Is there anything better than the smell of bread baking in the oven? Well yes, there is. Cue the fruit loaf. Perfect on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon with a cuppa, this rich and sweet bread will certainly warm your cockles.
300ml milk heated to boiling point then left to cool until warm.
500g strong bread flour
200g mixed fruit
7g quick yeast
75g caster sugar
50g very soft butter
3tsp ground cinnamon
Mix the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt and yeast together before drizzling in the warm milk. Mix in the fruit and knead the dough for 5 or so minutes on a floured surface until it’s smooth and elastic.
Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover loosely with clingfilm. Leave somewhere warm to prove for an hour or until doubled in size.
Knock the dough back and knead again. Divide into two and put in greased loaf tins. Leave to prove for another hour then bake at 180oC for about 30 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the underside.
Melt some apricot jam and use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the loaf. Enjoy warm with butter.
On Saturday we had a church social at a local forest doing all sorts of bush craft from bivouacking, to bug hunting, to flower pressing, fire starting and nettle soup making. The kids loved it. The adults loved it for that matter too, and the rain held off!
Now everyone likes a bit of freshly baked bread to dunk in their nettle soup but where to find such luxury in the middle of the forest? I’d never even thought about baking bread al fresco but our guide showed us the simplest bread recipe known to man and it was truly scrumptious.
All you need is 2.5 cups of self raising flour and 1 cup of milk. To this basic recipe you can add in flavourings of your choice, the list is really endless. Anyway, mix it all together, adding a touch more flour if it’s too wet, and shape loosely into a round about an inch or so thick. Place in a pan directly on the fire, or on top of a grill if you have one with you. Cook for a few minutes either side et voila! Easy peasy bread!
Here are some pics. The last one was taken at home when I made some to go with a curry I’d made, adding in minced garlic and salt. Corriander (cilantro for my American followers) would’ve been great in their too had I had any to hand. I used a griddle pan on the stove and the result was a crispy exterior with soft, fluffy, carby goodness inside perfect for mopping up the spicy sauce. Enjoy!
Don’t ask me why, but I quite enjoy experimenting in baking with different flours, and spelt was the next in line on my floury culinary adventure. Seeing as my sister was visiting from Japan I thought I’d do a ‘fancy’ loaf to go with lunch on the day she arrived. Nothing says ‘welcome’ like the smell of freshly baked bread!
For this simple recipe you’ll knead…..(see what I did there?!)
500g spelt flour
1tsp dried yeast
300ml luke warm milk (I used semi-skimmed)
1/2 – 1tsp salt
50g soft butter
1 egg for brushing
Pre-heat the oven to 180oC (fan assisted).
Mix the yeast with a couple of tablespoons of the warm milk and leave to activate for 15 minutes.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl then add in the yeast mixture and milk, before working in the soft butter.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.
After an hour knead the dough on a floured surface before cutting into three roughly equal parts and rolling into long sausage shapes.
Pinch the ends of the three sausage shapes together and start plaiting. Pinch together at the other end and tuck the ends underneath to finish.
Move onto an oiled baking tray, brush with the egg and sprinkle with some seeds if you’d like some extra crunch (I didn’t bother). Cover with cling again and leave to rise for about 25 minutes.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes until it sounds hollow when tapped on the underside and is temptingly golden on top.
Try to resist cutting into it until it has been left to cool for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Last year I stumbled across the most lovely cake recipe book. I fell in love with it, not just because of the recipes, but because the layout and feel of the book sings of English springtime and afternoon teas. The most intriguing thing about this book though is the fact that beautiful, delicious cakes are created using vegetables instead of fat. Yes, vegetables! Amazing! The book is ‘Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache’ by Harry Eastwood, and boasts of containing within its whimsical pages “natural cakes that taste naughty”.
The first recipe I tried was this Cinnamon Banana Bread. Light, moist and gloriously spiced with sweet cinnamon, it’s hard to believe this little gem of a cake is actually pretty low in fat and gluten free.
Here’s what you need:
140g banana, mashed
2 medium eggs (I used 3 as mine were pretty small)
140g caster sugar
150g grated courgette (the book says to peel but I don’t bother, largely because most of the goodness is in the skin)
150g rice flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mixed spice (I didn’t have any of this so added a little extra cinnamon)
25g finely chopped brazil nuts
25g finely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease a loaf tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar until light in colour and creamy. Add the mashed banana and whisk until completely incorporated. Add the grated courgette, the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and mixed spice (if you’re using it). Carry on whisking until completely blended. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped nuts and then pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
Bake for about 45 minutes, leave to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea. This cake is great on its own or buttered if you’re feeling extravagant.
Enjoy, and please check out the book on Amazon. I cannot rate it highly enough.