Tag Archives: Breakfast Club

Cinnamon & raisin pinwheels

When I first arrived in New Zealand, I began looking for a recipe book of New Zealand recipes, preferably one categorised by seasons because as I’ve mentioned previously, I was having difficulties convincing myself that apricots in February were totally seasonal.  However, this wasn’t quite as straightforward as I’d expected and even the guy in the bookshop that I found that specialises entirely in cookbooks (uh-oh…) said that there weren’t really many books like that around.  However, apparently there is a big baking tradition, and judging by most of the recipes, this seems to have been brought over by British settlers.  So I walked out of the aforementioned bookshop with A Treasury of New Zealand Baking (after paying, obviously), which is made up of recipes by a whole host of the top Kiwi chefs, bakers and food writers, and there’s a range of recipes for all occasions, importantly using ingredients and fruits available here.  I hadn’t baked from this book yet, so I picked it for this month’s Random Recipes, the theme of which was “If I knew you were coming…” which meant we had to bake something to celebrate the 2nd birthday of Belleau Kitchen.  Happy blog-birthday, Dom!

The random number button on my trusty calculator referred me to page 200, which were the variations on a scone recipe.  I decided to go for the cinnamon pinwheels option, because, well, they sounded delicious.  I’ve never made scones before – to be honest, they’ve always intimidated me a little (a lot).  Scones just seem to be one of those baked goods that are straightforward, but can go wrong so easily, and if you do them wrong, they can turn out inedible.  So I was a little daunted at trying this recipe out, but rules are rules, so I got on with it…

I decided to throw some raisins in, so they turned into cinnamon and raisin pinwheels, and they turned out rather tasty.  I was expecting them to rise a little more than they did, but I think this might have been because I don’t quite have the “lightness of touch” required for scone-making.  I’m sure it’s a skill I just need to practice…  Don’t be surprised if scone recipes start popping up on Sharky Oven Gloves left, right and centre (and if you never see another scone recipe again… you’ll know that the “lightness of touch” skill is still eluding me).  I’m also entering these into this month’s Breakfast Club, being hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families, who happens to be a Kiwi living in the UK (and I’m sure she can correct me if I’ve got the Kiwi food scene completely wrong!).  She chose “Sweet treats and pastries” as the theme – these might not quite count as a pastry, but they definitely count as a sweet treat!

Cinnamon & raisin pinwheels

Makes 12-14 pinwheels
Adapted from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

These make a delicious breakfast, although they do take a little bit of time to put together.  You can make them the evening before and they’ll keep if wrapped well.  It is important to work these lightly or they will lose their lightness.  They didn’t rise quite as much as I was expecting, but I think that might be because I wasn’t quite as gentle with the dough as I should have been – they were still delectable though!

Ingredients

6 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
375g all-purpose flour
3 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp icing sugar
Pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter, cold
100g raisins
1 egg
300g unsweetened natural yoghurt
Milk, to brush

Directions

1.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 240°C/fan oven 220°C.

2.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a little ramekin.  Set aside.

3.  Sift the flour, baking powder, icing sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir together.  Dice the cold butter and rub into the flour mixture using your fingertips.  Stir in the raisins.

4.  Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.  Add the yoghurt and mix together, before pouring into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork to bring the dough together into a soft, sticky dough (add a splash of milk if the mixture is too dry, but it will get stickier as you roll it).

5.  Turn out onto a floured work surface and pull the dough together quickly so that it is soft and smooth.  Lightly roll out into a rectangle of about 20 x 40 cm and 1cm thickness.  Brush the dough with a little bit of milk.  Keep aside about 3 tbsp of the cinnamon sugar mix and sprinkle the rest evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough up from the long side and gently pressure it to make it an even thickness along the roll.  Cut into 2.5cm slices, and place cut side up on the prepared baking tray, leaving about 2cm between each pinwheel.

6.  Brush the tops with a little milk and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 12-14 mins or until risen and golden.

Enjoy!

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Sharky Oven Gloves goes vegan…

Guess what?  It’s already April 1st in my time zone, which means…  April Fools’!!  Nobody panic, Sharky Oven Gloves is most certainly not launching into veganism (like I’d ever choose to cut butter and cheese out of my life…).  Well, except for today’s post which does actually feature a vegan recipe (shock horror, I know).  You see, this is my entry to the March Breakfast Club challenge, and I’m cutting it extremely fine with the deadline since it’s already April for me, but thankfully the timezones are totally playing into my favour with this!  The challenge is being hosted by Makey Cakey and she chose the theme “deliciously dairy-free“, which was definitely a real challenge for me.  I’m a total dairy fiend, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: one of my greatest fears is to suddenly develop lactose-intolerance.  I drink a glass of milk every morning, I eat a heck of a lot of cheese and you are guaranteed to find at least three different types of cream hanging out in my fridge at any given time.  So it’s taken me the entire month to actually come up with something to make for the challenge.

Initially on reading the challenge theme, I thought it wouldn’t be too hard, I could just make something that doesn’t involve milk or yoghurt.  Or cheese, which I don’t usually have for breakfast anyway.  Simple.  And then I realised that butter is also dairy product.  Oh.  That complicates matters somewhat.  Which is how I ended up with a vegan recipe for today’s post – I’ll be honest, dairy-free or vegan foods are not usually my top choice when it comes to trying out recipes.  And by not usually I mean never.

I didn’t want to mess with the original recipe too much – baking without eggs, butter or milk is something that I never do so it’s difficult to judge the effects of changing the ingredients.  I used wholewheat flour instead of normal flour, and added some banana chips and left it at that.  After my new-found love of the combination of mango and chocolate, I very nearly threw some chocolate chips in, but then remembered that chocolate isn’t dairy-free.  I also very nearly buttered the tin, but luckily realised that that would defeat the entire point of this.  I wasn’t terribly convinced by how the recipe was going to turn out.  The batter seemed odd to me, but I put it in the oven, crossed my fingers and contemplated drinking a big glass of milk whilst waiting for it to come out…  It turned out better than I was expecting – it tastes totally delicious and although it seems a little dry, luckily the mango chunks give the loaf some moistness, which balances it out.  As a result of this, I’m now slightly less distressed at the prospect of vegan or dairy-free baking, but my huge fear of suddenly developing lactose-intolerance still stands.

Mango banana bread

Makes 1 loaf
Slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

The batter seemed a bit odd and rather dry as it went into the tin, but it came out well – the mango chunks help to moisten the loaf whilst it bakes.  I would perhaps suggest adding an extra half banana for moistness though.  The banana chips are totally optional but add a lovely little crunch.  This loaf will keep for a few days if wrapped and kept at room temperature.

Ingredients

1 mango
2 large, very ripe bananas
70ml organic rapeseed oil
80g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g whole wheat flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Handful of banana chips (reserve some for the topping)
Demerara sugar, for topping (optional)

Directions

1.  Line a 12 x 20 cm loaf tin with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  Chop the mango into about 1cm chunks.  Set aside.

3.  Using a fork, mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk in the oil, sugar and vanilla extract.

4.  Sift the flour, spices, salt and bicarbonate into the wet ingredients.  Tip the bran bits of the whole wheat flour in as well.  Stir together with a spoon until just combined.

5.  Add the chopped mango and crumbled banana chips, and fold in (don’t panic if it seems very dry).  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared loaf tin, and sprinkle with the sugar and a few more crumbled banana chips.  Bake for 45-50 mins, until lightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out just clean.  Allow to sit in the tin for 20 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #18: Banana & hazelnut porridge

It seems that the only recipes getting posted this month are those that I’m submitting to blog challenges, and this one is no different.  But I have the excuse that I’m relocating to the other side of the world (in precisely two weeks today!!) so I’m a little bit busy with other things at the moment.  Today’s blog post is no different – it’s my entry to this month’s Breakfast Club, being hosted by Aimée at Food, Je t’Aimée, who has chosen the theme of “January detox” to compensate for all the Christmas over-indulgence.  Now, the thing I associate most with detox is a smoothie.  Probably because it’s usually packed full of fruit and super healthy.  But all the berries that I would normally look for in a smoothie are completely out of season and I really don’t like smoothies for breakfast anyway, mostly because I get hungry about an hour later.  So, I decided to go for something vaguely healthy but filling, which is always good, because it means you don’t snack before lunch.  And what could be more filling and wintery than porridge?

Using skimmed milk makes this porridge a little healthier, and the banana is a portion of fruit, which is always good.  The hazelnuts add a lovely little crunch, plus nuts are healthy (can you tell that being healthy isn’t my strong point?  Ya, nuts are healthy, there’s fruit, use skimmed milk: totally counts as a detox!).  If I’d been really organised, I could have tried this out for breakfast yesterday and posted it for Burns Night, since porridge is vaguely Scottish and all (as are bananas, ahem.  In some alternate universe…).  It would have been slightly less of a tenuous link than my honey, lemon and chocolate muffins for Chinese New Year.  But I wasn’t organised, and plus I’m not really a fan of Burns Night.  Well, that’s not really true, it’s an excellent excuse for a dinner party, but other than that, I’m not really going to go out of my way to celebrate it.  Anyway, I digress.  This made a rather delicious breakfast – porridge might not be your first choice for a detox, but at least you won’t be snacking before lunch, and it’s not a fatty or super-sugary breakfast either.  And it’s important to have a proper breakfast to start off the day anyway!

Banana & hazelnut porridge

Serves 1
Adapted from BBC Good Food

I used whole milk, but skimmed or semi-skimmed milk would work fine as well if you want to make the porridge slightly healthier.  Adding raisins or seasonal fruits at the end would work well, too, and up the fruit content.  Everybody likes their porridge to be a different level of sweetness, so the honey will be very much to your taste.

Ingredients

35g porridge oats
200ml milk
1 banana
1-2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
Clear honey, to taste
Cinnamon, to taste

Directions

1.  Thinly slice the banana.

2.  Add the oats and milk to a small saucepan, along with half the sliced banana and simmer over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally (apparently stirring anti-clockwise brings bad luck – I haven’t tested the theory, but you’ve been warned, duhn duhn duhn…) until thickened to your liking.

3.  Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, top with the remaining banana slices, a drizzle of honey, the chopped hazelnuts and a light dusting of cinnamon.

Enjoy!

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Wunderbar stollen, natürlich ja, genau

Over the last 12 years or so and across three different postings, I’ve somehow managed to amass a small collection of German friends.  During my last three years in St Andrews, my flatmate was even German.  Since I’ve been periodically surrounded by Germans speaking German to each other for quite a few years now, it would be logical to assume that I’ve have picked up a fair amount of German and can hold a basic conversation.  If you have a vague grasp of German, you’ve probably already guessed from the title of this post that this really isn’t the case.  Aside from being able to swear in German (because that’s always the first thing you learn in any language), declare my love to people and throw out a few random words, my ability to speak German is more or less limited to “Achtung!  Ich bin eine Kartoffel!”  Which translates to “Warning!  I am a potato!”  Really useful stuff, right there.  If I ever get hopelessly lost in Germany and have to ask somebody for directions, I’ll have to choose between declaring my love to them, telling them I’m a potato or swearing at them.  Luckily I can read maps quite well, so hopefully that particular situation will never arise…

Whilst my friends may have failed miserably at teaching me any useful German, they have successfully introduced me to some rather delicious foods, including stollen.  I’ve been a big fan of this Christmas bread-like fruitcake for quite a long time now, and I always look forward to it in December.  It was a treat that I’d only get if I was round at a German friend’s house, which made it that little bit more special.  Now of course, it’s quite easy to find stollen in the UK, which makes it a little less special, but I still love it.  I considered trying to make some last year but realised that it involves yeast, which scares me a little – I’ve attempted to bake with yeast a few times, but it never seems to turn out how it should.

This month’s Breakfast Challenge is hosted by Krithi’s Kitchen and she’s chosen “Bread” as the theme, so I decided to give baking with yeast another go.  I’m not sure whether stollen is technically classed as bread, but it’s very bread-like and involves yeast, kneading and a bunch of waiting around, so I think it makes a suitably bread-like entry, right?  I’m going with yes.  I don’t actually know if stollen is considered a breakfast food in Germany.  I rather suspect that it isn’t – based on the Germans that I know and have had breakfast with, breakfast seems to be more of a savoury affair (edit: it’s been kindly pointed out to me on Twitter that, as with any country, breakfast foods vary widely across Germany and that some families do eat sweet things for breakfast, including stollen at Christmastime.  I clearly just managed to make friends with those that eat ham and cheese!).  But I love stollen, so when it comes up to Christmastime I’d happily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I thought that was a remotely balanced diet.

So, did I manage to conquer the yeast?  You may have guessed from the photos that I did!  I decided to make the stollens with marzipan down the middle, and they worked perfectly.  Kat, Craig and I reunited in St Andrews last weekend, so I took one of the loaves up with me and tested it on them, just like old times, and they gave it their seal of approval (“über-wunderbar, ja!” “Genau!” – which may or may not be real German…).  Although rather time-consuming, the recipe that I used turned out to be really quite straightforward, and after such delicious results, I’m less scared of baking with yeast.  I wouldn’t exactly say I’m confident yet, but I won’t automatically disregard recipes that involve yeast, which is quite a step forward…

Stollen

Makes 2 large loaves
Stollen recipe slightly adapted from The Daring Kitchen
Marzipan recipe from Je Sais Cuisiner
Crème d’amandes recipe adapted from delicious. (Dec 2011)

I know this looks like the world’s longest recipe, but it’s worth it, I promise!!  The marzipan is optional – just leave it out when rolling the pastry up to make the loaf – but I’d leave the crème d’amandes (unless you’re allergic to almonds or something, obviously!) in, as it subtly moistens the loaf a little bit.  The dough for the stollen can be made up to the end of step 8 and kept in the fridge for up to a week, then baked on the day required (or the day before).  The finished stollen also keeps very well for several days, wrapped tightly in tin foil and stored at room temperature.

Ingredients

For the stollen:
170g raisins
Dark rum to cover the raisins
770g all-purpose flour
115g caster sugar
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
60 ml lukewarm water (around 43°C)
14g dried active yeast
240 ml milk
140g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
135g mixed candied peel
100g flaked almonds

For the marzipan:
200g ground almonds
200g caster sugar
1 egg white

For the crème d’amandes:
75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
20g plain flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
5 tsp dark rum (use the rum that the raisins were soaked in)

For the glaze:
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp dark rum
About 15 tbsp icing sugar

Directions

To make the stollen:
1.  Place the raisins in a small bowl, and just cover with dark rum.  Cover with foil and leave to soak for about 12 hours, stirring regularly (you can also soak them in a sealed jar and shake it regularly).

2.  In a large mixing bowl (use the largest you’ve got), sift together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Stir in the lemon and orange zests.

3.  Pour the lukewarm water into a small bowl (I didn’t bother faffing with a thermometer to get the exact temperature, I just used water that felt warm against the inside of my wrist) and gently pour the yeast over the top of it.  Allow to sit for about 5 mins before stirring to dissolve the yeast completely.

4.  Gently heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan until the butter has melted.  Set aside to cool for about 5 mins until lukewarm.

5.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla and lemon extracts with a fork.

6.  Pour the yeast mixture, eggs and milk and butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir together (I used a spatula in order to be able to scrape the bowl better) until the dough comes together.  This should take about 3 mins, and the dough should form a soft, but not sticky, ball.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10 mins.

7.  Add the mixed peel, flaked almonds and drained raisins to the dough and mix them in using your hands.  Dust the counter with flour and turn the dough out onto the counter.  Knead for about 8 mins to distribute the dried fruit throughout the dough (add more flour if necessary).  The dough has been kneaded enough when a few raisins start falling off the outside of the dough ball – the dough should be tacky, not sticky.

8.  Lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough ball, rolling it around to coat it in the oil (I used organic rapeseed oil since I find that it’s flavourless).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The dough will harden, but it will rise.

9.  Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to rest for about 2h in order to warm and soften.  Whilst waiting for the dough to warm, line a large baking sheet (or two small ones) with baking paper and prepare the marzipan and crème d’amandes.

To make the marzipan:
10.  Add all the marzipan ingredients to a mixing bowl, and mix with your hands until it comes together (it will be dry at first, but it will get stickier as you work the ingredients together).  Set aside.

To make the crème d’amandes:
11.  Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl, using a fork and set aside.

12.  In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter using an electric whisk, until soft (it helps if the butter is already at room temperature, but this isn’t necessary).  Add the sugar and mix with the electric whisk.  Once fully mixed, add the ground almonds and mix.  Once fully incorporated, add the flour and cinnamon and beat together until fully mixed.  Add the egg and mix again until fully incorporated. Finally, add the alcohol and mix until smooth.  Chill the crème d’amandes in the fridge for about 15 mins until required.

To put together:
13.  Punch the dough down (no really, give it some serious punches.  But don’t hurt yourself).  Turn the dough out onto the counter (it shouldn’t need to be floured), and punch it into a vague rectangle.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle of about 40 x 60 cm.  It should be about 5mm thick.  Cut the rectangle in half along its width (so you should have two rectangles of about 40 x 30 cm each).

14.  Evenly spread half of the crème d’amandes over one of the rectangles of dough, leaving a 2cm border all the way around.  Take half of the marzipan and carefully work it into a cylinder of about 27 cm long (the marzipan will crumble if you try to roll it, so it’s easiest to gently squeeze it into a cylinder).  Lay the marzipan roll at one of the short ends of the dough (it should be just shorter than the dough), and roll the dough up tightly around the marzipan.  Pinch the ends to close them a little.  Transfer the stollen to the prepared baking sheet, with the seam sitting underneath.

15.  Repeat for the second half of the dough, using the remaining crème d’amandes and marzipan, and transfer it to the baking sheet (make sure there is space between them for them to increase in size, both before and during baking).

16.  Allow the stollens to prove for about 2h at room temperature, until about 1½ times their original size.

17.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Bake the stollens for 20 mins, rotate the baking sheet so that they bake evenly (separate them if they’ve joined a little in the middle) and bake a further 20-30 mins until a dark mahogany colour.  The loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove to a wire rack.

18.  Whilst the loaves are baking, melt the butter for the glaze in a small saucepan.  Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the rum.  As soon as the loaves have been transferred to the wire racks, brush their tops with the melted butter, and sift a layer of icing sugar over the top, followed by a second layer 1 minute later.  A few minutes later, brush more melted rum butter over the top of the icing sugar (this looks totally messy and unpresentable and icing sugar will go everywhere, but don’t worry), and sift another layer of icing sugar over the top.  A few minutes later, brush the remaining melted rum butter over the top of the icing sugar and immediately sift another layer of icing sugar over the top, followed 1 minute later by a final layer.  Allow the stollens to cool completely before serving or wrapping tightly in tin foil to store.

Enjoy!  (Natürlich ja, genau…)

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Pumpkin & cream cheese muffins

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve taken part in the Breakfast Club blog challenge.  There’s no particular reason for this – I can hardly say that I’ve been too busy, and I’ve certainly not stopped eating breakfast or anything ridiculous like that.  Perhaps I’ve just been lacking in inspiration a bit…  Whatever the reason, I decided to get my act together and get back into the challenge, because it’s always good to keep breakfast interesting!  The current challenge is being hosted by Sarah at A little bit of heaven on a plate…, and she has chosen “Stars and Stripes” as the theme.

Now I’d say that the US is pretty big on breakfast, so I felt rather spoilt for choice.  To me, the most utterly American breakfast just has to be blueberry pancakes – they just scream USA.  But it’s not exactly blueberry season, so I had to come up with something else…  We lived in the US for four years when I was little, and for some reason, I always associate pumpkins with the US.  Something to do with the whole pumpkin-carving tradition at Halloween perhaps, and enforced by the almost constant presence of pumpkin pie between Halloween and Thanksgiving?  Who knows why I associate anything pumpkin-related with the US, but I do.  So I thought about making pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  Of course, if I was going to go all-out American, the obvious thing to do would be to use tinned pumpkin (Libby’s, of course), but aside from not having any, I decided that I’d feel a bit silly using tinned pumpkin when it’s actually pumpkin season.  I do try to use seasonal ingredients as much as possible, so fresh pumpkin was really the only option.  This also means that I could submit this recipe to the Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food.  So I acquired an adorable little pumpkin and set about roasting it, ready to use in some pumpkin pancakes

Now, you’ve probably noticed that the photos in this post are quite clearly not pancakes.  Not even pancakes gone horribly, horribly wrong.  And you’d be correct, because you see, whilst planning my pancakes, I may have gotten ever so slightly distracted by a muffin recipe…  A rather delicious-sounding recipe for pumpkin muffins with a surprise layer of cream cheese hidden inside.  Luckily, I also consider muffins to be a totally American thing to have for breakfast (although I feel they should be jumbo muffins – unfortunately I don’t have any large muffin moulds or tins, so I just had to make normal-sized ones), so I scrapped the pancake plan and made pumpkin and cream cheese muffins instead.  How did they turn out?  Delicious!  They’re wonderfully moist and have a strong pumpkin flavour which goes beautifully with the surprise cream cheese layer.  Basically, they taste like pumpkin pie, but in a muffin.  Being muffins, they’re also easy to eat whilst travelling, and I had several of these for breakfast whilst on the bus to St Andrews on Friday morning.  They made an excellent start to a wonderful little two-day trip!

Pumpkin & cream cheese muffins

Makes 6-7 muffins
Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

I used homemade pumpkin purée by mashing-up some pumpkin that I roasted the other day, but tinned pumpkin would probably work just as well.  The chopped pecans sprinkled over the top are completely optional, but add a lovely crunch to the muffin – the original recipe called for pumpkin seeds which I’m sure would also work really well.  As with all muffins, these don’t store all that well, but they’ll be perfectly fine for breakfast if made the evening before and stored in an airtight box.

Ingredients

For the muffins:
60g cream cheese
20g icing sugar
90g whole wheat bread flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
130g pumpkin purée
1 egg
65g unrefined granulated sugar
30 ml milk
60 ml olive oil
¼ tsp vanilla essence

For the topping:
A few pecan halves (optional)
2 tbsp unrefined granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

1.  Line a muffin tin with liners or set out silicon liners on a baking tray.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and icing sugar, and set aside.

3.  Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices together into a bowl, and mix together.

4.  In a separate bowl, beat together the pumpkin purée, egg, sugar, milk, olive oil and vanilla essence.  Once the wet ingredients are well mixed together, stir in the dry ingredients using a metal spoon until just combined.

5.  Add about half a tablespoon of pumpkin mixture to each muffin liner (make sure that the mixture covers the bottom but that there is enough left to cover the cream cheese layer).  Add a dollop of cream cheese in each liner on top of the pumpkin layer.  Split the remaining pumpkin mixture between the liners, making sure to completely cover the cream cheese layer.  For the topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small ramekin.  Roughly chop the pecans and sprinkle evenly over the muffins, followed by the cinnamon sugar.

6.  Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden.  Allow to cool in the tin for a few mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #13: Banana, raisin & chocolate Crispy Minis crumble muffins

The challenge for this month’s Breakfast Club was to do something exciting with Cereals.  When I first read the theme of the challenge, hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, nothing particularly inspiring sprang to mind.  After a few weeks of thought, I decided to fall back on the fail-safe, but still wonderful, option that is the muffin.  I ignored the minor detail of not really knowing how I was going to incorporate cereals into a muffin recipe up until yesterday when I realised I should probably get round to actually giving the muffins a go.  Whenever I bake something, I’ve usually at least roughly planned it and can make sure that I have all the required ingredients, but these muffins ended up being rather haphazardly thrown together…

There was a rather lonely-looking, very ripe banana sitting in the fruit basket which I decided would be perfect to go into the muffins, and would keep them moist.  Plus fruit is healthy, so ya.  Since the muffins were to be for breakfast, I also decided that some dried fruit would be a good addition, being energising and all, so I decided I would throw in some raisins, too.  I still wasn’t really sure how I was going to include cereals (or even which cereals I was going to use), but decided that was still a minor detail and set about looking for a suitable recipe.  I have a muffin recipe which contains banana and porridge oats, and on reading that I suddenly realised that perhaps I could substitute crushed cereals instead of the oats and then sprinkle some crushed cereal over the tops of the muffins to give a slightly crunchy topping.  Problem solved!

I only had about half the amount of banana required for the recipe, but I couldn’t really halve the whole recipe since only one egg was required and I wasn’t about to start faffing around trying to measure out half an egg, so I fiddled around with the quantities of dry ingredients.  Out of the three boxes of cereals in the cupboard, I decided that the Weetabix chocolate Crispy Minis (that I inherited from my flatmate when she moved out of St Andrews and had sort of forgotten about – I don’t tend to eat much cereal) seemed the most promising choice, with the bonus that chocolate goes well with both banana and raisins.  Sorted!  So I enthusiastically crushed the cereal, substituted it for porridge oats, messed around with the quantities of flour and sugar, threw it all together and hoped for the best.  Much to my astonishment, the muffins worked wonderfully and were delicious both as an afternoon snack (I made them yesterday afternoon – I obviously had to taste one…) or for breakfast!  Although I must say that by breakfast this morning the topping was a little less crunchy than it had been yesterday afternoon.  Sad times, though still totally yummy!

Banana, raisin & chocolate Crispy Minis crumble muffins

Makes 9 muffins
Adapted from Mad About Muffins

These can be made the evening before, left to cool and then stored overnight in an airtight container ready for breakfast the next day.  I used Weetabix chocolate Crispy Minis, because that’s what I had, but any other flavour or similar cereal would probably work just as well.  Sprinkling cereal over the top gives a slightly crunchy top layer which is balanced by a lovely, moist muffin.

Ingredients

50g all-purpose flour
45g wholemeal bread flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
80g Weetabix chocolate Crispy Minis (or similar)
60g butter
80g light muscovado sugar
1 very ripe banana
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
45g very hot water
70g raisins

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.  Line a muffin tin with 9 liners or lay out 9 silicone moulds on a baking tray.

2.  Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Tip in any bran from the wholemeal flour that didn’t go through the sieve.  Place 50g of the Crispy Minis in a zip-lock bag and crush them finely using a rolling pin before adding them to the flour mix and stirring all the dry ingredients together (set the zip-lock bag aside for later).

3.  Melt the butter in a large, heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan, add the sugar and mix thoroughly.

4.  Peel the banana and mash them with a fork in a small bowl.  Add to the butter and mix thoroughly.

5.  Lightly beat the egg using the same fork and bowl that you just used for the bananas.  Mix the egg and vanilla extract into the butter mixture.

6.  Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the hot water, followed by the rest of the flour mixture.  Stir in the raisins and spoon the batter evenly into the muffin liners/moulds (don’t overfill the liners).

7.  Place the remaining Crispy Minis in the zip-lock bag and roughly crush them (not too finely!).  Sprinkle the pieces over the tops of the muffins.

8.  Bake for 30-33 mins or until the muffins are well-risen and golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container until breakfast.

Enjoy!

PS – If you read my blog regularly and are thinking that this recipe looks a little familiar, I realised halfway through making the muffins that the recipe I was adapting was, in fact, the same recipe that I had adapted when I made the banana, date and pecan loaflets for the very first Breakfast Club challenge that I took part in…  Woops?

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Breakfast Club #12: Berry crumble bars

I was super-enthusiastic about the theme for this month’s Breakfast Club challenge, which is “Berries,” chosen by Nayna at simply.food.  Along with warm sunshine, summer berries have to be one of my favourite things about summer.  Fife seems to have a lot berry farms, and I think it might be one of the main raspberry-producing areas in the UK – with good reason, because the local raspberries are absolutely scrumptious.  So that’s one of my favourite summer things sorted.  As for sunshine, well, although St Andrews is apparently one of the sunniest spots in the UK, I still feel that the heat of a proper summer is distinctly lacking.  I suppose you can’t have  everything, and it would seem that local, tasty summer berries and a hot, sunny summer are too much to ask for.  So, as a whole bunch of clouds appear out of nowhere and the temperature drops to prove my point, let’s focus on the fruit.

There are so many breakfast possibilities involving berries, and the first that sprang to mind were granola, pancakes or muffins.  I decided that I wanted to try something a little less obvious, particularly since I have time to try things out at the moment (and all those baking supplies that I need to work my way through).  I happened across a recipe for some fruity crumble bars the other day, and not only did they look super tasty but the recipe was easy to adapt depending on whatever fruit you want to use.  So I decided to try the recipe out last night, ready for breakfast this morning.

Since Tesco (my local supermarket) conveniently had a whole bunch of locally-grown berries at half price, I decided to make the crumble bars with a selection of berries.  I picked up some raspberries, blueberries and strawberries (they didn’t have any blackberries sadly) and headed home to attempt the bars.  In a vague attempt to make this slightly healthier, I added some porridge oats to the crumble mixture, which worked nicely, adding a little bit of subtle crunch.  I actually really enjoyed having these for breakfast, they’re filling and tasty and a little different from what I usually tend to eat for breakfast, but they would also work as a post-lunch or mid-afternoon snack if cut into smaller squares, although they’re quite crumbly and not necessarily all that transportable unless in a box.

Berry crumble bars

Makes 12 squares
Adapted from Shop.Cook.Make

You can easily adapt these depending on which fruits you have at home or are in season.  You can also use whichever type of jam you want, and if you really like marmalade, you can also use that (I did, and it was yummy, though make sure to spread it thinly so the bitterness of the peel doesn’t overpower the rest of the bar too much!).  I was worried that keeping them overnight in an air-tight box would make them go a bit soft, but they were absolutely fine.

Ingredients

230g all-purpose flour
50g porridge oats
150g demerrera sugar
225g unsalted butter
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
Pinch salt
Jam of your choice, to spread
200g of mixed fresh berries or fruit

Directions

1.  Line a 19 x 25 cm baking tin with baking parchment (this will make it easier to lift out of the tin when cooled so that it can be cut into squares).  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg.  Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a large bowl with the flour, oats, sugar, beaten egg, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt.  Work the ingredients together using your hands to make a lumpy crumbly mixture (don’t worry if you think that the mixture is unlikely to turn into anything resembling the end product, or is a lot more buttery than a normal crumble mixture – this is normal).

3.  Gently press about half of the crumble mixture into the baking tin.  Spread a thin layer of jam/marmalade over the top of the crumble mix, leaving an edge of about 1cm.  Spread the washed and dried fruit (if using strawberries, do chop them up, and rip raspberries or blackberries in half as well) over the top of the jam, and then crumble the rest of the crumble mixture over the top of the fruit.  Don’t press the mixture down, but make sure that it’s more or less evenly spread across the bars.

4.  Bake for about 45 mins, until golden on top.  Allow to cool fully (it will harden up as it cools, which should take about 40-50 mins or so) before lifting out of the tin and slicing into squares.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #11: Goat’s cheese & rosemary muffins

This month’s Breakfast Club challenge is hosted by Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, and the theme is “Savoury vegetarian.”  Sounds straightforward enough, but it was actually a real challenge for me, because I’m not really a savoury breakfast person – sweet breakfasts all the way, thanks very much.  Still, that’s the whole point of a challenge, so time to bite the bullet and come up with something savoury (I wasn’t too worried about the vegetarian thing – I’m not a fan of meat in the morning anyway, so that was unlikely to be an issue).

So, a savoury breakfast.  Gosh.  I’m a total cheese fiend I quite like cheese, and will happily eat it at pretty much any time of day, and I absolutely love muffins, so I decided to go down the cheesy muffin route.  I had some goat’s cheese in the fridge that conveniently needed using up, and some rosemary in the freezer that also needed using up, and they happen to make a lovely combination, so I decided to give goat’s cheese and rosemary muffins a go for breakfast this morning.

The problem with making muffins for breakfast is that they take forever to make.  Well, ok, not forever, but I’m a pretty impatient person, especially in the morning.  But oh they are so worth it.  Yummy.  They’re tasty both warm or cold, and whilst lovely for breakfast, they would also work wonderfully as picnic food, or an afternoon snack (I might be munching on one as I write this).  I have to admit though, I’m still firmly in the sweet breakfast camp.

Goat’s cheese & rosemary muffins

Makes 16 muffins
Adapted from Mad About Muffins

These are lovely warm, but are also super tasty when cool, which makes them great for picnic food.  The original recipe calls for thyme rather than rosemary, and I’ve made both versions, and they’re both yummy, so really just use whatever you’ve got to hand (assuming it will go with goat’s cheese).  Using a goat’s cheese log with a soft rind means that you don’t have to remove the rind and it will melt into the muffins.  Also, using a cheese that hasn’t matured too much means that it will be easier to cut and separate.  If you’re making these for vegetarians, do make sure you choose a goat’s cheese suitable for vegetarians.

Ingredients

200g goat’s cheese
100g butter
300g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
15g caster sugar
Pinch salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5g fresh rosemary (about 5-6 sprigs) + extra for topping
2 eggs
185ml milk

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.  Grease and flour 16 muffin tins sections, or line with paper liners or set out silicone moulds.  Roughly chop the goat’s cheese into 1cm dice.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

2.  Sift the flour, baking powder, caster sugar, salt and pepper into a large bowl.  Tip any bits of black pepper that haven’t gone through the sieve.  Strip the leaves from the rosemary and roughly chop them, before adding to the dry ingredients, stirring well.

3.  In another bowl, beat the eggs and milk together with a fork.

4.  Pour the egg and milk mixture and the melted butter to the dry ingredients, and fold together with a metal spoon until just combined.  Then add the diced goat’s cheese, and fold in gently (try not to over-mix).  Spoon the batter into the muffin tin sections/liners/moulds.  Top each muffin with a small sprig of rosemary to decorate (optional).

5.  Bake for 22-25 mins until golden and well risen and the tops spring back when gently pressed (watch for hot cheese).  Transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating (though they are also tasty warm).

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #10: Fig, orange & honey pancakes

This month’s Breakfast Club is hosted by Krithi’s Kitchen and she has chosen “Pancakes” as the theme.  Now, I have a confession: whilst I make crêpes from time to time, I’ve never made pancakes before.  Oh my God, shock horror, etc.  Yes, I am 22 and have never made pancakes.  I actually just never really think to make them, perhaps because they’re not something my mum ever made for me (they’re not very French).  Though having said that, my mum never really made muffins either (they’re also not very French), and I absolutely love them and bake them on a regular basis.  So that’s actually a bit of a crap excuse.  Whatever the reason though, the point is that I’ve never made pancakes.

Whilst this means that I get to try something completely new (to me), it also means that I don’t have a tried-and-tested basic pancake recipe to expand on.  Or any pancake recipes in general actually – though the internet rapidly solved that issue.  The only rules for this challenge were no beef (easy), no pork (easy) and no alcohol (I’m a student, so uhmmm…  Just kidding – I can cope) which gave me a wide scope for experimenting.  I had some dried figs that I wanted to use up, and decided to pair them up with orange  after nearly taking myself out when I knocked off a jar of orange blossom honey of a shelf in my cupboard (things falling from the sky is not my usual source of inspiration, but whatever works).

So having decided on a combination of fig and orange (which work wonderfully well together, by the way!) I found a blueberry pancake recipe online that looked straightforward enough, and sort of adapted it as I went along.  This could have gone horribly wrong, but thankfully didn’t.  I’m actually quite happy with my first attempt at pancakes – whilst they might not be all that presentable, they tasted lovely.  The dried fig sweetened the pancakes up a little as did the honey (unsurprisingly), whereas the orange zest and juice made them taste quite fresh and light.  Because the recipe made 12 pancakes and there’s only 1 of me, and well, it’s “Ball Season” at the moment, so becoming obese isn’t really one of my goals (getting all my dresses altered would be a bit of a pain), I had a bunch of leftover pancakes.  I toasted some of them for breakfast this morning and guess what?  Scrumptious!  Though the amount of honey that I drowned them in drizzled all over them may have somewhat nullified my whole I-probably-shouldn’t-eat-12-pancakes thought process.  Oops.  Totally worth it though, and I’ll just take a little trip to the gym – sorted!

Fig & orange pancakes

Makes 12
Adapted from Verses from my Kitchen

Make sure to chop the fig as finely as possible and spread the chopped fig out a little so that you don’t end up with a clump of fig bits in the middle of the pancake.  The pancakes can be made as big or as small as you like, though you’ll obviously have to adjust the cooking times accordingly.  Any leftover pancakes can be stored in an airtight box and toasted for breakfast the next day and served with honey or butter.  I served these with orange blossom honey because I happened to have some, but acacia honey would also be lovely.

Ingredients

80g dried figs
1 unwaxed orange
125g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
About 250ml milk
20g butter + extra for cooking
Honey, to serve

Directions

1.  Chop the dried figs as finely as possible, and mix with the finely-grated orange zest in a small bowl.  Sift and mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

2.  Juice the orange and make the liquid up to 300ml.  Add to a medium bowl with the egg and whisk together.  Make a small well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid progressively, whisking until smooth.  Gently stir in the melted butter, chopped figs and orange zest.

3. Melt a knob of butter over medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan.  Drop about 2 large tbsp of into the pan for each pancake (you’ll have to do this in batches) and cook for around 3 mins or until small bubbles start to form on the top surface.  Flip and cook further for about 2 mins.

4.  Serve drizzled with honey and extra chopped figs if you have any.

Enjoy!

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Of penguins and porridge

I have serious issues with the Scottish weather.  This isn’t a new development, far from it, but I was particularly reminded of this over the weekend.  At the beginning of March, we had beautiful weather (and in fact at the end of February too, since I managed to end up with a sunburnt nose whilst fieldworking) – granted it wasn’t 25°C let’s-hit-the-beach-in-our-bikinis weather, but it was still warm enough during the day to swap my boots for ballet flats.  This is a major thing for me, because I get cold really easily.  The weather last week was a bit iffy – mostly sunny during the day, with a few unexpected rain showers in the evenings, but the main issue was the cold wind (and associated occasional horizontal rain).  St Andrews is coastal, so it tends to be quite windy anyway, but there were several days where walking down the street felt like you were participating in some sort of wind tunnel experiment.  Consequently, not only did I have to switch back to boots, but I spent most of last week sporting what can only be described as a bit of a macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) hairstyle.  In case you don’t know, this is what a macaroni penguin looks like (from National Geographic Stock):

I know, I know, it’s a HOT look.  Though I didn’t have the yellow-and-black thing going on (how impressive would it be if the wind could do that?!), just the crazy side tufts.  And this is coming from somebody whose hair is usually always at least a little bit messy, and accepts it as such.  So anyway, despite the macaroni penguin hair, at least it was still mostly sunny.  Now I know it can’t be sunny forever, but it’s very nearly officially Spring, and I was quite a fan of this whole it’s-getting-warmer-let’s-pretend-it’s-nearly summer thing.  However, the weather clearly had other plans, because the temperatures dropped and it rained the entire weekend.  In true Scottish style, we were treated to every possible kind of rain – fat rain, misty drizzly rain, sideways rain, etc.  I even got caught in some upwards rain at one point (apparently Scottish weather hasn’t got the hang of gravity yet).  Oh and it briefly hailed, too.

This return to wet, wintry weather resulted in a sudden craving to have porridge for breakfast.  This happens to tie in rather well with this month’s Breakfast Club, hosted by Taste Space, who has chosen the theme “Whole grains.”  I hadn’t really decided what I wanted to do for the challenge yet, but porridge fits the bill perfectly, because guess what?  Porridge oats are whole grains, hurrah!  I get the impression that “Whole grains” were chosen because they are healthy, and we were probably supposed to come up with a healthy breakfast, which this might have been, if I hadn’t been slightly over-enthusiastic with the quantities of honey and whisky that I added the first time I made this (resulting in a great start to the day!).  Oh well.  It’s still whole grain-based.  And whisky is made from barley, and that’s a whole grain, too…  So ya, heather honey and whisky porridge – whole grains all round!  Oh and it’s yummy, too – it’s still raining (torrential at the moment) so I made it again for breakfast today (with slightly more sensible quantities of everything, as in the recipe below).

Heather honey & whisky porridge

Serves 1
Adapted from BBC Food

You could use clear honey and spiced rum instead of the heather honey and whisky.  Or any other combination of flavours.  I suppose the whisky (or rum) is optional, but why wouldn’t you want to add it?  I used Glenfarclas 10 year, because I think it tastes a bit like fruitcake, and I decided that was appropriate for breakfast.

Ingredients

40g porridge oats
2 tbsp double cream, plus extra to serve
200ml whole milk
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp whisky
1 tbsp Scottish heather honey

Directions

1.  Add the oats, cream, milk, sugar and whisky to a small saucepan and simmer over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally (always clockwise if you’re a purist.  Before you ask, I have no idea why.) until thickened to your liking.

2.  Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, stir in the honey and drizzle a little bit of extra double cream over the top.  If you like your porridge really sweet, sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar over the top.

Enjoy!

PS – Dear Scottish weather, could you please stop raining now?  Thanks ever so much.  Yours, etc., M.

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