Coconut and cranberry granola

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I’ve become pretty good at making granola regularly – so much cheaper than buying it on way to work. Have recently started using coconut oil with great results so I thought I’d post a recipe:

In a bowl, mix 400g rolled oats with 4 tablespoons each of: wheatgerm, flaxseed, linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and desiccated coconut. I also added around 50g ground almonds to the above granola because they were nearing expiry date but I’ve made the same recipe without and it’s fine. You can also add other seeds or nuts. Melt 4 tablespoons of coconut oil and add 4 tablespoons of honey to combine, then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Bake in an oven preheated to 150C fan for about 30 minutes, turning the granola every 10 or so minutes until it’s browned. Add a packet of dried cranberries (100g) to the finished granola and leave to cool, then put in an airtight container. This quantity usually lasts me for 3 weeks and I have it with a combination of soy milk and Greek yoghurt.

A good loaf

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A marvellous, plump loaf of sourdough from last week. Since I’ve been keeping two sourdough starters, I’ve been experimenting with using both, adding progressively more starter to the dough over the past couple of months. My proving basket is now too small so I used a ceramic bowl for this loaf, lined with double layer of muslin – I’ve used the muslin before so it’s nicely floured. It expanded beautifully in the oven – as you can see from the slashes. Next time I make bread, I’ll try to remember to measure how much of each starter I’ve used so I can post up a recipe – I’m still keeping to 500g flour (mix of white and wholemeal) and 58-60% hydration because with this quantity of starters, 65% hydration makes the dough too wet to handle. The final loaf was quite big – I cut it into thirds and froze two pieces. Going to have the last of it today I think.

Back with Seville orange marmalade

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I haven’t posted anything in nearly two months! Not very good at all but I’m back now with a veritable party of marmalade jars, all freshly made this morning. Unlike last year, my first making any sort of preserve, I got better organised in advance, freeing up jars and using a mandolin to cut the peel (and a finger) as last year’s was quite thick cut. This year’s is very fine cut. Very pleased with the result even though I had to free up a few more jars last minute because there’s quite a lot of it – perhaps not all that much better organised… Ended up with 11 and a half jars (total marmalade party) of various sizes out of 1.6kg Seville oranges at a total cost of £10. If that’s not a good enough reason to make marmalade at home, I don’t know what is.

While I haven’t done much baking over the past couple of months, I’ve continued making sourdough bread using a mix of white and rye starters. Didn’t think I’d really keep two starters going but I’ve gotten used to it and I like the end product. White starter gives the loaf a good rise while the rye gives texture. I’ve been experimenting with hydration and am now happy with around 60% – I think sourdough purists would raise an eyebrow (usual amount is around 65%) but with the amount of starters I add, any more water just makes a flatbread not a loaf. I still end up with a good amount of air, here’s this weekend’s loaf – one note to self though, must sharpen knives…

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Tomato, chilli, rosemary and mustard jam

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Despite this time of the year not being the best for fresh tomatoes, this Tomato, chilli, rosemary and mustard jam makes a nice Christmas present as it goes well with cheese or ham. It’s a good relish to accompany holiday snacking. The recipe came from a great little cookbook Movember people produced a few years back and they’ve named it ‘Man jam’. I’d given it for Christmas before albeit in tiny jars and the main comment was that it went too quickly so this year I made more. It’s very easy to make, first you sweat red onions, then add chopped red peppers, red chillies, peeled, cored and chopped tomatoes, turmeric, rosemary and grain mustard. Cook this for about 45 minutes then add salt, sugar and white wine vinegar and cook for another 15 or so minutes. It’s delicious, with a good chilli kick.

We have an early Christmas get together with Beloved’s Pater Familias today and I’ve made a few other things to take to eat including a bread to go with cheese, Plum pudding (instead of a traditional Christmas one) and a whole load of mince pies. Shall try to take photos and post later on.

Walnut, cardamom and orange cake

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Taking a break from study of right-wing extremism this morning (as you would on a Sunday morning) to post a not very good photo of this surprisingly good Walnut, cardamom and orange cake from Nigel Slater’s Tender II. The photo is not very good as I took it on iPhone late yesterday afternoon, late afternoon photos never come out very good. The surprising bit about the cake is that it is somewhat like an angel food cake – no flour or fat. Instead it uses breadcrumbs and ‘gravel’ ground walnuts (by ‘gravel’, I mean not totally ground, some bits remain – a couple of very brief pulses). It also uses whole eggs, yolks and sugar beaten together, whites folded in at the end. It came out beautifully but Dear Nigel forgot to mention that cake should be cooled upside down (suspended) or it would sink in the middle (there is no baking powder) and I also forgot about this completely so it sank by the time it came to apply frosting. I didn’t actually do a proper frosting (with clementine and lemon juices + lots of icing sugar) as I don’t like set icing unless it’s a celebration cake. I used much less sugar so the ‘frosting’ was more of a soak and I’ve ended up with a wonderfully moist cake full of flavour.

I love the basic recipe with the breadcrumb and nut mix (this also included orange juice, zest and ground cardamom) especially because I always have sourdough crusts leftover and this is a great opportunity to use them up + I know exactly what’s gone into those breadcrumbs. You could use pistachios I think, with the same flavour combination (and this is a very good flavour combination, I love cardamom) or almonds. I wander if it would also be possible to use a fruit coulis or puree – raspberries, for example would go well with almonds and apple with pecans and cinnamon. A lot of potential for experimentation but first I’ve got to get on with those pesky extremists. And make mince meat – I know I’m a bit late with this but at least Christmas puddings were done on time.

This week’s bread

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I accidentally ended up with a huge loaf of sourdough bread yesterday! Have recently been overtaken by a madness of keeping two sourdough starters, the rye, which I’ve had for a year and a half and the white, which I made from the rye a few weeks ago so that I could make some of the artisan breads in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf. The two behave completely differently (fascinating!) and I used both in the loaf above to the ratio of 200g white to 100g rye. I followed Dan’s method but used my own quantities (400g strong white flour, 100g strong wholemeal, 325ml water and 1teaspoon salt). The dough bloomed beautifully due to the amount of starter I used but I had a major mishap with the water spray (it wouldn’t work) as I was about to put it in the oven and the dough flopped on the hot stone, spilling over. I had to cut a bit off the loaf in order to take it out of the oven! Still, it rose quite well, it has a great crust and the crumb is pretty good too.

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We had some for breakfast with marmalade and it’s quite clear from this photo that I can’t cut straight… I do think this particular combination of starters and flours is very good and this could be my new basic sourdough loaf. Just need to see what happens if I give it a long second prove overnight so it can be ready for breakfast.

Honey and peanut butter granola

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Craving comfort food at the moment as everything seems to have conspired to keep me busy, overworked and stressed. Wish I could say that I had a bowl of freshly made granola with yoghurt and jam for breakfast curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a book, which would be ideal. Instead I had it while working but at least I’m working from home today and I got to make granola.

What I put in it: rolled oats – around 300g, wheatgerm – 3 tablespoons, flaxseed – 3 tablespoons, linseed – 2 tablespoons, pumpkin seeds – 2 heaped tablespoons, flaked almonds – 4 tablespoons, seed mix (sunflower, sesame, more linseed and pumpkin) – 3 tablespoons, smooth peanut butter – 4 tablespoons, honey – 3 tablespoons. You need to soften the peanut butter and honey first in a pan over low heat for a couple of minutes then mix with the seed and oat mix. If the mix is a little dry, add a tablespoon or so of maple syrup. Bake in a low oven (150C fan) for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through.

A batch of this size should last for a couple of weeks. I’ve been making granola quite a bit this autumn. It dawned on me that £2-2.50 a pop on my way to work was really not the best thing to spend money on when it’s so quick and easy to do at home. When I get a little more free time, I’m going to experiment with making and using different nut butters and I’d also like to do a tahini granola, just not quite decided what other flavours to use with tahini. All of these ideas are going on my Christmas list – this is not a list of presents, just an ever growing list of things to do and make over holidays. So looking forward to holidays!