Sticky Ginger Loaf

One of my all time favourite bought cakes growing up was without doubt Jamaican ginger cake, which was deliciously sticky, sweet and gingery. It’s still available at some large supermarkets for a mere 65p. It is also a really lovely one to make at home yourself and tasting it automatically takes me back to my childhood. For those who really like ginger you can add some finely chopped stem ginger bites, or if you prefer a smoother cake consistency just omit this part. I added it this time, but often simply add ginger powder.

adapted from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas

Sticky Ginger Loaf

100g unsalted butter

100g light soft brown sugar

100g Lyle’s golden syrup

100g Lyle’s black treacle

200g self-raising flour

2 tbsp Chinese five spice powder

2 tsp ginger powder

250 ml milk

1 egg

optional: if you really like ginger you can also add 90g of finely chopped stem ginger and add it to the flour. Sometimes I do and other times I don’t. I tend to find my children prefer it when I omit this part. 

  1. First preheat an oven to 140 degrees centigrade.
  2. In a saucepan add the butter, light soft brown sugar, golden syrup and treacle and stir on a low heat so that all the ingredients combine smoothly.
  3. In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and add the Chinese five spice and ginger powder. (if you are adding stem ginger then add it at this stage)
  4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and milk and keep to one side.
  5. Add the mixed butter syrup to the bowl of  flour and fold in to combine.
  6. Follow this with the whisked egg and milk so that the mixture is nice and smooth. I used my new Kitchen aid and it worked a treat.
  7. Line a baking loaf tin with parchment paper on the bottom and a longer strip in the middle going up the sides – see photo – this helps to remove it from the tin after baking.
  8. Add the mixture to the tin and then place in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes. Use a skewer in the centre to test it comes out clean and therefore is cooked. If it doesn’t return it to the oven for a little longer.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before taking it out of the tin.

Cut into slices to serve either as is or with a little butter on top.


Hot Cross Buns

I know I know the ship has sailed and Easter has come and gone BUT it is Easter Monday so I’m not too out of kilter. Did you have a good Easter  – albeit one that none of us had planned? I think having wonderfully hot weather helped – so much so we had our main Easter meal in the early evening outside in the garden. It all felt rather summery and wonderful. It might seem a little strange me posting a hot cross bun recipe now, but I use this blog as a record of my cooking exploits and I will be returning to this recipe in the future. I felt that if I don’t write down the recipe I will forget it for next year. I had planned to post it a week ago but I only managed to find some bread flour (albeit a little out of date) in my cellar on Saturday. I had been looking for bread flour for some time when I had been doing our food shop, but alas I was always out of luck. So I was thrilled to find a bag of it hidden away in my cellar. Please note my cellar is basically my pantry and is not as strange as it sounds.

So I spent the Easter weekend trying to perfect the art of hot cross bun making, something I had not done before. The first batch I made tasted great but the dough had not risen to my liking in the resting period. Basically my house wasn’t providing enough heat to make it rise sufficiently (well that was my excuse!).

The second time I found a cunning way to make dough rise and will be using this method going forward. Basically you turn your oven on a low heat for 10 mins and then turn off the oven. Keep the door of the oven slightly ajar and pop in your bowl with your dough inside, covered, for a couple of hours and then BINGO you have perfect dough that has risen. Again when I let the dough rest for the second time, once I had made the dough into individual buns, I did the same thing and it worked perfectly. Maybe you have a warming oven, warm laundry room, or just live in a warm climate so do what works for you.

 

I followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which I had seen him creating on instagram. For the honey glaze at the end I added a little of ginger syrup to the honey, but other than that I stayed pretty close to his recipe.

I was pretty happy with the way they turned out and they tasted really delicious.

Here is the recipe and I think it is pretty straightforward. Have you made them before? Whose recipe do you follow?

Hot Cross Buns

makes 12

200ml semi-skimmed milk

55g unsalted butter

a little nutmeg

455g strong bread flour

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp sea salt

55g caster sugar

7g dried yeast

1 egg

85g sultanas

30g stem ginger

2 tbsp flour and a little water

2 tsp honey

1 tsp stem ginger syrup, optional

 

  1. Warm the milk and melt the butter in a pan and add a little nutmeg. Leave to one side once the butter has melted.
  2. Mix the strong bread flour, cinnamon powder, sea salt and caster sugar together.
  3. Next add the dried yeast and egg and the milk/butter/nutmeg.
  4. Use a spoon to mix together and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead of 10 minutes.
  5. Place in a clean bowl and cover. Heat an oven for 10 minutes and then turn off completely and keep the oven door ajar. Place the bowl with the dough in the warm oven (which has been switched off) and leave for a couple of hours. It will double in size.
  6. Turn it out of the bowl and spread it open (see photo above) and add the stem ginger and sultanas. Fold over and then roll into a long sausage.
  7. Cut into 12 even parts and roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Keep them close together so that they will end up touching once they have been left to rise again.
  8. Return to the warm (although switched off)oven for 20 minutes. Remember to keep the oven door ajar.
  9. Mix some flour with water to create a smooth paste – not too runny. Spoon into a pipping bag and then snip off the end and create crosses over the buns.
  10. Heat the oven to 190 degrees fan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Once baked place them on a rack to cool.
  11. Mix the honey and stem ginger syrup together and brush over the top of the hot cross buns.

Delicious to eat when still warm, although you can always heat them up at a later stage or eat them at room temperature.

 

 

 

 


Lindisfarne and Pilgrims Coffee Cake


On our recent visit to Northumberland we visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It is a tidal island that is accessed by a paved causeway, which is covered by the North Sea twice every 24 hours (so check tide times before you visit). It is one of the most important centres of early English Christianity when Irish monks settled there in AD635.

The Northumbrian King Oswald summoned an Irish monk named Aidan from Iona – the island monastery off the south west coast of now Scotland – to be bishop of his kingdom. He granted Aidan and his companions the island of Lindisfarne on which to found a monastery.

In the AD670’s a monk named Cuthbert joined the monastery at Lindisfarne and later became the greatest monk-bishop, and the most important saint in northern England in the Middle Ages.

Cuthbert also spent time on the even more remote island of Inner Farne just off the coast from Bamburgh. We visited the priory, which is now run by English National Heritage and definitely worth exploring, along with the fascinating exhibition which is included in the ticket. We combined our adventures on Lindisfarne with a stunning walk of the coast line of the whole island – around a 5 mile circular walk. We use Pathfinder walk books which I really recommend.

At the end of the walk, before we headed into the Priory, we chanced upon a rather inviting coffee house called ‘Pilgrims Coffee and Roastery’. I highly recommend you make a detour here to purchase a bag of their coffee beans (great gifts) as well as a cup of coffee and some excellent cakes and savoury eats. Their ‘Espresso Cake’ was so good that I thought I would share it with you here.

They have a cookbook, which you can buy with all their recipes in – you can purchase that here.

 

Pilgrim’s Coffee Cake

adapted from the Pilgrim’s Coffee and Roastery Cookbook

Serves 12

250ml espresso

250g salted butter

50g cocoa powder

400g caster sugar

150ml sour cream

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

200g chopped walnuts

2.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing

60g unsalted butter

120g sifted icing sugar

2 tbsp espresso

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (they state 160 degrees if using fan, but I found it needed to be hotter for my fan oven)
  2. Line a 20cmx30cm tray with greaseproof paper
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Mix in the espresso, cocoa, sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, flour, bicarbonate of soda and walnuts to a loose batter.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tray.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until risen and dark brown – I found I needed to do it for a little more than 40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool on a baking tray and remove the greaseproof paper when cooled slightly.

Icing


8. In another bowl whip together the butter and icing until light and fluffy.

9. Fold in the espresso until smooth.

10. Spread over the cooled coffee cake. Decorate with a few extra walnuts.

 

Note: It’s probably me, but I found the icing did not work when I used the amounts in their recipe – 250g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar and 120ml espresso so I redid the icing to the amounts above and it worked. I tend to prefer less than more when it comes to icing anyway as I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. Let me know what works for you.

 

 

 


Membrillo – A Labour of Love

Ok, I am going to come straight out with it. THIS IS A LABOUR OF LOVE. It’s my first time making membrillo – Spanish quince paste – you know the one often found on a cheese board that tastes delicious with a slice of manchego cheese. They are found in great abundance in the autumn/fall. My lovely neighbour had a huge glut of quinces from her tree so said would I like a bag. Naturally I said ‘yes’ and after showing me all the glorious creations that she was making in her kitchen – membrillo, as well as quince jelly, I was truly inspired. Her passing words to me was that it was a labour of love, which I didn’t quite fully register.

Look I don’t want to put you off, just to simply say there are a few steps and therefore involves effort to seek a reward. The children’s book about the hen who made bread and asked for help from the other farmyard animals, came to mind when I spent a considerable amount of time sieving the quince through a sieve.

So a few things of importance to note. Quince are not like apples or pears, other than in appearance. Their bitter flesh means they are almost exclusively for cooking instead of eaten raw. To core them is super hard, even with a sharp knife and after grazing my finger I thought that the best way to deal with them was to simply peel them and quarter or half them and then put them in water to boil – along with the lemon rind and vanilla pod. After 45 minutes I turned off the heat and in fact left them overnight to rest until morning. If you do this earlier in the day then you can simply removed the vanilla pod and then blend them, pips and all. What comes out of the sieve – with a bit of hard work with the back of a spoon –  is a very smooth paste, that resembles baby puree. At this stage the colour is a mellow yellow.

Then you need to weigh the amount of pureed quince and then whatever the amount is, you place the same amount of granulated sugar in a large pan. Keeping on a low heat you stir at intervals for an 1h 15 mins. The quince changes from yellow to more of a red hue. Then the final stage is to put it into an ovenproof dish, which you line with parchment paper, greased with a very little coating of butter. Pour the contents of the pan into the dish and place into a low oven 125 degrees F for a further hour, by this time it will be a deep blood red colour.  Leave to cool completely before removing the greaseproof paper and the now hard membrillo from the dish. Cut it up into the sizes you wish to portion up. I cut mine into 9 large cubes, which I wrapped in foil and placed in the fridge. According to my neighbour, they can last for a year in the fridge. If any mould appears in time, it’s simply a case of removing the top layer and continuing to eat. Waste not want not springs to mind. I will give these out as some of my edible Christmas gifts, maybe accompanied with some Manchego cheese.

 

Membrillo – Spanish Quince Paste

best eaten with a hard cheese such as Manchego, or game or pate.

1 bag of quince (mine weighed in at this stage to 2.5kg)

1 vanilla pod, sliced in two

juice of one lemon

2 strips of lemon peel (yellow part only)

granulated sugar (the same amount exactly as your pureed quince – mine came to 1.254kg)

 

  1. Peel the quince and cut them in half or quarters if you can. Place in a large pan and cover with water and add the vanilla pod and lemon peel. Boil away gently for 45 minutes, or until they are soft.
  2. Strain the water, remove the vanilla pod and discard, but keep the lemon peel with the quince and then blitz in batches in your blender.
  3. Take the blended quince and put into a sieve and using the back of a spoon sieve through the contents. The pips and cores will remain, but what comes through the sieve is a really smooth paste, similar to baby puree. This part takes effort to do persist and don’t give up.
  4. Once it has all being sieved (congratulations the hard bit is over), weigh it out and then place in a large sauce pan. Place the same amount of granulated sugar as quince puree into the pan along with the juice of a whole lemon. Simmer, stirring at intervals, for the next 1h 15 mins, by which time the quince puree will have gone a reddish colour – but not the colour of the final membrillo, that only comes when it goes in the oven.
  5. Using an ovenproof dish – I used a large square baking dish 25cmx25cm – line it with greaseproof parchment paper and coat with a little butter. Place the quince paste into the dish and then place in a low oven at 125 degrees F for a further 1 hour.
  6. Remove from the oven to cool completely before removing from the tin and sectioning up into large squares or rectangles. Cover individually with foil and place in the fridge.
  7. Perfect as gifts and eaten with some delicious hard cheese such as Manchego.

 

 

 

 

 


Lunching in East Dulwich at TART

If you are ever wondering on where in south east London might be good to meet a friend for bunch or lunch, I have just the place for you.

Recently I went to check out the newly opened bakery cafe in East Dulwich called TART, that focuses on, you guessed it, tarts – not the sweet variety mind you, although there are a few options, but the savoury. Tart (not to be confused with the food columnists) opened earlier this year in East Dulwich following the success of their Clapham Common cafe. It’s nestled on Lordship Lane at number 65.

From the outside it looks like any other chic neighbourhood cafe, but step inside and you will find all the original tiling from David Greig the grocers. The building is in fact grade II listed for its authentic 19th-century interior and is full of character. It’s the perfect place for a coffee, breakfast or a tart or two for lunch.

The doorway on the far right in the photo above leads out to a beautiful, light conservatory which we, along with every other diner, opted for as the sun was shining.  The menu, which is a one pager (menu’s should never be too long – alarm bells always go off in my head if they are) is split into ‘brunches’, ‘terribly tasty tarts’, ‘scrumptious salads’ and ‘mmmm sweet heaven’. The drinks menu had a number of wonderfully sounding juices and smoothies, as well as coffees and teas. My dining companion and I opted for a red and green juice, packed with fresh fruits of their reciprocal colours. I can honestly say they were the tastiest fresh juices I have had in ages – full of natural flavours and wonderful thirst quenching in this hot weather; we ordered two more they were that good. There is the option of brunch cocktails, but I’ll have to try them another time.

As for the food, we debated on what to try as it all sounded so appealing.  In the end we opted for the following:

Sautéed mushrooms on cornbread, a poached egg, rocket, pine nuts, garlic herb crème fraîche and truffle oil

Royale: poached eggs, smoked salmon, spinach, capers/gherkins & hollandaise in a short-crust pastry case

Butternut squash, kale, sage, walnut and stilton tart and two salads – roast carrot, lentil and rocket salad with a tahini dressing, and a sweet potato, spinach, chilli, pumpkin seeds and a masala yoghurt. The combinations sounded so good, and thankfully tasted equally so.

The portions were generous and the pastry on the tart was baked to perfection. If you ever buy a tart/quiche from a supermarket, these tarts at TART were way superior. The menu is also reasonably priced – with a tart and two salads coming in at just under £10. The brunch options were also well thought through and my sautéed mushrooms on cornbread hit the spot. The staff were friendly and accommodating, being attentive without being intrusive.

As an aside – for those who are potentially interested in investing in a food business –  Tart are currently raising capital to open a third bakery as well as supply tarts to the wholesale London market. If you are interested you can find out more information on the Seedrs website.

It was a spoiling lunch with fresh tasting, healthy choices and highly memorable tarts that had a great selection of fillings and light, crumbly pastry. Check it out if you are in either East Dulwich or Clapham Common.

Tart: 65 Lordship Lane, London SE22 8EP, no booking necessary, dogs welcome.

 

I was a guest of Tart Bakery and all views and opinions are my own.

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Wild Garlic Scones

Continuing with the wild garlic theme for another week, (I hope you are not bored yet!) I thought you might like my recipe for wild garlic scones, which are wonderful slathered with a little butter and a cup of tea. Scones are ridiculously easy to make and are great to freeze and then reheat when you want to eat one of two. All my family love this delicious snack, and as you can freeze them, are perfect all year round. A taste of spring even in the winter!

Unlike my wild garlic pesto you actually need no more than a handful of wild garlic but will still get the wonderful flavour resonating through the warm scone. If you have more of a sweet tooth then you might want to see my sweetened scone recipe here.

To make and cook these little beauties takes no more than 30 minutes, so are quick to prepare a batch. My girls always love to get involved in the kitchen and making scones is very straightforward so fun activity to do together.

 

Wild Garlic Scones

Makes around 22 scones

350g self-raising flour

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

85g softened unsalted butter, cut into cubes

125g mature cheddar cheese, grated

1 handful of wild garlic, washed and finely chopped

2 eggs

1 tsp fennel seeds

175ml milk, gently warmed

1 egg, beaten to glaze

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and line a baking tray.
  2. In a large bowl sieve the flour and then add all the ingredients*, aside from the milk and the final egg to glaze.
  3. Mix together gently using your hands and slowly add the warmed milk to bind. Add a little more flour if it remains a little sticky.
  4. Flour your hands and the work surface and move the dough onto the surface. Flatten it with your hands and fold it over a few times. Use a rolling pin to flatten it to a thickness of about 3cm. Use the top of a small glass or a cutter to cut out the scones evenly.
  5. Place the scones at intervals on the lined baking tray so they do not touch. Brush the tops with the beaten egg.
  6. Once you have used up all the dough, place in the oven for 11 minutes exactly. Remove from oven and then either leave to cool completely and then freeze or eat immediately with some butter. YUM.

Note: *If the butter cubes are not super soft then add these first with the flour and baking powder and using your finger tips mix with the flour to create a crumbly mixture. Then add all the ingredients. 

If freezing, when you want to eat them simply defrost completely then heat in a very low oven for 2/3 minutes to rewarm the scones.

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Rhubarb and Custard Slice – Competition to win ‘Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe’ cookbook by Mat Follas

Spring is in the air, well at least for the moment it is. Sunny skies make all the difference and you can notably see everyone feeling that extra bit cheery. Polo-neck jumpers can be cast aside and thick winter coats can be put away, for a while at least. With longer days and flowers beginning to make an appearance, the thought of doing some spring baking is rather attractive.

‘Images from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas. Photographs by Steve Painter. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.’

Enter Mat Follas – masterchef UK winner way back in 2009 – new book ‘Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe’. I can almost smell the delicate scents from the sweetpeas on the front cover and that cheesecake screams ‘summer’ to me. Mat, his wife Amanda and their business partner Kate, opened Bramble Cafe & Deli in Poundbury in Dorset in 2016 and this book is a collection of all the lovely recipes that they showcase in the cafe.

‘Images from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas. Photographs by Steve Painter. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.’

Sweet and savoury are both included ranging from the classics, such as the ‘Victoria Sandwich Cake’, to fancy dainties and patisseries, such as the ‘Salted Caramel Tartlets’. He includes some wonderful sounding jams, jellies and marmalades – strawberry and elderflower jam, as well as some alcoholic and non-alcoholic tipples.

‘Images from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas. Photographs by Steve Painter. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.’

I decided to make the ‘Rhubarb and Custard Slice’, which is a take on a classic custard slice or mille-feuille. It also reminded me of my ultimate favourite cake ‘Pasteis de Nata’ also known as ‘Portguese custard tart’. It was super easy to prepare and makes a great dessert or tea-time fancy. The only slight alternation I’ll make next time is that I will oven bake the puff pastry for a little longer and lightly brush whisked egg allowing it to bronze more. Other than that it tasted great and the custard was very similar tasting to the Portuguese custard tart. Rhubarb is so pretty, and tastes fabulous that the combination of the custard and rhubarb brought back many childhood memories for me.

If you would like to win a copy of this book head on over to my instagram page and look for this photo above which will provide all the details. It’s very straightforward so have a go at winning a copy.  UK residents only I’m afraid. For those asking, the beautiful plates above I have collected over the last few years from Anthropologie, which always stock such gorgeous things.

Rhubarb & Custard Slice

recipe from ‘Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe’ by Mat Follas

150g puff pastry (bought)

1 egg, whisked

300g fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm length pieces

vegetable oil, to coat,

50g Demerara sugar

200ml milk

100ml double/heavy cream

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

50g plain/all-purpose flour

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

100g caster sugar

non-stick 30x20cm/12×8 inch brownie pan, light oil and lined with baking parchment

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (35o Fahrenheit) Gas 4.
  2. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and trim to fit the base of the brownie pan.
  3. Using a fork prick holes over the base to stop the pastry rising too much. Use the whisked egg to brush the pastry to help it get a beautiful bronzed colour.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes or until it is golden brown. If it has puffed up it will shrink when you allow it to cool out of the oven.
  5. Meanwhile trim and cut the rhubarb into evenly-sized pieces, about 2cm/2/4 inch in length. Toss them with a little vegetable oil and then the Demerara sugar. Spread them out on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until they are just softened and cooked through.
  6. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk and cream on a low heat, stirring gently until simmering, then immediately take off the heat.
  7. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, flour, vanilla and caster sugar to form a paste.
  8. Pour the hot milk and cream mixture into the mixing bowl, whisking constantly to combine into a think custard.
  9. Now return the custard to the saucepan and on a low heat whisk the custard over the heat until it has thickened and holding soft peaks. It is really important to have it on a low heat so it does not burn!
  10. Pour the thick custard over the pastry base and smooth it to make level.
  11. Place the rhubarb pieces on top of the custard – they should be half submerged.
  12. Refrigerate for at least and hour before cutting into 10 with a bread knife.
I was very kindly sent a copy of this beautiful cookbook. All views and opinions are my own.

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Homemade Spiced Granola

With all the snow we have been having recently (it’s since melted sadly) I’ve been doing some serious hibernating indoors, which ultimately means a lot of cooking and baking. When it’s cold and snowing outside, I find that there is nothing better than cooking inside in the warm, something delicious to warm the belly.

I’ve been making a range of new exciting curries, soups (my roasted sweet potato and garlic is a winner so will post it up in another post!) and then I decided to make a large batch of homemade granola. You can get as creative as you wish, it really comes down to how you like to eat granola.  My husband dislikes coconut flakes (I rather like them) so I purposely omitted them here. That’s love.  My sis is not particularly into dried fruit so if I were to make her some I would omit them. I am a nut and seed fiend so have included quite a few but you can choose just one or two varieties that you like or need using up.

I also rather like to add a little spice so I have added some turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg powder. It’s not overpowering but just gives the granola that extra boost of deliciousness. I have also used maple syrup and this brand I particularly LOVE (Holland & Barrett have a deal on at the moment: buy 2 and get one half price), but you can use honey or agave if that’s what you have to hand.

Personally I don’t drown my granola in maple syrup. By all means you can and it will become more crunchy but I find the amount below works well and the granola is crisp without all being stuck together. (The photos above are pre-baking) 1kg is a lot but I thought that it made sense to do a large batch and then store it in sealed jars. They work really well as gifts – just tie a wooden spoon to your kilner jar and it makes a very thoughtful gift and everyone loves granola after all.

 

Homemade Spiced Granola

Makes 1kg which will last a while

200ml maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 (quarter) tsp turmeric powder

1tsp ginger powder

1 tsp nutmeg powder

2 tbsp coconut oil

1kg jumbo oats

170g hazelnuts

100g brazil nuts

100g pecan

20g sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds

200g berry mix (dried cranberries, blueberries, golden berries, raisins)

 

  1. Preheat a fan oven to 150 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl mix the maple syrup, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and ginger powders with the coconut oil. Place to one side.
  3. Line a large baking tray with parchment.
  4. In a large bowl place the jumbo oats, nuts and seeds NOT THE DRIED BERRIES and stir so that they are well mixed in.
  5. Add the maple syrup mix to the oats and stir together. If you find they need a bit more maple syrup then by all means add a little more but I find this is enough for mine.
  6. Place evenly on your large baking tray and oven bake for 1 hour. Every 15 minutes you need to turn them around so that they are baked on all sides.
  7. Once they are baked mix in the berry mix and you’re done.

 

 

 

 

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Courgette, Cheddar and Thyme Soda Bread

If you have a vegetable garden (sadly I do not) it is highly probable that you are being swamped by courgettes (zucchini) and marrows at the moment. Both at my dear friend’s house in the Cotswold, where I have been enjoying some time recently, and my parents’ home in Sussex, where I have also been staying – it’s the summer holidays after all – they are both drowning in these wonderful vegetables. As such I thought that it would be useful to come up with a couple of ways in which you can incorporate these ingredients into your diet.

For those who have been reading (casting an eye ;o) over my blog for sometime you will know how much I adore dal in all it’s varied forms. Marrow or courgette works really well in dal so I can highly recommend you give this one a whirl (click on link – photo of it below).

I made it for a friend the other day who was completely surprised by how tasty it was and asked me to send her the recipe. So if you are reading this Rose, this is for you.

Soda bread is a really easy and quick to make as it does not require yeast or proving, so within an hour you have a freshly baked loaf – what’s not to love?

Courgette Cheddar and Thyme Soda Bread

400g self raising/wholemeal spelt flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 large courgette or 2 small/medium

50g giant rolled oats

70g cheddar cheese, grated

handful of fresh thyme, leaves only (chives or rosemary also work well)

284ml buttermilk

1 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

 

  1. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees if using a fan oven)
  2. Sieve the flour and add the baking powder into a large bowl.
  3. Place a large tea towel under a course grater and then grate the courgette. Fold the edges of the tea towel and squeeze so that all the liquid is released from the courgette. Then place into the flour.
  4. Add all the other ingredients except the egg. Save back a handful of grated cheese to use for the topping.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to begin with to bind the ingredients together and then use your hands to create a dough ball. If it remains too sticky add a little more flour to help bind it. Do not over handle the dough so that it remains light.
  6. Place it onto baking paper, lightly brush the dough with the beaten egg and add the remaining cheese on top. Using a knife make a cross in the top of the bread.
  7. Place into the oven for 35-40 minutes so that it is nicely bronzed. Remove from the oven and place on a rack.
  8. It is great to eat warm with some butter, which will melt into the bread. Equally I love to dunk it into soup.

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Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns and A Visit to the Swedish Embassy

Yesterday morning I trotted off to the Swedish embassy, with my Swedish pal, for breakfast……as you do. I was invited to learn more about Swedish food and the distributers here in the UK – take a look at ScandiKitchen. It’s the kind of invitation that you just can’t turn down.

The embassy is a stones throw (perhaps a David and Goliath stones throw if I am being honest) from Oxford street. With the blue flags with yellow crosses flying in the wind outside we bounded in to meet Mr Ambassador himself.

 

The breakfast spread was breathtaking with so much choice and variety of delicious looking and tasting Swedish foods. A wide range of smoked salmon, fresh salmon, herrings pickled in all manner of things, soft cheeses, hard cheeses, eggs, pate, breads, biscuits as well as porridges, yogurts, waffles, jams. It was definitely ‘kid in a candy store moment’.

The drinks accompany breakfast used all manner of tasty berries – apparently in Sweden alone there are over 25 varieties of edible berries. I sampled lingonberry drink, rosehip, Swedish berry smoothie, Swedish style drinking yoghurt, blueberry soup.

Hidden by one of the windows were the pastries and my eye was immediately drawn to the ubiquitous Swedish cinnamon buns. I have been meaning to make some recently so thought it would be a perfect match with this blog post to make some and include the recipe so you too can make yourself at home. Whilst they are perfect eaten warm, straight out of the oven, you can also freeze them. Once defrosted just place them in a warm oven for a few minutes to heat through.

Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

Makes around 20

To make the dough

750g plain all purpose flour

100g caster sugar

pinch of salt

2 tsp ground cardamom

350ml milk

120g unsalted butter

14g easy bake yeast

sprinkling on top of each bun of pearl sugar *

1 egg, beaten

 

for the filling

110g soft unsalted butter

90g light brown sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon powder

 

  1. First you need to make the dough. In a large bowl sieve the flour and then add the caster sugar, cardamom powder and salt.
  2. In a pan gently heat the butter and when it is melted add the milk, keeping on a very low heat (you want it luke warm and not hot), and fresh yeast and stir so that the yeast is well mixed. Take off the heat and make a whole in the centre of the flour and add the wet ingredients. Gently stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. Once the dough has come together use your hands to bind it firmly so that it is soft and does not stick to your hands as much. Take out of the bowl and place on a cold, clean work surface with a sprinkling of flour and knead for around 8 minutes. The dough will become very pliable and if it is still a little sticky just add a little flour until you can comfortably knead it.
  4. Transfer it to a lightly greased mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm and a tea towel. Leave in a warm, dark place for an hour so that it can double in size.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling by combing all the ingredients above together to make a smooth paste.
  6. I tend to make these in two batches as you need to properly spread out your buns or else they will merge into each other.
  7. Using half the dough (cover the remaining dough and leave in a warm dark place) roll it out into a rectangle to a few mm in thickness. Place half the filling on the dough and using the longer side of the dough gently roll. Make incisions through the dough using a serrated knife so that you end up with around 10 buns. Place on baking paper in an oven tray with the cut side of the bun facing upwards or in individual cake holders. Brush each bun with the beaten egg and scatter each bun with the pearl sugar. Leave to one side whilst your oven heats up.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C/450°F and when it has reached this heat reduce it to 190˚C/350˚F and place the buns in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare your next batch using up the remainder of the filling and repeat.
  9. Eat straight away warm, or you can store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for a couple of months. If freeze, thaw thoroughly and then heat up in a warm oven for a few minutes before eating.

*you could also use demerara sugar or chopped walnuts or pecan.