Carrot and Banana Cake


A simplified version of Green Kitchen Stories’ Healthier Carrot Cake, perfect in the morning or with a cup of coffee or tea.

3 eggs
2 bananas
5 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
3-4 carrots (medium size, grated)
½ cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Use a hand blender or a blender to mix bananas and oil into a thick cream in another bowl.

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, add sugar and stir it together with the eggs and the banana-cream. Add grated carrots, walnuts and raisins and stir it until it all comes together. Pour it into a cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

Challah with Fresh Yeast


I have several recipes for challah: Claudia Roden’s, Quick Challah and Ima’s Challah. But recently I have switched to a recipe with fresh yeast, less sugar and a mixture of flours. The taste is lovely so I thought I’d share it with you.

1 kg plain flour (I often use half white and half spelt
1 block of fresh yeast (42g)
20 cl sunflower oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

1 egg yolk
poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in 10cl of warm water. Whisk well and set aside.

In a large bowl, put the flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast, the oil and 25cl of warm water. Mix well and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise for 90 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled in size, knead again very lightly and let the dough rise for another 1 hour.

Divide then the dough into four pieces to make 4 loaves and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush gently with the beaten egg yolk, making sure you brush the whole loaf so as not to get a contrast in colours. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if using.

Bake in a preheated 400° F (200°C) oven for 25 minutes or until the loaves are beautifully golden-brown.

I often half the quantity and get two middle-sized loaves.

Swedish Saffron Buns


I made these buns last nigh for a last celebration of Chanukah; butter is oil, isn’t it?

In Sweden they are called Lussekatt and are associated with the celebration of Lucia – a Scandinavian festival which has roots in indigenous Germanic pagan, pre-Christian midwinter mythology and marks the observance of the winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun. It was commonly believed in Scandinavia, as late as the end of the 19th century, that this was the longest night of the year, coinciding with the winter Solstice. A belief that is also found in the poem A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day by English poet John Donne.

Ingredients for a dozen buns:

3/4 ounce yeast / 21 grams
1 cup lukewarm milk
a pinch of saffron or tumeric
Scant 1/2 cup butter, melted
1 pounds all-purpose flour / 1 cup – I used 3/4 plain white flour and 1/4 spelt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup raisins

24 raisins
1 egg, beaten

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a mixing bowl, then add the saffron and keep stirring until the mixture turns yellow. Add the melted butter. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then stir in the sugar and raisins.

Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes cleanly from the edge of the bowl. Knead the dough on a floured counter for 10 minutes, until it is shiny but not sticky. Put the dough back in the bowl and let rise for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.

Lightly knead the dough again on a floured counter. Divide into 22 equal pieces. Roll them into sausages then curl the ends so that each piece is shaped like the number eight. Put one raisin in the middle of each circle. Place the breads on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, cover with dish towels, and let rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the risen breads with beaten egg. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Let cool on a wire rack. Eat them as they are, or spread with cold butter.

Slightly adapted from a recipe found in The Scandinavian Cook Book – A Year in the Nordic Cuisine

Baked Apple and Almond Pudding


Having made a soup and a salad for the Friday evening meal, I felt I could indulge in a dessert. I had some organic apples and ground almonds and wished to combine the two. A quick Google search led me to Delia’s recipe which I slightly adapted (one omission, two additions and a time modification).

3-4 servings
1 lb (450 g) Bramley or Elstar apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 oz (110 g) ground almonds
4 oz (110 g) butter, at room temperature
4 oz (110 g) caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten

Place the apples in a saucepan with approximately 2 tablespoons of water, simmer gently until soft, and then arrange them in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy and then the beaten eggs. Add and incorporate the ground almonds. Now spread this mixture over the apples, and even out the surface with the back of a tablespoon.

Then bake on a highish shelf in the oven for 40 minutes at 180°C/350°F. I am convinced 1 hour is far too long.

This dessert can served warm or cold. It is nice on its own but you can probably add cream, custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It keeps well in the fridge and is still lovely the next day.

Rye Soda Bread


A recipe from Super Natural Every Day

2 1/3 cups / 9.75 oz / 275 g rye flour
1 3/4 cups / 8 oz / 225 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 cups / 475 ml buttermilk
a bit of extra buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 400F / 205C. Place a rack in the center of the oven.

Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour, pour in the buttermilk, and stir until the dough just comes together. If you need to add an extra splash of buttermilk because the dough is too dry, you can. Knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and mark it with a deep cross across the top, cutting two-thirds of the way through the loaf with a serrated knife. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of flour.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until the bread is golden crusted on top and bottom (you may want to move the oven rack up for the last 20 minutes if you need more color on the top of the loaf). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes a single loaf.

Lighter Pastry Dough


1 1/4 cups flour (a mixture of white and wholewheat works well)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter
1/5 cup single cream
a pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp water

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a glass bowl. Add the butter, in small lumps, and the cream. Mix with a wooden spoon. Add a little water if necessary so that the dough has a consistence that seems right.
Lay the dough in a baking tray and put in the fridge for half an hour.
Set the oven to 450°F. Fill the pastry with the savory filling of your choice. When the oven is hot, cook for about 20 minutes.

Ideas for fillings will be posted later.

Herb and Tomato Scones


Ingredients for 8-10 scones:
2 cups self-raising flour, sieved
2 tablespoons cream or butter
2-3 teaspoons dried herbs
2 sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons grated cheese
milk to mix
salt and pepper

Mix cream into flour (or rub butter in). Add cheese, herbs, tomatoes, pepper and salt, and mix. Mix with a little bit of milk to form a dough. Knead lightly.

Press out dough to 1 inch thickness. Cut out rounds. Arrange on baking tray, brush with milk (and sprinkle with cheese, if you like).

Cook in 220C/425F oven for 10-15 minutes. Oven must be very hot from start. Turn it on to preheat before you start making the dough.

Nice with soup.