Coconut and cranberry granola

IMG_0813

 

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

IMG_0797

 

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.

Walnut, cardamom and orange cake

IMG_0782

 

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

IMG_0776

 

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.

IMG_0780

 

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

IMG_0775

 

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!

White leaven bread

Tears of joy and oh so proud – it is ridiculous quite how happy a good loaf of bread can make me! I still find it somewhat unbelievable that three very simple ingredients: flour, water and salt can, with a little bit of care and work create something so marvellous as this loaf – here cut in half, look at that air!

IMG_0773

This is my first loaf made solely with white sourdough starter and white bread flour. It took most of yesterday but I had a lot of study so didn’t mind spending the day at home.  I used Dan Lepard’s method from The Handmade Loaf and changed the quantities of ingredients in order to get one decent sized loaf instead of 2 smallish ones. Can honestly say, having sampled a whole load of sourdough bread over the years from places like St. John, Elliott’s, Balthazar (the London outpost, which I did not like other than the bread), local bakeries and all sorts of good restaurants – this loaf is up there. So proud. Even though I didn’t slash it enough (slashed around circumference but my knife was not sharp enough).

IMG_0774

 

It rose in the oven beautifully and unlike River Cottage method, Dan recommends a lower oven temperature (200C fan instead of 250C or as high as it will go – River Cottage) and spraying the top of the loaf with water before it goes in. Next time I’ll just slash across the top. I’ll also have to figure out the timing a bit better so that it can have a longer and slower second prove overnight and I can have it ready for breakfast. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem in cold weather.

I’m still going to keep my rye ‘mother’ too, it’s been fascinating watching the white and the rye behave completely differently. The rye is just happy slowly bubbling, bubbles throughout the jar and quite a sour smell. The white, on the other hand, tends to have bubbles on the surface and I must be super careful when opening the jar to refresh – it’s almost exploded a couple of times. It also rises more over a 24 hour period. Totally fascinating.

Banana, maple and walnut buns

I wasn’t going to bake yesterday, busy day with all sorts of things to do, no time for baking but I kept getting distracted by overripe bananas in my field of vision on the other side of the desk. Thought I may as well use them in something. I could have picked out a quick muffin or a banana bread recipe, only I love a bun (see here and here for bun love) and after spotting a good Banana, maple and pecan bun in Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet decided that’s what I was going to do. Probably not the best thing to bake on a busy day as they take time but they are so good, I’m very glad I did them. Full of flavour, not too sweet and perfect with a cup of tea.

IMG_0772

 

Apart from bananas, walnuts (I didn’t have enough pecans) and maple, there is cinnamon, ground ginger, cocoa, raisins, dark muscovado sugar – in short, everything you’d want on a cold and rainy autumn afternoon. This is the thing about buns, you have one, still warm and everything seems to just be better. A good bun is good for the soul.