So, you may recall I discovered the other week that I own ninety books about food. Recipe books, cookery books, history of food books, travel books with recipes in....I have them all. And I love reading them all.
But recently, I have been rather remiss and rather lazy when it comes to trying out new recipes and dishes. So, each Friday if I can manage it, I'm going to try something different....whether it be a brand new cake, dessert, or a savoury supper dish.
So, what book do I choose to test first? Why, the latest in my collection of course....one which I bought about three weeks ago. Well actually I bought two copies, one for me and one for my daughter.
"Lucy's Bakes" was published in April by Hardie Grant Books, and it's full of gorgeous traybakes, cakes, biscuits and bread.
Anyway, we met for lunch a few weeks back.
Also there, and also on that committee was the other Lucy, Lucy Lee-Tirrell who has collaborated on this book. The two Lucys are friends who are joined at the hip when it comes to cooking, baking, and devising recipes...and neither of them can stop talking about food.
I've eaten lots of their food before , so trust what they tell me to do in a recipe, which is just as well, when I tried their "weird and wonderful banana cake".
The title intrigued, but how can you resist the first line of the recipe which says "Brace yourselves!"
Well, I couldn't.....but almost flinched when next come the words "this cake is made with mayonnaise."
Now, I've been making banana loaves for years, and have always gone back to Nigella's recipe. But I trust the two Lucys. And you should too, even though you might be initially slightly put off by the sloppy mixture with a whiff of mayo coming from the bowl.
Because what you get, is the most beautifully light, moist banana cake, which keep in the tin for four or five days and still tastes fabulous. I've made this cake twice now, testing it on my family and friends at work. Everyone loves it and no one suspected that mayonnaise was involved in its making.
One of my sons hasn't been eating cake for a number of months now , he's juicing, detoxing , eating healthily , you name it etc....but he seemed to be mysteriously drawn to the kitchen as the cake came out of the oven. I cut a slice for him . The cake, still warm, disappeared in a a few nanoseconds. Like Oliver Twist, he held his plate out and asked for more.
And although it does taste delicious still warm and fragrant, please leave most of it until the following day, and the next day, when it just gets better in terms of flavour and moistness.
As for my friends at work, well , they loved it too. I loved it, and will have to ban myself for making it more than once a week.
I've also made Lucy's soft cookies...another oh so easy recipe which is cheap and cheerful too. My cookies didn't look exactly like Lucy's I have to admit, but boy, they went down a storm.
There's over 200 recipes in this book, and what I like is the no nonsense directions when making each recipe...concise but informative, with lots of suggestions for ways for adding different ingredients to adapt the cakes or biscuits etc.
For example, Lucy Le Tirrell's weird and wonderful banana cake can be also adapted to make a carrot cake too. There's plenty of short cuts in this book too...making every recipe accessible to complete beginners. Plus, each recipe has been tested by volunteers, and their comments are also included.
I also like the little details of how they found or devised each recipe. Anyway, what do I bake next from the book? I'll definitely give the carrot cake a go, but not until I've tried after I've made the lemon curd cake and the parsnip and ginger cake. Oh, and the biscotti and bread and.....
But before I get carried away, here's the recipe which I know you will love....
Weird and Wonderful Banana Cake
250g (9 oz) very ripe bananas (about 3 after peeling)
200 g (7oz or 1 cup) soft light brown sugar
250g (9 oz/ 1 cup) mayonnaise ( I used Hellmans mayonnaise, which Lucy also recommends)
100g water or strong coffee (I used water)
250 g (9oz/2 cups) plain, all purpose flour
10g (half an ounce) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
pinch of salt
Demerara sugar for sprinkling
So here's what you do....
1.Preheat the oven to 180C (350 degF/Gas 4).Line a 1 kg (2 lb) loaf tin with baking paper.
2.Mash the bananas to a smooth paste.
3.Add the sugar with the mayo, mix well with a wooden spoon, add the water or coffee.
4.Add in the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Put into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the demerara. Bake for 40 -45 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack, remove the paper and leave to cool.
6.Store in a cool place in an airtight container or well wrapped in cling film (plastic wrap) and foil.