Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I think of all the recipes I make, this one gets the most mileage. Originally from Nigella Express, these muffins work every time despite my best efforts in the past to muck it up. Made some a while back and forgot to put the sugar in, but they still looked like muffins and tasted ok. Not as good as usual but perfectly edible, plus the kids got a little less sugar, result!

Me being me, I have tweaked the recipe slightly, not too much but I do feel that the change makes all the difference to them. Buttermilk is my addition and quite frankly I wouldn’t attempt to make any cake without it these days. The buttermilk keeps things light and moist every time.

Right here is the recipe:


  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g pack of dark chocolate chips (Nigella’s recipe calls for 150g butterscotch morsels but my lot prefer dark chocolate)
  • a good dollop or two of buttermilk (around 100ml or so)


Firstly, get your oven on. Preheat to 200 degrees C/Gas mark 6.

Line your muffin tray with muffin cases.

In a bowl, mash your bananas and set them aside.

In another bowl, place all your dry ingredients and whisk together to combine.

In a jug, put your oil and eggs and whisk together.

Pour your oil and egg mixture into your dry ingredients and briefly mix to combine. Then add the bananas and again mix just long enough to combine. Over mix and you will end up with a cakey dense muffin.

Add your buttermilk, I add a generous dollop or two, probably around 80 to 100 mls to loosen the muffin mix.

Before buttermilk and after the buttermilk!

Finally add your chocolate chips, quick stir to combine and then place equal amounts into your paper cases and then place in your oven for around 20 minutes. They can take as little as 17 minutes to cook or up to around 23 minutes. You will be the best judge as you know your oven the best. As a general rule though if you have a fan oven I would start checking the oven from around 15 minutes, mine are always done at 17 minutes.

Once they are golden brown and firmish to touch, pull them out and leave to cool on a rack.

These muffins are yummy on the day they are cooked, and if my family are anything to go by they won’t hang around the house long. However these do keep really well and I often make a batch of these on a Sunday night for the brood to take to school for packed lunches as well as hubby to take to work for a mid morning snack. They easily keep for 4/5 days.



Chocolate Brownie recipe – nut free

Dear Chocolate fans, this one’s for you with love xx

The following recipe I found in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. It is one of the only recipes that I haven’t tweaked in any way. This recipe is fab to work with. Easy peasy for all and a perfect first bake for any small offspring.


  • 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 325g caster sugar
  • 130g plain flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • icing sugar to decorate

You will also need a 33 x 23 x 5cm tin, greased and lined with baking paper.


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (gas 3) 325 degress F

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Leave until melted and smooth.

Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir until well incorporated. Add the flour and also stir until combined.

Then add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir until smooth and thick.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for around 30 – 35 minutes. My oven is a little lively and tends to have this done in around 25 minutes so I would start checking yours from around 22 minutes. It starts to flake a little on top when cooked but is still soft in the centre. Be careful not to overcook this as it can become hard and crunchy.

Once cooled you can dust with icing sugar if you like.



Chocolate Fudge Cake

This is another family favourite that apparently I don’t make often enough! I made it today for work colleagues (panic not, I saved some for the offspring, no starving teenagers here) in exchange for donations to my favourite charity, The Teenage Cancer Trust. If the urge takes you, please donate!
This recipe was in a magazine on a promotional piece for Carnation Caramel. I haven’t tweaked it at all, tis a very reliable cake. It serves 12 comfortably as a two tier cake. I usually is make it into two single layered cakes as it really is quite rich so in theory you only need a small piece! It also is gorgeous if you give it 30 seconds or so in the microwave (you will have to experiment with yours) and then dollop some double or clotted cream on the top. Yum.
  • 175g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml corn oil (vegetable oil works fine too)
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 x 397g tin Carnation Caramel
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180ºc, fan 160ºc, gas 4
Line the base of two sandwich tins with baking paper and set aside.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate and sugar into a bowl. Set aside.
In a jug, whisk together the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla along with two tablespoons of the Carnation Caramel, until smooth.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Pour into the tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until springy to the touch. Cool, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Once the cakes have cooled you can make your fudge topping.
Melt the chocolate, add the remaining caramel and beat until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and combine.
Sandwich the two cakes together with a third of the filling then spread the remainder over the top and the sides.


Millionaire’s Shortbread

Every time I make this recipe I am always pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. The hardest part of it is the rather laborious task of stirring the caramel for 8 to 10 minutes, but to be honest if you put on some fab music (I can highly recommend the fabulous Susie Clarke) then 8 minutes or so is not so bad and can in fact be quite therapeutic.

The original recipe I used came from a Waitrose recipe booklet. Sad to say they have stopped making these fab little cook books, but great while it lasted. Anyway the original recipe was ok, great in fact, but me being me I had to tweak it, and now the recipe runs as follows:

For the shortbread base you will need:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 150g butter
  • 80g caster sugar

For the caramel topping you will need:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 75g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp of golden syrup

For the final chocolate topping:

  • 50 – 100g chocolate depending on your preferences – my family likes around 50g milk chocolate.


The oven needs to be preheated to 180 degrees C, gas mark 4.
Grease and line a square tin of around 22cm x 22cm or similar type tins.
In a bowl put your flour and butter and then rub them together until your mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor, lucky you! this then should take you only merest moments. Either way once you have your fine crumb mix, you need to add the 80g caster sugar and mix that through. The mixture should start to feel like it is coming together.

Pour this into your prepared tin, and push down firmly into an even compact layer. Pop this into the oven for around 20-25 minutes. I would highly recommend you start checking this at around the 15 minutes mark as an over zealous oven can ruin all your hard work. You need to look out for a nice even golden colour. Leave to cool in the tin.

Next is the tricky-ish bit.
In a good solid saucepan put your condensed milk, butter, 50g sugar and golden syrup and then heat gently until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and simmer, stirring vigorously for around 8-10 minutes, until your caramel has darkened to a fudge like colour.

You need to be on the ball with this one as any wandering off to answer the phone, do a quick text etc etc will result in a burnt bottom! Stir, stir, stir and make sure you have got that music going in the background. Also useful if you have family members/friends around. Get them to dance or otherwise entertain you. I discovered my three children can do a rather marvelous impression of Girls Aloud singing The Promise!!! The less said about my husbands dancing though, the better.

Once you have your caramel ready, pour this into your tin over the shortbread base. Leave to cool.

Word of warning: The caramel is comedically hot. If you get it on your hands/arms etc try to resist popping that into your mouth, as although it tastes really, really good, it will burn you. Best bet, cold water on the offending bit. Save the pan to lick later once cooled!

Once the caramel shortbread is cool you are ready to add your chocolate topping. The original recipe demanded a thick layer of dark 70% chocolate on the caramel. I find that too, too much. My family like about 50g melted milk chocolate drizzled over the caramel in a pleasing zig zag pattern, but really whatever your heart desires is fine with this. You could even scatter a few chopped nuts over the chocolate if you fancy.

Now if you can, this really needs to be refrigerated again to let the chocolate set, but no harm in having a small sliver – just to check it’s ok for everyone else you understand.



Welcome to my baking/family/crochet blog!

Hello my name is Lorna (slightly exhausted mother of three youths, wife to one husband, who happens to be a rather marvellous and all round good guy).

This blog was created because I rather like to cook. Due to the number of people in my household I am obliged to cook often, as they always appear to be starving!!!

My particular food lust is baking, bread in particular, but over the years I have got more and more intersted in all sorts of cooking. Thanks in part to programmes like Masterchef Australia as well as The Great British Bake Off. They have inspired me to try things that I haven’t baked since school or not baked at all.

I intend to write about recipes that have inspired me as well as failsafe recipes that never let me down. I will always reference the original if I have it. I often tweak recipes slightly but will try and include the original information as well as my additions. Over time I also hope to include the additions my family have made to our original hand written clark family handbook which contain fascinating details like how we like to cook our eggs!

2013/14 I have added crochet to my passions. Oh how I wish I had discovered crochet when my children were small. No matter, I have been making crochet items for friends who have recently been adding to their families as well as producing a small line of creatures for my sisters school. I have also made a selection of blankets for grown up offspring and a mega blanket for my bed. Love it.

2018/19 update. Well although I am still Mother of three, they have now all pretty much moved on with their lives. The youngest is just finishing her degree this year and then will also fly the nest. Can’t really blame them for the exhaustion any more!!! For more pictures I have now added instagram to my life, do have a look and see what else I have been making. Not all patterns have found there way on to the blog (although that is the plan!!!)  lornajaneclark