Acai Bowls

Summer’s practically dead now, and giving way to autumn, red leaves and for the baking world, warming spices and the homely use of pumpkins and freshly baked bread. So, in honor of the last days of summer and the waning sense of holiday freedom, I give you: the acai bowl post.

Technically, I don’t have the recipe for an acai bowl because I have no acai berries/powders/general acai substances but a smoothie bowl with granola chucked on top. Acai bowl definitely sounds more interesting.

1. You begin with the base –  frozen smoothie. Now, density wise, a thick smoothie is very important so you can have a nice, stable base for the toppings. To increase thickness use yoghurt instead of milk, banana or avocado.

My favourite recipe (and which incidentally gives a pretty pink flavour) is:

  • 4 frozen strawberries, chopped chunkily
  • 1 fresh banana
  • two spoons of yoghurt

Blend, and then pour into the bowl.

2. Next, put on the toppings (acai bowls are delightfully easy). You shake on the amount of granola you want on, then add the rest of your toppings. I like mine with fresh berries (yes, double strawberry), peanut butter and I shake on some flaxeed. You can’t taste it, but it gives a boost of nutrients. And, a sprinkle of nuts for a nice crunch. Top tip, drizzle some honey of the granola. Honey and granola pairs beautifully.

And that’s it! Eat on the last golden days of sunshine … or the rest of the year. It’s a bit like ice cream, timeless. Season less? Not weather dependent?

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Porridge Tips

It’s a little strange to be obsessed with porridge, but I admit, I am. Porridge is a bit like flour; you have the base, and with it the opportunity to make whatever sweet dessert you want. There are so many opportunities to spice up porridge. You can make chocolate porridge, apple pie porridge, carrot cake porridge… the list is truly extensive. But first, you have to master the basics.

1. So firstly, you get your oats. Depending on how much porridge you want, you add the oats to the saucepan. Then you add either water or milk, or a mix of both, until it covers the oats plentifully. If you fancy plain porridge, then milk adds richness and a natural depth of flavour. When I have a lot of toppings, I tend to prefer water because I feel the taste is less heavy. However, half milk and half water is nice as well.

I recently tried oat milk with porridge, which I found really suits porridge and adds a natural sweetness (as oat milk is made with fermented oats).

2. Next – this is an optional tip, but it will make your porridge fudgey and thick. Mash up either banana, sweet potato or courgette/zucchini. I usually opt for banana. Add this at the beginning of making porridge before you add liquid, and mix well.

3. Bring the porridge to the boil, and then lower the heat. Try not to stir too much during this process. If you want to add cacao powder/spices, add now. Also, if you want your fruit slightly cooked or softened, add now as well. If you want raisins or chia seeds, add now as well so they absorb liquid.

4. Now, one of the crucial things about porridge is knowing when to stop cooking. If you like creamy porridge, cook until it is creamy, but this can make it gloopy and gross because the starch breaks down and forms a gloopy substance.  This makes the difference between basic porridge that your mum made you eat when you were little, and gourmet dessert porridge. I like to cook my porridge until all the water has  absorbed and the oat is soft, creamy, and the edges have broken a little, but the general shape is still there so you can see it is made of oats. Take the heat off now.

5. Lastly, add your toppings. I adore peanut butter in my porridge, because it melts a little from the heat, and the stickiness and coat the back of your tongue-ness disappears, but the wonderful flavour remains. Granola is also delicious (I know, oats on oats, weird – but trust me) and fruit adds a fresh, juicy contrast to the cooked, piping hot porridge.

6. Enjoy, you’ve just made the perfect breakfast! (Don’t fight me on this haters)

 

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Porridge with fresh berries
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Apple pie porridge
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Porridge with leftover banana bread and my toppings on display

‘Healthy baking Stance’

So, you’ve probably been seeing a lot of ‘healthy baking’ recipes at the moment – which my website contains a lot of! This is my post clarifying my ideas about health – bear in mind these are my personal ideas and I’m not an expert. Although, no-one is really. Feel free to adapt my recipes anyway you want, but these are the ideas I have in mind with my recipes.

Sugar is not healthy. It’s a poison to the body and too much of it is definitely a bad thing. Natural sugars found in fruit are balanced out by the nutrients and goodness that you get from the fruit, but sugars found in molasses and maple syrup aren’t – although they are certainly healthier than white processed sugar.

Desserts are yummy, but they aren’t good for you and they never will be really. That’s why they’re called a dessert! And they should only really be eaten occasionally – not never, but once in a while. However, it doesn’t hurt to make them healthier when you do have that once in a while – as long as the taste stays just as good.

Butter is good for you, and has been for centuries until Ancel Keys said that saturated fat was harmful, backed up with the biased and selective ‘Seven Countries Study’. Milk – in my opinion, is bad for you because it’s processed and pasteurization takes out the nutrients and goodness.

Anyway, this is my view on health. Feel free to disagree!

Coconut Chocolate Banana Bread

I’m so depressed. I’ve finally watched the finale of the Great British Bake Off. It was a brilliant, by the way, and my favourite person won! (Don’t worry, I won’t give away any spoilers). Never again am I going to hear Mel and Sue call, “On your marks, get set, bake!” or watch Mary Berry check for soggy bottoms. Oh well, all good things must come to an end. Besides, how better to mark the end of Bake Off than with a recipe for moist, chocolatey banana bread?

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Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a loaf tin.

Ingredients

  • 400 grams of mashed bananas (at least 8 small-medium bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 112 grams of coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut butter (mine had melted so it was 4 tablespoons of liquid and solid coconut butter)
  • 80 grams of maple syrup
  • 130 grams of spelt flour
  • 30 grams of coconut flour
  • 23 grams shredded coconut
  • 63 grams’ cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾ of a teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ of a teaspoon of salt

Method

  1. Mix the wet ingredients together.
  2. Sift both flours together twice in another bowl.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients (including the flour)
  4. Pour wet into dry and stir until it is just combined.
  5. Put the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. (time will vary depending on the oven.)
  6. Leave in the oven – without opening the door – for 10-15 minutes. Insert a toothpick in. If it is not clean, bake for a few more minutes after opening the door.

Spicy Chai Banana Carrot Quick Bread

My day started off to the sight of a bunch of ripe bananas, spotted with brown. “Brilliant,” I thought. “I can make banana bread.” I finally decided on chai banana bread, perfect for spicy autumn. Little did I know that when I came back to bake later, the bananas had slowly been eaten by my thieving family. Being the impatient person I am, I hurtled straight into the recipe anyway and – guess what – found I did not have enough bananas! I didn’t want to add more oil, and considering that it was autumn and the bread was spicy, I decided the best thing to do was sub in grated carrot and it turned out delicious.

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Ingredients:

  • 230 grams of spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 3/4 of a teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 of a teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of  cinnamon
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cardamom
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cloves
  •  1 tablespoon of molasses
  • 3 tablespoons of milk of  your choosing
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of  melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 of a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 40 grams of maple syrup
  • 40 grams of black-strap molasses
  • 300 grams of mashed bananas
  • 200 grams of grated carrots

(Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a loaf tin)

Method

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl well, making sure that the spices are incorporated evenly in the flour.
  2. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together.
  3. Next, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until they are just combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Wait until mostly cool and then slice.

Spicy Molasses Biscuits

If you fancy spicy biscuits who’s flavours resound with the richness of molasses and the warmth of Christmas, then these are your cup of tea.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or raw sugar
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  •  125 grams spelt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 85 grams unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Put an oven rack in the middle position and  preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  3. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and pepper. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until it starts to smell of spices.
  4. Put the butter mixture into a glass bowl and let it cool a bit.
  5. Whisk the 3 tablespoons of molasses, the maple syrup, egg yolk, vanilla and the blackstrap molasses into the melted butter mixture.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture until they are combined.
  7. Scoop out one tablespoon of dough and shape into a bowl. Be warned, it will be sticky and will expand and grow in the oven.
  8. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of sugar on each biscuit.
  9. Bake the biscuits for about 9-15 minutes, carefully watching for burning. The centres will still be slightly soft but the edges should be set.
  10. Leave the biscuits to cool for about 10 minutes, then put on a wire rack.

 

Chocolate Ice-cream

I was honestly so impressed with this recipe. I had no idea it would turn out this good, but it tasted exactly like store-bought, good quality ice-cream, and had a great consistency too. Creamy, rich, and chocolatey, I would definitely advise making this!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (14 ounces), chilled overnight in the fridge
  • 160 grams of unsweetened cacao powder
  • 397 grams of pitted dates (soak for 10-20 minutes if they are not moist enough)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cacao nibs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put a big mixing bowl in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes
  2. Put the dates in the food processor and process them until they form small pieces. Then gradually add hot water until the mixture becomes a thick paste
  3. Pour the cans of coconut milk into the chilled mixing bowl
  4. Whip it until it becomes creamy and smooth. Add in the cacao powder, vanilla extract and half the date paste. Whip until it is mixed fully.
  5. Taste and add more cacao powder or date mixture to your personal tastes. (I added in all the date mixture)
  6. Put in a freezable container and cover with clingfilm.
  7. You can either leave it for a few hours, so it forms a mousse, or leave it longer till it freezes fully.