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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Sticky Banoffee Chocolate Upside-down Cake

This cake really is what it sounds like: pure indulgence and heaven!! It's not one to be taken by the shovel load but daaammn it's so good and definitely a real treat. The cake is a bit of a mouthful to say (and that's not even all of it! There's also hazelnuts for that added crunch because why not, and I absolutely love 'em!) I could have called it a pudding rather than a cake as it is based on that british classic - sticky toffee pudding. 

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks of the moment - John Whaite's 'Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients'. You may remember I wrote quite a lot about this earlier on the year as I did work experience on the shoot for his book last year (hence why I'm obvs biased towards it.) If you want to read more about this or see one of his other recipes, click here.

So, you'll notice that this recipe is no longer a '5 ingredient' cake but I just feel the chocolate and nuts add something extra to the cake but of course if you don't have them or prefer to make it a nut free version then it works just as fine without either. You could also change it up a bit and switch the hazelnuts for walnuts or pecans, or both?! Go nut crazy!

You'll probably struggle to resist the temptation of leaving the cake for a day. But since John insists...I managed to wait and boy does it pay off. Yaaassss. Patience is the key here so once it cools down outta the oven, wrap it in cling film (plastic wrap) and please forget about it till tomorrow. The cake will gain moisture and become more gooey toffee-like with time which surely is a must!!  AND due to this, it's a laster, it will keep for 4-5 days so you can keep having a piece throughout the week, although I do recommend not to eat all of this on you own. (fortunately for my flat mates.)

Sticky  Banoffee  Chocolate  Upside-down  Cake

Serves 8-10


120g pitted dates
120ml boiling water
pinch of salt
220g light brown sugar
4 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
145g unsalted butter
200g self raising flour
50g hazelnuts, halved
65g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces 


Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Finely chop the dates and put them into a bowl with boiling water and a pinch of salt. Leave them to soak for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Scatter 50g of the sugar over the base of the prepared cake tin. Peel 3 bananas and slice in half lengthways. Place these into the base of the tin, cut-side down, on top of the sugar. 

Peel the remaining banana and mash it up with a fork. Beat together with the eggs, butter, flour and soaked dates with their water. Once it's a smooth mixture fold in the halved nuts and chopped chocolate pieces until evenly dispersed. 

Pour the batter on top of the bananas and level it out with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 1-1hr 10 mins. You'll know when it is cooked because a skewer inserted will come out clean. 

Once the cake is cooked, remove and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges to release it more easily from the tin. Turn out from the tin, peel off the baking paper making sure not to dislodge the bananas. Some of the toffee will pour down the sides. Leave to cool completely and then wrap in clingfilm to mature for a day. Serve the following day, optional- with whipped cream. 
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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Spinach, Watercress and Rocket Pesto (with pasta and toasted almonds)

Hey pesto! I love the green stuff, it's just so handy to have a jar of it ready and waiting in the fridge when you want a simple accompaniment to your pasta (or even some fish, couscous, or rice dish.) It's fast becoming a student staple for me due to it being so quick and versatile. I had a salad bag looking rather sorry for itself in my fridge drawer...all soggy and wilted, and as I have mentioned before in my previous post - I absolutely hate throwing away food! It's such a bad habit to get into and I've noticed now I'm at university it is harder for us lot to use up everything when we're only cooking for one. 

This is why I came up with the perfect solution of using the salad mix as the basis for my pesto. The almonds go really well with the spinach, watercress and rocket and make a nice change fro using the usual pine nuts which would be in a classic basil pesto. Blanched almonds are also considerably cheaper than pine nuts, which again, as a student - is a needs must no compromise!!! However, if you've got some brazil or walnuts (for example), they'd work just as well too so use up whatever you have. That's the key to this recipe! If your salad bag has a slightly different mixture of leaves such as pea shoots; that's also fine too. 

Spinach,  Watercress  and  Rocket  Pesto


60g grated parmesan
120g mixed salad bag - spinach, watercress and rocket
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt and pepper
100g blanched almonds
120ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon


In a food processor, whiz up the parmesan until all processed into a fine crumb-like consistency. Add in the salad leaves along with the peeled garlic cloves, a pinch of salt and pepper and the nuts.

Process again until no large lumps remain. With the motor still running, gradually pour in the oil and the lemon juice. Once all combined pour into an airtight container or jar. I liked to serve mine with pasta, garnished with toasted almonds and parmesan shavings.

The pesto will keep in the fridge for upto 1 week. It can also be frozen on the day of making to last for a longer period of time. 

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