Where did January go?? Hard to believe we're so far away from Christmas already but time really has flown by.
The start of the year has been full of catch-ups with family and friends. After over a year of waiting, I got to see Hamilton the musical in London with Bake Off Tom - get your hands on tickets if you can as it was sensational. The end of January featured a trip back home to celebrate mum's 60th birthday before she headed off to South Korea. She is currently in Pyeongchang volunteering for 2 months at the Winter Olympics. I'm not at all envious. Not one bit. Nope.
Last week was the last chance for a bit of holiday before things get very busy for me. A few days skiing with my dad and brother was just what I needed to ramp up for science festival season. As you've probably seen, I'm really excited to kick off my Bakineering In Space tour. I've put a lot of time into writing the show and getting some great guests on board for some of the dates (and in incredible settings!). It's a fusion of incredible engineering with everyday bakes than can explain it and the feedback has been fantastic and really encouraging so far. Full details are on my events page but dates so far confirmed include London, Derby, Leicester, Edinburgh, Belfast and Norwich! I really hope to see loads of you on my travels round.
Now, to some baking.
My good intentions of monthly blog updates went out the window with the hustle and bustle of the New Year. However, I am determined to make it up to you this week with a hat-trick of recipes to try, perfect for this minimum-fuss cosy time of year for baking.
First up is an incredibly simple but utterly delicious fruity pecan banana loaf. As is often the case with banana cakes, this was born out of a few very dark bananas and some leftover nuts and dried fruits. Almost endlessly customisable, it's perfect to chuck in what you fancy. Also, if you have a lot of dark bananas, freeze them individually and they keep really well to use next time you need a banana loaf fix!
As always, I love hearing how you get on and I'm always happy to answer any questions you have! Keep in touch on twitter, instagram and facebook @cakesmyth x
Ingredients - makes one large loaf or 3 individual loaves
100g unsalted butter
175g caster/superfine sugar
3 medium eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
225g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
75g pitted, roughly chopped medjool dates
100g pecans, roughly chopped
A 2lb / 900g loaf tin or 3 individual tins
Pre-heat the oven to 160 C fan / 180 C (350 F) / Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a large loaf tin or the individual tins.
In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the edges in between each addition.
Add the mashed bananas and mix well. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold gently until combined. Add the dates, sultanas and pecans and fold in. Pour into the lined tin/tins and smooth with a palette knife.
Drag a knife through the centreline of each loaf to help it rise symmetrically then place in the middle shelf of the oven. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (around 30 mins for 3 small tins and 50 mins - 1 hour in large loaf tin). Keeps well in an airtight container for a few days, if it gets a bit stale then toast in slices and lather with butter!