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Sourdough Starter Crumpets

There’s always a dilemma when making sourdough, that is, what to do with left over starter. I often add sourdough starter to baking with man-made yeast, for added rise and that extra sourdough flavour.

Making sourdough crumpets is another favourite. There are recipes that suggest only using starter, with bicarbonate of soda added of course. Having tried these recipes, I’m not a fan of the resulting intensely “sour” flavour of the crumpets.

So I have experimented with a few versions and have come up with a recipe that is now my go-to crumpet recipe. In fact it’s easier than ordinary recipes involving man-made yeast!

The quantities are simple: equal amounts of strong flour, sourdough starter and water, plus a little salt and sugar and the bicarb. No proving or waiting involved. And the result is beautiful, flavoursome, dense crumpets complete with those crumpet holes!

Ingredients

200g strong flour 

200g sourdough starter 

200g water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2-3 tablespoons butter for cooking/greasing

Method

You will need a fairly large frying pan for the recipe plus crumpet rings. I used to use silicone egg rings until I invested in proper metal crumpet rings. The egg rings are fine, but I do like the stability of the metal rings.

Mix the flour, sourdough starter and water to a smooth paste. Add the salt and sugar and mix again. Add the bicarb. At this stage you will see some bubbles from the bicarb reaction. I get varying degrees of bubbles but I find that the crumpets still do their thing even when there are less bubbles.

Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt over low heat. Once the butter melts, use a pastry brush to carefully butter 4 crumpet rings. I use this method as it saves on melting butter separately. Add another tablespoon of butter, turn up the heat to medium and leave the rings in the pan to heat up.

Now it’s time to cook the crumpets. Several important things to remember. Clean the crumpet rings in between cooking and butter again, otherwise the crumpets are in danger of sticking. Fill the crumpet rings half to three quarters full. Half for a traditional size crumpet and three quarters for a whopper size. I like my crumpets thick but I’ve learned from experience that filling the rings with too much mixture means the crumpets spill over the top and quite frankly end up so thick they don’t fit in the toaster!

Cook the number of crumpets that can fit in your pan. In my case, I can cook three at a time. I’ve always got the fourth ring ready to go with more mixture. Keep on cooking until you’ve used all the mixture. I usually get 6-9 crumpets from a mixture.

Fill each ring with the required amount of mixture and leave for a good 6-10 minutes to cook. The crumpets should rise and have almost cooked through. Remove the rings with tongs and flip over. The crumpets should be brown underneath. (If you can’t remove the rings don’t worry, turn the crumpets over in the rings and then remove the rings once cooked.)

Cook for a couple of minutes on the second side until brown. Remove from the pan. I find that the crumpets don’t all cook at the same rate so I remove them at different times.

Use the remaining tablespoon of butter as necessary to butter the rings for the next round of crumpets and also to add a little more butter to the pan as you cook more crumpets.

A word on holes. When you cook the first side, after a few minutes you will see the trademark holes forming on the top. The holes develop and pop as the mixture dries out.

I give the holes a helping hand, by popping the emerging holes with a skewer. I think this is quite acceptable as the ultimate aim in having holes is to allow more butter to be absorbed!

The crumpets, as is traditional, need to be toasted. Don’t be tempted to eat them untoasted just because they are freshly made!

I make these crumpets whenever I have left over starter after bread making and sometimes I top up my starter just to make a batch of crumpets.

They also freeze beautifully – I always have a few packs of crumpets ready to unfreeze and then toast.

I serve them with lots of butter and good quality honey or jam. In the photos I served them with my homemade strawberry conserve, recipe here.

If you’re a dedicated sourdough bread maker, this is the perfect recipe to use that precious starter you have worked so hard to develop and want to put to good use.

Blood Orange Breakfast Sorbet with Granola and Fresh Fruit

It’s blood orange season and I love finding opportunities to use this beautiful fruit with its gorgeous colour and fragrant flavour. I made blood orange friands recently – here is the link to the post.

This is a super easy breakfast recipe which could translate into dessert with ease!  The sorbet is made by blending frozen blood orange segments with yoghurt – instant frozen delight. Add some granola, store-bought or home made, and any fresh fruit you fancy and you have a zingy, taste-bud tantalizing breakfast to start your day.

Here’s the recipe or the assembly – it’s pretty easy!

Blood Orange Sorbet

Peel and segment a blood orange, place on a plate, cover with cling wrap or a ziplock bag and freeze for at least a few hours or overnight.

Put the frozen segments into a food processor or blender with a couple of tablespoons of full fat yoghurt. The exact quantity is up to you – start off with a couple of spoonfuls, you can always add more for a creamier texture. Blend well until you have a sorbet like consistency.  You should wack the sorbet back in the freezer if you are not serving absolutely immediately – it does melt fast!

Granola

If you want to make your own, here’s a recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of any combination of seeds – I used chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas

1/2 cup of any nuts you like – I used macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts

1/3 cup honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave

1/2 cup of any dried fruit – I used apricots, mango cheeks, cranberries, sour cherries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C.  Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out without too many piles.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively. Sometime I loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Up to you.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Breakfast Assembly

Put a big spoonful or two of granola on a plate and scatter on some fresh fruit  – more blood orange slices, and some strawberries and raspberries work well.  Lastly, add as much of the blood orange sorbet as you want to the plate, and you have a lovely breakfast to go.

Super Good Granola

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Everyone has a version of granola that they love to make. There are lots on foodie websites at the moment, including of course, a version from my very favourite  chef, cook and food writer – you know who I mean – Jamie!

I have been making versions of granola for a few years, along with home-made muesli and various species of cereal, nut, fruit and seed mixes on the way. I make it up as I go, tweaking the recipes depending on what I feel like at the time.

I really love a crunchy, toasty, baked granola, jammed packed with oats of course, and lots of nuts and seeds. I make a mix, and bake it on the oven till toasted. Once out of the oven and while still warm, I add dried fruit.

Sometime I make the basic mix with a little oil and honey, sometimes just honey, and if I feel super virtuous I make the “naked” version. No oil, no honey, just the unadorned oats and nuts and seeds.

This January 2016 version has a little honey for sweetness. I saw no need for oil, saving a few calories…

This granola has several different kinds of seeds – chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas – from my healthy food Mecca The Source at Balmain. And lots of nuts. Also  my current favourite dried fruit – mango cheeks, cranberries and sour cherries.

But feel free to pop in what you want. This less of a recipe and more of a list of guidelines.  The quantities are pretty changeable too.

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My Granola

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of any combination of seeds – I used chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas

1/2 cup of any nuts you like – I used macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts

1/3 cup honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave

1/2 cup of any dried fruit – I used apricots, mango cheeks, cranberries, sour cherries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. You could try 170 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out without too many piles.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively. Sometime I loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Up to you.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Serving ideas: with milk, with yoghurt, with fresh fruit or mix with a handful of other cereal such as bran flakes or even more rolled oats. Make a breakfast trifle for something ritzy!

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Jamie Oliver’s Granola Dust and Breakfast Trifle

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Granola Dust is from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food. It’s basically a granola mix blitzed in the food processor until the mix becomes pulverized. Great for serving with fresh fruit, or just sprinkling over muesli to add another texture.

I love adding Granola Dust to muffins as I did in my last post, Blueberry Granola Dust Muffins. They taste quite nutty, and healthy!

In the photo above, I made a breakfast trifle by layering mixed berries, Greek yoghurt and Granola Dust with a drizzle of honey, in a jar. You could do the same thing in a bowl.

These quantities for Granola Dust are what Jamie specifies in his book. I thought that sounded rather a lot, so I made a quarter of the mix – this gave me half a large jar’s worth of Granola Dust.

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Ingredients

1kg porridge oats

250g unsalted mixed nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews

100g mixed seeds such as chia, poppy,sunflower, sesame, linseed, pumpkin

250g mixed dried fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, sour cherries mango, apricots, figs, sultanas

3 tablespoons quality cocoa powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee

1 orange

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Place the oats, nuts and seeds in a large baking tray. Toss together and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway.

Stir the dried fruit, cocoa and coffee into the mix, finely grate over the orange zest, then in batches, blitz in the food processor till the mixture forms a rough powder or dust.

Transfer to a large glass jar (or jars) to store.

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Blueberry Granola Dust Muffins

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A huge fan of the muffin, I have lately changed my “go-to” basic muffin recipe. As a fan of the baker James Morton, whose bread prowess I have talked about a lot on this blog, I recently acquired his latest book How Baking Works (And What to do When it Doesn’t):

http://www.amazon.com/How-Baking-Works-What-Doesnt/dp/009195990X

He has much to say about, well, how baking works, and lots of tips for the trickier aspects of baking.

I thought I had muffin-making down pat, using The Moosewood Cookbook recipe which has been my staple since forever, but James’ tips about weighing all ingredients, even the liquids, and a few other good pointers, have given me some inspiration to try his muffin-making method from the above book.

To make a really healthy muffin, I substituted wholemeal flour for white, added Granola DustJamie Oliver‘s pulverized granola mix from his Everyday Super Foods – and lots of seeds. I substituted honey for sugar. A very tasty and fruity muffin and good for you too!

But you could use sugar, and completely leave out the Granola Dust and seeds if you like  – they both add texture and a nice nutty taste but are not essential – and this recipe still produces a great blueberry muffin. Maybe bump-up the flour by 20g if you leave out the Granola Dust and seeds.

Ingredients

250g wholemeal plain flour

1 1/2tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

A  pinch of salt

40g Granola Dust (optional)

30g mixed seeds (eg poppy, sesame, chia, linseed) (optional)

150g blueberries

100g honey or golden caste rugar

1 free-range egg

100g milk semi-skimmed or full fat milk

100g natural yoghurt

100g sunflower oil

150g blueberries

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan-forced.  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers, or grease the tin with butter or oil spray.

In one bowl, add the flour, baking powder, bi-carb, salt, Granola Dust and seeds, mixing carefully to integrate the dry ingredients. Add the blueberries and mix to coat the fruit. Be careful not to break up the fruit.

In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, milk, yoghurt and sunflower oil.

Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a wooden or large metal spoon, gently mix everything together. Make sure all the floury mix is combined,  but be careful not to over mix.  No flour should be visible, but the batter should still seem lumpy.

Divide the mixture evenly into the papers or tins, and bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the muffins (bigger muffins take longer). When done, they should be golden brown and should bounce back when pressed firmly. Or carefully insert a skewer into the centre of the muffin and see if it comes out clean the muffins are cooked.

Cool the muffins in the tin before eating, advice I’m not particularly good at heeding!

I served my muffins with Greek style yoghurt and honey. Healthy and delicious.

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Jamie Oliver Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts

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Super food, super easy and super good! Jamie’s latest book Everyday Super Food is a bit of a revelation, crammed full of beautiful, colourful, easy recipes that are really healthy.

The research, the nutritional information, and the carefully planned and written recipes make this book a must-read and a must-cook. I’m big on flavour, and what I’ve cooked so far is bursting with it …I can’t  wait to cook more!

If you love cooking, love really tasty food, and would like to feel that you are doing your bit to eat healthily, then get Everday Super Food. It’s common sense, not faddish, and do-able!

I made Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts today. I went for blueberries, next time I’ll try raspberries. I didn’t realize till I was making the recipe that there was no sugar – the blueberries are sweet enough – even for the sweet tooth of this quirky writer! The drizzle of honey on the pancakes themselves when serving adds that little extra sweetness which is nice. Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.

Ingredients

320g blueberries or raspberries

1 ripe banana

170ml semi-skimmed milk

1 large free-range egg

250g wholemeal self raising flour

To serve

4 tbs natural yoghurt

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

Drizzle of honey

Method

Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.

You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey over the whole lot. Delish.

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Honeycomb

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Honeycomb is dead easy to make and much more delicious than the bought stuff. If you can use a cooking thermometer, and feel confident with adding bi-carbonate soda quickly to the mix, then home-made honeycomb is within your grasp.

It’s so versatile – use it to decorate cakes as I did on a couple of cakes I posted recently, make your own Violet Crumble Bars or just eat it on its own.

Ingredients

160g caster sugar
25g honey
62g  glucose
2 tsp bi-carbonate soda

Dark chocolate, melted, to decorate

Method
Combine sugar, honey, glucose and 60 mls water in a saucepan.  Cook till pale blonde  – 150 degrees C, using a cooking thermometer.
Remove from the heat, add bi-carbonate soda and beat vigorously for a few seconds.
Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper. When the honeycomb has hardened, break into different sized chunks, drizzle with melted dark chocolate or just leave unadorned.

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