Pinterest – a foray into the Unknown Part 1.

I know I have a Pinterest account, I get emails from time to time, telling me which of my friends has joined Pinterest and and is ‘following’ me. I even get Pinterest Weekly – gotta be more fun that Woman’s Weekly – or has it?

I am going to make a promise to Pin something to my Pinterest wall (if that’s what it’s called) every day for a month, learn a bit about it, and share it on here, thereby saving you the bother of having to do so.

Unless of course you already do – in which case, let me in on the secret?

I attended an Manchester Cake Club event last Autumn, which was about Social Media and touched on Pinterest, and we learnt that, if you search for “Cake” for example, there are rather a lot of varying standards of pictures of cake – and that, dear reader, is all I know about Pinterest. Oh, and I am thinking Cath Kidston, and her kind, hangout there, but maybe that’s just unkind.


Fairtrade fun with fruit aka – my Banana Loaf

banana loaf

You know how you mean to eat more fruit, especially now it’s the New Year, and you are going to make 2013 the year you eat properly?

You know how you now buy rather a lot of lovely, healthy, one-of-your-5-a-day apples, and pears, and ‘nanas and stuff?

Well, you know how bananas do that brown spotty skin thing and then no-one fancies them anymore? That!!

This is the solution to your problem, what to do

with that brown banana and its sad blotchy chums.

My delicious, healthy Banana Loaf.

I try to buy Fairtrade bananas cos I hope it makes a difference to some fruit grower somewhere, but the other sort will do. It is also up to you how healthy this loaf is – as there are at least 3 options as to what you add to it, chocolate (also Fairtrade if it floats your boat), date and walnut or mixed fruit (you may even have some left over from your festive baking).

I use a silicon loaf tin (2lb/1 kg) size, and if you are new to baking, try and nip to a Pound shop, and buya loaf tin, they are rather wobbly but work fine, and a pack of waxed paper loaf liners, cos they are a.) quick and easy to use, but b.) look professional and therefore impressive!

An example of the silicon loaf tin I use         An example of the type of silicon loaf tin I use

Paper loaf liners - available in the Pound shop

Paper loaf liners – available in the Pound shop.

If you remember to, leave the butter or margarine out for an hour or so, to allow it to soften, and put the oven on at 180c or 160c if you have a fan oven like me.

The ingredients you need are

4/5 lovely bananas, who look as if their work on earth is almost done; mashed

225g self raising flour,

125g sugar (I like demerara or soft brown, but caster is fine – again Fairtrade is readily available),

100g softish butter or margarine ( I tend to use Stork for this recipe),

2 eggs (medium or large, I like free-range)

and  150g of EITHER dried mixed fruit OR milk or dark chocolate chips OR dates & walnuts OR any other blend of dried fruit you want to use up. (If you are using dried fruit you may want to also add 1 teaspoon of mixed spice)

Then beat the bananas for a bit and add the eggs, beat some more, then add the flour, sugar and fat, and mix til everything looks much the same. Then add a good pinch of salt (unless you have a real objection or medical need) then stir in the fruit or choc chips. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, which you have lined with your loaf liner,put on a baking sheet and bake for about  1 and 1/2 half until a knife pushed into the middle comes out cleanish.

Allow to cool before removing from the loaf tin, and dust with icing sugar if you like.

This recipe can also be useful when baking for fairs or cake stalls, as if you double up the quantities and use about 10 bananas, it makes 3 reasonable looking loaves, but check them after about an hour of cooking. (You can buy browning bananas very cheaply in most green grocers and supermarkets ).

This cake will keep for up to a week in an air tight tin – if you hide it well!

Upside Down Cakes

I am sure you remember enjoying a pineapple down cake at some point in your life, maybe you made one at school, or it was something your granny made for you, and became a special treat. But this is such a lovely cake to make, and the result is always spectacular, plus, as I always say “it contains one of your ‘Five-a-day’ ” so it is almost healthy eating!You don’t have to limit yourself to pineapple either, any soft eating fruit will do – I have used pears, eating apples, plums and apricots, and am planning to try rhubarb once it is season.

Before you bake, just turn your oven on and set to:180c or 160c if you have a fan oven.

Ingredients and equipment: (btw I am listing everything so if you are fairly new to this, you can check you have everything to hand)

Equipment: 7″ or 20 cm silicon or metal shallow round cake tin, mixer, or wooden spoon, teaspoon(tsp) and tablespoon (tbsp), scales (to measure ingredients), knife for fruit, small pan, large bowl, cup (to break eggs into), paper cake liner or greaseproof (if you’re using a metal cake tin) and a baking sheet, and a dinner plate. Plus oven gloves or a folded tea towel.

(Upside down topping bit) 50g butter (preferably) or marg, plus 50g sugar (brown is good) plus fruit – 4-5 apples/pears or large tin pineapple rings and seven cherries or seven plums/apricots -optional choc chips or tsp cinnamon if you like it

Cake part – 100g butter or marg (I prefer stork) best left out of fridge for half an hour or so, 100g sugar (ideally golden caster, but ordinary caster, demera or soft brown all ok) -2 eggs, 2 tbsp plain yoghurt or milk , 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence (these are inter changeable) and 100g self raising flour

Method: Select the fruit, and prepare as you would for eating, ie wash and core, remove stones & stalk etc. With apples & pears, slice into four or five cross sections, or for plums, apricots, etc half, the riper the better really (see my photo of the plums) Or open a large tin of pineapple rings, you will need 7 of them, and seven glace cherries.  Melt the 50g butter and sugar in the small pan til they become a soft golden brown liquid.

Now if you are using a silicon cake tin, pour the liquid in, if a metal tin, then line with a cake liner, or greaseproof paper, and then add the butter/sugar liquid.

Now arrange the fruit ‘face down’ as when you are done, the bottom will be the top of your cake  (see picture) If you wish you can add some cinnamon to this, sprinkling it over everything, or a few choc chips ( these would be especially great with pears I think). If using pineapple rings, pop a cherry in the middle of each ring.

Now put the 100g butter or margarine in the mixing bowl and beat for a minute or so to soften, then add the sugar,and beat til the colour of the mixture lightens slightly. ( ‘Creaming’ it as my old cookery teacher used to say.) Break each egg into the cup first, remove any shell and then beat into the creamed mix, then whisk in the yoghurt or milk and the vanilla. Finally slowly stir in the flour, until everything is mixed to a smooth paste.

Then using the spoon, carefully spread this mixture onto the top of the fruit, making sure that is is roughly level, so it will bake evenly. (See picture)

This can then go into the oven for 30 mins or so, til golden brown, and firm to touch. (If you are using a silcon baking tin, I usually like to put this onto a baking tray as it makes it easier to lift out)

Then leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 20 mins.

Then loosen the edges with a knife, and put a dinner plate, face down onto the top of the cake tin, and holding the plate to the cake tin, quickly turn over both together, using a tea towel. Then remove the cake tin and you have a delicious, and impressive looking treat! Enjoy with custard, cream or greek fat free yoghurt as a tasty pudding or just scoff the lot .ImageImage

It had to be done!


I have been meaning to write a blog for a while – New Year seems a good place to start, so having eaten the last of the Christmas Goodies, and taken down the decorations, I delighted to welcome you to my blog.

I going to share my cakes and bakes with you: the recipes, the inspirations, the appearance,  the successes and the failures.

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