Banana loaf (with orange and lemon!)

In my house, only my dad and I like banana loaf, so I had never made it before. But we had two brown-looking bananas and I’d wanted to make it ever since I tasted my friend’s amazing version at uni, so I dug out the trusty Delia’s ‘Complete Cookery Course’ and got to work! Although the original recipe called for four bananas, it worked OK with two, and her addition of citrus zest was a nice touch, and made it different to any I’ve had before. It was a really easy recipe, too – practically an all-in-one! Because this is a fairly old recipe, the weights are in ounces first, with grams after, so I used the imperial weights but I’ve given both below.

Ingredients

3 oz (75g) butter or margarine

4 oz (110g) caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

8 oz (225g) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 ripe bananas (but I only used 2 and it was fine)

Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

Optionally, 2 oz (50g) walnuts (but I left these out)

– Preheat the oven to 180c; grease a 1lb loaf tin (3.5 x 7.5 inch base / 9 x 19 cm) and line the base.

– Place the margarine, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl, then sift over the flour and baking powder. Mix with an electric whisk until well-combined – the mixture was quite dry but it didn’t matter.

– In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.

– Add the mashed banana, orange and lemon zest and walnuts (if using) to the mixing bowl and whisk again thoroughly.

– Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes until it is golden and well risen.

– Slice and eat. My dad has it with butter but I just eat it plain!

Triple-layer lemon and mascarpone cake

We made this for my dad’s birthday – three layers of lemon sponge, sandwiched with homemade lemon curd and mascarpone, a combination idea we got from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, one of our most-used baking books. The sponge was just a sponge; it was the filling that really made this. Homemade lemon curd is fabulous, more lemon-y than the bought stuff, but with none of the bitterness or acidity. We made rather a lot, but I’m fairly sure the spare will quickly be used up on toast!

I have to confess, this only ended up as a triple-layer cake because we made the three egg sponge mix before realising that the two 7-inch tins we had planned to use were, in fact, two 8-inch tins. Actually, we only noticed once we had put the mix in them and thought it didn’t look like much…! So we quickly switched to 6-inch tins, which worked fine, and I feel like three layers just seems that bit more indulgent, which is fitting for a birthday cake!

Homemade lemon curd (from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course)

Ingredients:

4 eggs

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

150g caster sugar

100g butter, cut into small pieces

– Place the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl small enough to sit over a pan.

– Whisk the eggs and lemon juice together, then pour this mix over the sugar.

– Add the chopped butter to the bowl.

– Heat a little water in a pan until it is just simmering, then place the bowl over the pan. Keep an eye on the water to make sure it stays at that just-simmering point, whilst stirring the ingredients constantly.

– Heat the ingredients in this way, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened. This took us about 20 minutes (the recipe said 10 minutes for half this quantity). It keeps thickening once off the heat, so remove it when it has almost reached the consistency you want, but not quite!


For the sponge, you can use any 3-egg sponge recipe, adding the zest and juice of a lemon, and divide between three 6-inch cake tins. We used the all-in-one recipe from Nigella’s book, which didn’t rise very well (perhaps because it is made in a food processor) but kept better than my usual recipe (Delia’s):

Ingredients:

250g butter at room temperature

250g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

25g cornflour

3 eggs

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon baking powder

– Preheat oven to 180c and grease and line 3 6-inch cake tins.

– Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and well combined.

– Divide between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes.

When assembling the cake, you need around 150g mascarpone cheese and roughly two-thirds of the lemon curd.Use both between each layer, and simply sprinkle icing sugar over the top. As you can see from the photos, the lemon curd tended to spill out of the sides, which wasn’t exactly intentional but I thought it looked quite nice so I left it like that!