Sugar-free banana bread with raisins

This bake came about when we wanted to make a birthday cake for a friend who’s given up sweet treats for Lent… I was a bit dubious about finding anything, but came across this recipe which doesn’t add any sugar. In fact, as it doesn’t add any fat either, I’m choosing to count it as health food! Traditionally it should be made in a loaf tin, but we didn’t have one so just used a round one. And I can’t take any credit for the icing, that was my far-more-artistic friend! The original recipe is here.

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Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 cup raisins

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3) – if you only have underripe bananas see the tip below

3/4 cup orange juice

2 eggs, beaten

– Preheat oven to 175c and grease and line a loaf tin or 9 inch round tin.

– Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, raisins and lemon zest.

– In another bowl, beat the eggs, orange juice and bananas together.

– Add the dry ingredients to this and mix until just combined.

– Transfer to tin and bake for approx. 40 mins.

If you only have underripe bananas (as we did), place them in an oven on the lowest setting – approx. 50c – until you see the first brown spots appear, probably after half an hour or more. We accidentally left them in until the skins had turned entirely black but the insides were fine, if this happens you can just put them straight in the fridge to stop them ripening any further!

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Cappuccino cupcakes!

I must have made espresso cupcakes at least ten times, but because they’re so good, I’d never really considered the recipe on the opposite page, for cappuccino cupcakes. Until now, that is! And while I love how rich the espresso cupcakes are, with their dark chocolate in the cake and in the icing, these cappuccino cupcakes were certainly very good too: the sponge is quite a strong coffee sponge, and the icing is made with sweet white chocolate so they balance each other nicely. As usual when I make cupcakes, I did half the amount of icing suggested – is it just me who finds that most cupcake recipes make too much icing? If I had made the suggested amount, I am sure there would have been just too much sweet icing and they would have been rather sickly! As it was, the balance was pretty good. I think they look rather cute, too, with chocolate sprinkled over the top – just like real cappuccinos. Well, sort of! One day I would love to host a tea party with these, espresso cupcakes and earl grey cupcakes, and then serve lemonade out of teapots! (Too much?!). Like the espresso cupcakes, the recipe is originally from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess’, one of my favourite ‘fancy’ baking books.

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

225g butter or margarine

225g self-raising flour

225g golden caster sugar

2 eggs

1 heaped tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 tsp baking powder

2-3 tablespoons milk

For the icing:

80g white chocolate (I used M&S ‘creme brulee’ chocolate as it was all I could find, which gave it a lovely caramel flavour)

30g butter

60g soured cream

130g icing sugar

A couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder to sprinkle over

 

– Preheat the oven to 200c and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

– Place all the cake ingredients apart from the milk in a blender, and pulse until combined.

– Gradually add the milk, while beating, until the batter is soft. I think I added a bit too much as it was quite runny, but it didn’t seem to matter!

– Divide between the cases and bake for around 20 minutes, then leave to cool completely before icing.

– For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, and leave to cool slightly before stirring in the soured cream.

– Gradually sift in the icing sugar while beating with an electric whisk.

– Spread a generous amount on each cupcake.

– If you like, sprinkle some cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder over the top to make them look like cappuccinos!