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Category Archives: breakfast

Making Food Fun… Easily

Making Food FunToday I’m very honoured to be guest blogging over at Snotty Noses, the wonderful blog of Dr Orlena Kerek, a mum of four and a paediatrition.

I’ve written a post with, hopefully, useful and easy ideas for making food fun for your little ones, encouraging them to eat more.

Read my post here.

Dairy-free strawberry bread

One of the foods that shouts ‘SUMMER!’ to me is strawberries and when I recently bought too many punnets of them at the supermarket (who can resist a ‘buy one get one free’ offer?), I thought I’d use some of them to bake a lovely sweet treat.

strawberry loaf

This recipe is an adaptation of my dairy-free banana bread although I’ve reduced the sugar content a little (you could reduce it even more if your strawberries are wonderfully sweet). Regular readers will know how much I love to decrease the sugar in recipes before my taste testers can tell the difference ;).

Perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert, enjoy a little taste of summer to make your day better (I guarantee it!).

DAIRY-FREE STRAWBERRY BREAD

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 40-45 mins
Makes 1 loaf
Freezable

175g self-raising flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Approx. 300g strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
50g walnuts (or pecans), chopped

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Take a couple of spoonfuls of flour from your 175g of self-raising flour and put into a small bowl. Lightly stir your strawberries through the small amount of flour (this will stop them sinking to the bottom of your bread while it cooks).

Whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together at a medium speed using a handheld beater or in an electric mixer. Whisk for a few minutes until it’s pale and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, and mix until combined using a low speed. Gently stir through the strawberries and walnuts.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Variations:

  • Make individual muffins instead of a loaf (easier to freeze if you’re not going to eat all of it)
  • Dust with icing sugar

Dairy-free hot cross buns

This time last year I made my very first attempts at making hot cross buns using a wonderful Paul Hollywood recipe, and I was very proud of the results.

hot cross buns

My not too shabby efforts at making hot cross buns last year.

This year I’ve been experimenting with a dairy-free version as we’re spending Easter with our dearest friends and godson, one of whom is lactose intolerant. I used last year’s recipe as a starting point; it requires quite a bit of time (you need to leave the buns to rise three times) but you do get wonderful buns in the end.

Paul Hollywood’s original recipe is rather tame in terms of spices (there’s just a small amount of ground cinnamon) and also only has a moderate amount of mixed peel (something my hubby loves but I don’t), so in my dairy-free version I increased both, and also added some nutmeg and cloves. The end result was much more satisfying especially the wonderful aroma of warm spices, and I have to admit the extra mixed peel works well.

The recipe uses fast-action or easy-blend yeast, but I’ve successfully used normal dried yeast as well. Look at last year’s recipe for instructions. I also like to soak my sultanas (or raisins) for half an hour in just boiled water before adding them to the dough so they’re lovely and plump, but that’s entirely up to you.

Several weeks ago I saw some amazing hot cross buns on Instagram by Burch & Purchase, a wonderful cake shop in Melbourne, Australia. They had the most incredible crosses on top. Instead of the usual traditional white flour mixture being piped on, it had been brushed on with very evident brush strokes (check out Burch & Purchase’s Instagram feed to see them and their other incredible creations). I attempted something similar with a thinner flour mixture and a brush, but as you can see it wasn’t a great success. I’ve left the instructions for the more traditional method!

EasterI used a sugar and water glaze on my finished buns last year which worked very well. This year I used a sugar and orange juice glaze, so as not to waste the orange whose zest you need. It’s very tasty although stays much stickier than the water version.

DAIRY-FREE HOT CROSS BUNS

Prep time: 30 mins (plus 3 x 1 hour of proving)
Cook time: 12-15 mins
Makes 16 buns
Freezable

300ml non-dairy milk (I used lactose free dairy drink)
3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used rapeseed oil)
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg, beaten
100g sultanas or raisins
75g mixed peel
zest of 1 orange
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

For the cross:
75g plain flour
water

For the glaze:
25g caster sugar
25ml freshly squeezed orange juice

In a small saucepan, bring the non-dairy milk to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the oil. Leave to cool until it reaches a temperature you can put your hand into.

Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl (keeping the salt away from the yeast). Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and oil mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well.

Use your hands to bring the dough together then tip onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Put the dough in a clean and lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film (to stop the dough drying out) and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Keeping the dough in the bowl, add the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed (this isn’t as easy as it sounds!). Cover and leave to rise for another hour or until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface.

Arrange the buns on two baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving some space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, and let them prove for another hour.

Heat your oven to 220C (200C fan).

Mix the flour for the cross with about 5 tbsp water to make a paste, adding the water 1 tbsp at a time to achieve a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.

Bake for 12-15 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.

Gently heat the sugar and orange juice for the glaze either in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  While the buns are still warm, brush over the sugar syrup over the top of the buns and leave to cool.

What are you favourite foods to eat at Easter? Do you have any family Easter traditions?

Sugar-free goji berry pancakes

nu3, the European nutrition experts, have just launched in the UK. Their online store has a huge range of products, including products that are exclusive to them, all to help us lead healthier lives. You can also get advice from their team of health specialists.

The company started only 5 years ago in Germany and have very quickly grown. Now we can also enjoy their huge range of health products.

As part of their UK launch, nu3 challenged me to come up with a recipe using their goji berries. Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, grow in China and are used in traditional Chinese medicine. They’re considered a superfood by many because they’re high in nutrients and antioxidents.

nu3 not only sell the dried berries, but also goji juice, goji capsules and chocolate covered goji berries. You can eat the dried goji berries simply as they are or easily pop them into smoothies or muesli and also even scatter them over salad. I experimented with adding them to cooking and I came up with some yummy pancakes.

nu3My regular readers will know I’m a big fan of fluffy pancakes so I used self-raising flour to make these pancakes lovely and light. To complement the healthy goji berries I used mainly wholemeal self-raising flour, and sweetened them with honey and very ripe banana rather than sugar (the riper the banana the better as it will be sweeter).

I felt very healthy eating them and figured I was allowed an extra drizzle of golden syrup over the top because of all the healthy ingredients inside! And Nicholas loved them too.

SUGAR-FREE GOJI BERRY PANCAKES

Prep time: 5-10 mins (plus overnight soaking time for the goji berries)
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes about 10 pancakes
Freezable

50g goji berries, covered in water and soaked overnight
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour (I used 1 cup of wholemeal and 1/2 cup of white self-raising flour)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1 egg, beaten
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 cup milk
Small piece of butter, melted, to grease the pan

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a medium- sized bowl.

Add the honey, egg and mashed banana then gradually pour in the milk mixing until you have a fairly thick batter (you might not need to use all the milk).

Drain the goji berries and gently mix them through the batter.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and brush with melted butter. Use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of mixture into the pan. Cook in batches, turning when bubbles appear on the surface (1-2 mins). Cook the other side until golden brown (about 1 min). Lift out and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm.

Variations:

  • Use nutmeg or ginger instead of cinnamon
  • Add vanilla essence for more sweetness

Tip: Wipe your pan clean with a piece of paper towel after each batch and then brush with some more melted butter.

Pink (Beetroot) Pancakes

Like pretty much every other toddler, Nicholas is a creature of habit. For more than a year, his breakfast had to be puffed rice cereal with milk in a yellow bowl with a particular blue spoon, together with a banana milkshake he’d often help me make, even throwing in a small handful of spinach leaves himself. Oh, and the milkshake had to be in his robot mug with two straws (usually one green and one orange). If you’re nodding your head as you read this, rather than chuckling, then I’m sure you have your own creature of habit.

But the routines that little ones so need can suddenly change to another. Now breakfast must be pancakes with a mug of cold milk. I pushed a lot for him to still have his milkshake as I loved being able to get a serving of fruit and a serving of veg so easily into him first thing every day. In hindsight my pushing was never going to work! So that has made me experiment with adding different ingredients to the pancake batter. We’ve had green pancakes (spinach) and now pink pancakes. And I’m a happier mummy knowing he’s getting a little extra dose of ‘healthy’ every morning.

beet pancakes

PINK (BEETROOT) PANCAKES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20-25 mins
Makes about 12 medium pancakes

375ml (1 1/2 cups) full cream milk
2 tsp (10ml) lemon juice
35g (2 tbsp) sugar
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp allspice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a pinch of cloves)
1 large egg
30g (1 1/2 tbsp) butter, melted
1 medium-sized beetroot (about 150g), peeled and finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
Extra butter, for greasing pan

Mix the milk, lemon juice and sugar in a medium bowl, then set aside for five minutes. (It might develop a slightly curdled look during this time.)

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl. Mix through the allspice.

Break the egg into the milk mixture and add the melted butter and grated beetroot. Whisk until the egg has combined with the milk (don’t worry it the butter just floats on the surface).

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk quickly until almost smooth (the batter should still have a few small lumps). Don’t overmix the batter as this can make the pancakes tough. Leave the batter to rest while the pan is preheating (at least two minutes).

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Melt a little butter in the pan to lightly grease it.

Give your mixture a quick stir to get a more even pink colour. Use a spoon to pour heart shapes into the pan (start with a dollop at the top then let the batter fall into the heart’s point at the bottom; repeat for the other side). Cook only two or three at a time, otherwise turning the pancakes will be difficult.

Cook the first side until small bubbles appear and burst on the surface (about 1-2 minutes).

Turn over with a spatula and cook until the second side is lightly browned and the pancakes are cooked through (another 1-2 minutes).

Cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm while you finish making the others. Add a little more butter to grease the pan each time and keep checking the temperature of the pan as it will probably need to be reduced as the pan heats up with use.

Tips:

  • Little ones love pancakes in fun shapes. You can simply use a spoon to pour the batter into a shape as you cook the pancakes, or you can put the batter into a piping bag or squeeze bottle (the squeeze bottle won’t work for these pink pancakes as the grated beetroot will get stuck in the nozzle!). An even easier way is to make normal-shaped pancakes and use a cookie cutter after they’re cooked.
  • To avoid getting beetroot juice everywhere, use disposable gloves to keep your hands stain-free and place the grater in a bowl to catch as much as the beetroot as possible.

Dairy-free Orange Cake

I do love the lightness of dairy-free cakes and muffins, and there’s a lot less guilt when you eat them for breakfast or have several servings over the course of a day!

In coming up with this orange cake recipe, I researched Italian cake recipes as using olive oil is quite common. Italian cuisine doesn’t have the tradition of adding butter to cakes and a lot of Italians actually don’t like the heavy richness of butter in cakes. I do love the taste of butter, but am enjoying experimenting and adapting recipes to make them a bit healthier (or friendlier for lactose-intolerant friends). I also reduced the sugar content.

dairy-free orange cake

Experimenting with this recipe I liked having a bit more control over the lightness of the cake by using plain flour and adding my own amounts of baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to the flour, but you can easily just use 2 cups of self-raising flour omitting the baking powder and bicarb.

My next experiment is to do a dairy-free mandarin version, and I’m sure a lemon one would be delicious too.

DAIRY-FREE ORANGE CAKE

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 50-60 mins

2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
2 medium-sized oranges
1/3 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar (for serving)

Preheat your oven to 170C and lightly grease a 22cm spring-form cake tin.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.

Cut a slice off the top and the bottom of each orange (to reduce the amount of peel in the cake) and discard the slices. Cut the oranges into quarters and discard any seeds.

Put the orange chunks in a food processor and blend until the rind is fairly evenly broken up but there is still some texture. Add the olive oil and blend a little.

Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until combined. Pour the mixture back into the large bowl you used for the flour.

Beat the eggs by hand until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Gently fold through the orange mixture.

Pour into your prepared cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Sprinkle with the icing sugar just before serving.

AlphaBakes LogoI’m linking this recipe to the AlphaBakes monthly challenge (this month it’s the letter ‘O’) jointly hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and Ros from The More than Occasional Baker.

Back to school

It’s ‘back to school’ time for many families and after the summer holidays it can be difficult getting back into a routine. To make sending your munchkins out the door with some good food in their bellies a little easier, I wanted to remind you of some ideas I came up with for Mindful Mum last year.

My favourite is still the sunny bread. Click on the photo to see my other ideas.

Back to school breakfasts

What’s your favourite school day breakfast for you and your family?