It’s not breaking news that if you’ve got overripe bananas you can make a banana bread (lockdown flashbacks anyone?). But what if it’s not overripe bananas in your fruit bowl but soft old grapes?
Or maybe you’ve got Hero Sponge left over which has gone stale but it's too tragic to bin?
Food going to waste makes me so sad. And I don't like being sad, so I try to avoid it all costs. Even if it's past its prime it can still be made into something that tastes amazing and is 100% worth the minor effort. As much as I hate wasting food and ingredients, I’m not going to be faffing doing something if I’m not reaping rewards back - no one has time for that!
Using up leftover fruit
Fruit is an obvious place to start. Let’s face it, we can be all wholesome when doing the food shop but it’s hard to always finish everything in the fruit bowl. So many fruits can be cooked down to make sauces or jams, but here are a few ideas for some that I particularly like.
We all know they can be cooked down and caramelised, maybe with cinnamon or ginger added, and turned into a pie or crumble filling. But have you considered baking slices to make crisps? Great for snacking, or on cereal, porridge, ice cream. You can even break them into pieces to decorate some cupcakes. All you have to do is slice an apple through the core, ideally with a mandolin to get really thin slices, and bake them for 40 mins in a pre-heated oven at 140 Celsius (120 Celsius fan). Let them cool completely and store in an air tight container.
No matter what combination of berries you have, get them in a saucepan with a little water and cook them down to a syrupy sauce. Great with yoghurt and porridge but if you add a bit of sugar and really reduce it down it’ll go jammy and be perfect between your cake sponge layers.
Did you know grapes can be frozen? Even if they’re too soft, once frozen, you’d never know and they are amazing to snack on straight from the freezer.
Roasted caramelised grapes can also make a delicious cake filling, or even baked into the top of your cake mix. All you have to do is wash and dry whole seedless grapes, toss in a bit of olive oil, and roast for 20-30 mins at 170 Degrees Celsius until they shrivel up. Be warned though - more so than with other fruit, grapes start to ferment quicker so if you are baking them keep in mind that the cake won’t keep quite as long as some others.
Even if they’ve gone a bit tough and dry, those oranges, lemons and limes have still got some mileage in them. You can reduce any juice to a syrup for drizzling over cakes - orange drizzle is absolutely delightful. You can also use the syrup in cocktails.
You can zest them and add it to sweet or savoury dishes such as breadcrumbs or crumble toppings, whipped cream and icings.
No, don't bore us more with yet another banana bread. Instead, caramelise the bananas in a saucepan till mushy and jam-like and use it as a spread on toast. You don't even have to add sugar to it. Trust us, you're going to WANT your bananas to get old for this.
Vegetables can work too
It’s understandable that not everyone likes the idea of vegetables in cakes. But sweeter veg, like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkins and, of course, carrots, can all be used in cakes and even brownies - it imparts a rich moist-ness and can also temper the sweetness. With the addition of nuts, spices and a tangy icing they can be delicious. In fact we’ve got your perfect carrot cake recipe here you might want to try!
Using up leftover cake batter and cake
Although for some the idea of leftover cake or batter, is an alien concept, sometimes it does happen. But that needn’t be the last you enjoy of it!
Pancakes are a big hit with us. But what if you've run out of batter ingredients but do have some leftover cake mix? Grab the frying pan, melt a knob of butter over medium heat and pour in a ladle of batter - you’ll get some insanely fluffy pancakes that also go perfectly crispy at the edges.
Literally - Pan Cakes. Just add some of your cooked down fruit, the last of your yoghurt pot, or chuck on some bacon and maple syrup and that's the breakfast of champs.
Our hero sponge batter, and most cake batters, are perfectly suited to be baked into muffins - just reduce the baking time to 15-18 minutes depending on your baking case size. Pop in some old berries for a fruity treat that can also be easily frozen for later!
In our previous blog post we covered our favourite stale cake recipes including bougie cake French toast, cake rusk for the ultimate tea-time dunk, and impressive cake pops. You could also use slices of leftover cake in your favourite bread and butter pudding recipe or trifle.
Don’t waste that last handful of crumbs!
That last handful of crumbs doesn't need to go to waste either. Blend them with half a cup of milk and two scoops of ice cream or thick yoghurt for a cake milkshake or smoothie. Or freeze the crumbs ready to sprinkle on top of ice cream or puddings for a deluxe dessert whilst you Netflix and chill.
So yeah, there’s no excuse to let leftovers go to waste. If anything, you might actually make something so delicious, you’d never even know it was made with anything less than picture perfect ingredients! And you can sit there extra smug in your resourcefulness.
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