Double Banana Pillow Pancakes

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Pancakes are easy science. There’s really nothing more to them than mixing your wet with your dry, then plopping spoonfuls into a hot pan. You’re done in a few minutes, happier than the heavens with a drizzle of good maple and all the toppings your heart desires.

Fluffy pillow pancakes made with mashed banana, studded with soft banana coins. 

Your usual dose of weekend fluff, heavily inspired by these babes. I remember really enjoying the addition of mashed banana to the actual batter in this particular recipe, and it’s hard to imagine I made them that long ago. I wanted to recreate that pleasurable experience in a different light– something more straightforward but still just as moreish.

There’s a lot of fun in making a ‘double’ anything. Because that means 2 dimensions. It means depth, intensity. No space or time for something normal. I mean normal can be good, and tradition is bliss sometimes, but a little extra oomph is love and light, too. Adding the banana coins before flipping the pancakes cooks and softens them a little, remodelling your little stack into something with additional texture, a little hint of caramelisation perfusing each bite . Soft banana bits all cosied up in fluff.

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Double Banana Pillow Pancakes (makes 12 medium pancakes)

Follow the recipe for my double chocolate banana pillow pancakes, but leave out the cocoa powder, and have a couple additional bananas on hand to slice into coins. Place 2-3 banana coins onto the batter after ladling the pancake batter into your pan, before flipping to cook the second side.

Highly recommended to eat this with greek yoghurt, chocolate shards, peanut butter, and plenty of maple syrup. This is your morning.

 

Black Sesame French Toast (with a twist)

If there’s one sort of breakfast I have to live off for the rest of my life, as long or short as it may be, it’s french toast.

And yes I like the good old classic stuff, whereby all you have to do is whip together eggs and milk and cinnamon and voila, you get a comforting, nourishing plate, eggy and soft and saturated, and now I use the word ‘and’ too much. Well. One of my personal favourite french toast recipes is actually eggless, and I implore you to check it out here.

But twists are welcome. Despite the familiarity of routine, twists and little leaps off of a classic theme are necessary to uphold the graciousness of the central perk. In this case, that perk is normal french toast. I love normality in that sense, all tried and true. But the addition of black sesame here, the little flick of the pen at the end of story, is the enhancement factor, serving not to distract, but uplift.

I’m a flexible eater, but I’m also the sort who thinks that if you’re going to enjoy something, you must enjoy it well. This might not be to everyone’s taste, but I do love dousing my french toast in whole milk, well accompanied by frigid coffee, because the sogginess factor makes my heart the same consistency. It all sounds a bit absurd, I know. But do what you do best, right? Adjust to taste. It’s all delicious in the end, anyway.

Black Sesame French Toast (For 1)

Directions

In a shallow bowl, whisk together one egg, a dash of cinnamon, a large splash of milk (whatever sort you prefer, I used whole) and a tablespoon of honey. Into another bowl or plate, sift 2 heaping tablespoons of black sesame powder.

Take 2 slices of sourdough/ brioche/ baguette and soak each side in your eggy batter for 10-20 seconds. Whilst waiting, preheat your pan to medium heat, and ready some butter. Once the pan is hot, butter it, making sure you hear a good sizzle upon first contact. Cook your french toast as you usually would, around 2 minutes on the first side and a little less on the second, just so it’s not rendered dry. You want a fair bit of eggy saturation in the middle (yes, even if you like drowning your french toast in milk like moi).

Once your french toast is cooked, generously slather the tops with the black sesame powder, which will go moist and a bit sticky upon contact with the heat and moisture from the toast.

*variation: To serve, place the toast on a plate, top with almond butter, chopped strawberries, a drizzle of coconut cream and, if you wish, coconut chips. The black sesame with fruit and coconut here is a divine combination!

Chocolate and Banana Mug Cake

It’s a big one, literally and metaphorically.

Above you may observe chocolate in one of its natural habitats (for it has many, obviously), with a cashew butter topping and chocolate shavings.

A moist, fudgy-in-the-centre mug cake, with mashed banana in the centre for optimal gooeyness. A little firmer on the surface, but easy to break into to reveal a tender, soft belly. I don’t think there’s anything much that beats a piping hot, warm, fudgy chocolate treat first thing in the morning, especially if the whole mixing and microwaving process is this easy. Maybe I should spill the beans upfront– I’ve never made a mug cake before. I always felt as if doing so is a total, embarrassing cop-out; why microwave (does that word chill you to the bone and bring to mind grease-framed images of ready-made meals or bad takeout?) when you can put to good use your lovely and probably very expensive oven?

Although I appreciate and prefer a traditional fudge cake made in the oven, all 50’s aprons and 30-minute labours, this sort of recipe is perfect for one those mornings when you want to feel indulgent, but just… Don’t want to spend all that long being a princess.

Chocolate and Banana Mug Cake (serves 1 very hungry person)

Ingredients

25g all-purpose flour

2 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder

2 tbsp white sugar (I used coconut date sugar)

1 egg

3 tbsp milk (any sort; I used almond here)

2 tbsp veg or coconut oil, or melted butter

small handful of mini chocolate chips

half a banana, mashed

Directions

In a bowl (not the mug you’re making the cake in), whisk together the flour, sugar and cocoa/cacao powder. Take a tablespoon of this dry mix and toss it with the chocolate chips in a separate saucer, just so they’re coated with the flour mix. Mix in the rest of the ingredients except for the mashed banana (egg, milk and oil, then the chocolate chip and flour mix).

Grease your mug and pour in half of the chocolatey mix. Put the mashed banana on top, then add the rest of the chocolate mix. Microwave this on high for a minute, or check the doneness with a spoon at the 45-second mark. Poke and prod to see if it’s done to your liking; take it out a little earlier if you like that little extra fudge! Keep in mind that you must watch it like a hawk because this cake does rise a little, and if you’re not careful, it might collapse or overflow, especially if your microwave is on a particularly high heat setting.

Top with whipped cream, or nut butter, and enjoy with iced coffee or a glass of cold milk. Alternatively, douse the entire thing in cold milk and enjoy as a sort of bread pudding! It’s perfect for breakfast. Or have some as a small snack and keep the rest for later, for some things are never too late to microwave.

Hot Cross Cake Cookies

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Sometimes things get to your head. Sometimes you mean for something to turn out one way, but thanks to some tiny, sudden instinct, or some recent experience with another different but wonderful foodstuff, elements which you never meant to blend together end up doing just that. Sometimes, that’s ok. Like this cookie.

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I never was a fan of fluffy, cakey cookies. I am a hard advocate of pin-thin, dense, chewy cookies, all nicely ridged round the edges and squidgy, half-baked in the middle. You could press the middle and your finger mark will stay. That chewy and squidgy (I love the word squidgy). I felt like doing something over the Easter weekend, but the entire of Saturday and Sunday was a blur, a hectic mess. A jumble of egg hunts, a scramble to feed my sisters and her friends breakfast (pancakes, if you’re wondering), a desperate longing for time cooped up reading in my room. Monday morning called for something dedicated to this holy occasion, but nothing too orthodox. Without much time on my hands, I resorted to cookies, a category I haven’t played with in what feels like forever. I had a gorgeous slice of sponge cake from (goodness knows) somewhere over the Easter weekend, and I guess that theme of airy lightness fed into this experiment. But I’m grateful for the mistake– I think the fluffy nature of this cookie (hence the ‘cake’ before the ‘cookie’ in the title) allows the more stuff to be, well, stuffed into each little cookie. Ah, the stuff. Good stuff. I’ll talk about the stuff.

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Specifically, soft nougat+dried fruit+chocolate. I personally prefer hard nougat, the sort which you’re afraid might make your teeth crack, but it’s the soft ones which work best in this buttery, cinnamony batter, for after the oven action, what you get are gorgeous, chewy, caramelised nougat residue, gooey and melted, with little bits of crushed almond and peanut strewn throughout (depends on the sort of nougat you’re using of course, I think pistachio would be lovely here). The lemon icing on top of the cooled cookies are quite literally the icing on the cake (cookie). The ‘hot cross’ theme limits just how much icing you can smother on these guys, but go ahead and dip one side of the cookie into the icing if you wish, for better indulgence. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Stuffed Hot Cross Cake Cookies (makes 15-18, adapted from here)

For the cookies:

240g all-purpose flour

100g light brown sugar (or white, if you don’t have any brown on hand)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200g unsalted butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon each of baking powder and cinnamon

quarter teaspoon nutmeg

100g dried fruit/sultanas/raisins

50g each of soft nougat (chopped into small pieces), and dark chocolate chunks or chips

large pinch salt (half a teaspoon)

For the icing:

120g icing sugar and the juice from half a lemon

Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a couple of baking pans. In a large bowl and with an electrical or normal whisk and bicep action, beat together the softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and whisk to incorporate. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Chop your nougat into small pieces and coat them with a teaspoon of the flour mix, so the edges stop sticking to each other. Add the rest of the flour mix to the butter and sugar mix, then stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Add the chocolate, dried fruit/sultanas/raisins, then the nougat. Mix everything to combine.

Dollop batter onto the pans using two tablespoons or with your hands. Each cookie should be the size of a ping pong ball. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. You may have to do this in batches. While the cookies are baking, make the icing by mixing together (I use a mini whisk or a little fork) the powdered sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. You might not need all the juice from half a lemon. Put the icing into a small ziploc bag and set aside. Once the cookies are done, leave to rest in the pan on cooling racks for at least 15 minutes. Snip off the end of the ziploc bag and ice the cookies, drawing a cross on each one. Reinforce the ‘stripes’ by piping over the crosses again.

Pistachio Fudge Bars

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Not sure if any of you can tell, but I’ve been a bit down with the pistachio bug lately. It’s almost unhealthy. A few mornings ago, I was relishing one of my favourite, unbeatable toast combinations: homemade pistachio butter, honey and coarse sea salt. Curiosity arose from this delicious ritual, and I researched recipes with the dominant theme of pistachio (and other random facts, such as how these guys have a 14% saturated fat content, and a chemical named aflatoxin may be found in poorly harvested kernels. Did you know that the pistachio tree can survive in 50C weather? Anyways). I decided, the toast fiend that I am, to kick the current bar/brownie game up a notch.

Anything, my friend, can be turned into bars.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI can see how this recipe may come across as inaccessible. It’s true, the main component of these bars is pistachio butter, but I insist that you try making the stuff at home. It’s like bread. Make a loaf at home and you’ll never turn back to the packaged stuff. I’m lucky enough to have a supply of this divine concoction at home, since my mum occasionally makes a batch, and what you essentially do goes as follows: you roast a large batch of pistachios (around 200g is enough for this recipe, and you will have quite a bit leftover, which is perfect!), skin the babies, and grind for a good while in a food processor or other professional grinding device (cough a blender cough) with sugar and salt to taste. If any of you have experience making any sort of nut butter, then you know that the procedure is simple and completely worth it. This nut butter will make all your mornings golden and glimmering. It makes Skippy cower in fear.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The little air bubbles you see are thanks to a bout of carelessness; I recommend dropping the pan containing the batter before actually baking it, in order to rid your batter of excess air bubbles. Yes, mistakes are abound in this one woman kitchen.

This is a pistachio fudge bar. ‘Fudge’ because of its texture and prominent pistachio flavour. Dense, squidgy, with a slight chew around the edges, the pistachio offering an earthy, naturally sweet touch. I topped it with a simple dark chocolate drizzle to highlight these notes and add a chimerical flair to the otherwise plain pistachio base.

Pistachio Fudge Bars (makes 16 in an 8×8-inch pan)

70g all-purpose flour

2 eggs

113g (half a cup, or one stick) melted, unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

120g (around half a cup) pistachio butter

190g light brown sugar

half a teaspoon of salt

Preheat your oven to 177C (350F). Grease and line an 8×8-inch baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl and with a wooden spoon, mix together the pistachio butter and sugar. The mix should look clumpy, but will come together after a few seconds of mixing (see above). Add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. The mix should be sticky and easily drop off your spoon. Add your flour and salt, and mix until combined. That’s it! That’s all there is to it. Pour the sticky gloop into your greased and lined pan, and drop the pan onto your counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Pop it into the oven for 18-20 minutes. My batch was done after 18, so check it at this point. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle should come out dry, but the presence of little clingy crumbs at the tip are fine.

Let the pan cool on a cooling rack. Meanwhile, melt 70g of milk/dark chocolate in the microwave, using 20 seconds bursts and mixing in between, to prevent the chocolate burning and causing an unnecessary temper explosion in the kitchen. Put the melted chocolate into a small ziploc bag. Once the bars are cool, snip the tip off one of the two corners of the ziploc bag and drizzle the chocolate all over the cooled bars. Slice the batch into 16 equal pieces. These bars can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store remaining in the fridge and reheat whenever necessary, or store them in the fridge after the bars have cooled, if you wish.