Posts Tagged ‘oats’

Spilling some of my trade secrets

Today, I am taking a big step. I am sharing a closely guarded secret with you all. The recipes for my banana bread and my cranberry, pecans and white chocolate flapjacks. This is not something I share easily but I feel we are at that stage in our relationship now where I can trust you all with it.

These are my most successful recipes in my repertoire and get more requests than the others. So here goes.

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Banana bread
150g butter and 80ml of butter milk OR 150ml double cream
225g sugar (soft brown works best)
2 eggs
4 bananas (it’s not an exact science though, it can be as few as 2 or as many as 6)
Vanilla extract
285g plain flour (00 flour will make your bread really soft)
Salt
1.5 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
Drinking chocolate powder

Ok, so I’m setting it down on paper here but it’s not something you should feel restricted by. It’s all quite flexible.

First, turn the oven to 150 degrees.

If you’re using butter, put it in a mixing bowl with sugar and cream it together. If the butter is at room temperature, it will be far easier.

If you are using double cream instead, put it in a mixing bowl and whisk until it is starting to form lumps. This is the point at which it is starting to turn into butter. By staying at this pre-butter stage, your banana bread will take on a totally different texture, much lighter and softer. Add the sugar to this and mix. We’re now at the same stage, whether we’ve used butter or cream.

Next, add the 2 eggs and mix until fully incorporated.

Next put your bananas on top of everything. Take a potato masher and mash the bananas into the mixture. If you prefer to mash the bananas in a separate bowl and add them to your main bowl, you can. But there are more dishes to wash if you do it that way.

If you are using butter instead of double cream, you will need to add your buttermilk here. Add the vanilla extract at this stage as well. I just splash it in. It’s probably 1 tbsp. (Making your own vanilla extract will give it a nicer taste. Just stick some vanilla pods in a bottle of vodka and leave it for 3 months. Simple.)

Next add the flour. This is kind of flexible too. I’ve used every random combination of bits and bobs of flour when I’ve not had the right one in the cupboard and it always works. Last time I used half 00 flour and half wholemeal and I got really good feedback. The only thing I would say is don’t use self raising, as we’re going to add bicarb soon.

If you want to sift your flour through a sieve, you can. I’ve done it sifted and unsifted and I don’t think it makes a difference. Plus, there are more things to wash if you sift it.

Add your salt and bicarb. I just usually grab a pinch of flaky salt and grind between my fingers as I sprinkle it in. When adding the chocolate powder, it’s what you prefer really. It’s not a chocolate flavoured cake. It’s just to add a little something in the background. You want a tablespoon full at the most, I think.

Once it’s all definitely mixed in, grease a loaf tin and line it with greaseproof paper. The paper’s not urgent but if the banana bread decides it wants to stick to the bottom, it will break when you shake it out.

Put the mixture in the tin and put it in the middle of the oven for an hour and a half ish.

Then lick the bowl clean.

Test by putting a knife/skewer into the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s done. Don’t stick too closely to the time. If you see after an hour, it looks done, do the knife/skewer test. Or you might have to leave it longer. If you make it a few times, you’ll learn how it’s supposed to look and go by that.

Leave to cool completely before turning out.

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Da dahhh! A banana bread!

Cranberry, pecan and white chocolate flapjacks

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150g butter
125g sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
275g oats
White chocolate
Cranberries
Pecans

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and golden syrup. Depending on how you like your flapjacks to be, add more or less than the amount I’ve stated for the golden syrup. If you like it stickier, use more golden syrup. If you like it crumbly, add a bit less. I tend to add more as it sticks everything together better and cuts into neater pieces.

When melted, take off the heat and add the oats and a few squares of white chocolate. Mix together. Then add the cranberries and pecans. Again, it’s about personal preference. Add loads or a few, it’s up to you.

Mix well and put the whole mixture into a greased baking tray.

Bake on about 160 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on how well done you like your flapjacks.

When you take it out, put it somewhere to cool and grate the rest of your white chocolate over the flapjack. It will melt very quickly. Take a spoon or a palette knife and spread it around evenly. Wait until completely cool before cutting into bars.

Done!

This recipe works with pretty much any flavour combination. You could add different nuts, different fruit, different chocolate. Lightly roasting loads of different nuts and adding them for a plain nutty flapjack is also amazing.

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Ok, people. Go into your kitchens and bring forth cakes and flapjacks fit for royalty! (Obviously crediting me while you’re at it.)

And remember, always lick the bowl afterward. And always make sure there is little washing up afterward. You don’t have time for washing dishes, you need to be eating your creations.

My love affair with Waitrose

It’s partly because of the cool rush of air that greets you as you enter. It’s partly because of the amount of things that have ‘organic’ written on the label. It’s also kind of because there’s a whole aisle dedicated to yoghurt. Actually, there are plenty of reasons why I have a long-standing love affair with Waitrose. Let me just tell you about what happened last time I went to see the love of my life.

My shopping list had these things on it:
Shampoo
Conditioner
Asparagus
Something for dinner
Sugar
Eggs

Let’s enter my head to see what actually happened.

Oo! The cool air rush. Mmm. Nice. Ok, grab a trolley. I wonder if people think I’m a grown-up cause I’ve got a trolley. Hee hee. I love pretending to be a grown up. Oo! There’s an offer on something! Raspberries! I’ll just get one box. And another. Ok, I’ll get four! I can make jam with them. I love making jam….

And so it starts. It’s one of those days. One of those days where I have to have one of everything.

Let me get some bananas for banana bread. And a few aubergines. They’re always good. I guess I’ll make a parmigiana with them. So I need tomatoes. I’ll get some strawberries on the way to the tomatoes. Beetroot! Oo, I like raw beetroot shaved into a salad with smoked salmon and rocket. Laura! Calm down! You don’t need everything! Yes I do, I NEEEEED the beetroot. I need it. Ok then, just get it and shut up. Yesssss, beetroot in trolley. Do I need to stop at the fresh pasta section? Not really, but I like lingering there and looking at it and pretending I’m in Italy. Right, moving on, my favourite sections are coming up. The meat and fish counters. I can feel my eyes lighting up. O no! Here I am in front of the counter ordering tons of fish, before I can stop myself. I’m walking away with a bit of everything, scallops, prawns, squid, mahi-mahi, tilapia, salmon, rainbow trout. What on earth did I do that for?! When can I possibly eat all this fish?! O well. Down the chicken aisle. Oo, what to get? The turkey’s on offer, or some duck? Don’t be ridiculous, why would I get a duck for normal dinner at home. I must learn to distinguish when fancy dinner is required and when to just do normal dinner. Ok, I’ve actually got enough fish to feed an army, so maybe I don’t need any chicken. And so to the yoghurt aisle. Too much choice! Too exciting! The nice Waitrose yoghurts made with Jersey cream are amazing. I’ll get one of each flavour. There are about ten flavours. I don’t need them all but I can’t stop myself. And some of the passionfruit flavour. Mmm. And a large vanilla one. Mmm… And some of the Greek stuff. Omygoodness, there is NO way I’ll be able to get all this home. Ah well, keep going. Skip the freezer aisle. Next aisle, tins and cooking stuff. Actually, I’ve run out of ground ginger and oregano so let me get some of those. Next, to the juice, yessss, they’ve got that iced peach tea, two please. Round to the crackers and cereal aisle. I need oats and I’ll get some crackers too, they’re good to have in. Next aisle, need chocolate for making flapjacks. Eggs, yes please. Sugar, two types please. Flour, yes please. I need hazelnuts too actually. I can feel this is becoming slightly crazy. I can’t stop though. Next aisle, spend a while deliberating over which shampoo and conditioner are most suited to my hair. Last aisle, do I need anymore washing up liquid or clothes softener? Foil? Cling film? No I think I’m fine.

And so I emerge from the last aisle, hurrying a little as I try to stop putting things in my trolley. Ridiculous. I didn’t even have everything e.g. parmesan for the parmigiana, salmon or rocket for the beetroot salad I planned, the asparagus that had originally been on my list, etc. I practically ran to the tills, like a guilty lover, trying to pretend the rendezvous had never happened. But it had. I had three heavy shopping bags to prove it. It was one of my silliest shopping trips ever. How much do you reckon I spent? Have a guess and I’ll reveal the answer tomorrow.