Sunday, 24 February 2013

Banana Espresso Choc Chip Muffins with Streusel Topping

At the risk of repeating myself; this week has been really busy! I had a particularly bad day on Thursday, which was completely turned around when I got an email telling me I'd been accepted to volunteer at Food Blogger Connect. Food Blogger Connect is a 3 day international food blogging conference which aims to promote community and creativity. I am over the moon to be a part of the event this year and I know I will learn a huge amount. Sophie and Hannah are also volunteering so it is looking like it will be a brilliant weekend.

After that news on Thursday, I got some good news on Friday too. The lovely people at DotComGiftShop emailed to let me know I'd been included in their favourite cake blogs. Hurrah!

Yesterday Mark and I went to our friends house for food in the evening, so I made a couple of different breads to take along. I will blog the recipe next weekend - it's really easy and doesn't involve yeast or kneading. I am also hoping to do my first giveaway next week, so keep your eyes peeled!

Is there anything better for breakfast than cake? The answer is always NO! I love it when you can legitimately eat cake for breakfast. These are really easy and can be whipped up pretty quickly if you find you fancy them on a whim! There is just a hint of coffee so you are still able to taste the banana and the cake is packed with chocolate chips. The original recipe stops there, but I love a streusel topping so thought it would be the perfect addition.

This recipe will make 20 small muffins and is adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

For the Streusel
55g unsalted butter, room temperature
80g plain flour
80g light brown sugar
Pinch of salt

For the Muffins
5 small very ripe bananas
100g caster sugar
55g light brown sugar
115g unsalted butter, melted
60ml milk
1 large free range organic egg
180g plain flour
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
100g dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a cupcake tin with cases (or grease the pan with butter if you'd prefer not to use cases).

2. To make the streusel topping, place the butter, flour, brown sugar and salt into a bowl and mix or rub between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside until ready to use.

3. In a medium bowl mash the bananas and then stir in the sugars, melted butter, milk and egg.

4. In another bowl mix the flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt. Then make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet and mix until the ingredients come together. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Spoon into the cases (or pan) until 3/4 full. Top each muffin with a tablespoon of struesel mix, pressing gently into the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. These are best eaten whilst warm so don't let them get too cool!

I am very happy to be ditching my usual breakfast of porridge, in order to take one of these to work tomorrow!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Nutella Swirled Buns

This week (like most of the year so far) has been really busy! Work is manic (which is good) and when Mark and I are at home, it's spent with Luna, family and friends, which is also really good. I went pottery painting with my best friend Natalie yesterday. It's something we started doing about 3 years ago and have continued; I'm not artistic or creative in the slightest but I find it really enjoyable and relaxing. On this occasion I did a heart shaped plate which I decorated with painted-on bunting. I am so excited to see how it turns out once it's been glazed and fired!

Once I'd gotten home from painting pottery, I set to work on making my dough for this recipe. When I bake, I rarely make anything other than cake. But recently I've started to enjoy dough-based things; it feels like such an achievement when the dough turns out and bakes well.

I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to make some kind of bun or roll, but I wanted to do something different to cinnamon so decided on Nutella. Nutella always makes me think of my sister Lauren. When we were younger she went through a phase of wanting to eat it on everything - biscuits, chocolate fingers, KitKats!

This recipe will make 10 rolls (depending on how thick you slice them). The recipe is adapted from The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook by Lindsay Landis.

Many bun recipes are baked in a sticky glaze, but I felt that Nutella is already sickly so I wanted to keep these simple. I also decided rather than making an icing sugar topping, I'd top these with a little white chocolate. If I was to make them again, I would top them with chopped Hazlenuts.

For the rolls
190ml soy milk (you can use cows milk if you like)
75g unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 packet fast action dried yeast
70g granulated sugar
1 large free range organic egg
1 teaspoon salt
420g plain flour

For the filling
200g Nutella, slightly melted

For the topping
50g white chocolate, melted
Dash of Rapeseed oil


1. Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. When the butter is close to being completely melted, take the pan off the heat and stir until smooth. Pour the mixture into the bowl of your mixer, and leave until lukewarm. Fill a small bowl with 60ml lukewarm tap water and mix with the packet of yeast. Leave for around 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

2. By this time, the milk mixture should have cooled slightly. Add the yeast and water to the milk and beat in the sugar, egg and salt. Add the flour a third at a time, mixing until incorporated. Switch the beater for the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. If the dough is sticky add a little more flour until a smooth dough begins to form.

3. Lightly flour your surface and turn out the dough. Knead for around 5 minutes until it is smooth. Oil a large bowl, place in the dough and cover. Move to a warm spot to rise for 2 hours.

4. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll out until you get a rectangle that measures 10 by 18 inches. Melt the Nutella in the microwave and spread over the dough, leaving a half inch gap at the top of the long edge. Starting with the opposite long edge, roll up the dough as tightly as you can. Once you're done, fold over the ends. Using a length of dental floss (rather than a knife, as using a knife tends to squash the roll out of shape) cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. Place into a 23cm greased spring form pan. Cover with cling film and put in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

6. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave and add a dash of Rapeseed oil to loosen. Pour into a piping bag and cut off the very tip. Drizzle over the buns. Remove the springform side and serve.

I am quite sad that it's Sunday already, weekends go by far too quickly. This afternoon my sister Lauren and her boyfriend Pete (who made my blog banner - clever boy!) came over for lunch. I made vegetarian chilli with green rice, tacos and tortillas and there is plenty of leftovers!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Brownie Heart with Rolos

Is there anyone who doesn't like brownies? Perhaps on some occasions they can be a bit too rich, but there is nothing to dislike in my opinion. I love the squidgyness and the way they stick to the roof of your mouth. However, I am not good at making brownies. I hate the uncertainty of when to take them out of the oven, there is such a fine line between them being gooey but still holding together and being a big gloopy mess.

I decided to face my brownie fear when Baking Mad asked me to choose a recipe from their website to recreate. I decided to choose from their Valentines Day Recipes, when I came across the Rolo Brownie. Firstly, brownie but secondly ROLOS. I haven't had Rolos in years, so that made up my mind.

If you dislike rich brownies, these are probably not for you. They are fudgy and stick to the roof of your mouth (my personal measure of a good brownie!) If you'd rather, the dark muscovado sugar could be replaced with a lighter brown sugar to make it less sickly. The Rolos pressed into the batter are a really nice surprise.

I used a standard size heart silicone pan, which I got from Sainsburys. I usually hate silicone, but this particular pan is ok by me and I've never had any trouble with it destroying cakes or not baking properly. This recipe uses a food processor rather than a mixer, but you could easily use a mixer instead. The original recipe can be found in the Baking Mad Valentines Day Recipe section.

125g self raising flour
60g cocoa powder
185g unsalted butter
225g dark muscovado sugar
3 large free range organic eggs
100ml skimmed milk
150g Rolos
50g dark chocolate chips
50g white chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the silicone pan.

2. Add the flour, cocoa powder and butter to the food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Next add in the sugar and pulse until mixed.

3. Beat the eggs and milk in a separate bowl and incorporate into the dry mixture. Once the batter is smooth, pour it into the greased pan. Gently press the Rolos into the batter and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until the centre is firm, but retains a slight wobble.

4. Set the brownie aside in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack.

5. Once the brownie is cool, melt the dark and white chocolate chips in separate containers in the microwave. Mix the melted chocolate with a dash of oil to make it slightly runnier. Once mixed, pour into two piping bags and snip off a tiny bit at the tip. Drizzle over the brownie.

Whilst trying to decide what I was going to make, I remembered it is Pancake Day this Tuesday! What are your favourite Pancake Day recipes?

Anyway, I hope you are having a good weekend so far? No furniture building for me this time (phew!) but Mark and I had our car MOT'd and our friends are coming round this evening for beer/fizzy wine and chinese takeout! I am already excited for tofu!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Halloumi and Red Onion Flatbreads

This weekend has been really busy. Mark and I had a family outing to Ikea on Saturday to get some new bedroom furniture. We bought our house three years ago and were stuck with dribs and drabs of furniture we'd collected over previous years of living together. So we now have a lovely matching bedroom! I love Ikea, but oh my gosh the building of the things you buy is SO time consuming. Luckily my sister loves building furniture (?!) and was such a help. We rewarded ourselves with a huge Chinese takeout afterwards!

Due to being tired from building furniture (and maybe watching too many episodes of The Vampire Diaries) I ran out of time to bake and decorate a cake, so I decided to make something for dinner which I could also blog about.

Flatbreads are amazing to eat with curry or a dip, even to eat on their own. I usually serve these with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's chickpea ketchup curry which has become a favourite Sunday lunch for Mark, my sister Lauren and I. If you don't yet own Veg Everyday I would really recommend you buy it.

The recipe for these flatbreads is adapted from A Passion for Baking by Jo Wheatley. Which is another book I would recommend. It has such a good mixture of cakes, breads and puddings. Everything I've made from it has turned out perfectly.

This recipe will make 8 flatbreads (although there's only 6 pictured above). They can be cooked on a griddle or in a frying pan.

1 large red onion
300g self raising flour, and extra for kneading
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
200g Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk (I used soy milk)
90g Halloumi, finely chopped
Rapeseed oil for frying the onion and flatbreads


1. Finely dice the onion and gently fry in a tablespoon of rapeseed oil for 10 minutes, until softened. Set aside to cool.

2. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, yogurt and milk until a dough forms. Add in the onion and mix until evenly dispersed.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead until it becomes smooth. Flatten it out, placing the chopped halloumi on top and knead until it is evenly dispersed. Form it into a ball and flatten slightly. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and roll out on a floured surface until each piece is the size of a small saucer.

4. Heat a small amount of oil on the griddle (or frying pan) and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until the flatbreads turn golden.

These really are so easy. Kneading and rolling out the dough can get a bit messy but it is worth it - I could eat so many of these (I've just had 3 for tea!) and you could change the flavours to suit yourself.

I hope you have a good week, and please try to find the time to make these - you won't regret it!

P.S. Are any of you going to the Tots100 Blog Summit? I am going to the Birmingham event on 11th May with my chums Sophie and Laura. I'm really looking forward to it!

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