Grandma’s Recipe – Banana Cake

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I was blessed to know my wonderful Grandma into my early 20’s until she passed from Cancer. She was a Wife to a Sheep Farmer, a Mother to seven, a Grandma to 21 and by now would be a Great Grandma to lots & lots of Great Grandchildren!

She was very special to me and some of the fondest memories I have of her are baking and preparing meals for her family & grandchildren and I am delighted to have many of her recipes, passed on by my Mum who was her eldest daughter.

This is one of the first recipes I made as an adult and continue to make often to this day always with her in my heart. Whenever bananas go past their best I pop them in the freezer – you can then get the bananas out a few hours before you need them, or you can even thaw them in the microwave if you are pressed for time – they don’t look great but they taste amazing in baking!

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It is such a simple recipe and can be made into a cake or muffins, its lovely, light and moist and freezes well.

Grandma’s Banana Cake

Ingredients

4 oz butter (112g)
6 oz sugar (168g)
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
2 Tbsp hot milk
1 tsp baking soda
8 oz flour (224g)
1 tsp baking powder

Banana Cake 1

Method

Cream the butter  & sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and mashed banana and beat well.

Banana Cake 2

Heat the milk in the microwave for 10-13 seconds until hot – then add 1 tsp baking soda and mix until frothy and add this to the mixture and blend well.

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Add the flour and baking powder and mix well.

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Put batter into a greased cake tin & cook – my memories are always of this being done in a round ring tin so that is what I always use, but any baking tin will do and I spray it with cooking spray to prepare it. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 200C (390F) Cake is done once a skewer or knife comes out clean.

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Ice cake once cooled – store in airtight container. You can freeze the un-iced cake for up to 3 months.

Ice with any icing you desire – chocolate or vanilla is nice. I usually do my basic vanilla icing for this cake.

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Basic Vanilla Icing

2 Cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp melted butter
Small amount water

Combine the icing sugar, vanilla & butter into a bowl and mix well. (Sift icing sugar if not smooth, or whisk to remove lumps) Carefully add a teaspoon of water at a time to the mixture until you get the desired consistency.

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I hope you enjoy this simple but tasty recipe and it becomes a family favourite for you too. 🙂

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Have a wonderful day 🙂

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Buttercream Icing Recipe – Step by Step

Buttercream Icing 1
I thought I would share a more step by step process for making buttercream icing – there are many recipes out there but there are a few tips & tricks that make it easier and once you have made it a few times it’s easy to get the hang of!

Disclaimer – I am Just a Mum! I am no expert and have learnt what I know from making my kids birthday cakes not culinary school! There are plenty of other experts around for you to look at, this is just my take on it! 😉

When I was making sure my recipe was the same as others out there I noticed that there are many variations to quantities, so this is my recipe I have always used but the processes are the same regardless of what amounts you prefer.

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I used standard butter here but I often use vegetable shortening from our local kitchen store Chef’s Complements if I need the icing to be pure white as our butter here in NZ means the icing still retains a creamy/yellowy colour at best.

The first tip is that you will need either an electric hand beater, food processor or food mixer for best results. You need to really whip the butter to get it creamy and pale and its near impossible to do it by hand.

Ingredients

125g softened butter
1 1/2 Cups Icing Sugar (you are supposed to sift I never do!)
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla
Food Colouring

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I recommend using the best icing sugar you can find – some brands are definitely better than others and will effect the outcome. Also you use imitation vanilla essence but you will need to use more for flavour than a quality vanilla. Taste as you go for the flavour you prefer.

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Soften the butter in the microwave in short bursts to get it to just softened stage, not melted, 10 seconds at a time.

Add the butter to a large bowl and begin to blend on high until it begins to go pale and creamy – approx. 2-5 minutes

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Add half of your icing sugar and mix well again for at least 60 seconds – I find by adding this first portion of icing sugar and mixing it allows me to get a paler colour as the mixing blades have more to work with.

Add the last measure of icing sugar, milk, vanilla and food colouring. I doubled the recipe today so I added the icing sugar in 3 stages, adding milk to the last two stages. Continue to add food colouring a few drops at a time until you get the desired colour. Try not to overmix too much once all ingredients are together to avoid overly aerated icing.

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Once the colour and consistency is right prepare your piping bag.

There are so many piping bag sets available, you can buy them for only a few dollars to more expensive brands, and even reusable ones are available at supermarkets – with a bit of practise I find it’s easier to pipe decorations onto a cake than it is to try and get smooth icing!

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I usually use a plate to practise on before I ice onto the cake – this allows me time to get the feel of how to hold the bag – and also make sure I am happy with the tip I am using, try out a few different ones to see which one you like the best. Today I wanted to try something I have not done before with my Magical Orange Cake, I see all the errors but really I am sure it looks ok! Icing is pretty forgiving and you can always scrape bits off or just do your best and no one will be the wiser.

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When icing with a piping bag make sure you twist the top tightly and that no air is trapped in the bag and that you have a firm grip on the bag itself – there are lots of tutorials on YouTube for easy fancy ways to decorate so check them out!

Buttercream Icing 9

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask and I will see if I can help.

I hope you have enjoyed this Just a Mum ‘How To’ – icing kids cakes is such a simple way to delight them on special occasions.

Thanks for checking out my recipe today – you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter for more recipes & fun kids activities. Invite your friends along too!

Have a great day and happy icing! 🙂

Buttercream Icing 8

Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe – Finally!

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There is something so elusive about the perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe. I am never completely happy with what I make so next time I need them I find myself Googling again!

Well today I had some fun and think I may have just found a winning recipe, well so far anyway! It has nothing fancy in it – no sour cream, cream of tartar, lemon zest – just everyday ingredients I have on hand – so that is a bonus too!

Today in my Google fest I came Glorious Treats and it appears she might have been on a similar journey to me! So here is her recipe & I can see why it came out top in her testing!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups cake flour (I used plain flour and was fine!)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs *
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract **
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
(or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using, this is what I did)


Method

* Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

(If using plain milk add the white vinegar to the milk now and set aside)

* In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together with whisk, and set aside.

Vanilla Cupcakes 1

* In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil, beat until well combined.

* Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl.

* The batter will be thin, I poured it into a jug to make it easier to top up cases. Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with cupcake cases. Fill the cases until about 2/3rds full.

vanilla Cupcakes 2

* Bake cupcakes in pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes. They will be ready once they spring back to your touch – alternatively use a toothpick to ensure it comes out clean.***

* Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.

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* Once the cupcakes are completely cooled you can ice with buttercream icing or any other icing you desire.

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* Feel free to use this recipe for a cake as well. The recipe above will work for a 6″ cake. It is a delicate tasting cake so will benefit from a lovely flavoursome icing to bring it out.

A few tips & tricks
*Most recipes recommend that the milk & eggs are room temp to ensure they are light and fluffy, can take around 30 minutes for this to happen but don’t stress to much if not totally room temp

** I used some gorgeous Heilala Vanilla Essence I got for Christmas but I feel that Hansells Imitation Vanilla or whatever brand you like to use would be totally fine. No food snobs here!

*** It is better to check the cupcakes early – if the toothpick comes out with a few crumbs or still gives to your touch pop it back in for just over a minute and check again – you do not want overcooked cupcakes or they will not last well and be dry and crumbly!

Gluten Free Notes – I also made this recipe a second time using Gluten Free Flour & Baking Powder, I will discuss the differences between the two in a different post but you can easily substitute Gluten Free products into this recipe, results will differ slightly but the kids still loved them!

I have not iced these ones yet but will update the finished product tomorrow – these ones will be Lego Chima flavoured! Hmmmm not sure what to expect of myself!

Here they are…..

Chima Party 9

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Happy Days 😀

Chima Lego Party – Invitations & Cupcakes

Chima Party 11My 9 year old is obsessed with Chima Lego, it has totally reignited his interest in his Lego which was waning as he got older. So when it came to his birthday party there was no question he would want Chima to be a part of it somehow!

As it was a pool party there was no games or fancy foods so we were limited to what needed to be Chima themed so we simply went with invites & cupcakes to show his love!

Now the tricky part- we are on a budget and there is not much Chima related stuff out there to purchase in NZ anyway as it is still relatively new. So we decided to get creative and make our own invitations & simply do cupcakes with Chima icing tokens on the top – easy!

I will share with you what I did here. I am not a party planning expert, not an arty crafty Mummy, nothing looks professional, its super homemade and I’m not a trained cake maker – I am Just a Mum!

Chima Party 1

First the invites – after much Googling and looking at our options we went with making our own. We do not have many fancy photoshop apps so just used what we had in Microsoft paint and it turned out ok!

Using an image of one of the characters from Google images we added writing to it using Paint on the computer, printed these and cut around them

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Then again using images of the characters we printed small ones and cut these into circles to pop on the envelopes – easy! Computer, printer, paper, ink, glue, envelopes, done!

Chima Party 2 Chima Party 3

That done we looked up what to do with the cake. This was to be a super simple pool party so I didn’t want to spent hours creating a custom character so decided cupcakes & icing toppers would be the easiest way to go. After searching Trade Me (similar to eBay) I found someone who makes these and for $11 I got myself 24 images to use.

I made my Easy Rich Chocolate Cupcakes the day before and then the night before the party I made blue butter cream icing, then using the blue pearls I purchased to look like Chi and the toppers we were good to go! I also made gluten free cupcakes using my Vanilla Cupcakes recipe replacing the flour with Gluten Free flour, also Gluten Free baking powder.

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So in the end it worked out super well, kids liked the invites, loved the cupcakes and I managed to have a lovely stress free party using my sons favourite theme!

This can so easily be done with any theme you can think of, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to let me know!

Thanks for checking out my blog, comments & likes make us bloggers feel super so let me know what you think!

Have a lovely happy day 🙂

Easy Rich Chocolate Cupcakes

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Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I would love you to also check me out on Facebook if you like what you see – I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do 🙂

Easy Rich Choc Cake 6

This is my go to recipe for birthday cakes after receiving it from a friend some years ago – it makes a lovely rich chocolate cake that is dense enough to use for any sort of icing and is super tasty & keeps well.

Today I have used it for cupcakes for my sons birthday. It is so quick and easy to make, with no need for a food mixer or processor.

Ingredients

Sift & add together the following in a large bowl and combine well (please note I hardly EVER sift anything I am baking, but please feel free to!)

2 Cups Plain Flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup cocoa
1 1/2 Cups Sugar

Easy Rich Choc Cake
In a separate bowl combine the following

2 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 Cup oil
1 Tablespoon malt vinegar
1 Cup Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 Cup black coffee (I add 250mls cold water and 1 tsp of coffee, mix well then add to wet ingredients)

Easy Rich Choc Cake 1

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until combined & no lumps remain.

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Heat oven to 180C. Pour into muffin trays lined with cupcake cases, filling to 2/3rds full. Cook for 14-18 minutes depending on your oven. As with all cupcakes check early then continue to cook for 1-2 minutes at a time until done to ensure they are not overcooked & dry.

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Remove from the oven once they spring back to the touch or a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tray for a few minutes until cool enough to remove to a wire rack until completely cooled.  Store in an airtight container until you are ready to ice. These can be frozen until you are ready to use.

I just love the odd ingredients in this one, the fact I NEVER drink or eat anything coffee flavoured attests to the fact this tastes nothing like coffee! Or malt vinegar for that matter! Odd baking science at its best….

Easy Rich Choc Cake 5

Thanks for stopping by today, please do let me know how you get on.

Cupcakes

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Happy Baking 😀

This is…….. THE Best Ever Chocolate Cake

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This recipe is amazing – it makes the loveliest, moistest chocolate cake I have ever tried – it gets better by the day and freezes well too. Be warned….the quantities of sugar and cocoa will blow your mind – they are not a typo! But if you want a gorgeous, melt in your mouth cake this is it!

This recipe makes either a massive cake, 2 big ones, or 2 dozen muffins and a cake. I always use my roasting dish to make this and then freeze portions for later. It is a very moist cake so leave it until completely cool before you ice it – my Awesome Easy Rich Chocolate cake is easier & denser to ice for decorative birthday cakes but THIS one is too good not to share….

Ingredients

3.5 cups flour
3.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups cocoa powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oil
2 cups milk

2 cups of boiling water (added at end)

Best Ever Choc Cake 1

Method

Put all the dry ingredients into a very large bowl and gently mix to combine

Best Ever Choc Cake 2

Add the eggs, oil, vanilla & oil into the bowl and gently mix until you form a batter.

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Add boiling water carefully and gently mix until smooth

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Pour into lined baking pan – I have used our roasting dish here and bake at 160C for 50 minutes to 1 hour depending on oven. Reduce cooking time accordingly depending on size of pans or if making muffins.

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Cake is cooked when skewer comes out clean.

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This cake gets moister by the day so stays nice and fresh very similar to mud cake. I ice it with my basic chocolate icing, or for a very decadent alternative try my Chocolate Ganache you will find under Baking & Recipes.

Enjoy, like, comment & share 🙂 And please let me know if you have an even better chocolate cake recipe for me to test out!

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Puppy Dog Cupcakes!

dog cupcakes

How cute are these! They were perfect for my puppy loving daughter on her third birthday – a little fiddly and certainly looked nothing like the expert ones but we loved them!

I found this in an old copy of New Idea so credit goes to them or who ever made up the concept.

I will pop here the cupcake recipe they recommend but you could also use my Easy Rich Chocolate Cake recipe – check it out on here https://justamumnz.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/awesome-easy-rich-chocolate-cake/

Basic Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients for Cupcakes

100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk

Method for Cupcakes

  1. Line a 12-hold muffin pan with paper cases
  2. Beat butter, sugar and essence with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add combined sifted flour and cocoa with milk, in two batches. Stir until just combined. Divide evenly among cases
  3. Cook in a moderate oven (180C) for 20 minutes or until cooked. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients for Icing

125g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cups icing sugar
2 TBSP cocoa powder
20 Jersey Caramels
6 marshmallows, halved horizontally
Queens White Writing & Decorating Fudge
12 mini M&Ms
12 Black Jelly Beans
6 pink or red jelly beans – halved

Method for Icing & Decorating

  1. To make icing, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and sifted cocoa powder until combined.
  2. To make ears, place half the caramels on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high power for 10-15 seconds or until just softened. Knead until smooth. roll out between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Using kitchen scissors, cut out 24 small triangles. Set aside
  3. Repeat with the remaining caramels. Cut out 12 circles using a 5cm-round cutter.
  4. Spread icing evenly over cakes. Arrange caramel triangles on cakes for ears. Arrange caramel triangles on cakes for ears. To make muzzle, place marshmallow halves on cakes. Drape caramel circles over top. Using white fudge as glue, attach mini M&Ms and jellybeans.

I would love to see your attempts at these so post a photo to my FB page if you do! http://www.facebook.com/justamumnz

Happy Baking 🙂