Sunday, 5 April 2009

High tea today, Banana loaf and cheese scones

My brother and his family round for tea today. This is always a challenge in producing something nice but not too familiar. I decided to use up some over ripe bananas and adapted a recipe from the Waitrose site. The recipe was fruity banana loaf, but I decided not to use any fruit or lemon. Instead, I mixed in pieces of milk chocolate.

Banana loaf

200g self-raising flour
3 large bananas, very ripe
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g milk chocolate(I used the co-operative Fairtrade Milk chocolate) 

   Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line the base and sides of a 13cm x 23cm x 7cm (900g) loaf tin with baking parchment. Cream the butter and sugar until they're well blended. Break in an egg and beat it into the mixture completely, then beat in the other egg. Mash the bananas and add them to the mixture. Stir well. Sift the flour into the bowl and carefully fold in. Mix in the milk chocolate cut into small pieces. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and gently level the top with the back of a spoon. I decorated it with more rounds of banana.   Bake for about 1 hour, but check the cake after 50 minutes. It's ready when you can insert a knife into the middle and it comes out completely clean. Leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn it out of the tin and peel away the paper. 

Cheese scones 
from Waitrose site

Scones are very simple and quick to make using store cupboard ingredients. You can have a batch of warm scones on the table within half an hour. The main thing to remember is that the dough needs very light mixing and it should be soft, much softer than pastry. In fact it is better to have the dough a little too soft rather than too dry. Also, it is important to place scones into a hot oven to cook so that they can start rising straight away. Preheat your oven for a good 15 minutes. Scones are best served the day they are made, ideally warm from the oven, but can be reheated for a few minutes, if necessary. Alternatively, freeze in an airtight container for up to three months.

Cheese scones Makes: 8 to 10

300g self raising flour ( 1.5 tsp baking powder if only plain flour)
75g butter 
75g grated mature cheddar cheese
150ml milk
1tsp mustard
ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small squares and add it to the flour. Mix the butter into the flour until all the pieces are coated, then rub in, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Lift the mixture to incorporate air and keep it light. Stir in the grated cheddar and ground pepper.
Pour in the milk and mix with a round-bladed knife to make a soft dough. When the mixture forms a rough ball, put on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour.
Knead the dough briefly to smooth out the cracks, taking care not to overwork it or your scones will not rise so well. Press or roll out to 1.5cm thickness and cut into rounds with a 6cm pastry cutter. Gather up the scraps of dough, knead briefly, roll out again and cut out further scones. Brush the scones with milk and scatter with grated cheese. Transfer the scones, spacing them a little apart, to the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they are risen and golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool. Serve warm or cold. Split the scones, spread with butter .

I printed the original instructions as I only make scones occasionally. Despite the instructions I rolled them out too thinly, so the rise wasn't too impressive. I almost forgot to add baking powder as I don't have self raising flour. The rise would have been even worse without the baking powder! But they did taste very good! This time I doubled the amounts (fortunately as this allowed people to have seconds and even thirds!). 


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