine, with a few stints of thin cloud. It’s being wrong for all the right reasons.

We’ve been taking full advantage of this lovely spot on the Cornish coast by playgrounding, exploring, chilling, reading, eating, ice-creaming and generally being as lazy as you can get away with when you have a two year old.

In the quiet bits, I’ve been occupying myself with readying this blog for a move to a self-hosted site (watch this space), reading blogs and ‘The Essex Serpent’ and more experimenting with my bullet journal (for which I also bought some new coloured pens – yay!)

Obviously a week of being catered for means no cooking, but we’re back to usual next week.

Recipes/without a recipe:

None of that – on holiday!

Reading:

In addition to The Essex Serpent, and various bullet journal posts:

 

Sunday food links – 5 June 2016

Playing with my camera today for my #makelightessentials course. (Not pictured: the cherries that got eaten 😋🍒)

There is a tipping point before going on holiday. On Thursday of this week, I could feel myself teetering on the brink. On the one side is a headlong rush to get things sorted, pinned down, handed over, squared away before leaving. A feeling that if it isn’t done now, you might not remember what you were in the middle of when you get back. Or that others will be missing some vital piece of information without you around. This mainly goes for work, but also for all those little jobs around the house that suddenly seem so urgent when you are about to leave. I always feel the need to clear out the vegetable drawer, even if I’m going away for a week (I often leave things languishing in there for more than a week at a time anyway).

On the other side is the blissful freedom of dropping it all where you stand and walking out the door. Knowing that you don’t have to deal with any of it for at least a week, and actually, nothing much will happen in the interim.

Once I’m over the line, I find it hard to go back, even if I then discover things that I should have completed before the deadline. I am now fully over the line, and very thankful for (accidentally) planning a sequence that allowed a day off from work, then a day to pack and do the first stretch of travel, followed by two more days off, and then the final leg of travel to Cornwall.

Partly due to pre-holiday busyness and preparations, and partly because I was parenting solo for some of the week, this has been largely a no-recipe week of patched together meals. I leaned heavily on ready meals or pre-made ingredients, including those old toddler staples, sausages and fish fingers 🙂

Recipes:

Without a recipe:

  • Fish pie / fish fingers with peas and sweetcorn
  • Oven bake of mushrooms, quartered tomatoes, a tin of cannellini beans and sausages
  • Lasagne leftovers
  • A somewhat dodgy combination of the leftovers from the two things above, mixed with tomato sauce and some leftover ham, and baked with breadcrumbs and cheese on top. Possibly not complying with all health and safety regulations, but definitely winning points for clearing out the fridge. And very tasty!
  • M&S fish cakes with sweetcorn
  • Pizza with asparagus and sweetcorn – using a frozen pre-baked crust – pretty good, if a little soggy on the top surface.

Reading:

What parents don’t do – making it work by letting things go

Sometimes a work space, sometimes a tea table for toys

This is a bit of a digression for me. But I have read quite a few things about parenting recently that I wanted to respond to. (Don’t worry – normal food-related service will resume soon).

The particular spark for this post came from a discussion between food bloggers Molly Wizenberg and Ashley Rodriguez about ‘how do you do it all’ with kids, a question that they rejected and turned into ‘what don’t you do?’

I really like this idea: that instead of sharing our ‘tips’ for ‘having it all’ or ‘making it all work’, we should share more often what things we choose *not* to do as parents, to make time for the things we want or need to do. It feels like a more human and achievable way to make progress.

So, in that spirit, a list of things I deliberately don’t do. I’m not proud of all of these, but they are all conscious choices that I make in order to fit in the things I want to do. I’m also aware that some of these are luxuries that I am very fortunate to be able to afford.

  • Cleaning – I have a cleaner who also does the ironing. This makes an incredible difference. 
  • Tidying up – Our house is full of clutter. All surfaces are covered in paperwork, unopened post, and magazines I can’t bring myself to throw out (even 6 month old copies of The Economist).
  • Cook dinner every night – I do prioritise cooking from scratch, because its something I enjoy, but lots of dinners are assemblies of previously cooked things, and lots are just bread and cheese and maybe soup. Or beans on toast for those in the house who will eat them.
  • Work past 9:30pm (most days) – I aim to be at the office from 9:30am – 4pm. I make the best possible use of my 1 hour commute in and out, but I am usually off-the-clock from 5pm until whenever my daughter is in bed. That usually means I get an hour to an hour and a half of work in the evening – unless there’s something that needs urgent attention. 
  • Books – I no longer read books that much. I listen to podcasts when I’m travelling to and from work. I Instapaper lots of articles and blogs to read when I have some spare time, but I never get time to read as many as I bookmark. Part of me is sad about this, but it’s the right thing for me for now. 
  • Follow the news – I don’t watch/read/listen to the news. This is sometimes a bit of an issue for work, but I don’t read newspapers (although I sometimes buy them for the food section). I no longer really listen to radio news, except sometimes in the car.
  • Go out in the evenings – It might go without saying, with a 2 year old, but I don’t go to the pub, bars, the cinema, the theatre, restaurants in the evening. This is a bit of an exaggeration, and it’s not completely child-induced: we did relatively little of this before she came along too. And I scarcely drink, so it’s not a big sacrifice.
  • TV – Again, I’m not proud of this, and it’s not a high-minded stance. I don’t watch TV. Again, that’s not completely true (and I watch plenty with E), but I don’t watch box sets or TV series. I don’t know what’s happening on Masterchef. I have never seen an episode of Game of Thrones or House of Cards. I didn’t make it all the way through The Wire.
  • Go shopping  – this isn’t a big sacrifice for me, as I was never a huge fan of shopping-as-leisure activity. But everything is ordered online now – groceries, jeans, kids clothes, stationery. My last visit to a shopping centre was probably 6 months ago. 

The other side of this is that there are a team of people behind me helping me do things:

  • My amazing and supportive husband
  • A cleaner
  • An amazing nursery that looks after E three or four days a week, 8am-6pm.
  • My parents and parents-in-law, who are always ready to step in and cover the inevitable gaps that emerge with one-off work events, travel, illnesses and the like.

I don’t have a nanny at the moment, but one of the things reading lots of other women’s stories has taught me is that it can be an important way to make things work when you are working. I am well aware that I am extremely fortunate to be in this position, and to have all these resources to draw on. But I think it’s helpful to be honest about how things work from the inside, what it takes to keep things on the rails. Only by being honest with each other can we set realistic expectations.

So it’s not that I’m ‘doing it all’. I am deliberately not doing things. And I am part of a network of support, so what we do, we do together.

Inspired by:

There are lots of blogging mums that have helped me figure out what I want my parenting life to look like. This post was particularly inspired by:

Anna Whitehouse a.k.a Mother Pukkaher ‘I quit’ post was a great description of what it looks like when it’s not working, and how even well-meaning companies can make parenting incredibly hard.

Rachel Jeffcoat at Make a Long Story Short is one of my favourite I-will-read-anything-she-writes writers and her post on kicking smug parenting to the kerb is a great encouragement to be honest, and to be understanding of however other parents make it work. 

Cup of Jo has a short series of interviews with mums making it work for them.

Selfish Mother is a great desintation for all sorts of articles on realistic parenting. This one is on redefining having it all. 

The Dualista is a blog that doesn’t seem to have kept going but the whole premise of its short life was to interview women combining the home and work parts of their lives.  What switched me on to this was an interview with the brilliant beauty writer Sali Hughes

Sunday food links – 29 May 2016

Bullet journal - getting started

There aren’t really any food links this week, as I haven’t found much time for food reading. That’s not quite true – I have done some offline reading. The new issue of Delicious arrived, and I’ve also picked up this month’s Good Food. I’ve been dipping into some old books as well: MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Nigel Slater’s third kitchen diaries. But it has been a busy week with work, so there hasn’t been much room for leisurely reading.

I have made good use of the weekend so far, though, by spending some quality time with a new notebook! I am a big fan of Bureau Direct, an online stationery shop run by serious stationery geeks (that used to have a real-life shop in Leicester Square). They have been  describing the virtues of a bullet journal in this month’s blog, and I decided that a fresh notebook, and a new month was the perfect time to get into it.

If you haven’t come across the term bullet journal (or #BuJo as the bloggers and pinners disturbingly insist on calling it), you can find the whole system explained very simply in a video by its creator, Ryder Carroll. Basically, it’s a to-do list combined with indexed notetaking, and relies only on a notebook and a pen. There are lots of others offering advice online, and I found Boho Berry’s post and video on combining bullet journaling with GTD particularly useful (and she has some beautiful page designs).

Basically, I’m hoping this is a good way to combine the part of me that loves good notebooks, and crossing things off lists, with the part that enjoys the comprehensive list making of GTD. We will have to see how that works in practice.

Recipes:

  • Baked pumpkin risotto – loosely based on both Donna Hay’s recipe in Modern Classics 1 and The Food Lab’s advice on risotto. I par-boiled the risotto rice the night before, and then when ready to bake, I combined a sweated, chopped onion (in the Thermomix) with finely chopped butternut squash, the rice and hot chicken stock before piling into a baking dish and cooking covered in foil for 30 minutes.
  • Yotam Ottolenghi’s butterbean and oxtail stew – made with beef shin instead of oxtail, and in the slow cooker. I can’t say this completely converted me to bkeila, the fried spinach condiment it’s made with, but it was very tasty nonetheless.

Without a recipe:

  • Pasta bolognese
  • Waitrose pizzas
  • Lasagne (made by my mother-in-law) with bread and salad
  • Pasta with sausage, tomato and broccoli sauce

Reading – books, rather than food online:

Sunday food links – 22 May 2016

I’ve had a lot of support this week. With my co-parent working away all week, my Mum and Dad helped out a lot, so I didn’t have to worry about dinner most nights this week – such a luxury! And for the other days, the leftovers came in very handy (as did the brownies made last weekend).

This week is also a busy one, and calls for more simple cooking. I’m going to try Yotam Ottolenghi’s butterbean stew from last weekend’s papers, but with beef shin instead of oxtail. I have chicken stock from last night’s roast chicken to make into risotto. And there are still quite a few leftovers too.

I ordered a copy of The Food Lab this week too, planning it as holiday reading (!) but I think it might be a bit too big to take away! It’s a doorstep-like tome covering every sort of food science question and experiment. But unlike other examples of this approach, Kenji Lopez-Alt, from the website Serious Eats, focuses on showing you the outcomes of his personal kitchen experiments, and only talks about the science when it’s a route to a better version of a dish you want to eat. This makes it very practical, whilst illuminating lots of kitchen puzzles. I’ve already learned about pre-salting eggs for scrambling (it makes them more tender), and using vinegar to keep boiled potatoes together, and the importance of properly emulsifying your vinaigrette to stop the salad from wilting. I’m looking forward to getting into some of the chapters in more detail soon.

Recipes:

Pretty much nothing cooked to a recipe this week, with Mum providing meals Sunday – Thursday.

Without a recipe:

  • Pasta bolognese
  • Roast chicken with garlic and thyme, roast potatoes
  • Salad with carrots, kohlrabi and croutons, and a yoghurt-mayonnaise-lemon dressing.
  • Slow-cooker chicken stock

Reading:

Not much spare time for reading this week (though I did managed to watch some David Attenborough and Mary Beard on TV).

Sunday food links – 15 May 2016

Eurovision baking

One of my close friends had her first baby this week. It made me cast my mind back to those early newborn days. Of course, these are such a blur of feeding and sleep deprivation that it’s very hard to remember accurately. I did make an effort to write some thoughts at the time, and I also went back and culled my private mum’s Facebook group posts at some point, so I could try and capture the feelings at the time.

3 weeks: “Today is a day when it’s hard. Can’t sleep, can’t do anything else useful, feel weird and overtired, don’t want to eat anything but sweets and junk. Feel like a milk-generating zombie today.”

There were also better days:

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4 weeks: “Objectively, she’s been trouble today – feeding every hour or more, seldom sleeping, and crying much of the time in between. But for some reason, today I can mostly just see big blue eyes, sweet, strokable hair, chubby cheeks and tiny fingers. As we keep saying, more with love than frustration, “it’s a good job you’re cute!””

I am reminded that very small victories were important, and built confidence. I went after them very deliberately in those first weeks: a walk to the park, a drive to the breastfeeding clinic, making it out of the house on our own for a walk. Little bits of progress that were enough to hint at changes to come, and give the idea that all of those would pass.

Now the changes come more slowly, but seem to creep up in a more unexpected way, ambushing you when you feel unprepared. Today she seems suddenly taller, leaner and more capable. She has been ‘taking care’ of us recently – asking if we are alright if we cough, patting us to send us to sleep. It’s a lovely glimpse into the little girl she’s trying to become, but also a reminder of how much baby has already disappeared.

This week’s eating was mainly quite simple, to minimise the complications swirling around us at the moment. A very quick but delicious coconut curry from Anna Jones. A slow cooker pot of beans. A few bits of take away. And then a good baking session on Saturday night, to go with Eurovision. I like to think the rye flour theme was a nod to the Swedish hosts.

Recipes:

Without a recipe:

  • Beef ragu and pasta (the ragu created from some frozen beef shin stew + passata + roasted tomatoes)
  • Quesadillas – leftover butter beans, with cheese and avocado
  • Franco Manca take out pizza

Reading:

 

 

Sunday food links – 8 May 2016

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Today is my gran’s 104th Birthday. Here she is, fourth from left, on a sunny holiday in Jersey with her sister. She says she felt ‘set free’. And here she is when she turned 100:

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It’s hard to remember how remarkable she is, as she’s still so much herself, the Gran I’ve always known her as. She had brothers who fought in the first World War (she was the youngest of nine). Her husband spent most of the second World War in India, while she brought up their son at home. Before she married, she helped run the office for the family business. She cajoled one of the employees into teaching her to drive on the firm van! She has seen the arrival of television, microwaves, video recorders, the internet. We often use FaceTime so that she can see Ellie playing and say hello. She still lives on her own (albeit with lots of support from my mum and dad), cooks a little for herself, and reads voraciously.

Where do you even start with celebrating a 104th birthday? It gets harder every year to think of presents. But what she really appreciates is seeing us all, so we all came down to Somerset to celebrate, with food and cake, and E insisted on adding balloons too. She’s pretty clear that birthdays are all about balloons. She also insisted in opening all her cards and presents on my Gran’s behalf – she’s helpful like that. It was lovely to spend time all together, and for her to see some more of E in person: she’s changing so fast at the moment. I hope she remembers her Granny May, but even if she doesn’t we will have so many stories to tell her.

Recipes:

Without a recipe:

  • Supermarket pizza
  • Oven fish and chips
  • Steak sandwiches, with chutney and cornichons
  • Pasta with beef ragu, roasted tomatoes
  • Baked chicken with fennel, lemon, garlic and potatoes

Reading:

 

Almost instant banana bread

Banana bread

I have a real problem with throwing bananas away. I like them when they are already quite spotted, so for me, the line between perfectly ripe and brown and shrivelled is not that big. Added to that are the bananas that travel around in a bag in case of toddler snacking needs and emerge a bit bruised from the experience, but otherwise edible, and there are often bananas that are a bit past it in our house.

When this happens, I like to make them useful, and make banana bread, or banana muffins. Not everyone enjoys the smell of banana cake. It is certainly distinctive. I’ve read that bananas that ripen on the tree smell quite different, and that there are many varieties of banana, with different scents.

I like to think that baking with a very ripe banana recaptures some of those tropical aromas and complexities. For me, it’s a buttery, fruity smell, reminiscent of toast and apricots and flowers.

Banana bread is a quick bread, meaning that it’s not structured the same way as a cake, and is risen with baking powder or bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) rather than eggs or yeast.

Bananas add a lot to a muffin or quick bread mixture. They bring sweetness, allowing you to cut back on the sugar. They help bind things together, removing some of the role that eggs would usually play. They provide a flavour in their own right, and some added liquid for moisture.

As banana bread is a solution to a fruit problem, I like the recipes to be as quick and easy as possible. I have posted on here before about my go-to banana muffin recipe. I have also tried a banana cake recipe, made in muffin cases, which uses dates as the sweetener, and seems to work well for my toddler.

More recently, I’ve been looking at ways to make banana bread in my Thermomix (or food processor), without getting any other dishes dirty, and having some success.

Behind the recipe

This is a cake made much like a muffin, with oil, not too much sugar, and leavened with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). The usual direction for this sort of recipe is to mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, and then combine them together very gently, even leaving in a few lumps so as not to mix too much.

While this will probably give the optimum texture, a great virtue of these recipes is speed and convenience, so if you can apply a little power with a blender or food processor (I use my Thermomix), it makes these even more feasible on a weeknight (or during naptime).

As a quick bread only needs the ingredients mixing briefly together, it’s important to not overmix using the motor. If needs be, stir the last bit together by hand. It also helps to layer the ingredients in. Start with the liquid ingredients on the bottom, including the bananas, and put the dry ingredients on top, finishing with the flour. This way, the flour is the last to be mixed in. You can also leave the flour not quite combined, or with some flour still remaining around the edges, and fold the last bits in while scraping down with a spatula.

There is no need to mash the bananas, as they will just be pureed with the other liquid ingredients at the bottom of the bowl. Pulse the blades of the blender or food processor so that you don’t mix more than you have to. Then scrape down and combine the last bits with a spatula.

Scrape and pour into a lined loaf tin (I use these Lakeland tin liners for extra speed) and bake for anything from 45 minutes to an hour – it should be risen with no wet mixture remaining.

Almost instant banana bread

Banana bread. Hastily made in the Thermomix, not too sweet. Adapted from @smittenkitchen

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s jacked-up banana bread.

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas (230g peeled weight)
  • 75g sunflower oil
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 200g plain flour

Add the peeled bananas, broken into pieces to the bottom of the processor bowl. On top, add the sugar, oil, egg, vanilla essense and bourbon/rum. Mix the flour, the bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt in a small bowl and add on top of the other ingredients. This helps to make sure the bicarbonate (baking) soda is evenly distributed, and to make sure there are no lumps in it. There may not be time for these to be thoroughly mixed in otherwise, and lumps of bicarbonate of soda taste revolting.

Pulse or mix on a medium speed until just mixed together. Scrape down the sides and mix any remaining flour in by hand. Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 180C/160C fan. I often use two 1lb loaf tins (as above) and bake for 40-45 minutes.

This will keep, wrapped up, for several days, and freezes really well.