Autumn and I return – Blackberry and Apple Loaf

Blackberries

Cannot believe I have not posted since the Spring. Somehow lost my focus, but an amazing holiday in Denmark and Norway has completely inspired me to cook again.

Why, you may wonder?

The list is long however one word, maybe two…or three, sums up the impressions our summer holiday left with me.

Natural – Wholesome – Simple

Bread is not just bread; it is seeded, it is rye, it is wholemeal, it has nuts in it, berries – dark chocolate. Wow! That is one recipe that will be shared eventually!

The environment is not just used; it is adored, appreciated, cherished, looked after. Every turn takes your breath away. Every turn inspires dreaming and laughter. Maybe some of the dreams created whilst there will be shared eventually!

People are not just strangers that pass you by; they are strong, sturdy, friendly, helpful and kind souls who make a proper effort to make your day better than it already was. True selflessness and kindness. Inspiring.

Walks are not just walks; they are rejuvenating, awe-inspiring, berry picking, soul enlightening miracles. And from the walks come fruit – berries – and from those berries come wonderful recipes. One of which I will share with you now. 🙂

Picking

We had friends over a few weekends ago and went for an amazing walk through fields of clover, parks, over little bridges and close by lakes. All along the way were rows and rows of blackberry bramble; bursting with ripe berries. I made a mental note and promised the children to return with bags and bowls…

For those that have followed this blog for a while, and cooked my recipes, you will know that I always try to incorporate healthy aspects into every meal (almost anyway!).  This gorgeous blackberry and apple loaf is no different. Very easy, very quick – moist – full of flavour, rye and fruit. A great lunch box or after school treat or a lovely Sunday breakfast or tea time surprise for the family.

What goodness will it give you?

  1. Exercise, a smile on your face, your children out of the house and maybe muddy shoes – picking the berries of course!
  2. Vitamin A & C, dietary fibre, heart-healthy fats, potassium and calcium – blackberries are an amazing addition to your diet. They are one of the berries women are advised to eat if they would like a flatter stomach (or so I have heard…)!
  3. Potentially cancer reducing – apple peel has quercetin in it – some studies have shown this to be a cancer reducing food.
  4. Slow releasing energy – rye! Read more here: benefits of rye

No excuses – get your wellingtons on, get into the outdoors, and pick those blackberries before they disappear.

Blackberry and Apple Loaf

150g rye flour

100g plain flour

175g butter (can be substituted for vegetable oil or apple sauce)

100g dark brown unrefined cane sugar

5 tbsp. Demerara sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

Zest of an orange

1 green apple grated (NOT peeled)

225g blackberries

  • Pre heat your oven to 180C
  • Grease a loaf tin using either butter or vegetable oil (approximately 1.5L)
  • Place the two flour types, butter (or oil/applesauce) and two sugar types in a mixing bowl
  • Combine with your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs
  • Take 5 table spoons of this mixture and place it in a separate bowl – you will use this as topping at the end
  • Add the cinnamon to the topping mixture
  • Add the baking powder to the flour mixture
  • In a separate bowl combine eggs, the zest of orange and the grated apple
  • Pour the fruit mixture into the flour mixture and combine with a fork – do not over-mix (this will make a harder textured cake)
  • Gently fold the blackberries into the dough, again making sure not to over-mix
  • Spoon the dough into the loaf tin, sprinkle with the topping and place in the warm oven for approximately 1 hour (or slightly longer depending on your oven/tin etc. Please insert a skewer into the loaf after an hour to check that the dough is fully baked). If the cake starts looking a little dark for your liking simply place some tin foil over the top of it and leave to bake until it has finished.
  • Let it cool in the tin on a wire rack for a good 30 minutes before removing.
  • Serve as is or with crème fraiche/ice cream/custard….
  • (the little jar in the pictures below contains blackberry and ginger compote – great with cheese! That recipe will have to follow)

(for more information on the healthy benefits of almost anything: http://health.learninginfo.org/)

ApplesBlackberry and Apple LoafFinished LoafAs a gift?

Advertisements

Kanel Snegle (cinnamon swirls)

Kanel Snegle

Kanel Snegle

Kanel snegle – what I always picked when I, as a child, was lucky enough to get free choice at the bakery on a Sunday morning.

It is one of many traditional Danish pastries – butter filled, crisp on the outside and soft, sweet and cinnamony on the inside.

Irresistible to be honest and still my first choice today when I am lucky enough to be in Denmark….

Recipe is from Froeken Jensen’s Bagebog – classic Danish cookbook based on recipes from the 1900’s.

Kanel Snegle

250g flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

2 tbs sugar

150g butter

75ml milk

25g fresh yeast (or 2 sachets dry yeast)

Butter/Cinnamon Spread

75g butter

50g icing sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

To make the dough

  • Mix flour, salt, cardamom and sugar together
  • Add the butter to the floury mix – and combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  • In a small saucepan heat the milk gently until it is luke warm then remove from heat source
  • Dissolve the fresh yeast in the luke warm milk with a wooden spoon
  • Add the milk to the flour and combine the two; knead until the dough forms a soft ball – slightly sticky and shiny
  • Place the kneaded dough ball in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel
  • Leave the bowl in a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes
  • Pre-heat oven to 225C

To make the spread

  • Ensure butter is room temperature
  • In a bowl, combine butter, cinnamon and icing sugar and keep stirring until a sweet, cinnamon butter is created

Creating the swirls

  • Once the dough has risen, roll it into a rectangular shape on a floured surface
  • With a big spoon, a spatula or other easy tool, cover the dough with the cinnamon spread
  • Loosely roll the dough into a sausage shape – roll it by length
  • With a sharp knife, cut slices of the dough (about two cm thick), and place these on a lined baking tray
  • Once the tray is full, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for 15 minutes
  • Once completely risen, brush with egg or cream to create a golden colour, and place in the pre-heated oven
  • Bake for about 12 minutes
  • Once brown and cooked remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack
  • When cooler, decorate with icing (icing sugar and a little water mixed together)
  • Enjoy them when still slightly warm – that is when they are at their best!

Spreading cinnamon butterReady to riseWorking hardDSC_0025

Kanel Snegle

Kanel Snegle

Soft nougat brioche on a snow filled day!

Soft interior; crunchy exterior

Soft interior; crunchy exterior

The snow is bucketing it down and strong gusts of wind make it look like we are somewhere in the Arctic – not in a small British town west of London! It is wonderful.

I am guessing the school will text message around noon to say it will close at 1pm and have decided that I want to take full advantage of this! When the children come it will be film, hot chocolate and sweet roll time…Can’t wait!

It is a simple dough and really easy to make; please do not let the word yeast put you off!

The dough for these soft sweet rolls is already made (a bit keen) and the nougat filling is sat next to me on the counter – a few bites already missing….

Sweet Dough Brioche (makes around 12)

200ml milk

1.5 tbs butter

3 tbs sugar

25g fresh yeast (or 1.5 sachets dry)

1 tsp ground cardamom (you can substitute this for cinnamon)

pinch of salt

425g flour

Nougat – lots or 150g (you can substitute with chocolate)

  • In a small saucepan add milk, butter, sugar and yeast and turn on low heat. You want to make the milk luke warm in order that the butter melts and the sugar dissolved – however not too hot as this will damage the yeast’s ability to rise properly
  • Give all the ingredients a good stir with a wooden spoon and turn off the heat once the butter is half way melted and the sugar seems dissolved
  • Pour the mixture into a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl add the flour, salt and cardamom.
  • Pour the flour mixture into the milk and combine with either your hands or a wooden spoon. Save a little of the flour until you are sure you will need it all
  • If it is too sticky and does not form a soft dough ball – add a little extra flour. Conversely, add a little warm milk if you find you have added too much flour and it is too dry
  • Once combined, knead for 5 minutes and return to the bowl – covered with a clean tea towel
  • Place the dough ball close to a good heat source (over a radiator, next to tumble dryer….) or in a warm room
  • Leave the dough until it has doubled in size – takes between 30 minutes and 1 hour depending on what yeast you used and how warm your room is
  • Once you are happy with the dough, knead it a bit and flatten it out on a floured surface
  • Place the nougat on the dough – do not be stingy!
  • Close the dough around the nougat and, using your hands, create little dough balls (sort of like rolling a snow ball)
  • Place the finished brioche on a lined baking tray and leave under a tea towel to rise for 30 minutes
  • Just before placing in the pre-heated oven, brush the brioche with milk
  • Bake in the oven for 12 minutes at 225C – they will be lovely and brown when done (and tapping them underneath should sound hollow)
  • Once out of the oven brush with melted butter – this gives a nice, subtle salty taste to the brioche
  • At this point you can sprinkle some sugar on top too….(go on, if you are going to be naughty you may as well go for it).
  • Enjoy!

DSC_1217 DSC_1218 DSC_1224 DSC_1225 DSC_1227 DSC_1236 DSC_1242 DSC_1243

Rye #6 – Sticky Cinnamon Buns

Despite the ability to post on rye recipes probably for ever, this will be the last recipe in the series for now! To be honest, this one is the guilty pleasure of the series and really I am posting it to show that you can adapt any recipe and add rye, without killing the flavour.

I adore cinnamon rolls. They are very much part of the Danish culture and my preferred pick from the Bakers on a Sunday morning (when in Denmark!) They go hand in hand with celebrations, treats, coffee…. any excuse to indulge slightly.

The classic ones are very buttery, puff pastry like, with a lot of cinnamon and usually icing sugar on top. These are not what I would call classic Danish cinnamon rolls, in fact, when I presented them to the children they sort of wrinkled their noses a bit – even if young they know their cinnamon rolls! However, within the first bit there was silence….and with the last bite…finger licking. Always signs of a good snack! I adapted my normal recipe – here – quite substantially.

Hope you enjoy – have to admit – despite the rye flour addition, these are still what I would classify as a naughty food! 🙂 Crunchy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside!

PS – Apologies – the pictures did not turn out well, bad day for photography, thank goodness the flavours did!

Dough

300ml lukewarm milk
100g melted butter
80g caster sugar
20g fresh yeast – (or 3/4 tsp dried yeast)
1 tsp ground cardamom – if you cannot find, crush cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar
1 egg
300g plain flour 
250g rye flour
 

Filling

75g soft butter
120g light brown soft sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
 

Glaze

100 ml water
85g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
 
  •  To make the dough, lightly warm the milk and butter in a saucepan
  • Once the butter has melted, pour the liquid into a bowl and let cool to finger warm
  • Add the sugar, yeast, cinnamon and egg and whisk to combine, ensuring the yeast dissolves
  • While stiring, slowly add the flours until you have a dough ball that may still be slightly sticky. Transfer this to a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel – let rise for about an hour in a warm place. If your house is cold – a good trick is to turn your oven on 20-30C and leave the bowl in there, with the door slightly ajar. This works really well so long as you do not let it get any warmer than that!
  • While the dough is proving, combine butter, sugar and cinnamon to create the filling – yum! This is so tasty! In the pictures the filling looks grainy; my butter was too cold. Warmer butter will create a soft spread which is easier to work with. The end result is the same though so don’t worry either way.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and knead a few times on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to a rectangular shape, leaving it a good 5mm thick.
  • With a spatula or big spoon, spread the filling onto the dough ensuring all is covered
  • Roll the rectangle dough up from the long end, until a sausage is formed!
  • Cut the rolls – in a triangle if you want as I did or simply thick slices are also fine. You want to cut them quite thick as this creates a more impressive finished product! 5cm probably. If you cut a triangle, stand on lined baking sheet. If slices, lie them down.
  • Leave on the lined baking sheets for about an hour to rise – covered with a tea towel
  • Pre-heat oven to 200C and bake the buns until golden – 20-25 minutes
  • While the buns bake make your glaze – add all ingredients in a saucepan and cook for about 15 minutes – it will still be watery but slightly thicker than when you started. If you want a thick glaze, let cook for longer and just check as you go – and stop cooking when it reaches the consistency you like
  • Remove the buns from the oven, place on a wire rack – lay something underneath as it gets messy – and drizzle the glaze over them. Use it all…go large!
  • Enjoy….

Dough will be slightly sticky 

Very tasty dough….

Dough will double in size once left in a warm place

Roll and fill

 Place on baking tray and leave in a warm place to rise again

The dough puffs up and the buns sink slightly

Sticky, warm and irresistible!

Rye #2 – Muffins with Rye,Raspberry,Strawberry and Quinoa

Eat and be very, very, berry healthy! Literally!

I discussed the benefits of rye in my blog a few days ago – if you missed it read it here – and this recipe is a fabulous example of a treat that is a deceptive bomb of healthiness! My children, and us adults, love them and I make them for after school snacks or as pudding when they have play dates.

Raspberries actually deserve a blog of their own but for now I will just mention a few of their benefits:

  • help to sustain energy levels
  • promote more youthful-looking skin
  • promote weight loss – this because raspberries have a low glycemic load which stabilises blood sugar thus keeping those bursts of “cravings” at bay! I am sure we could all benefit from a few handfuls of them after December’s food mania!
  • rich in vitamin C
  • fat, cholesterol and sodium free
  • high dietary fibre content
  • contain more antioxidants than any other fruit – thus helping to combat the free radicals created in our bodies by our consumption of:
    • Fried food
    • Excess consumption of alcohol
    • Irradiated foods
    • Air pollution
    • Smoking
    • Ultraviolet radiation from the sun
    • Excessive exercise

A few became many – sorry – but I was amazed at how good raspberries actually are for you! So go ahead, make these very easy and quick muffins and enjoy a treat that for once is really good for you and your children as well as gorgeous to look at not to mention smell – mind, body and soul fulfilled! 🙂

Rye, Raspberry and Strawberry Muffins – adapted from an Easy Living Magazine recipe

Makes about 8 large muffins

75g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
150g rye flour
100g plain flour
2 tbsp quinoa
50g chilled butter
175ml milk
1 large egg
100g raspberries
75g strawberries – halved
 
  • Heat oven to 200C
  • Place sugar and baking powder in a bowl
  • Sieve in the two kinds of flour – tip the grains left in the sieve into the mixture – don’t want to lose the goodness there!
  • Grate the butter – this is always really funny – strange feeling! Combine into the flour mixture using a fork – children happily do this bit

  • Add the quinoa – can be omitted but gives a nice crunch and is so so good for you!
  • Beat the egg and milk together in a separate bowl
  • Add egg/milk to the flour mixture and gently combine – do not overstir as this will make low, hard muffins. The mixture should be lumpy – far from smooth
  • Add the berries and gently fold them into the mixture
  • Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and cook for about 25 minutes – or until risen and golden brown!
  • Let cool on a wire rack before enjoying – they are also good day 2 but probably won’t last!

Enjoy, once again, the feeling of being the best mum or dad in the world when you hand your children these!

Read more on raspberries and berries in general here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry

http://superberries.co.uk/berries/

Cookie Christmas Tree

Have I mentioned how much I love baking? Probably a thousand times…I just do though. It is a great way to spend time together, the house smells wonderful afterwards and especially at Christmas time there is something slightly magical about it. Maybe the shapes…stars, trees, snow flakes…love, love love it!

Anyway, enough of my blabber, yesterday’s advent “togetherness” activity in our house was making a Cookie Christmas Tree. By the time we had gotten back from school, made the dough, left it to chill for a bit (while we watched a short episode of a daily Advent Calendar series from Denmark – thank you Katrine for highlighting and reminding me!) and baked them it was too late to decorate! We therefore did the decorating this morning and ate it as part of pudding with friends for lunch! Was great!

The dough is quick and simple, has few ingredients, and can be used to make any shape you like. I have used it for years, not sure where I got it from, but the idea for the Christmas Cookie Tree came from a picture I saw in a Sainsburys catalogue a few weeks ago.

450g plain flour
225g butter – softened
225g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
Icing sugar, silver balls, edible glitter and food colouring to decorate
  • Put flour and butter in a bowl and chop into it until the mixture resembles big breadcrumbs (bit of a strange description but not sure how else to explain!)

As you can see it is a very serious exercise that requires not only deep concentration but preferably an army apron as well as penguin chefs hat?! 

  • Add the caster sugar and keep cutting into it to combine

  • Crack the egg into the mixture, as well as adding the vanilla essence – this is when the dough will start to come together

  • Your hands now need (quite a nice necessity actually!) to go into the dough in order that the warmth from them make the butter soften. The floury mixture quickly becomes a smooth dough ball….so so tempting to eat! It will, one day, be added to ice cream I think…hmmm. The children loved this bit…

  • Once combined, and tasted (!), wrap in cling film and put in the fridge. Leave it there for about half an hour to chill – this will make it easier to roll out and use. Less sticking to the work surface!

  • Once chilled, preheat oven to 190C and then use different sized star cookie cutters to cut out as many star shapes as you can. We ended up with 8 big, 8 medium, 8 small and 6 tiny ones… It is important you have different sizes or it will not end up looking like a tree when you layer the cookies…

  • Place cookies in the pre heated oven for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. If you leave them longer they will be slightly darker and more crisp – which you may prefer – up to you!
  • Let cool on wire racks and once completely cool you can make the Christmas Tree.
  • Mix icing sugar with a bit of water and food colouring of your choice. We used green for the main tree stars and yellow for the tiny ones we put on top.
  • Using wooden sticks as tools, let your children colour the stars. Once iced, layer them starting with the biggest stars and working your way to the smaller ones as you ascend the tree. Also lay them so that they are slightly off centre – see picture – all the way to the top.

  • Once done – dust with icing sugar and decorate….
  • Use as centre piece on the table or just eat! We did both!

Christmas Feeling is definitely growing here….every day getting a bit closer…are you feeling it?

Scones? Yes please!

At half term we spent a gorgeous week in Appledore, a tiny little fisherman’s village in North Devon (have a look: Appledore Cottages), and most days we ate scones….not just scones though, stunning homemade scones with clotted cream (lots) and jam (lots) and even butter….(also lots!). OK, we did do many other things, crab fishing, fishing, walks on the beach, sites etc, but the scones stand out in my mind. I LOVE a good scone….Some say plain, boring…but no no….I say scones all the way!

Being in baking and snack mode this week, as well as having some buttermilk in the fridge, I thought I would make some. I am always hunting for good after school treats for the children (wanting to avoid abuse :-)) – scones are a great one! Very easy, super quick and the smell that fills the kitchen…heavenly!

To make things complicated, however, my husband criticized the first batch I made….said the flavour was lovely but the consistency “bready”… I am a tad of a perfectionist and it really bothered me…so I researched a bit and tried making them in a different way! Much better, or different is a better word….smiles all around…BUT we now have scones all over the kitchen – come over and have one if you like!!!!

I will put both recipes up – the first one makes a less crumbly, less sweet scone while the second is more of a sweet, soft treat!

It was a bit dark and sad outside today so a candle made it lovely and cosy inside! Important to set a nice scene when you are in the kitchen!

The first recipe – inspired by Anne Willan’s Look and Cook book – goes like this!

250g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60g unsalted butter
175ml buttermilk
 
  • Heat your oven to 220C and line a baking tray with parchment paper
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. I used to skip this step and just chuck everything in but actually, apart from making the flour look soft and beautiful, almost snow like, it makes it more airy and therefore helps create a lighter scone.

 

Pretty right?

  • Add the butter and with your fingers, or those of your children, rub the mixture together quickly until it forms crumb like consistency. Think airy and light when you are doing this and do move rather quickly so that you do not melt the butter with the warmth from your hands.
  • Pour the buttermilk into the centre of the bowl – you will of course (!) have made a pretty hole in the flour…

  • Using a fork, toss the flour mixture with the buttermilk and stir until just holding together. Do NOT over stir – why? This will make chewy, hard scones…
  • Knead quickly on lightly floured surface, literally a few seconds, do not make it smooth. Then pat the dough into a round shape, about 2cm thick.
  • Cut out round shapes with a cookie cutter or glass

  • Place the scones on your parchment and bake them in the warm oven for about 15 minutes (or until light brown)

  • Sink your teeth into those!!!!! OR, what I did, butter and jam them, wrap them up and delight your children! (and enjoy a rare, quiet, proud “Mum is great” moment)

The second recipe is by Rachel Allen and is slightly sweeter and more light – not much – but enough to be different!

500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting   
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 heaped tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
125g chilled unsalted butter   
25g caster sugar
1 egg,  beaten   
275ml buttermilk, plus extra for the egg wash   
1 tbsp caster sugar
 
  • The procedure is similar to that above. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt into a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix.
  • Save 1/3 of the beaten egg and pour the rest into the buttermilk.
  • Add the liquids to the flour and stir with a fork – quickly – follow kneading and patting procedure as above, and you should see this on parchment.

  • Lightly brush the scones with the remaining egg, to which you can add a bit of buttermilk. This creates a nice, golden colour.
  • Into the oven – 12-15 minutes – until brown/golden. Below is the result! YUMMY!

Both recipes are great..my preference is probably the Sarah Allen’s though…just a bit more traditional scone…

A slight niggle remains….someone suggested that a real scone, a proper one, contains lard….Hhmmmm….I just cannot quite get myself to try it. Watch this space though, maybe I will be brave enough one day!