This easy-peasy banana bread has become my frequent go-to for using up fruit that’s quickly losing freshness in my fruit bowl. Originally from Nigella Lawson’s excellent book, How To Be A Domestic Goddess, this banana bread is cheap to make, freezer friendly and super versatile. If bananas have become over-ripe I often throw them straight in the freezer whole, skins and all, and then thaw them out to use another time – upon defrosting the insides just slop right out of their skins, and don’t even need mashing. And this recipe copes really well with almost anything you want to throw at it: old, bruised strawberries, rhubarb, a drained can of pineapple chunks/crushed pineapple, a handful of nuts, crystalized ginger… whatever floats your boat. Just keep the bananas!) The loaf pictured above features rotten bananas, too-far-gone pears and a handful of frozen raspberries from the freezer, and cost about $5 to make.
- 175 grams plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 125 grams unsalted butter (melted)
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 small very ripe bananas (mashed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas, along with any other fruit you’ve decided to use – just blitz it in your food processor first. Then, with your wooden spoon stir in vanilla extract and any other ‘bits’ you want – nuts, raspberries etc… Add all this to the flour mixture, then scrape into a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm) and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours (start checking at 1 hour). When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer. Also can be toasted and spread with butter for a yummy brunchy breakfast.
Recently while grocery shopping, I was sucked in by the cover of Donna Hay magazine, which was adorned with the most gorgeous looking muffins. And despite needing to keep one good eye on reality (the deal-breaker for me was the feature in the middle of the mag which promised to help me pull off a wintery family picnic by the sea at which even the kids would eat freshly caught crab and indulge in home-made lemon jelly desserts – each with a fresh sprig of thyme), I have enjoyed reading the issue. Just for fun, yesterday I thought I’d have a go at making some of Donna’s made-over front cover muffins, but unsurprisingly, there were no chia seeds or ricotta cheese in my stores, so I gave Donna’s muffins a middle of the road make-over of my own, swapping chia, ricotta and lemons for oranges, poppy seeds and sour cream. These freezer friendly muffins were simple and affordable to make and the result was lovely fat and tasty, moist, fluffy and delicate muffins, which took about 10 mins to get in the oven and cost around $4.
- 2 ½ cups self raising flour
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- ¼ cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup greek yoghurt
- ½ cup vegetable oil (I use rice bran)
Orange Drizzle Icing
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees and distribute muffin cases among a 12 hole muffin tray (I like to use baking paper for this – just cut into squares, turn a small glass upside down and mould each paper square with 2 hands around the glass to get the needed shape).
- Mix the first four (dry) ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and then combine with the dry, mixing until combined, but only just.
- Divide batter among lined muffin holes and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- While muffins are baking, mix sugar and juice together to make the drizzling icing. When muffins are brown and spring back slightly when touched, remove from oven and drizzle icing all over, glazing each. If you prefer the icing thicker and more like a topping, wait for muffins to cool before drizzling.
Often my dislike of baking biscuits sees me attempting to turn a biscuit recipe into one for a slice, and yesterday my friend Charmaine’s Facebook photo of her Peanut Butter Biscuits had me once again starting down this path. And yay – I think it worked! What follows is a slight variation (I added choc-chips) on the original recipe by Paula Deen, which results in a mouth-watering and chewy slice. It took me all of 5 minutes to mix up and whack this gluten free dessert option into a tin and then into the oven – just in time for a friend popping in for afternoon tea. Using the quantities below, this slice makes 24 pieces and costs under $6 to make, less if you prefer to leave out the chocolate. Thanks for the recipe, Charmaine.
- 500g good quality peanut butter
- 400g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150g choc chips (homebrand are fine)
- dash of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Combine all ingredients except raw sugar in a bowl and box well. Press into a lined 20 x 30cm slice tin using clean, wet hands. Sprinkle raw sugar evenly across the top of slice.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes (slice should be brown on top, firm around the edges and fudgey in the middle. If slice browns quickly, cover in foil for remainder of cook time. and allow to cool before cutting. Boil the kettle for tea and enjoy.
I can’t really believe I’m blogging about Honey Joys. They’re such an Australian baking classic, yet I often forget about them as an option when needing to make a quick sweet something. My 7 year old son reminded me about them the other day, when he came home from a party asking if we could make them at home and I found myself wondering why I don’t make them more often.The recipe that follows is straight off the back of the Kellogg’s Cornflakes box and it really is dead easy and very cheap to do. If you need to make these gluten free, just exchange the cornflakes for the gluten free variety in the health food section of the supermarket, and do feel free to use homebrand flakes when making these as you really cannot tell the difference. The quantities below make 24 patty cake sized Honey Joys and costs around $2.
- 90g butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 cups cornflakes or gluten free cornflakes
- 24 patty papers
- sprinkles on top (if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius/130 degrees if fan forced. Distribute patty papers among the patty cake tins.
2. In a microwaveable bowl or small saucepan melt together all the ingredients except cornflakes.
3. Put cornflakes in a larger bowl and pour over sticky butter syrup, combining gently but well.
4. Distribute mixture with 2 dessert spoons among the patty papers. Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before eating.
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and he requested this lovely cheesecake for birthday cake. It’s a recipe my mother-in-law Pauline gave me when Steve and I were first married and it has become something of an identity marker for our little family, a tradition that we’ve made our own for special celebrations. What we have always loved about this chilled cheesecake, is the light but creamy texture of the filling that comes from not using gelatine and its faint taste of lemon. And it’s so versatile flavour-wise: yesterday we enjoyed it topped with fresh mango pieces and raspberry sauce and in the past it’s been lovely with drizzled melted chocolate on top. These extra serving options are totally unnecessary though, because the cheesecake is just delightful all by itself. There are a couple of simple but essential tricks to making this cheesecake successfully: the first is not to forget the fresh lemon juice – it’s what makes the filling set and unfortunately, this won’t happen if you replace it with lemon squeeze either; and the second is not use lite versions of cream, cream cheese or condensed milk – the setting factor of the filling is determined by interaction of the citric acid, fat and sugar content. But with these factors in mind, this cheesecake is super simple to make because it doesn’t require baking, and cost-effective because it easily serves 10-12 people – Pauline’s cheesecake costs around $10 to make.
- 250g cream cheese, full fat, softened to room temperature
- 1 x 395g tin sweetened condensed milk, full fat, (home brand is fine)
- 300ml thickened cream, full fat
- 1 x 250g packet of Nice biscuits
- 190g butter, melted
- Juice of 1 fresh lemon, yielding 60ml of juice
- Select a loose-bottomed pie tin or springform cake tin, 20-25 cm in diameter and spray lightly with canola spray.
- Place biscuits into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until a rough crumb. The biscuits need to be well and truly crushed, but don’t go too fine with them. Remove blade and add melted butter, mixing through. Using clean hands and spoon for pressing down firmly, place biscuit mixture into the tin to form the base, which should come up the sides 3/4 of the tins height. Place in freezer to set.
- Using electric beaters, beat the cream cheese to a paste, continue mixing and add the condensed milk. When thoroughly combined, continue mixing and add the cream and lemon juice. Beat a little longer to ensure the mixture is well-combined. Remove the now set base from the freezer and gently fill the base with creamy filling. Place the cheesecake in the fridge for 4-6 hours to set.
Last year, my delightful cousin-in-law Nicola put together a fundraising cookbook with recipes contributed by the parents who attend her church’s playgroup and I’ve just started working through the recipes inside – which has been great fun! The first one I’d like to share with you is this terrific Coconut Impossible Pie because it was so easy, was made on standard pantry items and costs very little to make. During cooking the combined ingredients settle into at least two layers: a dense-ish base and a custardy coconut filling – so yummy, especially for summer. If you choose to make this in a spring-form or loose bottomed tin as I did, please learn from my oven disaster and cook the pie in its tin, inside a large cake tin that can hold the pie during baking (see photo). Once it’s cooked, use a tall glass to remove the base and allow the pie to cool (see photo). If you prefer slightly less fuss, just bake the pie in standard pie dish or cake tin. This lovely dessert costs less than $4 to make and goes down beautifully when served with cream or ice-cream. Thanks for your excellent compilation, Nicola!
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 125g softened butter
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1 cup coconut
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees, 160 degrees if fan forced.
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Pour mixture into a greased pie dish and bake for 1 hour – but start checking earlier. Once the top seems ‘set’, pull it out as pie will continue to cook as it cools.
One of my favourite places to stop when driving the Hume Highway is the Long Track Pantry at Jugiong. The coffee tastes great, the food is delightfully made on the premises and there’s lovely tables to sit either inside amongst a vast array of kitchen giftware or outside in the sun with gorgeous rural views. A few weeks ago we stopped there on one of our many trips and Steve picked up one of Long Track’s free magnets containing this chocolate cupcake recipe. It quickly appealed to me because all the ingredients go in the food processor at the one time and then it’s straight into muffin cases and into the oven. At the same time I found I was lean on morning tea supplies in the freezer for the school term ahead, so I decided to give these a go. Moist and chocolatey and totally eatable even without icing, I’m sure I will be making these cupcakes again. The total cost for these is less than $5 and the recipe below makes a neat 24.
- 180g soft butter (room temperature will do)
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 9 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 cups caster sugar
- 6 eggs
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees if fan-forced. Distribute 24 patty cases across 2 twelve hole muffin tins (regular sized, not patty cake or mini muffin sized – though you can make them smaller if you wish).
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and mix until smooth, but don’t over process. Spoon into prepared muffin cases and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.
- When cool, ice with chocolate icing if desired, or sieve a little extra cocoa powder and icing sugar over the top (I didn’t do either and they still tasted lovely). Enjoy!