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Madeleines apple, honey and lemon

Although as a rule, I am not a baker (too fussy, too precise, too fiddly), I couldn’t resist the allure of a €3 madeleine tray in Auchan, one afternoon – oh yes, we know how to have a good time around here, an afternoon spent in a hypermarket!

It’s funny how one afternoon breeds another. That afternoon, we were on a mission to buy a saddle for my bike. Saddle fitted, we’ve spent many a pleasant afternoon peddling through the Dordogne’s meandering country lanes. That is completely untrue. Sorry, what I mean is, I have puffed myself and bike up the ridiculously steep Perigordine hills before capitulating half way up, muttering several swear words under my breath and kicking said bike before walking it to the top, only to discover yet another hill. Anyway, on one such torture session idyllic adventure, we came across an apple tree. It didn’t seem to belong to anyone, it was just growing on the side of the public footpath, nature’s equivalent of the vending machine. I figured no one would miss a couple of the many, many apples weighing down its bows.

And hey presto, a full cycle of afternoons as those apples made their way into my first ever batch of madeleines. A pleasant afternoon, multiplied as the family piled round to tuck into them the following day.

This recipe is adapted from Rachel Khoo’s recipe

3 medium eggs

130g granulated sugar

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp and 1 tsp honey

4 tbsp milk

200g butter, melted and cooled

2 small apples, peeled, cored and diced very finely

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and frothy. Mix the milk and honey into the cooled butter, and add to the eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Gradually add the flour to the batter. Stir in the chopped apple. Refrigerate for a few hours. Rachel says overnight, but I am impatient.

Preheat the oven to 190C, butter and flour your madeleine tin, and spoon in a tbsp of the batter into each shell. If you are using a silicone tray, it’s a good idea to put it on a baking tray before you spoon in your mixture, so the batter doesn’t spill as you put it into the oven (yep, you guessed it, I found that out the hard way!).

Bake the madeleines for 6 minutes (Rachel says 5, but I found them too pale after just 5), then turn off the oven for one minute. Turn the oven to 160C and bake for another 6 minutes. Turn your madeleines out onto a wire tray to cool and repeat until you’ve used up all you batter. I made four and a half batches from the above in a 9-shell tray.

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banana bread Great British Bake Off

Serves: 8

Now, I’m not a baker by any means. For a start, I can never resist tinkering with a recipe, and baking instructions are supposed to be followed to the letter. Second, my temperament is not suited to anything fiddly or dainty and we’re surrounded on all sides by families with small children who could presumably do without a live demonstration of the fruitier words in the English language. And third, if you make a cake, you then have to eat it – and frankly, my waistline needs no further temptation.

Still, despite all of the above, I adore The Great British Bake Off. Mel and Sue, food porn and Mary Berry all in one show – what’s not to love?

What’s more, however much I fear the dark art of baking, I love any recipe that provides a neat solution to foodstuffs that are slightly past their best. So when one of the supper club boys bought a chunk of his mum’s banana cake round to share, and told us she’d just knocked it up one afternoon to save some squishy bananas going to waste, I had to have the recipe.

As I said, I can’t resist a tinker. I added some walnuts and rum into the mix… well why not?

1 overripe banana

100g caster sugar

100g margarine

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

A handful chopped walnuts

A capful of rum

A handful of sultanas

1/2 tsp vanilla essence (note to self, do not pour onto spoon over bowl, or it may come flooding out! Oh well, still tasted great!)

Preheat oven to 175C

Mrs Marshall’s recipe read thus: mix all ingredients in bowl, pour into greased baking tin and bake in oven until a skewer comes out clean. And that is just what I did. There was an ‘OR’ and for those of you who are more method than madness, it reads thus:

Cream the margarine and sugar, gradually mix in the beaten eggs, add the banana, sift the flour, stir in, then add the vanilla essence and sultanas (you can add the rum and walnuts here too). Give it one last stir and pour into a greased baking tin.

It took just under 30 minutes – let’s call it 25 – for my skewer to come out clean, and the top of the loaf to turn a luscious golden brown. I think the best advice is to keep an eye on it and not, as I did, to wander off, get engrossed in the exciting new season of cookery shows that has started in earnest on every channel now the Olympics is over, and release a couple of expletives when your husband wonders aloud whether the cake is ready. Reader, I was lucky – it was perfectly cooked, but I had meant to check on the ****ing thing after 15 minutes. Told you – baking and me do not mix!

I served mine at Supper Club with mascarpone, simply because I had some left from yesterday’s pasta – crème fraîche would no doubt be delicious too.

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