How about a loaf of real banana bread? One that’s made with sourdough, wholemeal flour and no added sugar? This sourdough banana bread does all of this and more. And it’s not only healthy, it’s really delicious.
Sourdough bread has been made for thousands of years. It’s a much easier process than you might think. A rye starter is a particularly good one to have as it’s robust and will sit happily neglected at the back of the fridge for a while. Read on for a simple and full-proof recipe for making my version of rye sourdough bread. You’ll also find a number of variations as well as a method for making your own starter.
Chocolate has been an abiding passion ever since I can remember. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to try bars produced by some truly excellent brands. Pacari premium organic chocolate is one such. To celebrate World Chocolate Day on 9 July, I’m delighted to offer my readers the chance to try this excellent chocolate too. Read on for details of the giveaway. The chocolate is so good, it’s really best enjoyed on its own, but I have to say it also works wonderfully well in these chewy and delicious coffee chocolate chip cookies with cardamom – I just couldn’t help myself.
As you may have gathered by now, I do like to cook and bake with the seasons. When I made my latest Suma order I had some autumnal baking very much in mind. I still have apples from my mother’s garden and although the wildlife got all of our cobnuts this year, hazelnuts are very much on my radar. So, I made an apple and hazelnut spelt rye sourdough bread loaf.
Recipe for crumbly, chewy almond rye shortbread with a robust but delicious flavour. Unusually, but as the name suggests, this shortbread is made from rye flour and ground almonds. It’s also flavoured with cardamom, although that bit is optional. Tart raspberry cream with whisky compliments it wonderfully well.
My friend Henk, over in The Netherlands is a keen baker. Like me, he’s interested in trying out different flours, particularly in cakes. Recently he sent me a recipe for his favourite chocolate nut muffins. They have undergone many iterations, I should add and more will follow as just like me, Henk is an inveterate ‘tinkerer’ of recipes.
Homemade bread is just the best. This malted wholemeal and rye loaf is a substantial wholesome loaf. It’s easy to make and tastes quite delicious with its malty smoky notes. Makes great toast too.
Biscuit recipes are my new obsession, especially easy biscuit recipes. I’ve always liked biscuits of course, but when it comes to baking, cake has always taken precedence over biscuits and cookies. I suspect being given Biscuit by Miranda Gore Browne as a birthday present last year has something to do with it. A whole book dedicated to biscuits puts a different spin on things. It stayed at the top of my pile of bedside reading for a long time. Despite this, I’ve only made one recipe from the book: blackcurrant and white chocolate biscuits – until now that is. We were off to spend the afternoon with friends and biscuits being quick and portable were an ideal bake to take along. To fit in with my supposed Healthy January, I went to Miranda’s Almost Healthy Biscuits section of the book for inspiration. I got no further than the very first recipe, Super Berry Heroes – excellent, some healthy goji berries and blueberries to give a much needed nutrient boost would be my berries of choice. Not only did these contain an interesting flour mix of spelt and rye, but also included cocoa.
I was recently sent a jolly red pot of Food Thoughts fairtrade, organic cocoa powder to try out and I was very keen to do so. Green & Black’s being fairtrade and organic is my go to cocoa, but it’s always nice to have some choice. As soon as I saw the organic status was certified by the Soil Association, I felt reassured as they and Demeter are the only certifying bodies I really trust. Fairtrade is really the only way to go – cocoa is a luxury and the people that grow it should be properly recompensed for their efforts. This cocoa comes from the Dominican Republic.
I thought it would be fun to do a taste test with the three cocoas I happened to have in the house: Food Thoughts, Green & Blacks and Bournville. As well as the obvious colour differences, they were all quite distinctive in taste. Bournville is a very pale powder with a sweetish taste, but is rather insipid and lacks character. Green & Black’s is very dark, robust and bitter. Food Thoughts is midway between the other two in terms of colour but has a richer chocolate taste than either. However, in terms of packaging, Bournville gets the brownie points. The Bournville pot is about 3/4 of the size of the Food Thoughts one and yet they both contain 125g – when waste is such a big issue for us, over packaging is unnecessary and undesirable.
We are a household of regular cocoa drinkers, but make it with no sugar, mostly water and just a dash of milk. I was interested to compare this with our usual Green & Blacks. In addition to the colour difference, we immediately noticed it had a more refined taste. It was smoother and less bitter and we really liked it.
This is how I made
Blueberry, Goji Berry, Spelt & Rye Cookies
- Creamed 120g salted butter with 100g vanilla (golden caster) sugar and 85g muscovado sugar until soft and pale.
- Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and one duck egg.
- Sieved in 60g wholemeal spelt flour and 80g rye flour, together with 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp cocoa powder (Food Thoughts).
- Added 85g rolled oats.
- Grated in 1/8 tsp nutmeg and mixed together.
- Stirred in 40g goji berries and 50g dried wild blueberries.
- Rolled teaspoonfuls of mixture between my hands to make about 30 walnut sized balls.
- Placed well apart on lined baking trays and baked at 180C for 13 minutes.
- Left to cool for a couple of minutes, then transferred to a wire rack to cool completely.
Food Thoughts Cocoa is available at Sainsbury’s and retails at £2.20
To get us all in the festive spirit, assuming we needed encouragement of course, I chose cinnamon for this month’s We Should Cocoa. I had a few ideas for this, but in the end I went for these Spicy Stars, adapted from the brilliant Polish Spice Biscuits that I made last year. This is a family recipe from Ren Behan and combines some wonderful ingredients which produce absolutely fabulicious biscuits. They are really quite different from the normal festive gingerbread type of fare as these use rye flour, honey and most importantly cocoa.
One of the sub groups of the Liskeard Portas Pilot (of which I’m a member) organised a Vintage Christmas Market, held last weekend. It was a great success, with many dressed in vintage clothing, fabulous stalls, live music, a cafe and a great turn out. I had the pleasure of being the acting stall-holder for The Gingham Chicken, a fine producer of delicious Liskeard Cornish fudge. It seemed like a good opportunity to make and sell a few festive treats myself. These stars were one of them.
This is how I made them:
- Melted 110g unsalted butter in a small pan with 110g soft brown sugar and 8 tbsp runny honey.
- Stirred until combined, then left to cool a little.
- Sieved 225g rye flour and 225g white flour into a bowl with 2 tsp baking powder 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 heaped tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter mixture then broke in a large egg.
- Stirred the mixture together starting from the middle until all incorporated.
- Brought it all together with my hands to form a ball.
- Cut this in two then rolled out (one at a time) to the thickness of about 1/4 cm.
- Cut out about 81 stars by re-rolling the leftover bits several times.
- Placed them on lined baking trays about a cm apart and baked the for 8 minutes at 180C.
- Made 8 packs of ten biscuits and tied with ribbon and a name tag.
The biscuits turned out just as I hoped. They looked pretty, had a perfect texture and tasted of cinnamon and honey. They brought an added bonus too: the whole house smelt of sweet spicy cinnamon for days – who needs air freshener?
The biscuits could of course be iced, dipped in chocolate or decorated in any number of ways, but I think they are pretty much perfect just as they are. They could easily be used as Christmas tree decorations by poking a hole through one of the arms with a skewer before baking.
This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa.
As my alternative name for these biscuits is Spicy Stars, I’m also submitting them to Alpha Bakes where the letter is S this month. This challenge is jointly hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.
These are, of course, made from scratch so they are also being sent to Javelin Warrior for his weekly Made with love Mondays.
The letter for this month’s Alpha Bakes is N. Apart from nuts, I could think of nothing else other than Nonnettes and as I haven’t made any of these wonderful eggless French honey cakes for a while, this seemed like a good opportunity. I decided I’d adapt and use half the amount of the original Nonnette recipe to make 12 smaller cakes using my new muffin cases. A half eaten jar of my mother’s delicious blackcurrant jam was sitting in the cupboard and I still had a bit of rose syrup that really needed using up. Blackcurrant and rose proved to be a nice combination as evinced by the blackcurrant, rose and white chocolate ice-cream I made in the summer.
Here’s what I did:
- Melted 40g unsalted butter in a pan.
- Added 100g local Cornish honey and 50g light brown sugar.
- Turned off the heat and added 50g milk and 50g rose syrup.
- Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
- Sifted 100g plain white flour, 50g rye flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda into a bowl.
- Added the grated zest from 1/2 a small orange.
- Stirred in 25g chopped white chocolate.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the honey mixture.
- Stirred until just combined.
- Divided the mixture between 12 silicone muffin cases and left in my cold kitchen for half an hour.
- Placed a small teaspoonful of blackcurrant jam on the top of each one.
- Baked at 180C for 16 minutes.
- Left to cool
- Mixed 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar with about a tbsp of rose syrup to form a slightly runny icing.
- Drizzled these over the cakes whilst they were still slightly warm.
These were as good as I imagined they would be, that is to say, thoroughly delicious. They were sweet, sticky and flavoursome with a lovely smooth texture. The blackcurrant was a good strong flavour and its tartness helped to counteract the overall sweetness. CT was surprised by the little bits of white chocolate, but enjoyed them. Licking fingers is an occupational hazard with these, although CT didn’t seem to be unduly bothered.
Chris over at Cooking Around the World has started a new challenge Bloggers Around the World. Sadly I didn’t manage to join in last month with Germany as the selected country. This month, it’s France so I’m submitting these Nonnettes.
As these honey cakes are eggless, I am also submitting them to Cook Eat Delicious Desserts where the theme this month is honey. It is being hosted this month by Nivedhanam.