Jamaican Spiced Banana Bread

This time of  year is perfect for a culinary road trip, a way to pretend you’re in sunnier climes that the cold grey of February. Although to be fair it’s been pretty sunny this week, but not as sunny as the Caribbean where I’m taking you today (without leaving home).

We used to visit a small local farmers’ market when we lived in South London at which there was a family-run stall selling only home-made Jamaican loaves and breads. They were fabulous. I seem to remember one banana loaf being the perfect food after giving birth to my eldest. And they were vegan too – it was my first introduction to vegan cakes and how wonderful they can be. I’ve since searched and searched for a suitable recipe but not found one. The family in question stopped selling at this market, and we moved away from the area anyway. So here’s my take on a spiced banana bread… It’s really wholesome and tasty, with warm spices and tons of banana flavour, but still not quite like the one I remember. If you were that family who sold those spiced loaves at Abbeville Road farmer’ market, Clapham or know who they are, do get in touch. I’d happily travel to get hold of more!

The spicing in this recipe is quite mild so if you’re a spice fan I’d recommend doubling the spices for extra oomph! I particularly like the half banana on the top of the loaf, it certainly says what is in the tin, and a little crunchy sugar gives a nice contrast in texture, but both are totally optional and won’t alter the inherent spiced banana nature of the loaf.

Jamaican Spiced Banana Bread

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

makes 1 loaf

225g plain flour

2 heaped tsps baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g muscovado sugar

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

pinch of salt

1 tbsp rum or oat milk

1 tbsp Demerara sugar

A banana sliced lengthwise for decoration (optional)

Pearl or Demerara sugar for extra crunch

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5. Line a loaf tin and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the mashed banana, sugar, oil and vanilla.
  3. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarb, spices and salt.
  4. Mix to a dough, adding the rum/oat milk if it looks a bit dry.
  5. Pour into the loaf tin and sprinkle the top with the halved banana and some Demerara or pearl sugar
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden on top and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack.
  8. To freeze, wrap well and freeze whole. Defrost at room temperature before unwrapping.

 

Salted Caramel Sticky Buns

Imagine a cinnamon bun, but better? Difficult? Yes. Impossible? NO way, not when you’ve tasted these stunning salted caramel sticky buns.

These salted caramel sticky bun made out of cinnamon swirl buns so you get all the benefits of a deliciously spicy swirl bun which is then cooked in a lake of salted caramel, you can’t get much more exciting than that! Not only are these buns the epitome of luxury and comfort at the same time, they also reheat wonderfully to give the perfect winter pudding or snack. Honestly, you must try them, you’re life will not be complete until you have 🙃

Salted Caramel Sticky Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 14

250-300ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

400g plain flour

2 tsp dried yeast

50g or 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cornflour

For the filling:

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

For the salted caramel:

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

1 cup soft dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

  1. Melt the margarine and milk together – you want it to be warm and melted but not hot
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, cornflour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mix
  3. Bring together to a soft dough and knead until its smooth and bounces back when poked
  4. Cover and let double in size
  5. While waiting for the dough to prove, make the caramel. Melt together the sugar, margarine and salt until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Grease two cake tins, pour the caramel into each tin so the bottom is entire covered.
  7. Knock back the dough and roll out to a large rectangle
  8. Smear on the dairy-free margarine. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon, then roll up tightly into a long sausage
  9. Cut into 14 even slices. Place 7 in each caramel lined cake tin, 6 in a circle and 1 in the middle.
  10. Cover and leave to rise again for another half an hour
  11. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4/375 degrees F
  12. Bake for 20-30 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through. They’ll look like traditional cinnamon swirls at this stage
  13. Now comes the magic! Invert onto a plate, being careful not to get caramel on yourself. Serve warm.
  14. To reheat: place in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes or microwave for 1 minute

 

Krispie Kreme Doughnuts – no dairy or eggs here.

Where do you stand with Krispie Kreme doughnuts? Most people can’t seem to get enough of them, in fact at our workplaces and schools they seem to be the luxurious treat of choice. I find them a bit too sickly and sweet!

Since my girls can’t have them and they see their friends excitedly tucking in, I decided that I had to make a home made variation. It’s good to know what everything is like isn’t it? I chose to make mini ones which was actually a good plan as it avoided the sweet overload whilst still getting the Krispie Kreme effect.

I personally think these are even better than Krispie Kremes- the dough is light and airy and the glaze give a pleasing sugary shell which shatters nicely when you bite in, and also serves to keep them fresh until the next day – genius!

Enjoy 🙂

Krispie Kreme Doughnuts

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes about 18-20 mini doughnuts

2 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp dried yeast

1 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

1 and 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

for the glaze:

2 cups icing sugar

2 tbsp dairy-free milk

1 tbsp golden or maple syrup

  1. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the caster sugar. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other.
  2. Pour in the melted margarine and water
  3. Bring together to form a dough, knead until smooth.
  4. Cover the bowl and let rise for an hour or two
  5. Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick and cut out circles or rings with cutters.
  6. Place on a floured baking sheet. Cover and leave to prove for an extra 15 minutes
  7. Bring a pan of flavourless oil up to heat (360 degrees Centigrade – it’s the right temperature when a piece of bread bubbles on contact)
  8. Deep fry 2-3 doughnuts at a time until well browned all over. this will take a minute or two on each side.
  9. Drain on paper towels
  10. Make the glaze by heating all the ingredients in the microwave for 30 seconds, then whisking until smooth.
  11. Roll the warm doughnuts in the glaze until fully covered, then place on a wire rack to set.
  12. Eat as soon as possible!

Brownies with a Biscoff Swirl

Brownies are such a popular and useful sweet treat. They work equally well as a cake, snack or a pudding; we particularly like a warmed brownie with ice cream and caramel or magic chocolate sauce – mmmmm pure pudding heaven.

I have’t posted a brownie recipe for absolutely ages, but last week I came across some pictures of beautiful brownies which featured a yummy swirl. This got me thinking, brownies are delicious but they’re not overly sweet, so a swirl to sweeten the overall effect would work a treat. Biscoff spread is such a great nut-free spread and is delicious with chocolate, so my decision of flavour combos was a real no brainer!

To counter the sweet swirl, I have made these brownies extra rich and decadent with plenty of melted chocolate stirred in, giving a luxurious and intensely chocolatey effect. There are what you may call brownie perfection.

Brownies with a Biscoff Swirl

 

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

4 tbsp cocoa powder

150g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp flavourless oil, I use sunflower

250ml dairy-free milk

100g dairy-free chocolate, melted

4 tbsp Biscoff spread

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a brownie tin with parchment
  2. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa, self-raising flour, caster sugar and salt.
  3. Pour in the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to form a smooth batter
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate (this will make the batter much stiffer)
  5. Transfer to the lined brownie tin and level off.
  6. Warm the Biscoff spread so it becomes runnier, dollop over the brownie batter and using the handle of a wooden spoon swirl it though
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It should be a bit gooey looking in the middle. Cool fully in the tin before cutting into portions.

 

Biscoff Spiced and Stuffed Muffins

What’s better than a wonderful Biscoff spiced muffin? Well obviously a Biscoff spiced AND stuffed muffin! 😋

This muffin recipe is a real winner, it lends itself to many flavours and produces the exact authentic muffin texture of bouncy sponge and an exterior that stands up to being packed in a lunch box and lasting til midday. As you might have noticed, I’m still on a packed lunch vibe, and these muffins will definitely feature in Little S’s lunch this week. (That is if they don’t all disappear before!)

Biscoff Spiced and Filled Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12

50g caster sugar

35g soft brown sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

250g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp speculaas spice (or sub 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp ground cloves)

115g dairy-free margarine, melted

150ml dairy-free milk

150ml dairy-free yogurt

75ml golden or maple syrup

6 tsp Lotus spread

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You want not clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, lumpy is good.
  3. 1/4 fill the liners and then dollop 1/2 tsp of Lotus spread on top. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
  4. I topped mine with some pearl sugar, but it’s not necessary
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Drizzle with water icing before serving if you like.

Ginger Christmas Cake

Get your spoons ready, it’s time for ‘stir up Sunday’!

Fruit cakes are surprisingly easy to make dairy and egg-free and I guarantee the resulting cake will be hoovered up in no time. Last year we left a whole cake (only uneaten due the overkill of other options) with the in-laws and it had completely disappeared two days later! That’s pretty good going for a large fruit cake. 😉

Every year I seem to make multiple types of Christmas cakes to please the various factions of the family (and because I enjoy it): some like chocolate yule log, some like gingerbread biscuits and some love a slice of fruit cake. I’ve never been overly keen on fruit cake myself but my Christmas cake recipe has won me over – it’s fruit heavy but also light and delicate, the kind of fruit cake where you could almost have another slice.

This year I felt like making a change to my usual traditional Christmas cake and had the idea of combining a family favourite of ginger cake taste with a fruit cake base. It turns out it’s a genius combination; who could resist the spicy warming heat of ginger with the comforting hug of a traditional Christmas cake? The ginger is added in three ways for different dimensions and interest: crystallised ginger chunks, plenty of ground ginger and then a regular feeding of ginger wine for added oomph.

Let the Christmas preparations begin 🙂

Ginger Christmas Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 1 12″ cake

200g sultanas

200g currants

50g crystallised ginger, chopped

100g dates, stoned and chopped

2 tbsps brandy (or ginger wine or apple juice)

350g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

pinch of salt

70g dairy-free margarine

zest of 1 lemon

170g light Muscovado sugar

250ml dairy-free milk, warmed to hand hot temperature

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  1. Grease and line a 12″ cake tin
  2. Pour the brandy/apple juice over the dried fruit and leave to steep for at least a couple of hours, or preferably overnight
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger and mixed spice. Add the lemon zest.
  5. Rub in the dairy-free margarine and then stir in the sugar, and the dried fruits.
  6. Add the bicarb to the warm milk and stir until dissolved. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a stiff dough.
  7. Turn into the lined cake tin and bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven down to gas mark 3/160 degrees Centigrade and continue to bake for a further 20-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Keep wrapped in baking paper, in an airtight container until ready to decorate (if desired) just before Christmas
  9. For added moisture and flavour, pour 1 tbsp of ginger wine (or apple juice or brandy) onto the cake each week until ready to use.