Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableThis year’s UK Master Chef series on the television has been fantastic. The final five were all incredibly creative and really put through their paces as the competition ruthlessly progressed. (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here if you haven’t watched the final episode to crown the winner.)  Of the final five, I was really inspired by Emma whose love of middle eastern spices and modern use of ingredients mirrors the zeitgeist made mainstream by Ottolenghi.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableYou may recall that Adagio Tea sent me a sample pack of their gorgeous teas to try. I wrote about their artisan teas in last month’s IMK post. They have a huge range and their green teas alone are worth a look at. Their Masala Chai is quite incredible – it has the deep flavour that I remember from my childhood and is chock full of whole spices like cloves, cinnamon bark, cardamom seeds and ginger as well as black Ceylon tea.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableSpurred on by Emma’s creations on Master Chef, a LOT of dangerously dark bananas and Adagio’s Masala Chai, I adapted my go-to recipe for Banana Bread from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. It’s a recipe I have been making for years and it never lets me down. It’s particularly devilish and delicious when made with chocolate chips instead of fruit, but that is another story!

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableBecause I had so many bananas I used them all and in retrospect, it was too much and caused the loaves to become heavy and sink in the middle when cooling. In the recipe below, I have written the amounts as they should be and not as I did this time.

I quite often use frozen bananas but let them thaw and drain off the liquid before mashing and mash the bananas coarsely as this enables the loaves to remain lovely and moist. I prefer to use light brown sugar for a deeper more caramel flavour too.  Steeping the fruit in very a very strong solution of masala chai gives them a haunting flavour when you bite into a plumped up morsel. I have enhanced that with a little cardamom stirred through the batter too.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableThe icing. Oh my God, the icing! It’s just sublime. I wanted to compliment the heady banana and masala chai flavours of the loaf and put this icing together. The flavour reminds me of coconut burfi or penda (which my father adored) – Indian sweets as Jake refers to them…

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's Table

I really like using coconut powder as you can get the depth of flavour you want and also the thickness by adjusting the liquid to powder ratio. A further rummage in the pantry led me to the gorgeously fragrant rose petals I bought recently on a foray into Shepherd’s Bush with Elaine and a bag of pistachio nuts.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableI ended up with a Magic Carpet Banana Bread! I think Emma would approve!

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

  • Servings: Makes 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from “Banana Bread” How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

My loaf tins are standard 900g/2 lb loaf tins. Measurements may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but  they should be approximately 23cm x 13cm x 7cm  or 9″ x 5 ½” x 3″.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 g mixed dried fruit (like berries, cherries, figs and sultanas)
  • 75 ml of very strong brewed Adagio Masala Tea Blend
  • 175 g Plain/AP flour
  • 2 ½  tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder or 2 drops of cardamom essence
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Coconut, Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

  • 3 Tbsp coconut powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp warm milk
  • 1 x 180 g pack of cream cheese
  • 1 x 250 g tub of mascarpone cheese
  • 5 – 6 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 drops cardamom essence or the powdered seeds of 2 cardamom pods
  • chopped pistachios (optional)
  • edible dried rose petals (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Steep the dried fruit with the hot masala chai for an hour (or microwave on high for 2 minutes and steep for as long as you can)
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170C/325F and either pop a paper case into each of two loaf tins or line with two strips of parchment paper. Put the butter in a heat proof bowl and place in the oven to melt. Check after 3-4 minutes.
  3. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Mash the bananas, coarsely, and set aside.
  5. With an electric mixer, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugar until creamy and caramel in colour.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time and make sure to beat well after each one.
  7. Add the bananas and the vanilla extract and mix well and finally, stir in the drained fruit.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer which should come out moist but not with batter clinging to it. Let cool completely before icing.
  9. While the loaves are baking, make the icing: stir the coconut powder into warm milk until smooth.
  10. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the mascarpone with a rubber spatula then add the coconut mixture and stir in. Sift in the icing sugar, mixing well and taste after you had added 4 Tbsp – it may be sweet enough. Stir in the cardamom essence or the powder and set aside in the fridge. When the loaves are cold, spread with the icing and top with the chopped pistachios and rose petals if using them.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingA friend of mine has been planning to make a Chocolate and Beetroot Cake all spring and then all summer but circumstances conspired against him and he didn’t get a chance to make one.

Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingSo when he organised an intimate drinks party round his to celebrate his birthday earlier this week, I knew what I was going to make for him – Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcakes… He cooks the most delicious food, always beautifully presented and outdid himself with the gorgeous canapés that kept on coming that night. We rounded off the evening with a cupcake each and I was so pleased that they were just what he had been craving for the better part of this year!

Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingThe beetroot keeps the cake moist and gives it a lovely deep red colour. I made another  batch of these today and took then as a reward for my friends who were cold water swimming at Tooting Bec Lido this morning and managed to convert someone’s husband who apparently can’t even look at beetroot. Admittedly he had no idea what he was eating until it was too late – he looked absolutely horrified at the thought of having eaten beetroot but then decided that it wasn’t so bad after all. You really cannot taste the beetroot.

Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingThe cream cheese frosting is one I have developed – it is not too sweet but nice and tangy which is as it should be.

Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I am entering this recipe in the Family Foodies January Challenge – Hidden Goodies. If you want to see how other clever parents are  hiding and incorporating nutrient dense vegetables, nuts and pulses in their children’s meals then  read all about it on the Bangers and Mash blog by clicking on the link.  Eat Your Veg is another great resource for feeding your children the good stuff, so do go over and take a look at what is happening there.

family-foodies1

I am linking this recipe to the Tasty Tuesdays Valentine’s Party hosted by the Anyonita Nibbles – go over and take a look at her amazing blog!

– See more at: http://www.anyonita-nibbles.co.uk/2014/01/tasty-tuesdays-valentines.html#sthash.H0CR8tWe.dpuf

Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 120g flour
  • 60g cacao powder sifted
  • 170g golden caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 170g cooked beetroot (not pickled!)
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 140ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 200g cold cream cheese
  • 100g soft butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g caster sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F and line 12 muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Place a large mixing bowl directly on the scales and set the scales to zero.  One spoonful at a time, measure out the cacao powder into a sieve and sift it straight into the mixing bowl. Keep an eye the weight – 60g is usually about 4 tablespoonfuls. Then re-set the scales to zero and add the flour and then do the same for the sugar. Measure in the baking powder and salt then give everything a really good whisk to mix it well an also aerate it.
  3. Place the beetroot in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds or so. Scrape down the sides and add in the eggs and vanilla paste/extract and blitz again for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides again and with the motor running, pour in the oil and process for about one minute.
  4. Scrape out the beet mix onto the top of the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until it is just blended – do not overwork the batter.
  5. Evenly spoon the batter between the 12 paper cases.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the tray around half way through if you oven has hot spots like mine does. To check that it is done, poke a toothpick or wooden skewer into the centre of one of the middle cakes – it should not have any batter clinging to it. If it does, pop it back in for another 5 minutes and check again.
  7. FROSTING : Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy – probably 5 minutes or so. Add the vanilla and beat again. Finally add the cream cheese an beat until just combined. Do not over-beat the cream cheese as this will make the frosting runny.
  8. Spoon into a piping bag and frost the cakes or just smear it on with a spoon and knife.