Friday, January 14, 2011
Last Christmas I received the cookbook Rachel's Baking Secrets (although my book is entitled "Bake") from my mom for Christmas and have had a great time testing out the recipes. I absolutely adored watching Rachel Allen's show Bake, so much so I had to get her cookbook. I have made her Apple and Oat Crumble, Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies and totally screwed up her Coconut Macaroon Tart which ended up being the tastiest kitchen disaster I have ever made. Still, I wanted to make one more of her treats before doing a review of the cookbook: the classic banana bread.
Yes, it was another dark and dreary baking day and I needed to help inspire my baking mojo by making banana bread which is a big comfort food in our home. Like all European cookbooks, Rachel Allen's is no different. You are going to need a scale... for everything! Here we have 250 g (9 oz) of self-raising flour (actually, no it isn't, it's just regular flour with 2 tsp of baking powder mixed in), a pinch of salt, 1 tsp additional baking powder that has all been sifted together. Then I added 150 g (5 oz) of sugar and 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of softened butter.
With my fingers I mixed together until everything was kind of crumbly.
I whisked 2 eggs with 1 tsp of vanilla and some clementine zest. Then I mashed in 475 g (17 oz) about 4 small peeled bananas with a fork, you could also use a potato masher.
I added the wet ingredients to the dry, bringing everything together gently.
Then I added some chocolate chips. The original recipes calls for things like raisins soaked in rum and something called glace cherries which sound a lot like maraschino cherries but I was not sure so I went with the chocolate variation instead.
I was doing fine until I put it in the pan I lined with parchment paper, realizing I forgot to grease it! Damn it. I threw it in a 325F oven for an hour. Sometimes her recipes call for a very hot oven which can scorch my treats but not in this case, this is the traditional temperature for baking banana bread.
Thankfully, it came out of the tin after it cooled without any issues. Impressive!
Light, delicate and delicious, once again Rachel Allen's Bake truly delivers. This is a beautiful hard cover book that even has a ribbon placeholder with stunning photographs. It is true that maybe only 30% of the recipes have a photo but they are beautiful. I have many cookbooks that I love that do not have any that are not half as pretty.
I do get a little frustrated when it comes to temperatures in the book. I am not convinced that the book's conversion of gas marks is quite accurate when it comes to Fahrenheit because I have come close to burning some of the treats I have tried to make from this book. Always using a scale can be a bit tedious but I know there are a lot of people who are used to baking this way who will love how this cookbook is written. Using a scale will actually ensure more baking successes in the long run so if you want this book, make sure you have a scale.
I loved this banana bread, it was moist and delicious and worthy of four out of five wooden spoons. Opening the pastel pages of this cookbook and looking for my next treat is always exciting. I give Rachel Allen's Bake four and a half out of five wooden spoons. This cookbook is downright charming and a treasure in my kitchen.