Banana bread with blueberries

Banana bread with blueberriesI recently made Espresso banana bread, and wanted to tweak the recipe a bit further. I also discovered some blueberries picked last summer in Norway in the freezer and thought – aha! There is nothing like the combination of a rainy day, some sad spotty bananas and the luxury of a small box of blueberries to whip up a quick banana bread. Good thing I did, as friends popped round for tea. And we can look forward to picking blueberries this summer, though right now, with more rain and wind outside (brrrrr…) that does seem a very long time to wait.


Banana bread with blueberries
3 eggs
2 very ripe bananas (about 170 grammes peeled weight)
30 grammes sourdough starter (optional)
60 ml sunflower oil
Pinch of salt
70 grammes golden sugar
160 grammes plain flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
80 grammes frozen blueberries
Bananas and eggs

See? Those bananas are in desperate need of a makeover to cake.
Preheat oven to 180 °C. Line a medium loaf tin with baking paper.

Mash bananas with a fork, beat in oil, sugar, eggs, sourdough and a pinch of salt. Stir in flour and baking soda. Finally, stir in your frozen blueberries. (The cake batter will be less blue if they are frozen.) Pour batter into tin, bake in the middle of the oven. Mine took 55 minutes baking time or so, until the cake tester came out clean.
Banana bread

Notes: This was delicious freshly baked, and nice with bluberries through the cake. We had visitors, so the cake all vanished the same afternoon. Must remember to not make anything with blueberries when that very active three year old comes over next, I have since been scrubbing the blueberry stain from the sofa… But it was good cake.

Rye sourdough loaf with semola and black sesame seeds

Rye sourdough loaf
As my kitchen is cool, I have been leaving my sourdough starter on the counter between baking, and it seems to be surviving nicely. It gets fed a couple times a week, if I remember, and is reassuringly forgiving, which I appreciate. January brought lots of bills and rain, but it always makes me happy when I try another flour-water-sourdough variation and a lovely fragrant loaf emerges.

Rye sourdough loaf with semola and black sesame seeds

100 grammes mature sourdough starter (coarse rye flour base, 100% hydration)
40 grammes coarse rye flour
160 grammes semola rimacinata flour
300 grammes flour (plain white 00)
400 grammes water
5 grammes salt
10 grammes black sesame seeds

Stir the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flour and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add the salt and seeds, if using. I often use flax seeds but black sesame gives a nice crunch as well. Mix well. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.

Sourdough folded

Cover the bowl and let rise for four-seven hours at room temperature. It depends how warm your kitchen is, mine is a cool 16C (must get those windows changed….) so I assemble the dough in the morning and leave it until mid-afternoon. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase in volume. A few hours before baking, fold dough into a banneton or bread tin, and let rest at least a couple hours until it’s rising nicely. (You can also leave it overnight in the banneton in the fridge, and bake the next day, as an overnight fermentation gives better flavour. Up to you.)

When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot, take the pot out carefully. Invert the dough onto a piece of baking paper, slash the dough, and put the bread in the pot. Bake at 250C for 25-30 minutes with the lid on, then 15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.


Notes: Quite happy with this loaf, some rye flavour without being too dense. This is our piazza here in Garbatella. And look! We had a sunny day! Such a nice interlude between all the rain, and we all had laundry out drying by lunchtime, like these neighbours. It gets very damp and humid here wintertime, and damp sheets draped all over the living room does not help. We have a washing machine which in theory has a dryer function, but it is mainly theoretical, and electricity is so expensive too. So a sunny weekend to put laundry outside is just super. And soon it will be spring, with warm and sunny days, and laundry on our little balcony will dry in no time at all.

Deliciously indulgent pineapple upside-down cake

Pineapple cake

It was a dark and stormy night…. Well, it was last night, it was raining again and I was making dinner while listening to Norwegian radio online. (They seem quite excited about the upcoming Olympics.) Anyway, there I was, happily chopping vegetables for a mystery rice dish with smoked paprika and masses of miscellaneous veg. Very impromptu, low-fat and healthy. Tasty, yes, but something was missing….. Cake! I fancied cake! So I assembled this one quickly, just because it was a rainy evening and because there is always a good time for cake. It was very nice indeed.

Deliciously indulgent pineapple upside-down cake
50 grammes softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tin pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained and roughly chopped

For cake batter:
1 cup plain flour (I used 00)
1/3 cup coarse rye flour (or coarse wholewheat flour)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/6 cup sunflower oil
2 eggs

Heat oven to 180C/350°F. Line the base of a 20 cm cake tin with baking parchment. Pop cake tin in heating oven for a couple minutes to soften butter. Spread butter over cake tin base, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Arrange chopped pineapple pieced over brown sugar.

Separately, mix the other ingredients together (flour, eggs, milk, baking powder, salt, oil). Pour batter over pineapple pieces. Bake 50 to 55 minutes at 180C until the cake looks golden, and a cake tester comes out clean. Carefully invert cake onto serving plate and peel off parchment. Cake will be steaming and very hot.

Have a piece. Mmmmmmmmmm……. Have another piece. What, half the cake is gone already? (There were two of us.)

Pineapple cake

Notes: this was adapted from the lovely-looking Pineapple upside-down cake at Cottage & Hen a couple days ago. Thanks for the inspiration! I used a bit less butter and oil, added another egg and halved the sugar, and it was still really deliciously indulgent.