Happy Monday! I’m particular happy this Monday as there are only 4 weeks of work left before the Christmas holidays!! Not that I’m counting down or anything. I’ve started to feel particularly Christmas-y as of this weekend…I even cracked out my festive jumper on Sunday. It was probably a step too far but I love it so much and it was Christmas present last year so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to wear it in the new year.
I’ve also started to think about what gifts I’m going to make this year. Vanilla extract was on the list a while ago but I’m too late for that one. Last year I made jars of popcorn, granola and cookie/brownie mix. Possible gifts this year are jams and chutneys, bags of sweets or festive shortbread. For some reason I’m feeling particularly craft this year, so there might even be an attempt at making my own Christmas cards, but I’ll have to see about that one.
Aaanyway, that’s enough Christmas chat for now. Here, as promised, are some pear laden muffins! Pear, cranberry and some – delicious as a snack in their own right – walnuts. I was concerned that the fresh cranberries could be overly tart in the muffins so before adding the walnuts to the mix, they are roasted in cinnamon sugar which makes them super delicious.
The cranberry does give a bright, kick to the muffins but the sweet pear along with the subtle spice of the earthy walnuts perfectly counterbalances it. A generous sprinkling or sugar and some extra walnuts gives a lovely crunch and texture contrast too.
These muffins were a surprising hit with my workmates , but maybe that was just the free cake on a Friday morning. As one colleague suggested they would made a great breakfast over the festive period. They are quick to put together in the morning if you were up for it, or they could be wrapped and frozen after baking then defrosted overnight to be popped in the oven to reheat in the morning. (more…)
I was at home this weekend to visit my family and friends, of course, but also (and mostly) because my mum and dad were getting a new kitten. This is incredibly exciting to someone like me who adores cats, future cat lady right here!
We went to pick him up on Saturday morning, and since then he has taken to his new home as if it has always been this way. He is just a crazy, playful, super cute kitten who we are all completely in love with already. Of course I had to come back home to Glasgow eventually and I miss him already! I mean look at that face…
When I was baking these muffins he was following me all around the kitchen trying to get in to every cupboard and drawer I opened, trying to figure out what on earth I was up to and why I wasn’t playing with him. Despite the distraction, I manged to finished baking without any kitten related disasters, and they turned out great.
These scones are light and flavourful. A little bit too summery for the season perhaps, with the fresh blueberries, but I just really fancied baking with blueberries. They have a brilliant flavour after baking, and go really well with the toasted walnuts and spices here. Alone, the scones are not overly sweet, but that was a great excuse for a maple glaze and means you are able to sweeten them up with some homemade jam. (more…)
This bread is sort of like posh Nutella on toast. Now, regular Nutella on toast is just fine but every now and then it’s fun to be fancy. An enriched dough makes this bread ultra luxurious, especially with the swirls of chocolate and chopped hazelnuts which run through the centre. It has been brightening up my mornings at work when I haven’t had time to eat before heading out the door, a slice toasted, with a side of banana to add something healthy, makes for a perfect morning meal.
As usual, bread baking takes a little time but it’s the perfect autumn weekend task, then you’re sorted for breakfast for the week ahead! The recipe makes enough for two loaves, so I baked up both and have stored one in the freezer for future breakfast emergencies. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate, but all I had in the house was Greens and Blacks Milk chocolate (my absolute favourite chocolate) which is 34% cacao and I think gives enough deep chocolate flavour without being too sweet. Adding in hazelnuts adds a lovely texture combination to the bread, as well as helping to recreate the Nutella flavour.
Just in case you’ve never heard of Babka before (I hadn’t), it is an Eastern European Jewish yeasted loaf. (more…)
I always really enjoy making bread, or yeast based recipes I should say, even though I don’t make them very often. It’s always a bit of an experiment because of my lack of confidence and familiarity with bread techniques. It’s getting there though, practice makes perfect as they say!
One of my main problems is that I don’t stick to the basics enough. The best advice would be to start with a simple recipe, perfect it, and then start to play around with the flavours. Sometimes there just not enough time for all that and you just want to dive right in to combining two recipes with a dash of your own ideas.
Sometimes this is a disaster. Sometimes this is a success.
Now, perhaps if this focaccia recipe was presented to Paul Hollywood he would not be handing out any star baker accolades (sorry, I just finished watching the Bake Off) , but I thoroughly enjoy it. The bread has a slightly crispy exterior with a spicy, fruity, chewy interior and the maple glaze adds a perfect extra sweetness. It equally makes a great breakfast and bedtime snack served cold or warmed in the oven. (more…)
It’s fair to say I’m a beginner when it comes to bead. Making it that is, I’m an expert at bread consumption. People who aren’t, can’t be trusted. I only wish it wasn’t the one thing we’re always told to cut out of our diets when trying to lose weight. This is why I could never stick to a diet for more than a handful of days (I tried a no carb detox diet once, lasted a day and a half before I felt faint and had major bread cravings, never again!).
Anyway, I digress, back to bread baking. Working on technique and understanding the ratios of yeast, flour sugar and salt is a work in progress, so this brioche sticks loyally to the recipe. Next time I’ll experiment with flavourings and try a different method to deduce what works for me and gives the best results.
The overall time to make brioche is quite long, but actual working time is less than an hour. A good weekend project. (more…)