Lady finger banana bread

Banana Bread

They say that Cavendish banana’s are the better banana to cook with but I’ve never had any complaints about banana bread made with Lady Finger bananas. We used to get a glut when all the bananas on the Tiffin’s tree next door all ripened at once.

Banana bread is the only recipe I know of when it’s better if the ingredients are overripe.

This recipe uses plain flour combined with baking powder rather rather than self raising flour (see Flour Facts) which makes it easier than mucking around with both types of flour. If you don’t have baking powder, the recipe calls for 1 3/4 self raising and 1/4 plain flour.

2 cups plain flour
7 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1//2 cup full cream milk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
50g butter, melted then cooled
4 overripe small lady finger bananas, mashed*

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease an 11 x 21cm loaf pan with melted butter. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, sift the plain flour and baking powder together at least twice to combine then add the cinnamon. Stir in the brown sugar, ensuring there are no lumps and make a well in the centre.

In a separate bowl place the milk, eggs, melted butter and mashed banana and stir until well combined. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan for 5 minutes to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

*The number of bananas required is dependent on their size. For the cake in this photo, I used 8 organic/home grown Lady Finger bananas thanks to #nadine_shaw. These were each the size of an actual lady’s – albeit very chubby – finger.(SF)

Photo thanks to #nadine_shaw and her “dodgy” iPhone.

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

250g mascarpone
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml cream
125g amaretti biscuits, crushed
125g hazelnuts, chopped
1 punnet blueberries
2-3 punnets strawberries
Extra blueberries and strawberries for decoration
Toasted slivered almonds for decoration

Almond Christmas Wafers to serve. (Recipe follows)

Process mascarpone with egg yolks and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Whip cream until soft peaks form and fold through the mixture. Carefully wash and dry the beater, then beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold through the mascarpone mixture. Fold in the amaretti crumbs and the hazelnuts.

Wash and hull the strawberries, cut into halves, quarters if they are very large. Wash and dry the blueberries.

Arrange alternating layers of mascarpone and mixed berries in a glass serving bowl, finishing with a layer of the mascarpone. Do this carefully, as the dessert looks spectacular through the glass. Chill well. Decorate the top with a wreath of berries and scattered almonds slivers.

To serve, place on a large serving platter and surround with almond Christmas wafers.

Photo by:

Gretta Anna’s cheesecake

If Gretta Anna can be believed, this recipe started the whole cheesecake rage in every coffee shop and bistro in Australia. Whether that is true or not, it is very reliable and still produces moans of appreciation.

225g plus 5 extra plain sweet biscuits (Arnotts Sweet Arrowroot)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

600g Philadelphia Cream Cheese (not the light variety)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Whipped cream to garnish
Nutmeg, freshly grated to garnish

Lightly grease a 25cm spring-form pan. Crunch the biscuits well by putting them between two sheets of cling foil or baking paper and rolling them with a rolling pin. They should be well crumbled, but not powder. The consistency of cornflake crumbs is perfect. If preparing crumbs in a food process be careful not to over-process.

Mix the biscuit crumbs with the melted butter and line the base and sides of the spring-form pan with the mixture, making sure that you do not get too much of a build-up of biscuit crumbs where the base meets the sides. Refrigerate until needed.

Cream together the Philadelphia cream cheese and the sugar, but don’t over-beat. Add the eggs, one at a time, very gently, so as to let as little air into the mixture as possible. Add the vanilla essence and the lemon juice and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crumb-lined tin.

Preheat the oven to 160C and bake the cheesecake for approximately 65 minutes. (1 hour and 5 minutes, in case you think I have made a mistake.) Watch it carefully in the latter stages to ensure that the mixture does not rise too much. If it does, turn down the heat.

Remove the cake from the oven and do not be surprised if it still has a slight wobble. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight, still in the springform pan. To serve, balance the cake on the fingers of your left hand, unclip the pan with your right hand and let the collar of the pan slip down over your left arm. It helps if someone is there to take the cake from you at this stage.

Sprinkle with grated nutmeg and serve with whipped cream.