Thomas Hardy is the author I have currently attached myself to. His writings, set in a society where honor and conduct are keenly regarded subjects, query the institution of marriage and class and follow the lives of sometimes tortured subjects flailing against it, not necessarily by choice but by situation. It is a revealing comparison against complacent 'modern day' views now adopted.
The novel that really did give me a kick on the was 'Jude the Obscure.' The mental grief of each weary character, and their paths of reasoning- I understand! Yet personally cannot agree concerning marriage. The question of marriage is not about its effect on society, whether good or bad. For me, it is because it is written in the Bible that I shall abide. It is odd that in Hardy's many books, and despite the numerous biblical quotes therein, that this was not a consideration explored.
Just because I always have an eye perked for food (drink) related subjects, Hardy also provides a suggestion for aspiring cider brewers looking for a good blend. According to Hardy in 'The Trumpet Major,' a fine cider can be made from a judicious mix of "Horner and Cleeves apple for the body, a few Tom-Putts for colour, and just a dash of Old Five-corners for sparkle- a selection originally made to please the palate of a well-known temperate earl who was a regular cider-drinker, and lived to be eighty-eight." Though, of those varieties, only the Tom-Putts cultivar seems to exist still.
Finally, in light of one of my successful recipe tweaks, I present to you my banoffee brownie. I mentioned in my earlier post on brownie types that Nigel Slater's cakey brownies, with their intense chocolate flavor flavor and muddy texture, brought me great joy indeed. However, fudgey is a desirable quality to have, and I determined to give a little fudgey leaning to those brownies. Thus I added banana puree to the batter for squidge.
It also happened that I had made a quantity of dulce de leche, and who doesn't love banoffe pie? So I tipped that in too. For some reason, my blobs of dulce de leche dissipated during the baking and I never discovered any gooey cavities of the stuff. Possibly my blobs weren't big enough. What I did find to have staying power was dulce de leche not made by the schoolday method of boiling tins but by zapping it in the microwave. Its resulting texture was slightly different: less smooth and liable to harden into a crusty lump of (mostly) sugar. But this way, I had my golden nuggets of sweet.
As I had some extra dulce de leche on hand, I served the brownies with a squeeze of loose dulce de leche cream to pare off some richness (you know things are getting intense when cream is used to lighten the pud).
(makes one 30 by 30cm tray)
|300g castor sugar||250g dark chocolate|
|250g unsalted butter, softened|
|60g cocoa powder|
|100g egg||30g egg yolk|
|200g ripe bananas||5g baking powder|
|75g whole milk||250g double cream|
|794g condensed milk (2 tins)|
- Line a 30cm by 30cm tray with aluminium foil (I used a griddle pan as I didn’t have a tray, but just adjust quantities to suit the volume of the trays you have and watch cooking times).
- Make the dulce de leche from the condensed milk by popping into the microwave for 1 min intervals at around 700W, and whisking between until it reaches the coloration you want. Set aside 100g of the dulce de leche.
- Microwave the bananas until split and steaming, blend to a puree (or not depending on the consistency you like) and set aside to cool.
- Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool so it (or the bananas) won't melt the creamed butter.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.
- Cream together the sugar and softened butter.
- Gradually beat in the eggs and yolks with a whisk so as not to curdle it.
- Beat in melted and cooled chocolate, and the banana puree.
- Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder mixture over 3 incorporations.
- Pour half of the batter into the tray and smooth. Drop dollops of dulce de leche all over the batter. Use around half of your dulce de leche (omitting the 100g earlier set apart).
- Pour the remaining batter into tray and smoothen its surface.
- Drop smaller dollops of dulce de leche over the surface and use a knife to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for 40min (start checking at 30 min as you do not want to overbake it and make it all dry). Brownies are down when, after inserting a toothpick/knife, there are still bits of moist crumbs clinging to it. If it comes out completely clean (as is the norm for most cakes), the brownies are overdone. The brownies will also continue to cook a little after their removal from the oven.
- Whisk together the remaining 100g of dulce de leche with the milk until it has dissolved.
- Add the double cream to the dulce de leche flavoured milk and whisk to soft peaks.
- Pipe cream over cooled and portioned brownies.
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Updates soon to come!