Clementine and oat muffins – healthier version


I’ve made the Clementine and oat muffins from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet before so this morning, I thought I’d see if I could make a slightly healthier version by reducing the amount of sugar and replacing some of the flour with flaxseed and ground almonds. It worked!

You will need: grated zest of 3 clementines and 100ml clementine juice and bits, 75g sugar, 2 medium eggs, 75ml sunflower oil, 50g rolled oats, 25g flaxseed, 25g ground almonds, 150g flour and 2tsp baking powder

To make 8: preheat the oven to 180 C/ 160C fan, line a muffin tray with 8 cups. Put the clementine zest, sugar, oil and 2 eggs into a bowl and mix with an electric whisk for a few minutes until pale and slightly thick. Stir in the clementine juice and bits, along with the oats, flaxseed and ground almonds. Sift the baking powder and flour together, then quickly fold into the muffin mix until barely combined. Fill the muffin cases 3/4 way up – they will rise quite a bit, top with flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes. That’s it.


I was worried that I’d get too close a texture but they look and taste good. Next time, I might also reduce baking powder further (Dan’s recipe has 2 and a1/2 teaspoons) and also perhaps use a mix of white and spelt flour. Clementine and almond is a nice combination too.


Peanut butter and honey granola



I spend a fortune on granola/ muesli type takeaway breakfast at work, which is stupid really as granola takes no time to make and I usually have a stock of ingredients to make it with in the cupboard. Yet the thought to make it hadn’t occurred to me until recently (when I figured out how much I spend on bought stuff!) and the idea to use peanut butter as the binding came from Pinterest. I’d seen various recipes that use oil, sugar or lots of fruit juice, which again contains a lot of sugar and wanted to avoid those. Peanut butter and honey seemed a healthier combination.

As most recipes were in American cup measures, which I didn’t really fancy converting, I thought I’d start with 3 tablespoons each of honey and smooth peanut butter, warmed a little to soften, then poured the mix onto 300g rolled oats in a bowl and took it from there. I added other dry ingredients: 3 tablespoons of flaxseed and 4 each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The mix was a little dry so I also mixed in a bit of maple syrup and a little bit of plum and apple ribena I made the other day until I ended up with a crumble like topping, which I spread on a lined baking tray and baked in a fan assisted oven at 150C for 25 minutes (I gave the mix a turn half way through).

For breakfast, we had the granola with some honey roasted plums I made the other day, chopped walnuts and Greek yoghurt. Really good, crunchy, healthy and not too sweet. Now I just have to find a suitable container to take this to work.

Fig and honey ice cream



I love figs, they bring back childhood memories of summers by the sea. The marvellous greengrocer down the road always has the purple ones at this time of the year and I’d been eyeing them, thinking they’d be wonderful in ice cream. This weekend I finally had the time to make it. Did a little research first as I wanted more of a complex flavour so I roasted them with honey first and infused the custard milk with cinnamon, vanilla and star anise. Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus gave me the idea to use star anise and the end result is deeply satisfying. And, it’s completely sugar free, the sweetness coming from the ripe figs and the honey. Great to eat on its own but also great with just a little maple syrup on top for extra richness.

Recipe and method: I got 8 figs but used only 7 (ate one as they looked so good), cut  the tops off, then cut into 8 pieces each, drizzled with 2 teaspoons of honey and roasted in a buttered dish for 30 minutes at 180C. Meanwhile, poured 300ml whole milk and 300ml double cream in a saucepan, added one star anise, half a cinnamon stick (this was quite a big half) and half a vanilla pod, seeds scraped into the milk/ cream mixture then heated this to just below boiling point and left to infuse for about 20-30 minutes. Separately, whisked 5 egg yolks until pale, then strained the milk and cream mix into the egg yolks, removing the star anise, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Whisked this to combine then returned to the saucepan to make the custard, stirring it slowly until it thickened. Once thickened, poured the custard straight into a bowl, covered with cling film, left it to cool then into the fridge overnight. Roast figs also went into the fridge overnight. In the morning, pureed the figs and whisked into the custard then churned in the ice cream maker and froze.

It really is delicious as it is but if you like your ice cream sweeter, whisk in 40g of sugar with the egg yolks.

Seeded sourdough



This loaf, although it looks and tastes rather marvellous, is not a proper sourdough, it’s yeast aided. I was going to make a proper sourdough loaf but got sidetracked by reading Divergent trilogy (a bit obsessed with dystopian sci fi/ fantasy books at the moment) and forgot to make the sponge before I went to bed. So I started the loaf when I woke up yesterday morning. Early morning bread making usually means that I forget to add ingredients like salt but I was awake enough to think this loaf through. I used 500g flour in total (300g strong white and 200g strong wholemeal), 200g sourdough starter, 1tsp salt, 1 and a 1/2 tsp quick acting yeast and 300ml cold water. Mixed for 1 minute at slow speed in the mixer with a dough hook attachment, then 6 minutes at high speed. Shaped it into a ball with oiled hands, then left, covered in an oiled bowl for an hour. Deflated, shaped again and left for another hour – repeated deflating and shaping four times in total, then deflated one final time, sprinkled with a handful of pumpkin, sesame and poppy seeds and a handful of rolled oats (you can use linseed, sunflower or any other seeds, I used what I had to hand), rolled up tightly, flattened again, blanket folded and shaped into an oval. Coated in rye flour and sprinkled rolled oats on top and left to prove in a banneton. My final prove was 2 hours, after which the loaf went to bake on a hot stone, oven was preheated to 250C for the first 10 minutes then baked for another 30 minutes at 180C. The loaf kept the shape well (it often deflates when I transfer it to the peel) although I found it difficult to slash with the oats on top.



Very happy with the texture and taste. Good crumb too. I had it with just butter, still warm (the best) and slices of fig, which I was about to roast to make ice cream with. Delicious. Will post ice cream recipe later too, it only went into the freezer an hour ago so not quite ready to try yet.

Strawberry cheesecake

strawberry cheesecakeThought I’d use the last of the strawberries picked on Friday in a cheesecake for Beloved’s family get together. It went down a storm, which was nice but it was on the verge of collapsing by serving time – it was so hot yesterday, I don’t blame it. Still looks quite presentable, I only managed this one photo as was acting as ‘official photographer’ and services were needed elsewhere. It was rather good, light and not too sweet, served with quite an intense strawberry puree on the side. I scaled up a basic recipe from Good Food website and just made it a little more interesting by adding a few ingredients and not scaling up the amount of sugar used. 

Recipe and method – for a 25cm spring form tin, serving 12. For the base – 280g digestive biscuits, 50g desiccated coconut, 1tsp cinnamon, 125g unsalted butter, melted. For the cheese layer – 680g cream cheese – I used 500g ricotta and 180g mascarpone, 100g icing sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 300ml double cream. For the top – 600g strawberries, 25g icing sugar, 1tbsp water, couple of sprigs of mint to garnish.

To make the base: crush digestive biscuits by pulsing in the food processor or put in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Put into a bowl, add desiccated coconut, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well to combine then press evenly into a 25cm spring form tin lined with parchment. Chill in the fridge for an hour to set.

For the cheese layer: sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the bowl with the icing sugar. Add the cream cheese and mix with an electric hand held whisk until smooth. Takes seconds. Add the double cream and whisk until the mixture just starts to thicken – this will help it set and keep its shape but no need to overwhisk here. Pour on top of the base, smooth out the top, working from the edge towards the centre making sure there are no air bubbles. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours – overnight is better. 

For the top: take 300g strawberries and the icing sugar, add 1tbsp water and puree until smooth. Sieve and leave to one side. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge half an hour before serving and carefully remove the side of the tin. Arrange rest of the strawberries on top, roll up mint leaves tightly then slice thinly and sprinkle over the strawberries. Pour the puree on top or on the side as you serve. 

Perfect for a hot summer day.


Two kinds of meringue



Rose and pistachio meringues and Cinnamon and almond meringues, I have mountains of them! I wasn’t planning on making any, just had a load of egg whites to use up. As it happens, we’ve a family get together later on today so I’ll take them to have with strawberries.

I’ve only ever made meringue once before, using the Swiss method given in the Ottolenghi book. Couldn’t really be bothered to do all that heating sugar and egg whites together first over a pot of simmering water so I looked up Dan Lepard’s method, which also uses a lot less sugar. I ended up using 45g sugar per egg white (less than even Dan Lepard), adding it slowly in once the egg whites had started forming soft peaks. These are best done in a proper mixer, not an electric hand held one as they do take a while to really firm up and turn glossy. I did dishes and other bits and bobs in the kitchen while making them, just going back to the mixer every now and then to tip a bit more sugar in. Used unrefined granulated sugar. For the Rose and pistachio, I added 1tsp rose water (for 4 egg whites), then took a spoonful and rolled it a bit in pistachios (pulsed in the blender first) and plonked on the baking tray lined with baking parchment. This is best done with two table spoons or a table spoon and a spatula. For the Cinnamon and almond, I added a good sprinkle of cinnamon, say half a teaspoon for 2 egg whites then sprinkled flaked almonds on top. Oven was at 100C (fan) and in they went for an hour and a half each. They are chewy in the middle, which is how I like them. If you want them to be dry in the middle, then bake for 2 hours + leave in the oven with the door open so they cool down slowly. The flavouring came from the Ottolenghi book although I didn’t follow their shaping, I really did just plonk them on the tray. I kind of like the slightly off shapes, they look more fun this way and they are very good – had half a rose and pistachio one with ice cream last night, just perfect dessert for this kind of weather.

Oatmeal sourdough loaf



Last week’s mash up loaf of Dan Lepard’s and River Cottage recipes and methods got me thinking. I love adding rolled oats to a loaf of bread, oats give it a really lovely nutty texture, which is just very satisfying to eat. Happy bread texture, if you like. So, as I haven’t made a proper sourdough in a while, I thought I’d change my usual method a little, replacing some of the flour with rolled oats. Brilliant result, so happy with it, I think I’ll use this recipe for every sourdough loaf from now on. We had it for dinner topped with roasted butternut squash, toasted walnuts, goats cheese, chorizo and a drizzle of honey. Delicious.

Ingredients and method: sponge (night before): 75g rolled oats, 100g strong wholemeal flour, 175g strong white flour, sourdough starter (about a ladleful and a half – I tend to just pour from the jar and not measure), 360ml water. Mix these with a wooden spoon and leave, covered, overnight or, for at least 6 hours. In the morning, add 150g strong white flour, 100g strong wholemeal flour and 1 tsp salt. Mix to combine then knead for about 10 minutes by hand (until elastic) or 6 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook attached. Shape into a ball and leave, covered in an oiled bowl. After an hour, deflate, shape into a ball again and leave – this deflating/ shaping needs to be repeated hourly 3 more times. So, after four hours, deflate the dough one more time, roll up tightly, then stretch a little and blanket fold into a sort of a pillow. Gently work the folds in and shape into an oval (or a round if you prefer), gently roll in wholemeal, rye or spelt flour and leave to prove in a floured basket or a floured wooden board, covered with a plastic bag, for anything between 2 and a half to 4 hours (mine proved for 3 and a half today). Place a hot stone or a heavy baking sheet in the oven then heat to 250C or as high as you can, then slash the loaf and transfer to the oven. After 10 minutes, lower the heat to 180C and bake for another 35 minutes. Beloved thought this particular loaf resembled a sankhara stone from Indiana Jones, not bad. Also love how you can see the fabric grain from my proving basket in the photo above.