Category Archives: Breakfast

Banana and Cinna-nom Muffins

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 This is a great way to use up those over-ripe bananas you have hanging around the kitchen. It’s taken from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook which I must say, reliably delivers some of the tastiest cake recipes of any book I own. Not too sweet, I imagine these are the type of muffins normal people would get away with eating for breakfast. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no qualms about eating any kind of muffin for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nom.

ImageMakes 12-18 (depending on the size of your muffin cases).

Ingredients

350g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
150g sugar
70g butter, melted
400g slightly over-ripe banana (approx. 3 large)
375ml butter milk (or milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract (1/4 tsp paste)
1 large egg

for the cinnamon sugar:

3 tsp sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon

Method

Add the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and salt – to a bowl. Mix to evenly distribute. In a separate jug, measure out the milk, add the egg and vanilla. Mix gently just to break up the egg. Add the butter and the milk to the dry ingredients and use an electric whisk on medium speed to mix them thoroughly. In another bowl, mash up the banana, leaving a few medium sized chunks. Add to your muffin mixture and beat to make sure it’s all combined.

Spoon into muffin cases and sprinkle over a bit of the cinnamon sugar for a slightly crunchy topping. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 160-170. If you have any cinnamon sugar left, sprinkle over the muffins as they come out of the oven.

Serve warm with tea if you can’t wait. As with most muffin recipes, these are better left for a day or so to mature – I find you lose less of the mix stuck to the paper.

I heard they freeze well, but I am yet to find out for myself.

W

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Mary Berry’s Hot Cross Buns

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To celebrate Easter (not that I am a huge fan of Easter) I got my Mary Berry on baking these delicious hot cross buns from the latest edition of the Great British Bake Off Masterclass. Despite having watched the programme twice and having the recipe written down in front of me, I somehow still managed to get them wrong. However they turned out fantastic anyway, proving that even the most haphazard baker doesn’t have an excuse for not making a batch of these.

Ingredients

dough
500g strong white bread flour
50g caster sugar
7g salt
10g fast action yeast
40g butter
2 eggs
150ml whole milk
150ml water

filling
250g dried fruit of your choice (sultanas, raisins, mixed peel, Mary Berry suggests 180g dried fruit, 50g mixed peel)
zest of 1 orange (plus about half the juice)
1 apple, diced into small chunks
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg

crosses
75g plain flour
75ml approx. cold water

glaze
2 tsp apricot or ginger jam (whatever you have in the cupboard)
2 tsp warm water

Method

Weigh out all of the dry dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl, remembering to keep the salt and the yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and the milk and mix with your hands to ensure the butter is mixed thoroughly and there are no large chunks. By now you should have a vaguely dough-like substance that needs a bit of water to help it come together. Add the water bit by bit until you reach a slightly sticky dough.

Turn out onto the worktop and knead away for 5-10 minutes, stretching the dough and knocking it back. Throw the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for around an hour.

When the dough has about doubled in size, throw in the fruit and spices. Knead gently to ensure it is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cut the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces and roughly shape them into balls. Place on a baking tray 3 x 4 with about an inch between each. Leave to prove, covered in cling film, for another hour until the balls are just about touching. Heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Mix the flour with around 50 mls of water to form a thick paste. Add more water slowly to form more of a battery consistency that will be pipe-able. You may not need the whole 75 mls, though you may need a little more. Spoon the batter into a piping bag and pipe over all of the buns on the baking tray – you needn’t do each individually, one long sweep across all 3-4 will give a more professional look.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until dark golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, mix up your glaze and brush over the hot buns to give the shiny, sticky finish that make hot cross buns oh so tasty.

Enjoy warm, toasted or cold with lashings of butter or jam.

YUM.

Hot Cross Buns

Summer Berry Jam

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If you are looking for a definitive jam recipe from someone who knows what they are doing this is not it. I sort of made this up as I went along and the recipe that follows is how I may do this in future knowing now what I did right/wrong. I will highlight all the mistakes I made so hopefully you won’t make them too! It still tastes pretty epic by the way but if you want something foolproof…I recommend going elsewhere!

This makes quite a tart jam, so if you have a sweeter tooth obviously up the sugar.

Makes…quite a lot!

Ingredients

1.5 kg summer berries, I used (575g blackberries, 500g raspberries, 500g blackcurrant and 200g blueberries. I realise that doesn’t add up to 1.5 kg but I’m trying to make the weights a bit more scalable)
500g sugar*
6 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp lemon juice (+keep the lemon, pips** and all)
2 tbsp lime juice (+ keep the lime, pips and all)
handful fresh rosemary
handful fresh thyme
handful fresh lavender
3 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp ground nutmeg

Method

Squeeze your juices into a deep pan (as deep & wide as you can: jam is like magma when boiling and it has a tendency to jump out and attack you). Get your herbs, put them in a piece of cloth or something porous, with the remains of the lemon and lime (pips and all!) and bind with some twine. Crush with your hands to release the smelly loveliness. This would be a good point to sterilise some jars for preserving, so fill a bowl with soapy water, set the oven to a low heat, wash the jars then stick them in the oven to dry. (Read here for a little more info).

Add 2/3 of all the fruits to the fruit juice over a medium heat and bung in the lovely smelly sack. DON’T ADD ANY EXTRA WATER***. Stir regularly with a spoon and after 10-15 minutes add the sugar, nutmeg and vanilla essence. Continue to bubble away until the fruit is reduced and mushy and somewhere between liquid and solid. Add your remaining fruit – this way you get some mushed-down, jelly-type spread and hopefully some whole fruit too, yippeee – and turn the heat right up for 10 minutes or so. Really my timings are very rough – leave it as long as you deem necessary, the longer you do obviously the stiffer your jam will be.

Please be aware the area around the pan can and will get fairly splattered so don’t wear your favourite-brand-new-turquoise-shorts-that-are-so-good-your-girlfriend-steals-them****.

Remove your jar/s from the oven when dry and immediately fill with the hot jam – a funnel is really useful at this point. Seal the jars as soon as they are full so a vacuum is formed. Leave on the side to cool for a few hours before putting in the fridge, otherwise the glass is liable to crack due to the rapid change in temperature.

Serve on toast, in peanut butter and jam sandwiches (I used to be a non-believer, but my god they are awesome – honestly if you’ve never tried one you really ought to), in puddings, y’know, wherever you usually use jam…!

My Mistakes

*I used 300g of sugar (initially only 200!) and having had it for my lunch to say I have to say it was a little on the…tangy…side, even for me (and I’m usually one for cutting down the sugar in recipes by a lot).

**I didn’t include the pips but apparently they are a big source of pectin which is what is put in jam/jam sugar to help it solidify. So include yours!

***I added 100ml of water – BIG MISTAKE. The berries create plenty of liquid themselves and the extra water just meant it took forever to reduce. Honestly, although it might not seem like it at first you don’t need to add any.

****I got jam splodges on my favourite-brand-new-turquoise-shorts-that-are-so-good-your-girlfriend-steals-them *shock*. Fortunately my dad was there to very kindly wash them while I continued to tend to my jam…in my boxer shorts…

And on that beautiful image I shall leave you! Have a jamtastic time ;]

Granola

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I thought I would take advantage of being at home (and therefore having parents to pay for silly things like shopping) and make granola. Granola, I can hear you say, that’s not very exciting is it? Well the fact of the matter is that a. I bloody love granola and b. nuts and dried fruit are expensive. So there *blows raspberry*.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the quantities below are irrelevant but they are entirely adjustable to taste. This is just a combination of what I had available to me!

Ingredients

Dry
3 ½ cups oats
1 ½ cups raisins
1 cup mixed dried fruits (currants, sultanas, apricots, pineapple, raisins & cherries – though I removed these as I didn’t think they’d go)
½ cup flaked almonds
½ cup ground almonds
½ cup random chopped mixed nuts (I think)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Half a dozen brazil nuts, chopped
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Wet
1 banana, chopped
2 big* spoons of golden syrup
3 medium* heaped spoons of crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

*apparently in my house we don’t have normal-sized spoons. We have slightly-bigger-than (big) and slightly-smaller-than (medium) tablespoon spoons. I have included a comparison below to show their sizes (relative to what I think is probably a teaspoon, but could well be another in our long line of randomly sized spoons.

Big. Medium. Teaspoon. Possibly.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/160oC/325oF. Line some baking trays with baking paper (I used three trays).

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl add the wet ingredients. Really mash the banana until the whole thing is one consistency. Add the wet to the solid, or the solid to the wet (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter which way you do it). Mix thoroughly with a spoon, you don’t need to do this vigorously, but the longer you do it the more mixed it gets. Obviously. Spread the mixture quite thinly across your baking trays and whack in the oven. (If you prefer your granola more clumpy then press down with your palms.)

Every 10-12 minutes fetch the trays out the oven and give them a good shufty (shufty (n.): a jolly good shuffle, shimmy and shake) to ensure even browning. I also took this opportunity to swap them around in the oven, but you lucky people who have fan assisted ovens probably won’t need to do this. I left mine in for 40 minutes in total but this is entirely to taste – if you prefer your granola chewier – leave in for less time, crunchier – leave in for more. Simples.

Probably best to store in an airtight container and eat within a couple of weeks. I managed to transfer my granola to a suitable container by gently shaking it into the centre of the paper, then picking three corners and lifting it so the open end was higher than the closed end until I’d manoeuvred to a position where I could gently lower the open end into the container. Genius.

This made around 1.2kg which will do me and my parents for breakfast for the foreseeable future – hurray! Next time I do this I will definitely add one extra of all the wet ingredients (i.e. 1 extra banana, 1 extra medium spoon of peanut butter etc). I would also add an extra teaspoon of each of the spices too. Maybe you should and let me know how it goes?

J

Rhubarb & Ginger Jam

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When in Bristol for the Jubilee weekend we had afternoon tea at a wonderful little café. It consisted of savoury and sweet scones, with chutney and jam respectively. They were so bloody scrumptious we thought we’d attempt to replicate them. Here is the recipe for our sweet jam. The corresponding sweet scone recipe is here, the savoury scone here and the chutney here. Magic.

Ingredients

1kg  rhubarb
400g jam sugar (or caster sugar and 8g pectin)
30g stem ginger
6cm piece of root ginger
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Wash and chop the rhubarb into 1cm slices. Chop the stem ginger and  grate the root ginger. Add to a large pan with the sugar and other ingredients. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Note, you do not need to add any liquid to this as the rhubarb will smush down. Simmer on a low heat for around an hour, but use your common sense; the sauce should be thick and slightly sticky. Quite like jam. In fact, very like jam. Try cooling a small amount on cold plate to see if it is ready. It will thicken on cooling, so  bear this in mind.

Pour into a sterilised jar and leave to cool. Keep in the fridge. At a guess, it would be best eaten within 8 weeks. But we will not be liable for any stomach bugs incurred if eaten before or after this length of time. It was chosen somewhat arbitrarily. Who knows, it might be 16 or it might be 4, ours probably won’t last that long anyway…!

*Tip Alert*

Sterilising jars

There are a few ways of doing this, but we find the easiest is to wash them by hand in hot soapy water. Dry them in the oven on a very low setting (around 70°) for around ten minutes. Put the jam into the jars whilst both are still hot. Remember that if you cool glass jars very quickly (put them in cold water whilst still hot) they will probably crack, so don’t do that.

J&W