Sunday, 23 March 2014

Pitta breads

Ooops I may have ruined pitta breads forever. Homemade ones are soft fluffy and delicious, shop bought are just never going to taste as nice.

These were perfect alongside a platter style spread of homemade edamame hummus, baba ganoush, a large roasted vegetable salad, olives, and some cheeses.

I followed Paul Hollywoods recipe in one of his books but the recipe can also be found here.

I added chia seeds instead of onion seeds, they are my new obsession, I am quite literally adding them to everything! And I did not let them cool,  instead we had them warm... mmmmm.

I urge you to give these a go, they are simple and delicious.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Banana peanut cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting

These cupcakes came about as I found a dairy free chocolate frosting, that did not contain margarine that I wanted to try and while I could eat it from the bowl with a soon this is perhaps not the most elegant solution.

A root round the cupboards yielded a rather ripe banana and a jar of peanut butter. Banana and peanut work well together and chocolate happily marries well with both, thus this cupcake was born.

A moist flavourful cupcake topped with an insanely dark chocolate frosting, what's not to love?

Banana peanut cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting

makes 12

60g butter or dairy free alternative
60g banana40g peanut butter (no added sugar preferably)
125g golden caster sugar
tsp vanilla paste/extract
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
tbsp milk

160ml of coconut cream
75g dark choolate, I used green and black

Begin with the frosting, heat the cream until just below boiling, pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool then put in the fridge to firm up.

Line a cupcake/muffin tin with liners and preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN.

Cream the butter,banana, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla paste together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in-between and beat for a further couple of minutes.

Add the flour and beat on slow until just combined. Finally add the milk and beat for a further minute. Divide the batter between the liners and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and springy.

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Whip the frosting, it will be smooth and shiny and then put back in the fridge for another hour or so. Whip again, the frosting will lose its shine and become fluffier, looking very much like a standard chocolate  frosting.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and enjoy.

These cupcakes will keep for a few days in an airtight tin. If it is very hot this frosting could melt, so keep in the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before tucking it. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Double chocolate cookies (vegan)

Some days only chocolate will do and my word are these cookies chocolately. These may not be for you if you like super sweet milk chocolate cookies, these are dark and very intense. Of course here is no reason you cannot like both!

These are vegan but I am almost certain you could use an egg in place of the egg replacer. I would not make any other substitutions though, 1) because they taste divine the way they are, and 2) because I have no idea how the wet to dry ratio would be affected.

They are intensely chocolately with a crisp outside and chewy interior, what is not to love?

Please do not let the photos put you off, this is what happens when it is dark and miserable in Scotland. No light at all!

Double chocolate cookies (vegan) 

makes 1 dozen

180g oats
egg replacer, I used Orgran egg replacer (holand and barret) and followed the instructions on the box to replace 1 egg
50g coconut oil (solid not melted)
50g peanut butter
60g golden caster sugar
60g brown sugar (I used dark, its what was in my cupboard)
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
45g cocoa powder
75-100g dark chocolate (vegan friendly, not all are), chopped into small chunks

Preheat the oven to 175C/155C FAN and line a baking sheet with parchment. 

To begin put the oats in a food processor and pulse until a coarse flour is formed, I still like some oaty bits in my cookie. Set these aside.

In a bowl put the egg replacer (or egg), coconut oil, peanut butter, both sugars and the vanilla extract, beat until combined and creamy. Add in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sea salt, cocoa powder and processed oats. Beat on slow until thoroughly incorporated. Finally stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Shape the dough into equal balls, roughly the size of golf balls. Place on the baking sheets well apart they will spread a lot,  I baked in two batches. Flatten the cookies with your hand until only 1cm thick. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Baked banana and peanut butter oats

For me breakfast is definitely not a hurried bowl of cereal, as I am hungry by 10am. It needs to be something substantial and just as importantly tasty. Oats feature heavily in many of my breakfasts, porridge and overnight oats being the main two to date.

Here I present to you baked oats.The prep takes 2 minutes and while they are in the oven for 30 minutes it is perfectly easy to shower, dress and get ready for the day ahead, then voila a warm soothing comforting breakfast.

I urge you to give them a try, the top is baked golden, like some sort of flapjack/cookie and the underneath is warm and soft, like a hug in a bowl.

Baked banana and peanut butter oats

serves 1

1/2 small banana (eat the rest while you wait!)
30g oats
55ml almond milk 
teaspoon smooth peanut butter
spash vanilla extract 
pinch cinnamon  (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Mash the banana and then mix in all the other ingredients, just till combined. Spoon into a ramekin, or individual casserole dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden, then dig in whilst warm!

A few notes. I used almond milk as I cannot have dairy and besides which it is yummy, feel free to use other milk. I do not like my breakfast too sweet. I find the banana and vanilla make it sweet enough. If you like things a little sweeter, try a teapsoon of maple syrup, agave nectar or brown sugar added to the mixture before baking.

The ramekin will look crusty and scary when you have finished eating, but adding boiling water to the pot and leaving for an hour will allow you to simply wipe it away.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Dairy free victoria sponge

In this instance I mean dairy as all milk products, not eggs. Victoria sponge is a classic and one of Mark's favourites, though I must say I am partial to a slice or two myself.

Strawberry and champagne jam was on offer and so I snapped it up and set about making a cake. Mary Berry readily admits to using baking spread instead of butter in her cakes so I was less worried about spurning the butter! I used a 'Pure' soya spread with no nasty additions. Its not that I will not have butter, its that I cannot, I think natural butter is indeed a wonderful thing and I did not want to swap it for fake rubbish.

As well as jam in the middle I added whipped coconut cream spiked with plenty of vanilla. The coconut cream gave a creaminess and was an excellent substitute for double cream, an added bonus is that is is also better for you!

Dairy free victoria sponge

3 eggs, weighed with shells, room temperature
Same weight of butter
Same weight of sugar
Same weight of plain flour
Tsp baking powder
Tsp vanilla paste
Jam of your choice
Can of coconut cream, make sure it is cream not milk

Grease and line the base of three 20cm cake tins, if like me you do not have three make the cakes in batches. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the vanilla and eggs for a further minute. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until just combined. Do not overbeat

Divide the mixture equally between the tins and bake for. 20-25 mutes until golden and springy.

Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool sandwich them together with plenty of strawberry jam and coconut cream.

This cake was just beautiful. Light without being dry, it had a substantial cake crumb, it was everything a sponge cake should be. The flavours of vanilla and strawberry are a classic and the champagne in the jam just lifted it to extra special.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Almond custard filled cardamom buns, Shrove Tuesday Scandinavian style!

I have a confession. It is Shrove Tuesday and I do not like pancakes.

Ok so that is not strictly true. I like fluffy home made american style pancakes packed with fruit and served with maple syrup, its a favourite weekend breakfast and you will find a number of recipes on the blog.

What I do not like is the French style crepe, which is what most households will have on pancake day. Now this throws up a conundrum. There is not time to have yummy fluffy pancakes on a weekday, and having pancakes I associate with breakfast after my evening meal feels weird and also is essentially like having two meals at once. I considered american style pancakes two ways as my actual evening meal, one with bacon and one with sweet things but was not enamoured with the idea.

It was when flicking through one of my many cookbooks that the problem was solved. Signe Johansen, author of Scandilicious baking tells us that in Scandinavia cardamom buns filled with vanilla cream and marzipan are eaten on Shrove Tuesday. In the book she offers a variation of these buns, instead of cream they are filled with an almond custard.

The almond custard are the version I have decided to make as they are much easy to adapt to be lactose free. Shrove Tuesday goodies sorted!

Almond custard filled cardamom buns (adapted from Scandilicious baking)

makes 6

80ml lactose free semi skimmed milk
15g butter
125g plain flour or white spelt flour (I used spelt)
15g caster sugar
Seeds from 5 cardamom pods, crushed with a pestle and mortar
1/2 sachet of fast action yeast
pinch of salt

100ml lactose free semi skimmed milk
Egg yolk
10g caster sugar
5g cornflour
1/2 tsp vanilla
15g blanched almonds

First up make the bun dough. Gebtly heat the butter and milk until just below boiling point, but do not bring to the boil. Set aside to cool. 

Mix the flour, sugar crushed cardamom pods, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Once the milk has cooled to room temperature add to the dry ingredients and mix until all the ingredients come together and are 'doughy'. 

At this point I placed two thirds of the dough in a lightly oiled frezer bag in the fridge to ferment overnight. I did this so we could have freshly baked buns on Shrove Tuesday. The remaining dough was placed in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with clingfilm and left to rise until doubled in size. If you prefer you could place all the dough in the fridge ready for you the next day or leave all of it to rise at room temperature if you are making them for consumption on the same day. 

While the dough is proving make the custard. In a bowl whisk together the egg yolk, caster sugar, cornflour and vanilla. Gently heat the milk until just below boiling. Add the milk a little at a time to the egg yolk mix, whisking all the time. Pour the all the custard back into the pan and, stirring all the time, heat gently until very thick. Transfer the very thick custard to a clean bowl and cover the surface of the custard directly with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.

Roughly chop the almonds and toast them in a frying pan until they are lightly golden and smell amazing. Crush them up a bit more, I did this in a pestle and mortar then stir through the custard.

When ready to make the buns divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (if the dough has been in the fridge allow to come to room temperature). Roll into balls and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover, leave in a warm place,  and allow the buns to prove for 15-20 minutes until they do not spring back when pressed lightly . During this time preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN. 

Just before baking glaze the top of each bun with a little beaten egg and splash a little water in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning the oven down 20 degrees if the buns start to colour too much. 

The cooked buns will be golden and sound hollow when you tap them. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack then simply slice and fill with cold custard.

I can confirm that the flavour of these are absolutely delicious, the custard in particular is divine. I will update this post tomorrow and let you know if the slow prove makes any huge difference to the flavour. I suspect it will make a huge difference to the texture, I think they will be lighter.  

UPDATE: The buns left in the fridge overnight were a little lighter in texture and tasted really good.