Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Dairy Free Peanut Butter Oatcakes

OK OK, as much as a try to rationalise it I think, for the moment at least I seem to have become one of those "healthy" baking types. Honestly though, it's only because despite my balanced diet and all the fitness training I try to cram in these days, I still really can't resist something cheeky after dinner!  Luckily however, with such a vast array of wholesome alternatives to traditional baking ingredients when it comes to healthy treats, I really can have my cake and eat it. Just take these soft and chewy oatcakes for instance. Wholemeal and dairy free but still blooming delicious!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 12-14 Mins
60g Peanut Butter
100g Raw Cane Sugar with Stevia
60g Coconut Oil (Melted)
1 Large Egg Yolk
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
100g Wholemeal Flour (Plus extra for rolling)
100g Jumbo Oats
1/2tsp Baking Powder
3tbsp Almond Milk

These really are a doddle to make. Begin by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and lining a large flat baking tray with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the coconut oil, egg yolk and vanilla. Add the flour, oats and baking powder, then drizzling in the milk, mix to a soft dough.

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to around half a centimetre thick, then cut into rounds using a generous sized biscuit cutter. You should get around nine oatcakes out of this quantity of mixture. Place your oatcakes onto the baking tray, evenly spaced apart and bake in the centre of the oven for around 12-14 mins, until light golden on top and just starting to colour at the edges. 

When you are happy the oatcakes are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for around 15 minutes on the tray. Lift the warm oatcakes from the paper and leave to cool on a wirerack. All done!


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Rummy Date and Banana Bread

I admit, I came up with this one as I was looking to use some wholemeal flour I had leftover from recent baking adventures. However, I was so pleased with the result I felt I must share it with you all. I've made banana bread many times before, but this one has a few extra special twists, such as the addition of sweet and syrupy dates, a touch of cinnamon and a heady dash of rum. I've also used light agave nectar in placed of refined sugar and no dairy, so you could say it's not so naughty but nice. ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus soaking time for the dates)
Baking time: 70-75 Mins
200g Hadrawi Dates (Or Medjool)
100g Agave Nectar (Plus a little extra to drizzle)
90ml Rum
90ml Boiling Water
215g Wholemeal Flour
2tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
2 Ripe Bananas (Well mashed)

For a really soft and sticky texture you'll need to soak your dates for a few hours and ideally overnight, so grab a good size bowl and something to cover it with. Remove the stones from your dates, chop roughly and add to the bowl. Drizzle in the agave, then pour over the rum and boiling water. Leave to soak for a minimum of three hours, covering when the mixture has cooled to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line a 2lb loaf tin with one of those loaf tin liners you can pick up now from the supermarket. If you don't have a liner then baking paper will do just fine. Add the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder to a large bowl, mix together, then make a well in the centre. Pour in the beaten eggs, along with the cooled date mixture and mix together once more. Fold through the ripe bananas, getting right to the bottom of the bowl until you are left with a consistent batter, then pour into your prepared tin.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 70-75 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf. When you are happy the loaf is baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for ten minutes. Carefully turn out onto a wire rack, drizzle with a final lick of agave syrup and leave to cool until ready to serve. All done.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Wholemeal (and Dairy Free) Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now I wouldn't call myself a 'healthy' baker, but as I become more educated on the impact of what I eat I find myself becoming equally more mindful when choosing the ingredients. That doesn't mean I compromise on taste or texture however, as these delicious cookies demonstrate. They may be wholemeal, dairy free and relatively low in refined sugar, but they are still sweetly satisfying and deep in flavour. Yum!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus some chilling time)
Baking time: 15 Mins
75g Smooth Organic Peanut Butter
110g Raw Cane Sugar mixed with Stevia (Available from most supermarkets)
1 Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla Extract
75g Coconut Oil (Melted)
100g Wholemeal Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
75g Jumbo Oats
150g Dark Chocolate Chips
50g Toasted Flaked Almonds

This quantity of mixture will make 12 big cookies. Begin by creaming together the peanut butter and sugar, then beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract and coconut oil. Add the wholemeal flour, baking powder and oats, then mix to a sticky dough. Toss in the chocolate and almonds then fold through until evenly combined. Spoon the loose dough onto some cling film, wrap up and place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours.

Once the dough has firmed up the fridge preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line two large flat baking trays with baking paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into twelve. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place onto your prepared baking trays. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 15 minutes, until the dough has spread, is golden brown and just starting to darken at the edges. When you are happy the cookies are baked remove from the oven, carefully slide the paper onto a wire rack and leave the cookies to cool. They are now ready to serve, so get the kettle on!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Wholesome Fruit Cake

I'm a big fan of rapeseed oil at the moment. Not only is it relatively low in saturated fat, but the slightly nutty flavour works very well with an array of baked treats. Here I've used it in a yummy fruit cake, made even more wholesome with the use of wholemeal flour, oats and a mix of raw cane sugar with stevia. You should be able to find this in the supermarket, but if not you can use agave syrup. 

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 60 Mins
70g Wholemeal Flour
4tbsp Jumbo Oats
1tsp Baking Powder
100g Ground Almonds
115g Raw Cane Sugar with Stevia
150g Rapeseed Oil
3 Large Eggs (Beaten)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Almond Extract
1tsp Lemon Extract
1tbsp Dark Rum
500g Pre-soaked Dried Fruit
1tbsp of Honey

Let's begin! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 20cm deep, loose bottomed cake tin entirely with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, almonds and sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the rapeseed oil and eggs. Mix together until evenly combined, then add the extracts and rum and do the same. Fold through the fruit, then spoon into your prepared tin.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 minutes, until nicely risen and a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven, leave in the tin for around 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the tin an peel off the baking paper. Finish with a drizzle of honey and leave to cool entirely on a wire rack. Done done done!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Chocolate Hazelnut Loaf Cake with Cherries

This cake was the result of one of those all too frequent occurrences, when I have a few odds and ends in the store cupboard that I'm looking to use up. The delicious result has more than a hint of the black forest about it, but of course that's no bad thing. It's a real fudgy devil too, which means it will keep for more than couple of days if stored in a cool or cold place. Well, if you can resist gobbling it all up!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 70-75 Mins
175g Butter
150g Milk Chocolate (Broken into cubes)
100g Ground Hazelnuts
100g Plain Flour
1.5tsp Baking Powder
2tbsp Cocoa Powder
150g Golden Caster Sugar
75g Toasted Hazelnuts (Roughly Chopped)
2 Large Eggs, plus 1 Yolk
175g Cherries soaked in Kirsch, along with 2tbsp of the soaking liquor (Plus a few extra cherries to decorate)
175g Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line a 2lb loaf tin with a greaseproof loaf tin liner. You can pick the liners up easily from most supermarkets or kitchenware stores. Melt together the butter and chocolate, either over a bain-marie or in the microwave, then set to one side to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar and hazelnuts. Make a well in the middle and pour in the melted butter and chocolate. Mix through, then add the eggs and continue mixing to a batter. Finally, add the cherries and soaking liquor and give one last mix until evenly combined. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 70-75 mins, until a metal skewer or sharp knife comes out sticky with crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.

When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once cool carefully remove from the tin and spread the surface with chocolate spread. Finish with a few leftover cherries to decorate and you are ready to serve. Booyah.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Honeyed Orange and Almond Cake


As frequent flyers will have no doubt noticed, I’ve been on somewhat of a quest recently to discover the healthier side of baking. From wholemeal flour, to sugar substitutes, to fat alternatives it’s been quite the adventure to date!

This time I’ve made a delicious orange cake using honey, yoghurt and almonds, with just a touch of wholemeal flour to really bring out the nuttiness of the almonds. It has a really soft, yielding texture that almost melts in the mouth and a gentle, fragrant flavour. For an added indulgence I drizzle with a lick of honey just before serving. ;-)

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 55 Mins
185g Runny Honey
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Almond Extract
150g Greek Yoghurt
Zest and Juice of 1 Medium Orange
200g Ground Almonds
2tbsp Wholemeal Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

Begin by preheating the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and lining a 20cm loose bottomed tin entirely with baking paper. Add the honey, eggs and almond extract to a large bowl and whisk by hand for a good 30 seconds, until nice and frothy. Add the yoghurt, orange zest and juice and keep whisking to combine.

Mix together the ground almonds, flour and baking powder, then add to the wet ingredients. Fold through until evenly combined. Pour your mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 55 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.

When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When the cake is cool remove from the tin, peeling off the paper and place of a serving plate. You are finished!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Wholemeal Banana Breakfast Muffins

As soon as one labels anything 'healthy' the sense of apprehension becomes almost palpable. But just because something is relatively virtuous, that doesn't mean it's not equally as delicious and satisfying, often even more so.

These muffins are a very nommy breakfast treat and packed with wholesome ingredients that will keep you firing on all cylinders until lunchtime. Don't worry though, there's still one or two cheeky nuggets of naughtiness to keep your tastebuds on their toes! ;-)

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 30 Mins
200g Wholemeal Flour
1.5tsp Baking Powder
1.5tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1.5tsp Ground Cinnamon
125g Granola (Crush any large lumps of this up with your hands)
100g White Chocolate Chips (Or Raisins, Sultanas or anything else you fancy!
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
150ml Natural Yoghurt
50ml Rapeseed Oil
100g Runny Honey (Plus a little extra for drizzling)
2 Ripe Bananas (Mashed)
1tsp Vanilla Extract

Did I mention this one is a DODDLE to prepare? So no excuse not to get cracking! Begin by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and lining a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon, 75g of granola and chocolate chips (or whatever alternative you decided on). Mix together to combine, then make a large well in the centre.

Pour in the eggs, yoghurt, oil and honey, then add the bananas and vanilla extract. Don't worry, you can do this all in one go. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together to form a consistent batter, then spoon equally into your paper cases. Sprinkle the rest of the granola onto the top of each filled case, then bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until the muffins have risen and are slightly springy to the touch.

When you are happy the muffins are baked remove from the oven, leave in the tray for ten minutes, then carefully transfer each to a wire rack. Drizzle each with a final lick of honey and leave to cool completely. Finished!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Honey, Lemon and Almond Cake

This recipe is the perfect accompaniment to the early summer sunshine that's becoming ever more frequent (and more welcome) as the weeks drift by. Honey and lemon is a tried and tested classic, but I've thrown in some almonds and coconut oil alongside to add another delicious dimension. What really makes this one special though is the sweet syrup, as you'll be DRENCHING the surface with it!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 60 Mins
150g Golden Caster Sugar
50g Runny Honey
3 Large Eggs
The zest of 2 Lemons
200g Greek Style Yoghurt
100g Coconut Oil (Melted)
200g Ground Almonds
150g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

For the Syrup
125g Runny Honey
The juice of 2 Lemons

Cake time! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a deep 20cm baking tin with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the caster sugar, honey, eggs and lemon zest. I usually do this by hand for a solid 60 seconds. Add the yoghurt and coconut oil, then fold through. Follow this by adding the ground almonds and sifting in the plain flour along with the baking powder. Continue folding through until you a left with a lovely consistent cake batter. Spoon into your prepared tin, even to the edges and bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 mins, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

When you are happy the cake is baked remove it from the oven and leave in the tin, on a wire rack. For the syrup add the honey to a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Once small bubbles start to appear on the surface of the honey add the lemon juice and turn up the heat. Let it bubble away whilst stirring for about 60 seconds until syrupy, then remove from the heat. 

Poke holes all over the top of your cake and spoon over about half of the syrup. Leave for about 5 minutes to soak in, then repeat for the rest of the syrup. Leave the cake to cool entirely, before carefully removing from the tin. It's now ready for slicing and nomming!  

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies

As much as I LOVE Nutella on my toast in the morning it's just too naughty to eat regularly as part of a balanced diet. Subsequently, I've been looking at ways to use up the large jar of the chocolatey hazelnut spread that until recently has been tormenting me with temptation. I've gone super nutty by combining it with peanut butter in a cookie dough, which when baked gives the cookies an incredible flavour and a soft, super moreish texture!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus 60 Mins Chilling time)
Baking time: 12-15 Mins
125g Nutella
100g Smooth Peanut Butter
75g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Baking Powder
100g Plain Flour

To the kitchen! Begin by combining two large, flat baking trays with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the Nutella, peanut butter and sugar, then beat in the egg along with the vanilla extract. Sift in the baking powder and flour, then mix to a sticky dough. Spoon the dough onto a sheet of clingfilm, wrap up and leave to chill in a fridge for 60 mins.


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grab your dough from the fridge. Break off a small handful of the dough, roll into a ball and place on one of your prepared trays. Repeat for the rest of the dough, evenly spacing your balls apart, then press each to a fat disk with the palm of your hand. 


Bake in the centre of the oven for around 12-15 minutes, until just cracking on top and darkening at the edges. When you are happy the cookies are baked remove from the oven. They may have domed slightly on top, so with the back of a spoon press down on each. This will give the cooled cookies a lovely firm and chewy texture. 

Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for around 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Your work is done. ;-)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Oh bread, how I love thee...


Bread is by far my favourite food, both to eat and to make. The process is a joy, from the tactile pleasure of kneading and shaping the soft dough, to the nervous anticipation of the rising and baking. It is tremendous fun and every bread I bake fills me with both satisfaction and pride.

BREAD IS NOT BORING

To eat freshly baked bread is a sensory feast without parallel. There is nothing quite like the smell of bread baking in the kitchen. Both comforting and seductive, the mouth-watering aroma is as tantalising as it is possible to be. Research has shown that the smell of bread not only makes us hungrier, but happier, even kinder and that is with good reason.

Every bread you make will be an individual, no two are alike and the sight of a freshly made, just baked loaf will always cause a stir amongst your guests, friends or family. The sound of the crisp crust shattering as it is torn or sliced only further intensifies the excitement of what is to follow. And what is to follow is nothing short of spectacular.

To describe the taste and texture of just baked bread is an impossible task, with a near limitless palette of possibilities at ones disposal. Be it nourishing and satisfying, rich and complex, sweet or savoury there is a bread for every occasion and each delicious and distinctive in it’s own way.

For me though that is what makes bread so special. Everyone I know loves bread, from young children enjoying a jam sandwich at lunch, to top restaurants employing the most complex artisanal techniques to produce unusual and original creations. It’s accessible to all, unpretentious and simple to make, yet even starting with the easiest of recipes the possibilities are endless...