It’s a tough balance at the moment between writing posts that are relatively timeless and acknowledging that the reason we’re cooking and baking so much at the moment is because of a pandemic that’s forcing people all over the world to stay home. One of the things we’ve really been missing is eating out, so we’ve been trying to bring some of our favourite dishes into the home, resorting one weekend to actually having an NYC themed weekend complete with homemade pizza, bagels and a DIY dive bar in the living room.
One of the dishes that’s been missed, but relatively simply to replicate at home, was the jalapeño cornbread from Caravan in London. It’s a versatile cornbread, perfect as a side, a snack or as we served it, for brunch; fried, covered in chipotle butter, spring onions and fried egg.
A good cornbread recipe shouldn’t be difficult. It’s a simple mixture of polenta/corn flour (not cornflour, that’s a whole different thing), sweetcorn and jalapeño peppers. The main recipe simply calls for spring onions (scallions) mixed through, but if you replace some of that with chopped jalapeño peppers it gives an excellent spicy kick.
We serve this with a simple chipotle butter, just like the one they do at Caravan. You can find the recipe for both in their cookbook, but we only had chipotle paste to hand rather than chipotle chillis themselves, and it worked just as well with that.
Lockdown is still going. We’ve stocked up on dried goods but we’re avoiding going to supermarkets, opting mainly for a veg box delivery and buying dried goods like flour, nuts and seeds from specialised online stores or smaller local independent shops. We’ve been finding places like this to be well stocked and quieter. As such, access to normal cereal has been minimal, but access to the components to make granola has been significantly easier. So we finally felt it was time to try and make a homemade granola recipe.
I’ll keep this pretty simple. The key ingredients in this recipe are as follows, and you can mix and match some of the other bits.
Oil – we used butter
Syrup – we used a split of 50/50 split of honey and golden syrup, but different ratios and different syrups will work
Nuts – we used a mixture of different nuts but you can mix and match. Opt for a cheaper nut for the bulk like a walnut unless you’re feeling particularly flush. We also used some seeds.
The key is the oil and sugars as they’ll get the granola nice and crunchy and help it cling together. The types of nuts you use are less essential and more come down to flavour combinations, what you can get hold of and what you can afford to use. For clarity, we used almonds walnuts, pistachios, flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds. The main nuts being almonds and walnuts.
This recipe will make about 1kg of granola, you can multiply it to make more.
Simple Nut Granola Recipe
A simple granola with mixed nuts and desiccated coconut.
195gsyrup(we used a mixture of honey and golden syrup)
100gmixed seeds & flaked almonds(we used flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds)
150gMixed nuts(we used walnuts, almonds and pistachios)
Preheat your oven to 150°C (130°C fan assisted) and line a couple of large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
In a medium sized pan, melt the butter with the sugar, syrup and zest. You want the butter to have melted and combined but you don’t want the mixture to boil.
Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the syrup and butter mixture over the dry ingredients, mixing well until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking trays, making sure they’re well spread out and in one single layer on each tray.
Place the trays in the oven, baking for 10 minutes undisturbed.
Remove from the oven and turn the mixture in each tray. Return to the oven and keep checking every 5 minutes.
The granola will be done when the mixture has turned a golden brown colour. Be very careful not to overcook. It will likely still seem a bit soggy when you take it out, but it will crisp up as it cools.
Allow to cool completely in the trays and transfer to an air-tight container once cooled.
Like every single other white man in his 30s the pandemic has got me making sourdough. It’s about time really. I’ve had a couple of day classes on it in the past but always fell at the first hurdle when I got home; remembering to keep the starter alive. But here I am 3 loaves deep and with a pretty healthy starter stored away. I’m not here to talk you through bread baking though, I’m actually going to suggest something to do with leftover starter; spelt sourdough pancakes.
So many recipes for alternative uses for sourdough starter seem to involve hundreds of grams of the stuff. If you’re not keeping a huge starter then that can make it very awkward. A large number of sourdough pancake recipes also call for numerous other ingredients, making them both more expensive, complex and time consuming. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s simply 5 simple ingredients:
This spelt sourdough pancake recipe makes a pretty huge stack of light & fluffy pancakes. We’ve actually frozen a few to have in the future when we’re not so time rich. We topped ours with yoghurt, homemade rhubarb curds, nuts and some syrup, but these pancakes would work pretty well with whatever you wanted to top them with, even something savoury.
What do you use your leftover sourdough starter for?
Spelt Vegan Sourdough Pancakes
Deliciously light and fluffy pancakes made from discarded sourdough starter.
25gSourdough starter(I use my discarded starter that’s 100% hydration and ripe)
300mlOat milk(any vegan or dairy milk would work here)
2tbspGolden caster sugar
Combine the starter with the flour into a bit of a paste in a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the spelt flour, milk and golden caster sugar. Whisk until everything is properly incorporated.
Cover the mixing bowl with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for at least 4 hours. I usually leave mine overnight so I can make them for breakfast. See notes for additional suggestions. It should be slightly bubbly when it’s ready to use.
Heat a frying pan or skillet over a medium heat.
While the pan is heating up, mix the baking powder through the batter
Lightly oil the pan, making sure it coats the surface.
Add a small ladleful of batter to the hot pan, spreading it to about a 10cm circle.
This is quite a bubbly mixture, so the usual trick of watching for bubbles may not work, but keep an eye on the middle of the pancake and check the underside. Once it’s browned you should be able to flip it. In a hot pan I was getting around 1 minute per side.
Flip and cook the other side. Transfer to a pancake and keep warm while you make up the others.
Top with whatever you wish. Freeze any leftovers for another time.
I use a 100% hydration starter that’s completely ripe and bubbling.
I tend to bake this recipe by using starter discarded in the evening so that the batter can sit overnight and ferment. You could do it from the morning’s discard if you wanted to have them for lunch or dinner.
We’re living through very strange times. With a pandemic sweeping the globe and entire countries on shut down, everyone’s spending significantly more time indoors. Based on my social feeds this means that people seem to be baking a whole lot more often. I’ve joined the masses in making my own sourdough starter, made vegan cookie dough that’s portioned off into batches and popped in the freezer, even tried making fresh pasta for the first time. All in all, I’ve been spending a significant time in the kitchen. It’s been a good way of escaping from staring at a screen while I’m tried indoors, but also being practical at the same time. It feels like a good time to get a few posts up too.
This is actually a recipe I baked long before all of this kicked off. It’s one I’ve had in the back of my mind, ready to be blogged if I ever got round to getting back writing. After buying the fantastic new Meera Sodha book ‘East’ at the tail end of 2019, I found a recipe for Miso Brownies. Now, hers are a little more involved than these, using flax seeds, but the concept sounded fantastic so it was something I wanted to try.
Using miso for something dense and fudge-y like a brownie is excellent. It adds to that fudge-like texture but also gives an additional caramel-like flavour to the brownie. Miso’s something you may have picked up as an additional long-life extra when you were at a supermarket, or for one individual recipe. This bake should help give you some ideas for other uses too, like miso mac and cheese, or miso caramel.
So what’s everyone been baking lately?
Fudgy brownies with a nutty caramel tang. Perfect for using up any miso you’ve got in the store cupboard.
Preheat your oven to 180°C(160°C fan assisted) and line a 9x9inch square tin with baking paper.
While the oven’s heating up, melt the chocolate and butter together. Do this by placing a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water and stir until the butter and chocolate have melted together.
Leave this mixture somewhere cool a little while you do the rest.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, or using an electric whisk, beat together the eggs, egg white and sugar. This will take a while, so a stand mixer will be best. Whisk for 7-10 minutes. The mixture will have gone pale and yellow. If you pick some up on the whisk and dribble it across the top, it should take a couple of seconds for the line to disappear. This step is essential for getting the properly crispy meringue-like top.
Stir through the miso and the vanilla.
Carefully stir through the chocolate and butter mixture, making sure you don’t knock much air out.
Carefully stir through the flour, again making sure you don’t knock the air out.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, and place in the middle shelf of your preheated oven.
Bake for 17-22 minutes. You want the top to have crisped up and for there to be just a little jiggle when you wobble the tray.
Place the tin on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, and set, before serving.
Well hello there, it’s been a little while hasn’t it. Nearly a year, in fact. A lot has happened in that time. I guess the headlines are that I’ve moved to Brighton, been made redundant and very happily gotten engaged. That’s a lot to take in really. Sometimes life just gets in the way of stuff like this. I have been baking though and late autumn and Christmas is the perfect time to get back blogging about it. I thought I’d kick things off with some cardamom knots I made the other week. They’re absolutely perfect for this cold weather, going great with a hot coffee or mug of tea.
The awkward bit with these buns is the knot itself. As you’ll be able to see from my own knots, it doesn’t always go to plan. The bonus is, that as long as you ball them up pretty well it still looks good, but I’ll run you through the process for knotting them below:
Cut each strip down the centre – making sure it’s still attached at the top.
Pull the two halves away from each other and twist each one away from the centre a couple of times
Tie this into a knot
Tuck the ends underneath
Got that? It’s easier than it sounds, but you will make mistakes. Just don’t beat yourself up about it when you do – cos they’ll still look and taste great.
500gStrong white bread flourplus extra for dusting
225gGolden caster sugar
7gSachet fast action dried yeast
Vegetable or sunflower oilfor greasing
Open 10 cardamom pods, crushing the insides with a pestle and mortar and add to a saucepan.
Add the milk plus 50g of the butter (leaving the rest of the butter at room temperature until required).
Gently warm the milk, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until it’s steaming but not boiling. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until lukewarm, making sure the butter has melted into the mixture.
Put the flour, 75g of the sugar, the yeast, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer and mix until combined.
Pour the cooled milk mixture through a sieve into the flour mixture, this will remove the cardamom.
Using a dough hook or wooden spoon mix to form a soft dough, then turn out onto a very lightly floured surface.
Knead for 10 minutes until it’s smooth and stretchy. You could do this using the dough hook for 5-7 minutes, but I always find I get better results if I do it by hand.
Clean out and lightly oil the mixing bowl, transfer the smooth ball of dough into it and cover with a tea towel before leaving to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size (you could leave it in the fridge overnight if you wanted).
Crush the remaining cardamom seeds with the mortar and pestle and combine them with the remaining 150g of sugar.
Mix the remaining room temperature butter with all but 2tbsp of the cardamom sugar.
Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper in preparation for the buns.
Punch the dough down to knock out the air and turn out onto a flat surface.
Roll out into a rectangle of 35x45cm with one of the longer edges facing you.
Cover the whole thing with the cardamom butter, spreading it as evenly as possible, right up to the edges.
Fold the top third down to the middle and the bottom third up over that, so you have one long piece with 3 equal layers of dough.
Cut in to 12 equal strips (about 3.5cm wide).
Making sure you leave it attached at the top, cut each strip down the centre so it has two tentacles.
Now for the tricky bit. Follow the instructions above, but in summary: Twist each strip away from the centre two or three times, then tie the dough in a knot and tuck the ends underneath the bun.
Place each finished knot onto the prepared trays when you’re done.
Lightly oil some clingfilm and cover the trays, leaving them to prove for another 30 minutes to an hour, until they’ve doubled in size again.
Preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C fan assisted).
Remove the clingfilm, brush each bun with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the peal sugar.
Place in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. You may want to swap the trays around half way through. They should come out golden brown.
Once they are out and cooling, tip the remaining cardamom sugar into a saucepan with 50ml of water and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat to cool and brush over the buns 2-3 times while they are cooling.
Leave the buns 20 minutes to soak up the sugar syrup and serve warm. They’ll keep a couple of days in a sealed container.