Beaujolais Nouveau – what’s all the fuss about?

Last Thursday was Beaujolais Nouveau Day here in France, the day these bottles of red hit the shelves. But I know very little about this “(in)famous” wine so I did a spot of research.

Typically, cafés, restaurants and bars fill up with people wanting to enjoy this year’s new vintage, but obviously this year will be different. If you want to try the wine, you’ll have to do so at home. So here are a few useful facts about the wine to make the process more enjoyable.

1. It’s France’s most famous ‘primeur’
A primeur is essentially a young wine that is produced quickly. In the case of Beaujolais Nouveau, it is on the shelves between six to eight weeks after the grapes are harvested. The short time span means winemakers have to use special artisanal techniques and yeasts to speed up the fermentation process.

2. Beaujolais Nouveau wine is very popular
Despite not having the best reputation some 25 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are produced each year. Several million bottles head off to the US and some seven million are shipped to Japan where the thirst for the wine is immense, particularly at the country’s wine spas, where people can bathe in the drink – a much better use for it!

3. But it’s not like the heady 1980s
This was the decade when Beaujolais Nouveau began to cause a lot of excitement around the world. But sales have plunged since then (by 64% in the last 12 years), and today some ten million fewer bottles are sold. Its rise to fame was helped by a producer named Geroges Dubeouf who came up with the tagline: Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

There used to be annual race to get the bottles to Paris and beyond until some ground rules were set.

4. Third Thursday in November
The set day for the release date of the Beaujolais was established back in 1985. It was decided that the third Thursday in November would be the uniform release date. Wines are shipped around the world a few days before but must be stored in locked warehouses until 12.01am on the Thursday. The main festival is in Lyon where barrels of Beaujolais Nouveau wine are rolled by wine-growers through the centre before being opened. Again, not this year!

5. Tough production rules
Beaujolais Nouveau wine has to be made with the Gamay grape, first brought to France by the Romans. The grapes must come from the Beaujolais AOC and must be harvested by hand. The wine is produced using the whole grape, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins. The local authority will set the date for the harvest each year, depending on when the grapes are ready.

6. Where is Beaujolais?
The Beaujolais wine takes its name from the historical Province of Beaujolais, the wine producing region to the north of Lyon. The wine is made in the northern part of the Rhône department and southern area of the Saône-et-Loire department which is in the region of Burgundy.

7. It’s not just Beaujolais Nouveau
While the Beaujolais Nouveau gets all the headlines, it’s far from the only wine made in the region. Between around a third and one half of the Beaujolais region’s vineyards are dedicated to producing Beaujolais Nouveau, but the rest of the area is used for making other wines such as Beaujolais AOC, Beaujolais-Villages AOC and Beaujolais Cru – the highest category of wine, where the name Beaujolais will not even appear. Instead it will be the name of the village like Brouilly

8. What does Beaujolais Nouveau taste like?
This year it reportedly tastes of “black fruits, flowers (peonies and lilac) spices and liquorice” according to the experts. I don’t know about you but I’ve never eaten either peonies or lilacs! However, in the interests of research, we bought a bottle. I get the black fruits but that’s about it!

9. It used to taste of bananas…
Beaujolais Nouveau used to be described as tasting of bananas which comes from the yeast, known as 71B, that is used to make the wine and get it ready in time for its release. And also because of the addition of sugars to boost the level of alcohol.

Back in 2001 over one million cases had to be destroyed as the public turned on the wine after a low quality version flooded the market. It was famously called a vin de merde (shit wine) by one critic. Consequently, producers now try to focus on producing a decentish wine.

10. So what’s going on this year?
There won’t be any of the usual celebrations this year due to Covid-19, but buying wine is however still seen as essential and supermarkets and other food shops still sell plenty. In addition, many cavistes (wine cave shops) have organised “Click and collect” services to help boost sales (you order online and pick up your box at the shop).

11. Not all fast-track wine come from Beaujolais
The idea of making a wine in six – eight weeks via carbonic maceration is a novelty that is catching on in other parts of France where winemakers in the Rhône and Provence have cottoned on to the commercial benefits of getting wine onto the shelves before Christmas.

12. It doesn’t keep
Beaujolais Nouveau is not a wine you can lay down for years with the idea of opening it for a special occasion. But a good bottle of Beaujolais could be kept for six months to a year.

13. How much does it cost?
Part of the appeal of Beaujolais Nouveau wine is that in comparison to other vintages it’s relatively affordable, on average Euros 5 – 15 per bottle.

14. British  Beaujolais?
Yes, the 2,500 bottles of British Beajolais produced by Simon Day at his Herefordshire vineyard Sixteen Ridges sold out in a matter of hours in Waitrose. If you want some, you’re too late, you’ll have to wait until 2021!

The Musette: butternut squash and sweet potato cake

During Lockdown II, I’ve re-started my cake delivery service to my elderly neighbours. This one is obviously healthy as it contains not one but two vegetables! Of course, many of you already know that the sweet potato is your friend when it comes to baking cakes. It’s sweet, it’s moist, it’s filling and it’s easy to work with – what’s not to like? It gives cakes a lovely fudgy texture. Appropriately, it has a bit of a Thanksgiving vibe!

Of course, I never let on how healthy my cakes are and this one will blow your mind. No one can tell its not the real deal. It’s moist, sweet, spicy, fudgy and absolutely delicious. It can sit in the fridge for a couple of days  – as if that’s going to happen – and be as good if not better than the day you baked it.

Ingredients (makes 1 large cake or 8-10 muffin-sized cakes)

  • 250g (2 cups) sweet potato, cooked
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp organic honey
  • 2 tbsp any nut butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 25g (1 oz) coconut flour
  • 30g (1 oz) rolled oats
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 150g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) butternut squash, cooked
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Orange glaze

  • 85g (3/4 cup) powdered icing sugar
  • 1tbsp fresh organic orange juice
  • organic orange zest to decorate (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Line your baking tin(s) with muffin cases or greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. In a food processor, process all the ingredients into a smooth batter. It should easily drop from the spoon.

3. Pour the batter into the tin or tins. It should come 2/3rds of the way up the tin.

4. Bake in the oven for 30-55 minutes depending on the size of your cake(s). A toothpick should come out clean when inserted to the center of the cake.

5. Let the cake(s) cool for minimum of 30 minutes before glazing them. Just mix all the ingredients together and drizzle over the cake.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.Make the cake vegan by substituting 2 flax or chia seed eggs (2 tbs of seeds plus 6 tbsp water for 2 eggs) or medium sized banana for the two eggs. Use coconut, brown rice or date syrup instead of the honey.

2. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, then here’s is a list of easy substitutes:-

  • Any nut butter: Coconut oil or butter
  • Rolled oats: tapioca flour, polenta
  • Coconut flour: Almond flour, hazelnut flour, or process unsweetened dessicated coconut until it’s fine

3. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

4. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake(s) in the oven, put the timer on for 5 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

5. If you think the cake(s) is browning too much at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

6. The cakes look a bit craggy. To make them more visually attractive I either use an orange drizzle icing as per above although this time I used some left over white chocolate and mango ganache. But there’s loads of glazes, icing etc that you can happily use. Just use your imagination!

The Musette: Sunday lunch pie

My beloved husband loves a roast Sunday lunch, particularly beef, but it’s kinda difficult doing a roast meal for one. Inevitably, I end up with lots of leftovers!

Depending on what roast meat is left over, I frequently make cottage (beef) pie, shepherd’s (lamb) pie, chicken pot pie, cassoulet (pork and/or lamb and duck) but he really enjoys my puff-pastry topped Sunday lunch pie which is a clever mash up using roast dinner leftovers all bundled into one flaky pie, a super easy and comforting meal.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 450g leftover roast beef, diced into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • Leftover potatoes, diced
  • Leftover carrot, diced
  • Leftover greens, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp horseradish sauce or Dijon mustard
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) gravy or beef stock
  • 3 tbsp red wine or port
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

1.Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (skillet) and cook the onion and any uncooked vegetables with the thyme and garlic until the onion is translucent. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Simmer until well-reduced and sticky.

2. Add the stock, bring to a simmer, reduce by half, then stir through the remaining cooked vegetables, horseradish/mustard and the beef. The filling should be moist but not swimming in liquid. Season, remove from the heat and cool completely.

3. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/(390F/fan 360F)/gas 6. Either divide the filling between 4 individual pie dishes or use one deep one. Cut the pastry sheet to fit the pie dish(es) and lay it on top, tucking in and crimping the edges. Use any trimmings to cut out letters or shapes for the tops. Bush well with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.This recipe can easily be adapted for whatever you do have left-over. Don’t be afraid to use things like stuffing, cauliflower cheese or Yorkshire puddings in the mix. Think of it as a fry up in pastry.

2. For example, if you haven’t got any left-over vegetables, just blanch a few potatoes until tender, top with 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped parsnips, some oil and seasoning, then roast in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.

3. If you don’t have much meat left, don’t be afraid to bulk it out with some pulses, such as green or black lentils.

 

The Musette: bean soup

My beloved regards soup as a starter though he will occasionally suffer it for lunch with a sandwich. So magine my surprise when he recently complained the mercury had fallen too much and demanded soup for his dinner. Yes, dinner!
Now, of course, I have plenty of soup in the freezer that I could quickly defrost, but that’s my soup. Vegan soup which he doesn’t necessarily enjoy. He claims that my spicy carrot and butternut squash is too spicy for him and my mushroom soup is too earthy. There wasn’t a lot in the fridge the day before our now once weekly shop. Nonetheless, I quickly whipped up something for him.

Ingredients (serves two and more)

  • 500g (1 lb) dried white cannellini beans (or canned beans, (see below)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 115g (4 oz) pancetta, diced
  • 2 large leeks (approx. 2 cups) chopped
  • 2 yellow onions (approx. 2 cups) chopped
  • 5 carrots (approx. 2 cups) scrubbed and diced
  • 4 ribs celery (approx. 2 cups) diced
  • 6 fat garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme minced
  • 2 ltr (8 -10 cups) chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese/croutons/freshly chopped parsley, to serve

Method

1.At least 8 hours before, or the night before you make the soup, place the beans in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by 5cm (2 inches0.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Drain the beans, rinse under cold running water, and drain again.  Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan or casserole (Dutch oven) heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, add the pancetta, and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until browned.  Add the leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and cook over medium-low for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.

3. Add the beans, the chicken stock, bay leaves, 1 tbsp sea salt, and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 90 minutes or until the beans are tender.  Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

4. Discard the bay leaves, cover the pot, and allow the soup to sit off the heat for 15 minutes.  If the soup is too thick, add more stock.

5. Reheat slowly, ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and freshly parsley, drizzle with olive oil and serve hot.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.First, if you’re using canned beans you’ll need 180g (3 cups) white cannellini beans, drain the beans, reserving the liquid.  Place 1/3 (1 cup) beans and 1/2 (1/2 cup) liquid into a food processor and puree.  When ready to add the beans in the recipe, stir in the puree and add the remaining drained beans (discard the remaining liquid).

2. Second, initially use only 1 1/2lts (6 cups) chicken stock.

3. Third, simmer the soup for 45 minutes, rather than 90 minutes.

4. When reheating the following day, add some filtered water and seasoning to taste. To freshen up the soup you could add some small pasta like orzo and/or frozen spinach.

5. Don’t worry too much about exact quantities, we’re cooking rather than baking. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, substitute. For example, if you don’t have pancetta, use bacon. Or, for a spicier treat, use chorizo. You could substitute the beans with another type or even chickpeas or lentils.

6. I often chuck in a parmesan cheese rind from my cache in the freezer while making the soup for some extra umami flavour.

The Musette: lemon cream

It’s not just my beloved who believes no meal is complete without dessert, all my French friends are of similar minds. They don’t necessarily want something hearty, often preferring something small, yet rich and decadent. This fits the bill.

I love this dessert because I can prepare it well in advance. It tastes delicious 15 minutes after it has come out of the oven, when it’s still warm and the centre a bit runny. Equally, about half an hour later, when it’s cooler and set but still soft and cloud-like. Or, the next day which, after a night in the fridge, means it’s deeply set, thick and fudgy. Yes, that’s three desserts for the price of one!

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 3 organic lemons, zested and juiced (6 tbsp)
  • 275g (10 oz) golden caster sugar
  • 6 medium organic eggs
  • 250g (9 oz) mascapone or double-cream
  • pinch sea salt

Method

1. Finely grate the lemon zest, then juice the lemons and add both to the sugar. Typically, I’ll peel the zest and mix with the sugar in my food processor before adding the juice.

2. Beat the room-temperature eggs, pinch of salt and marscapone together, ensuring there are no lumps.

3. Combine the contents of both bowls, mix to thoroughly combine, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in the fridge for up to two days.

4. Preheat oven to 150°C/130°C fan/(300°F/265°F fan)/gas mark 2 and boil the kettle. Pour the mixture into 8 ramekins or similar small dishes, put the dishes onto a paper towel in a larger roasting tin and pour in the hot (not boiling) water until it comes half-way up the pots.

5. Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until they are just set but still have a bit of a wobble in the middle. They will set more as they cool.

6. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, or leave them for a couple of hours.

7. If you make them in advance, take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

8. I would typically serve these with a small buttery (shortbread) or crunchy (florentine) biscuit.

The Musette: spinach and chickpea curry

Although I typically plan our menus at the weekend for the following week, sometimes the weather changes such that we find ourselves longing for something either more refreshing or more warming. The Friday storm Alex hit was one such exception and we both fancied the comfort of a spicy curry. I generally shop at lunchtime on Friday when the supermarkets are relatively tranquil but I’d not gone out on account of the driving rain and high winds. My Smart car Tom doesn’t like really windy conditions! This meant a quick forage in the cupboards, fridge and freezer for inspiration. I always have jars of organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and frozen spinach in the freezer which happily with the addition of a few aromatics and served with home made parathas was able to satisfy our desires.

Ingredients (enough for 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 400g (14 oz) jar chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 600g (20 oz) bag frozen spinach
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli paste
  • thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 fat cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste

Method

1.Using a pestle and mortar, finely grind the chilli paste, garlic and ginger together using a spoonful of water to help make a paste.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a medium sized frying pan (skillet), add the onion and cook for about 10-15 minutes until it’s transluscent.

3. Add the spices, tomato paste, and chilli paste and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add chickpeas and spinach with a 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until the spinach defrosts, ensuring everything is well combined. Check seasoning and add lemon juice.

5. Serve with rice or any Indian bread, and some Indian pickles.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.It’s so easy to make Indian breads, why wouldn’t you? This time I made Paratha but you could easily make naan or chapatti.

2. You make the Paratha by mixing 125g (4 oz) wholemeal flour with 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 100ml (10 tbsp) water to make a soft dough. Set aside, covered for approx. an hour.

3. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion to a thin round. Lightly oil the top before rolling up like a cigar and then coil like a snail before rolling out to a thin round once more. When all four are rolled out, heat a flat cast-iron pan (I use my pancake pan), oil it lightly and cook each paratha for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked.

One from the vaults: Reality, really?

I wrote this back in November 2012 and frankly it still holds true.

I’m a sucker for reality tv shows. By that I don’t mean any of the cringe-inducing competitive “celebrity” shows full of people I’ve never heard of who are trying to revive flagging careers. No, I love cookery shows, one of the earliest forms of the genre.

I was weaned at my mother’s knee on Fanny Craddock and her long suffering husband Johnnie. Yes, I really am that old! I loved the way Fanny used to boss Johnny around, although I was less impressed with her cookery skills, I thought my mother was much better. The next show I recall was the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr, who seemed to add cream, butter and wine to everything he cooked. No wonder his guests from the audience thought it tasted great. Why wouldn’t it? Naughtily, I often longed for someone to pull a face and say it tasted dreadful.

I should add that none of this prompted me to cook until I went to University and had to fend for myself. I was fortunate to share a flat with a number of girls who enjoyed cooking and this was where my interest germinated and flourished. Indeed I now like nothing better than spending hours pouring over my extensive  – seriously extensive – collection of cookery books before whipping up something new. Sometimes I’ll follow a recipe to the letter other times I’ll use it as inspiration.

Over the years I’ve become more discerning in my television viewing though with the advent of cable you can watch cookery programmes 24/7. I prefer those featuring great chefs such as Raymond Blanc or Michel Roux where inevitably I find myself learning some new technique or picking up a helpful hint or two. Their recipes I follow religiously. If they say whip something for 30 seconds over a bowl of iced water, that’s what I’ll do. Gratifyingly my attempts then more often resemble the photographs in their cookery tomes.

That said I also enjoy cookery shows where they demonstrate how easy it is to throw together a meal quickly and easily, providing you’ve done the planning and preparation beforehand. I tend generally to eschew any American cookery programmes  where calorific caution appears to be thrown to the wind and supersize is the order of the day. Also there seems to be a large number of programmes where the  – I hesitate to use the word chef – host doesn’t appear to be able to cook too well at all. Best avoided, I feel!

Equally, I really enjoy those programmes with a competitive element such as Master Chef or Professional Master Chef. While I’m often very impressed with the skills exhibited in the former, I find myself woefully underwhelmed by many in the latter. It’s no wonder they never say exactly where they work!

As a recent convert to baking I have also enjoyed the Great British Bake Off which I again watch in the interests of gleaning helpful titbits to improve my repertoire. I’m was fortunate that my English class of teenage boys were happy to act as guinea pigs for my baked goodies and, while they were not the most discerning group, it was easy to tell which were their favourites. That was when, despite however much I baked, I was left with just crumbs. I note with interest that the number of shows connected with baking also seem to be proliferating.

Of course, there’s versions of  MasterChef, and it’s professional equivalent, on French television. The shows are much longer, more intense and the contestants display a much greater knowledge and level of skills. It’s still pretty compelling viewing. No sign yet of a Great French Bake Off but I bet there’s one in the works.

The Musette: roasted pears and nougat with chocolate sauce

You may recall that my beloved husband believes no meal is complete without dessert. While I can occasionally fob him off with fresh fruit, yoghurt or cheese during the week, this does not go down well at weekends, particularly after Sunday lunch.

Sometimes I can get away with cooking the fruit and serving it with a sauce, or crunchy topping or, in this case, both. This mouth-watering dessert is so simple, speedy and made with ingredients that I often have in stock. The nougat melts like roasted marshmallow over the soft unctious pears then you drizzle on the sensuous dark chocolate sauce. Desserts don’t get much better (or easier) than this – trust me!

Ingredients (serves 2 greedy cyclists)

  • 2 ripe pears, peeled and cored
  • 1 tbsp fruity olive oil
  • 200g (7 oz) soft nougat
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g (4 oz) dark chocolate (70% min. cocoa solids) broken into small pieces

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF)/170ºC (350ºF)/gas mark 4. Peel the pears, cut them in half, core them and put them in a baking dish and brush them with tbsp olive oil.

2. Cut the nougat into chunks and scatter them over the pears. Roast the pears in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden and tender.

3. To make the sauce, put the syrup and cocoa powder in a pan and add 100ml (10 tbsp) water. Bring to the boil while whisking. Add the chocolate and stir until it melts. It should be beautifully glossy.

4. Serve the sauce with the pears.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.Use softish nougat which doesn’t have too many ingredients, preferably white nougat with almonds. You want the edges to just catch and the rest to partly melt over the pears.

2. The recipe makes more chocolate sauce than you’ll need but extra chocolate sauce is never a problem. It’ll be delicious on all sorts of things such as rum baked bananas, banana bread, pain perdu or just poured over ice cream.

3. At the end of a three-course meal, if you were so inclined, you could make this dessert stretch to four, but I wouldn’t!

Virtual afternoon tea: still (just) sitting in the sunshine

Don’t you just love virtual events? Where would we be without them in these difficult times? Today I’m joining Sue from Zimmerbitch – isn’t that a fabulous blog name? – in New Zealand. So, of course, Sue’ll be tucked up in bed fast asleep by the time this puts in an appearance.

New Zealand’s hurtling towards summer while here in France we’re enjoying the remnants of an Indian summer. It’s not yet autumn but there’s a nip the air, I have my Humgarian good down duvet back on the bed and my mind has turned away from salads and cold soups towards warming curries, soothing spicy soups and comforting desserts.

Sue’s whipped up some ginger biscuits with which to enjoy her afternoon tea. Sadly, I cannot abide ginger biscuits. Ginger is a spice I love in savoury foods, much less so in sweet ones. So I’m bringing along a few sweet treats for us all to enjoy, some of which are vegan and gluten-free. I can still enjoy an afternoon cuppa on the balcony but I’m wearing a sweater rather than a t-shirt. How about you?

 

The Musette: easiest vegan banana cake ever!

This recipe was inspired by the wonderful 3-ingredient banana cake on Violet’s Vegan Comics. I was intrigued. Could you really make a tasty cake from just three ingredients? Turns out you can!

Having made the original recipe, I started to tinker with it and have come up with a few iterations. The original recipe uses “mugs” for measures which I translated into weighted amounts. I found the original recipe too sweet for us, but it’s just a question of taste. I then looked at what you could add………………….

Ingredients (serves 6 hungry cyclists)

  • 300g (10 1/2 oz) approx. 4 very ripe bananas
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) raw cane sugar
  • 225g (8 oz) self-raising flour, sifted

To which I subsequently added:-

  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF)/150ºC (300ºF)/gas mark 3 and line a 1kg (2 lb) non-stick loaf tin with grease-proof (parchment) paper.

2. Mash the bananas with the sugar, salt and vanilla then add the sifted flour. Combine using a figure-of-eight movement with a spatula, do not overmix. It should have a gentle dropping consistency.

3. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for approx. 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the tin, for at least 10 minutes. Remove from tin, allow to cool and enjoy.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too much at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. I’ve substituted two tbsp of flour with two tbsp of expresso coffee powder to produce a delicious coffee cake.

5. I’ve also replaced the sugar with 100g salted caramel and five tbsp maple syrup though, of course, the butter in the sauce now renders it non-vegan but still vegetarian.

6. In theory the cake should keep for a few days in a cake tin but I’ve found it disappears the same day.

7. It’ll keep for up to two months in the freezer.