Category Archives: Sweet things

Daily Bread

Breakfast Detail

A slight departure from the usual teatime ideas, I’ve come to worry a little about what I give the kids for breakfast. This is in no small part due to the fussier child admitting to eating nothing but “hot dogs, rice and bread” at school. I mean, you can only shoehorn so much green stuff into dinner, right? Bearing in mind the picky one will only eat apples (and lately only green ones at that) I’ve had to be creative (read sneaky) if she’s going to eat any other fruit for breakfast.

Whilst there are a few things on offer in the morning, 9 times out of 10, it’s “rice crispies please!” Now I’m not knocking the occasional bowl but I’d like to mix it up a bit.

I started mixing rice crispies with some oats, then added spelt flakes and continued to add different textures and flavours until their bowls contained 6 different unsweetened and wholegrain cereals. It’s going to give them far more slow-release energy throughout the day and help build their little bones and muscles.

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Another winning idea I picked up from 5 o’clock apron is the notion of a fruit butter. Not really a butter at all, more of a jam but with a fraction of the sugar. I made a peach and vanilla version earlier in the Summer and I can tell you it was possibly the most delicious preserve I’ve ever tasted. Swirl it into greek yoghurt, spread on bread or dollop onto cereal for a fruitier breakfast. They don’t take long to make and will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks. Annoyingly we’re at the end of the soft fruit season now but plums, apples and anything that will reduce down to sweet, sticky compote will work.

Basically you need a kg of any fruit: apples, pears, peaches, bluberries, chopped but don’t bother peeling.
Throw in a pot with a little water to stop it catching and stew over a low heat until the fruit is broken down and soft.
Pass through a sieve and return to clean pan. Add 30-50g of sugar and maybe a split vanilla pod and cook slowly for another hour or so. This will keep in the fridge for around 3 weeks in a sterilised jar (just pour boiling water inside the jar and lid)

PS This post was supposed to go out on September 15th… last night I made a fruit butter with 2 very ripe pears, 2 tasteless peaches and an apple that had been hiding at the bottom of a weekend bag for a few weeks. Yum. Took 2 minutes to chop fruit and put in pot with water and sugar- no recipe and my son ate half the pot for breakfast this morning swirled in yoghurt…

Daily Bread

Daily Bread

These cold Autumn mornings are calling for a heartier breakfast- a boiled egg with the most robust of soldiers. Here’s an easy, foolproof failproof wholemeal bread recipe from Dan Lepard

400g strong wholemeal bread flour
50g strong white bread flour
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tsp brown sugar
400 ml of warm water
50g melted butter

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the melted butter and 300ml of the water. Bring together with your hand- add more water if the dough is too dry- it should be sticky and fairly difficult to handle at this stage.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave for 10 minutes.
Tip onto an oiled board and knead for 10 seconds. Return dough to the bowl, cover and leave for 10 minutes- repeat this process twice and rest for 15 minutes (that means you and the bread).
Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle and roll into a swiss roll type shape. Place in an oiled 2lb loaf tin (with the seam at the bottom) and leave covered in a warm, dry place to prove for 1-1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
Get the oven nice and hot and bake the bread for 15 minutes at 225 degrees, then lower heat to 200 and bake for a further 15 minutes. Tip the bread out of the tin immediately and leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting.
Yum. Eat with lots of butter.

sweet potato pancakes

Caramelised Sweet Potato Pancakes

The sweet potater hater five year old loved these and I have to say, they are AMAZING. You’ll find a much simplified version of a Yotam Ottolenghi breakfast idea below: the original sounds an altogether more adult affair with spring onions, chilli and coriander.

Have you ever baked a sweet potato? If not, I urge you to do so. The sugars in the potato caramelise and the skin is rendered sweetly edible- it’s what this recipe calls for and the only time consuming element. Next time you have the oven on, throw in a few sweet potatoes. Once you’ve scraped the flesh from the skin, it can be frozen and has a wide variety of applications, sweet and savoury.

In order to keep their shape while frying, I poured the batter into round pastry cutters which stuck a little but worked in terms of a uniform pancake!

They can be served as a dish on their own or with smoked salmon (which goes incredibly well with the sweetness of the pancakes) or a rasher or two of crispy bacon drizzled with maple syrup.

For four

450g sweet potatoes
85g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
salt
2 eggs separated
70 ml whole milk
20g melted butter and
50g butter for frying
2 tsp maple syrup

To bake the sweet potatoes: Heat the oven to 220/425 degrees and put the whole unpeeled sweet potatoes on an oven tray and roast for an hour until soft and browned, remove and leave to cool. Peel the skin and using a muslin or j cloth, squeeze excess moisture from the flesh. You should be left with 180g.

Mix the flour, 3/4 tsp salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In another, whisk the egg yolks, milk, melted butter and maple syrup then stir into the dry ingredients. Whisk the egg whites separately until they form peaks and fold into the mixture.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and spoon 3 heaped tbsp of the batter to make each pancake- they should be 1.5cm thick and around 7cm wide. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until brown. You should end up with 8 pancakes.

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A Squash and a Squeeze- Meat Free Week

I forgot it was Meat Free Week and have therefore already eaten my own body weight in pork products due to weekend leftovers.
With overeating in mind, I’ll try to make good for the rest of the week.

Butternut Squash- do you always use a whole one or does a mouldy half languish in the fridge before eventually being chucked out? If this is your scenario- I’ve got an idea. Recently, I’ve come across a few recipes recently that require Squash or Pumpkin Puree- the Risotto that I recently posted (you can have this on Meat Free Week -minus the bacon obvs) and Squash Fritters. Both are good ways to use up leftover squash and secretly boost the veg quotient of otherwise indulgent foods.

I made the fritters this weekend. I thought the kids would love them, but sadly they never got to taste them. By the time I’d exploded a few in the pan- realised I’d forgotten to add a crucial egg to the batter, rectified and refrittered, they were long gone from the table. We sat and gorged on them in amazed silence, secretly thankful we didn’t have to share. They.Were.Amazing. You can’t taste the squash- in fact they taste like Beignets- the crispier, crunchier southern cousin of the doughnut. We grated lemon zest over them, but you could just as well sift icing sugar.
I think its the best way to eat squash.Ever.

They take moments to prepare- but you do have to rest them for an hour as they contain yeast.

Makes 8-10 (and this will only annoy you so make more)

250g pumpkin or squash
1 tsp active dry yeast
4 tbsp self raising flour
1 large egg
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and black pepper
Oil, for frying
Grated zest of ½ lemon

Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Chop the flesh, and boil it in salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain well. Meanwhile, combine the yeast with 3 tbsp lukewarm water in a small bowl.
In a medium bowl, mash the pumpkin and add 3 tbsp of the flour, egg, parsley, and the yeast. Season with salt and pepper, then mix well. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 1 hour.
Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp of flour. Add the oil to a deep, heavy pan, to a depth of at least 6cm. Place over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. With two spoons, form small balls of the batter and fry them for a few minutes until golden brown, turning them over to brown them on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the lemon zest.

From Yvette van Boven, Home Made Summer

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Happy Mother’s Day! Pimped up Lemon Drizzle Cake

Don’t you just love Mother’s Day? Doing twice as much tidying, washing, cooking and cleaning today in order to fain rest tomorrow? If you request anything, request this- Pimped-up Lemon Drizzle cake. Push this recipe under someone’s nose today. The most sublime gooey easy and quick cake ever. Perfect for an afternoon cuppa and a film tomorrow while Daddy takes the kids swimming. Now that’s a Mother’s Day.

175g butter softened
175g caster sugar
2 unwaxed lemons
3 eggs
100g self raising flour
75g ground almonds
A little milk
100g Demerara sugar

Icing sugar
Cream Cheese
Skittles

Preheat oven to 180 C/160C fan. Grease and line a loaf tin. Beat together the butter and sugar and the finely grated zest of 1 lemon until light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt and the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined before adding the next.

Sift over the flour and fold in, followed by the almonds. Add just enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency, pour into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Mix the remaining zest and juice of both lemons with the demerara sugar, poke holes all over the top of the cake and pour over.

To raise the calorie count further, mix up half a large tub of cream cheese with a few spoonfuls of icing sugar (to taste) cover the cake and throw over a packet of skittles- (the kids will love this bit)

Eat carefully with a spoon and a cup of tea. Chase the kids away from the skittles.

From Felicity Cloake’s How to Cook the Perfect… series