Category Archives: Oats

Scandilicious Baking: Banana Bread

Banana Bread (7946)If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know how much I enjoy a good banana bread. Those who know me well can tell you that I’m continually looking for the best recipes for banana bread around. I think that I have found the best one yet. You can find it in Signe Johansen’s book Scandilicious Baking. I bought this after trying some of her recipes from her first book, which was also my first encounter with Scandi cooking. There’s no need to repeat how much I enjoyed, and still enjoy cooking from book number one. The second book, dare I say it, is even better and I’m glad I have it now because it’s a great book to have in the run up to the Christmas season. It’s a baking book after all, and for me baking is a perfect way to spend the autumn/winter months. I have also discovered a love for spelt flour!

Banana Bread (7945)Two days ago, on Twitter, I read a tweet by @akentishkitchen about Signe’s Banana Spice Cake, which I mistook for the Spelt Banana Bread recipe found on the opposite page. My mistake, but if you have the book you will know what I mean. Both recipes are next to each other, and though made with the same ingredient, they are very different. I’m sure the spice cake is delicious, but here is my take on the bread recipe. I’m sure Signe won’t mind…she’s such a lovely lady. If you have some fruit which is starting to go all mushy on you, try this. You won’t regret it. Really.

  • 3 medium bananas, ripe or very ripe and mashed
  • 100ml milk with a few drops of lemon juice, or buttermilk for that matter
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 75ml maple syrup, or golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 50g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 4 tablespoons porridge oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 170ºC or 150ºC fan (Gas Mark 3-4) and grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.

In a large bowl pour in the bananas, milk/buttermilk, butter, syrup and egg, and give everything a good mix. Add both flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and fold till the ingredients are just mixed in, and stop right there.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and with a spatula spread the batter out evenly. Bake for around 55 minutes in the middle shelf of your oven, till the cake turns golden brown on top. To make sure that it is done, insert a skewer or knife into the centre. If it’s clean when it’s out, then it’s ready.

Allow the banana bread to cool for a good 20 to 30 minutes in its tin before taking it out on a cookie rack.

Store it wrapped in kitchen foil in an airtight container and it will keep for a good three to four days. It is good. One of the best recipes I have even tried. Thank you Signe!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, Saltyard Books, 2012.)

Porridge.

Breakfast is and will continue to be the bane of my life. I’ve always loved this expression, even though it may be too melodramatic. This seems a good time to use it! Seriously though, breakfast should be the most important meal of the day, and yet it’s so tough to be creative. I don’t know about you but that’s where I am. You see, at “insanely-early-o’clock-in-the-morning” I don’t have the necessary strength to think about anything. Especially before my coffee. So I am desperately trying to find ways to make my morning meal a little more interesting.

A pantry staple in this house is porridge. Boring. Well I say this almost all the time and I can even hear you say it. And we might even be right. You see, I like porridge but I find it hard to come up with ideas on how to make it. I get bored very easily, especially when it comes to breakfast food. Apparently I’m not the only one; you only need to flip through a cookbook or two to find that in the breakfast section (if there is one) you can literally count the recipes with one hand. Well…perhaps a bit more…

So I asked some friends of mine on Facebook (real friends in case you’re asking) for simple ideas on how they like their porridge in the morning. The feedback was fantastic. These are some which I loved. (Incidentally you can tell a lot about people from the things they love, and food is one of them.) My old school friend Elaine (‘old’ as in I’ve known her since our school days! She looks fabulous!) told me she loves to add manuka honey, cinnamon, pomegranate, bananas or apples. Very sophisticated. A friend from our days in Michigan, Alice, said that she loves pumpkin and apple bakes. (She did give me the link but I cannot find it anywhere in my bookmarks.) I can totally see that – they are as sweet and lovely as her! One of my very first loyal readers, Joanne, likes oats with Greek yoghurt, mashed bananas, sunflower or pumpkin seeds (or both I’m guessing), honey and almonds. Great combo. Lovely, happy ingredients, just like her smile. An interesting (in the positive sense) and one of my favourites is Edward’s take: coconut or honey, one or two drops of vanilla and flaked almonds. The best ideas in life are the simplest ones. (Could this be Ed’s mantra?)

I would add some chocolate chips with the coconut version, but that’s just because I love chocolate in anything! However I was being good so last week I made mine with a pinch of salt and a spoonful of golden syrup. (As if adding golden syrup is good! *snort*) Incidentally this would be a great meal just before heading to town to watch the Olympic torch passing through, which for us is today. Thank goodness I won’t be the one doing the running. If you are reading this and you have more ideas please share…It’ll be great! In the meantime here’s a recipe by Nigel Slater to get you started:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/04/nigel-slater-classic-porridge-recipe

Ignore any superstitions! Enjoy!

Rob x

Soggy muffins…

Apple-and-Cinnamon-Muffins-(5413)

I had not baked something sweet in a little while and decided that yesterday was the time to bake muffins. Now let it be known that muffins are the bane of my life at the moment. They never were, but since I’ve moved house I can never ever get them right. I’ve lost my touch. Lately I’ve been sharing my bakes with my lovely neighbour. (It’s the least I can do to thank her for taking the time to take care of all the building’s needs and for letting me vent when something is wrong!) But I didn’t give her any this time because frankly they’re not presentable, though they do taste good. Mind you, they look great actually, but they are not so nice to look at from the inside. Never judge a book by its cover. Before I continue I want to say that generally I try a recipe more than once before I write about it, but this time I just had to make an exception.

I was so disappointed that I took the time to discuss the result with J. He’s great at these things because he’s very calm and rational about these sorts of things. So while I was whining and going on a never-ending rant about how much of a failure I was (well..it’s a little bit over the top but I’m taking some poetic license on this), J took his time, cut one muffin in half, has a little taste and said: “One – you could cut the apples into smaller dice; two – you could even dry them in the oven for a bit; three – you could bake them for a little longer on a lesser temperature. You’ll get the hang of it, don’t worry…and if I were you I would try to make another batch tomorrow.” And that’s how from this point on I’ll think of this process as something of a post-mortem examination. Definitely seemed like it yesterday.

When I put that out on Twitter, one of my followers gave me the following idea: topping them with ice cream and chocolate and blame it all on the melting gooeyness of the ice cream. Tell you what – I was really tempted to do that! Another thing – I’m not blaming it on the recipe; I just want to try it again. One thing I will do though is to adjust it a little bit and take on board J’s suggestions. In case you’re wondering this recipe comes from Nigella Kitchen (page 130). I wanted to give them a go because they are a wonderful breakfast idea, not for everyday but they would be great for having friends or family over for brunch. I will edit in the photo later, but till then here’s the recipe for you, with some variations, for you to try should you want to. I will definitely do that this afternoon. This makes 12 muffins.

For the mixture:

  • 2 eating apples (I used Pink Lady, but you can use anything you like)
  • 250g plain flour (I used wholemeal which could have affected the texture)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 125ml honey
  • 60ml runny yoghurt (not Greek)
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 35g unblanched almonds, chopped

For sprinkling on top:

  • 35g unblanched almonds, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/392ºF/Gas mark 6 and line the muffin tin with paper cases or  some wax paper cut into squares for a more professional look.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them into small dice. Place them to one side till they are needed.
  3. Measure the flour in a large bowl and add the baking powder and the cinnamon
  4. (1 teaspoon), and the 35g of chopped almonds.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the brown sugar (125g), honey, yoghurt, oil and eggs, until combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to just combine the two. Add the chopped apples and fold them in gently. Do not over mix as you’ll end up with a very dense muffin.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop if you have one, divide the batter into the 12 cases.
  8. To make the topping, mix the ingredients together with your hands and sprinkle some on top of each muffin. Then bake for 20 minutes (what the original recipe suggests) till the muffins rise and turn golden.

I will tell you how my second attempt at these goes…wish me luck.

Rob x