What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: afternoon tea

Banana bread

Tough enough to slice and toast, to survive a lunchbox, not enough fat to count as a cake and an excellent afternoon tea for growing kiddies. Banana bread, I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it yet.

First, take two squishy bananas. Hang on a minute, where did they go? I do think that in this age where everything is glossed over and practised and polished and photoshopped it is time for a little honesty. There I was, all ready to make banana bread. But the squashy bananas that were at their bread making peak were gone. There was only one explanation. The cleaners had chucked them in the bin. I love never having to mop my own floors, but I do think that the rubbish sorting message is not getting through to the more recent arrivals to our shores, including those with the invidious job of cleaning my house. They have in the past chucked my compost, school notes, all the recycling, odd socks, coat hangers and a cheque in the red bin. This time they had gone too far. I marched out to the bin, dear reader, and retrieved those two bananas. Yes, I did. They were still in their skins after all, but I rinsed them anyway and you’d never know what a traumatic few days they’d had. Don’t tell my children.

So, take two bananas that have had a hard week and liberate them from their blackened skins into a mixing bowl. If you happen to have a KitchenAid, then get it beating at a reasonable speed and those bananas will be squashed into oblivion, leaving no unexpected chunks. Then you can toss in all the other ingredients. These are, in no particular order, two cups of flour, four teaspoons of baking powder, a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of mixed spice, three quarters of a cup of brown sugar, a quarter of a cup of wheat germ, a quarter of a cup of milk that the kids are complaining is starting to smell a bit off (or buttermilk), 60 grams of softened butter and two eggs. Mix it up and scrape it into a baking paper lined loaf tin. Bake at one hundred and fifty degrees Celsius for about an hour and half.

Fills those tummies and uses up the fruit that I’m pretty sure they don’t eat on purpose so I’ll make it into banana bread.

Better Lemon Slice

Most recipes that I tweak with only usually need an adjustment in the type of sugar, or a bit more or less butter, or something fairly minor for me to add it to the collection. Not this one. I had been on the hunt for the perfect lemon slice for some time, but the Women’s Weekly one was just adequate, the Donna Hay one a bit gloopy and I didn’t like the base. The recipe I lay before you today is almost right. Possibly still a little gloopy, but not unacceptably so.

The recipe for the base I unashamedly stole from a fascinating book called The Good Cookie, by Tish Boyle. This book was given to me by my worthy and esteemed brother-in-law, who also happens to be a B grade celebrity chef. If you’re the kind of housewife that lounges about the place watching telly and eating chocolate, you would have seen him on daytime TV. His celebrity status should be much higher, as he is an excellent chef, festooned with hats.

Place in a bowl one and a quarter cups of flour, 125 grams of room temperature butter, one quarter of a cup of brown sugar and two tablespoons of finely chopped crystallized ginger. The ginger is optional, but try it with, I love it. You could possibly use the stuff in syrup in a jar if you can’t find the sugar coated crystallized stuff, but gosh you’ll be sticky after chopping it up. Get in there with your hands and rub the butter in until what you appear to have is a bowl of breadcrumbs. Tip this into your roasting pan line with baking paper (mine is 20 by 27 cm) and press it down. Bake in a 180 degree oven for about twenty minutes, or until it is starting to colour on top.

Meanwhile, you’ll be making the topping. Separate five eggs into two different bowls, you’ll be using the yolk component. You could just use three whole eggs if you’re not planning to make friands at the same time in the other bowl. To the five egg yolks add one and a half cups of caster sugar, one third of a cup of lemon juice, one quarter of a cup of plain flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder and the zest of two lemons. Obviously lemons come in a wide range of sizes, so let’s say two moderately small ones. I zest citrus fruit a lot and use the Microplane for it, it’s also super for grating nutmeg and am I starting to sound like Martha Gardner? I’d recommend growing your right thumbnail long if you’re going to use the Microplane regularly, emery boards are cheaper than band aids.

Whisk that lot together and pour it straight onto the base you’ve just taken out of the oven. It will make a pleasing sizzling sound. You don’t really have to do it straight away, that’s just how it worked out today. Stick it back in the oven and bake it for a further twenty minutes or so. You want the top fairly well coloured to make sure that it sets when it cools down. Don’t even think about cutting it up before it has cooled down. When you’re piling it into the Tupperware you’ll have to separate each layer with a sheet of baking paper, because they do tend to stick together.

One slight disadvantage to this recipe is that if your kitchen is on a lean because your house is slowly sinking into the swamp, there will be one side slightly more lemony than the other. But who could be bothered turning it halfway?