A long weekend is the perfect time to dust off the baking tins and spend an afternoon in the kitchen. Or, if you're away somewhere for the weekend, baking as a contribution always goes down a treat.
A tin of sweet biscuits always reminds me of afternoons at my grandma's house on the farm, where a little something sweet was compulsory for afternoon tea. If it was homemade, all the better. Melting moments have always been one of my favourite biscuits, and I got the idea to make them when I saw some juicy-looking passionfruit at my local fruit store recently. They're so tart and sweet when fresh, and they're great in this icing. I love the way these biscuits are so crumbly and buttery - they are pretty much perfect with a hot cup of tea on a cold day. Banana bread is one of my other favourite things to bake, especially because it doesn't require any fancy equipment - just bowls, a wooden spoon, and some elbow grease.
I've had Nigella Lawson's cookbook, How To Be a Domestic Goddess for about 12 years now, and it's such a great resource. This banana bread is adapted from her recipe, although I've added bitter dark chocolate, which really cuts through the sweetness of the banana.
Whatever you're up to this Queen's Birthday, I hope there's something sweet for afternoon tea.
Passionfruit and vanilla melting moments
Makes about 20
275 grams butter, softened
½ cup icing sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups pure flour
½ cup cornflour
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Cream the butter and sugar together very well, until pale and fluffy.
Sift flour and cornflour together. Add to the butter mixture and fold to combine, being careful not to over-mix, you want the mixture to just hold together.
Spoon the dough into small balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Gently press down with a fork.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and firm around the edges. Cool on a wire rack and ice once they're completely cool.
To serve, spread the icing on the flat side of a biscuit, and sandwich another biscuit on top.
Will keep in an airtight container for about a week.
For the icing:
60g unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar
Pulp of one large passionfruit
Beat the butter until light and fluffy, then stir through the icing sugar and the passionfruit pulp.
Best banana bread
This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's How To Be a Domestic Goddess.
The best bananas for baking are when they're so ripe they've turned black. If freezing them, make sure you remove the skin first. I mash mine slightly before freezing in snaplock bags.
Makes one loaf
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
150g brown sugar
About 300g very ripe mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
75g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Put the sultanas and brandy in a small saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside until most of the liquid is soaked up.
Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and combine well with a whisk.
Next, brown the butter. This adds a slightly caramelised flavour. Take the butter and melt in a small saucepan. Give it a good swirl as it starts to turn golden. Remove from the heat as soon as you see small flecks of brown appear.
Pour butter into a large bowl, and add the sugar. Beat until blended, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the mashed bananas, walnuts, brandy sultanas and the vanilla. Mix together well.
Add the flour mixture one-third at a time, mixing in well with a wooden spoon. Make sure the flour mixture is fully incorporated before adding the next third.
Pour the mixture into your loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for just over an hour. Keep an eye on it - it will be ready when it's golden brown on top and a skewer comes out reasonably clean. Leave in the tin to cool.
Serve warm with icecream or cream for dessert. Serve lightly toasted with yoghurt and fruit and honey/maple syrup for breakfast. Or just enjoy slathered in butter.