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.

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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!

Walnut sourdough

I’ve been making sourdough bread regularly for over a year now, using the River Cottage method that I’m very comfortable with. At the same time, I have other books with other methods – St. John’s, Paul Hollywood’s and now also Dan Lepard’s, having recently bought The Handmade Loaf. Last weekend I didn’t make any bread so this weekend, I thought it’s about time I tried a different recipe. Paul Hollywood’s one interested me as he makes up the dough with all the ingredients (and not just the sponge), gives it time to rise and then a very long time to prove. This is a two day job – all proper sourdough is, but the benefit of this method is that the final prove is overnight so it can be baked first thing in the morning and be ready for breakfast. The bread was ready early this morning but, to my great shame, I realised too late that I used way too much water in the dough and have ended up with a bit of a flatbread, not a proper loaf:

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I was a little stupid – I’d worked out the time I’d need for the bread fine but was very busy with work all morning so I started the dough late and then rushed this through. The reason I haven’t used Paul Hollywood’s method before is that he uses 500g sourdough starter for 2 loaves and that’s more than my ‘mothership’ jar can hold. I usually use around 150-200g for a loaf. So I was quite liberal with feeding sourdough over past couple of days in order to have 250g for the bread and enough left over to keep the starter going. I halved Hollywood’s recipe for Walnut sourdough (in How to Bake) and also replaced some of the white flour with wholemeal. The ingredients went into the mixing bowl, the mixer went to work and I started adding water, completely forgetting to halve the amount… It was looking a bit wet but I thought some methods just use more than 65% water so maybe it’d be fine in the end. Didn’t realise what I’d done until 5 hours later and by then it was too late to start again. As I transferred the bread onto the super-well-floured peel it held its shape fairly well but as I cut the cross pattern, the whole thing totally deflated. On the positive side, once it was out of the oven and cooled a bit, I cut it in half and am pretty pleased with the texture:

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Now I can at least imagine what it would have been like if I’d got the flour/water ratio properly. I’m thinking this method may have legs – imagining the possibilities of a long, slow prove and the resulting texture. Will definitely try again next week.

Peanut butter and honey granola

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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.

Jam buns

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One of my favourite food memories is my grandmother’s Buchteln. The fluffy buns filled with jam and topped with chopped walnuts and icing sugar. Me tearing them from the tray, still hot, grandmother shaking her head and warning me of hot jam – I didn’t even like jam then but made the exception to Buchteln or buhtle as we called them. I’ve wanted to have a go at making them for ages and finally did so this morning so we could have them for breakfast. How extravagant!

The dough is quite similar to Chelsea buns, only you cut it into squares, fill with a teaspoon of jam then pinch the ends together. I topped them with walnuts as my gran did but traditionally, I think the top is left plain. I filled them with different jams: strawberry, goosebery and fig. They are absolutely delicious, Beloved is an immediate fan – he’s not had one before, I don’t think they’re eaten in England.

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I did have a bit of a mishap, one of them leaked jam but all in all, I’m pretty pleased with the first attempt. Am going to work on the recipe a bit before posting, I found quite a few on the web with similar ingredient quantities but ended up using more flour to get a workable dough. Perfecting the recipe – great excuse to make more…

 

Sourdough pancakes

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Time has conspired against me today, not enough of it for a sourdough loaf so I made pancakes for breakfast instead. These serve as a good check on the sourness of the starter too and it is good and sour. Lovely. To make, mix anywhere between 100-150g sourdough starter (I usually just pour in from the jar without weighing), 120g flour, 2 eggs, pinch of salt, 25g melted butter and 150-160ml milk (depending on how much starter used) into a smooth pancake batter, then proceed as per normal pancakes. Flip over as air bubbles start to appear on top. This batter quantity will make up to 12. Had some bacon left over so we had a few with bacon and maple syrup, then yoghurt, maple syrup and flaked almonds with the rest and now totally stuffed. Haven’t had these in ages, must get into the habit of making them regularly again as they are so good and they use up the starter that you’d normally throw away.

Sourdough bread

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If I’m at home on Fridays, I usually make bread dough as soon as I wake up to give it plenty of time to prove. And, I sometimes forget ingredients, being as I’d only just woken up. So, yesterday morning, up bright and early, I add the flours (white and wholemeal bread flours to 3:2 ratio), I add my sourdough starter, I add the water and the salt (I sometimes forget the salt first thing in the morning) and knead the dough in the mixer. A little while later, I’ve shaped it and left it to rise then remembered that I wanted to make a quicker, yeast aided loaf only I’d totally forgotten to add a bit of yeast… Idiot. This loaf was going to take some time… It wasn’t actually ready until around 7pm last night but at least I’ve learnt that I can make sourdough without making the sponge the night before first. Granted, it expanded more in width rather than height but it looks good and the crumb looks and feels excellent too. Haven’t cut into it yet, will soon have some for breakfast with cold butter straight from the fridge and my homemade jams.