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Russian, Eastern European and international cuisine brought to you by a mother and a daughter

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffins

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffins

I came up with the idea of these muffins when I wanted to bake something as a little “Thank you” gift for a friend of ours who is helping us with choosing and buying a car. Of course the idea of banana chocolate swirls is not new, but I didn’t really follow any recipe except for using my Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffin recipe as a reference for making chocolate batter. I generously complemented the banana batter with vanilla in order to enhance the contrast between the moist, sweet banana swirls and the dark, rich and dense chocolate swirls. The batter was very quick and easy to make, although of course adding mashed banana and melting the margarine involves some extra bowls. I haven’t actually tried to just cream margarine instead of melting it - I suppose the batter would be  plastic enough with creamed margarine, so if you don’t want to wash an extra saucepan, try using creamed margarine at room temperature.

I was very content with the result and was happy to give these muffins away as a gift. I also gave a couple of them to my parents and left two for me and Stano to sample. I am trying to follow a healthier diet these days - five months of breastfeeding are making themselves felt and my skin and hair are starting to suffer (although I’m still getting off lightly I believe!).  One of my latest hits is an easy salad made with arugula, baby spinach, canned cannellini beans, walnuts, and blue cheese (yes, blue cheese again!). I’ve also bought a pack of organic wheat, so soon I’ll be able to jazz up my salads with wheat sprouts.

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffin

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Banana Upside-Down Cake

Banana Upside-Down Loaf

I can’t keep getting away with it forever. Yes I squeeze in my pre-pregancy jeans, but having a cake every night… hmm… this doesn’t really encourage weight loss, you know? But I just can’t resist. My web browser is full of cooking-related bookmarks and I’m baking a new cake almost every night. I still have persimmon cake on my to-make list for this weekend, but I (kind of) promised myself to concentrate on baking with quince savoury, non-baked, and just healthier things next week. I just hope that the calories I lose while whipping up a cake batter while running back and forth from the kitchen to the room to check the baby, partly compensate for the calories I consume. I hope. Oh and I work out a few days per week. I’m a good girl :) just in an acute phase of baking obsession.

Anyway, what I made last night was so good that I needed to share the recipe. Banana Upside-down Cake by lululu at home - imagine slices of fragrant sweet bananas coated with buttery gooey caramel on top of an equally buttery cake? Sounds good and guilty, doesn’t it? Unfortunately I didn’t have brown sugar at hand, so I made this with plain white sugar, that’s why my cake is not as perfectly golden as lululu’s. I also added a generous pinch of salt to the caramel, just because I like salted caramel. And of course I made the cake twice as small. I don’t have a small flat baking form in this apartment, so I baked the cake in a deeper loaf form. There’s just me and Stano who have to deal with all the pastry I produce, after all! Fortunately my Dad came over for a cup of tea and he helped us a little bit :)

My mistake was that I used too little bananas. I thought I arranged them very densely when raw, but when the batter raised, there appeared large gaps between the slices. And the bananas somehow reduced in size. I used two bananas for twice as little batter (the original recipe called for 3 bananas), and still these were not enough. I guess I should have arranged them in two layers so that they’d overlap. But even despite all these imperfections, the cake tasted great. Thank you Fanny of Lululu at home! Next time I’ll certainly make it with brown sugar to achieve that beautiful rich colour!

Banana Upside-Down Cake: Click here for Recipe

Banana Upside-Down Loaf of Cake

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Are you curious to learn more about Eastern European cuisine?
RussianSeason.net is a food blog run by two Russian-speaking women - a mother (Natalia) and a daughter (Alina) - living in Latvia. Natalia is a professional artist and Alina is the co-owner of a web directory of Russian-speaking businesses in Europe. We both cook and Alina writes posts and takes photos.
In our blog you'll find a range of (mostly tweaked&adapted) recipes from Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltics, and former USSR. But we can't restrain ourselves from experimenting with other cuisines too :)
Stano is the guy behind the Slovak version of this blog. He is currently living and working in Latvia and is also known as the Man Who Makes Alina Eat A Lot Of Cakes, because he hardly ever eats cakes or pies she bakes. He doesn't have a sweet tooth, you see. Stano also provides us with traditional Slovak recipes - such as Halušky that he's been promising to make for 7 months now :) Just be patient - we're sure he will eventually do it!
Ivanka is the largest cross-cultural project Alina and Stano have been ever involved in:) We hope she will be a foodie too when she grows up!
Our email address is: russianseason@gmail.com

Priyatnovo appetita! (Bon appetit!)

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