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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Instarecipe! Honey Nut and Fruit Granola

Knee deep surrounded by countless boxes, it's safe to say that I'm very nearly packed and well on my way to university life with less than a week to go until the big move in day. As you would assume, I am a bit nervous with what to expect but I'm also so excited to see what this next step in my life brings (sorry for the cheesy cliche but it's true!) 

I'm probably going to be way more equipped when it comes to the kitchen departement of things compared to most students, as it's just so hard for me to keep my beloved pots, cookbooks and food styling props to a bare minimum. (I think my room is going to be a bit cramped to say the least.) That said, I'm going to a uni with a massive food college so I'm sure that I'll be living near someone who is just as into cooking as I am. 

In preparation of uni life (fresher's to start), I've made myself a big batch of my old faithful granola. This recipe makes enough to fill one big lock jar, so this is perfect for me to pack off to Birmingham, and BAM that's breakfast sorted for the next few weeks. It's also quite cheap to do too (a vital thing which I'm sure as a new student I will care A LOT about) when you take into account the fact that if you buy a big bag of nuts, dried fruit, seeds etc. you only use like a handful of each so they will last you for at least 3 batches of this bad boy recipe. Then of course simple porridge oats are cheap anyways...

Granola is good. I'd pick this by far over any breakfast cereal and it's simple too. Honey-sweetened with a warm spicy undertone of ginger and cinnamon, bringing out the natural sweetness more, an idea which I adapted from this Cookie and Kate recipe. I pick and mix my nuts and fruit depending on what I have, so it's completely up to you to throw in whatever you want which is why in the ingredients list I have left it a bit vague. 

Sorry for just the one photo today but as I was photographing this I also had a full day of packing to do and a birthday cake to deliver (my next blog post by the way). 

Note: You may notice that the ingredients for this recipe appears different to the way I normally write measurements, for the simple reason that this is quick and easy to make if you have a cup measurement. That way you can just scoop up your oats etc. and it's also easier to scale up for even greater granola batch production... I'm talking a month's worth of the stuff. 

Honey  Nut  and  Fruit  Granola

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups nuts (of your choice) walnuts, brazil and almonds for example
4 cups rolled oats
¼ tsp table salt 
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cinnamon 
½ cup olive/or vegetable/or coconut oil
½ cup + 1 tbsp honey
1 cup dried fruit (of your choice) apricots, sultanas, mango, banana, papaya, coconut pieces for example
¼ cup sunflower/or pumpkin seeds

Method

Preheat the oven to 170° C/325° F/ gas 3. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. 
Roughly chop all the nuts and place into a large bowl with the oats, salt, ginger, cinnamon, oil and honey. Stir well to evenly coat everything with the honey and oil. 

Pour out onto the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for 22 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time to evenly bake the oats. Take the tray out of the oven once everything is a light golden colour. The honey will make the oats harden while cooling. 

Let the granola cool in the tray. Chop the dried fruit and scatter over the cooled granola along with the seeds. Mix together and pour into a jar. Stores well for 2 +  weeks. 
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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Lovely Lavender Loaf with Blueberry Icing

The three L's, lovely lavender loaf... this cake has real summer vibes and is perfect for the weekend when you just want to sit outside and chill in the sunshine, and eat of course! I have dabbled with lavender in baking before, but with raspberries, it was one of my very first blog posts which I did way back in July 2014. OMG, that was over 2 years ago. How time flies! (See said post here.)


This time I thought to try it with blueberries instead and it worked just as well. I used the juice of blueberries by just mashing them with a fork and then straining. This left enough liquid to create a thick sweet layer of pinkish icing. 


In the cake itself I used only milk infused with the lavender, this gave the right amount of floral essence as any more would have been too much like your Grandma's soap.  (I also think that having little bits of flower throughout the loaf is a bit unpleasant for my liking, only to be felt like you're chomping on potpourri. ) 



But, having said that, I couldn't help myself with the decoration! You gotta have just a few scattered on top, it's too pretty to avoid! Stereotyping an' all...this is a rather girly cake, sorry Dad. ( I must say this isn't one of his personal faves to be quite honest.) Oh well, me and my mum like it.


Note: Make sure the loaf cake isn't too hot before putting the icing on or else it will just melt all down the sides into one gooey heap. 


Alternative: If you don't have blueberries this would also work well with crushed raspberries, making sure to also strain through a sieve to get rid of the seeds. Or if your prefer, a simple water icing would work well too. Just add a tablespoon of water at a time, stirring after each addition until you have a thick consistency. 

Lovely  Lavender  Loaf  with  Blueberry  Icing

Ingredients:

175ml milk
3 tbsp fresh lavender (flower only)
120g butter, softened
190g caster sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder

For the icing:
90g blueberries 
165g icing sugar, sieved
A few lavender heads for decoration - optional

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/ gas 3. Grease and line a 9x5 inch loaf tin. 
Pour the milk into a small saucepan with the lavender heads. Put over a medium heat and warm to a gentle simmer. Then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. 

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and and vanilla. Then add the flour and baking powder. Mix until just combined. Pour the milk through a sieve to get rid of the lavender and add the milk to the cake batter. Stir slowly to combine. 

Transfer to the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 

Once baked, leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack and peeling off the parchment paper. 

To make the icing, crush the blueberries in a small bowl with a fork until it is liquid. Strain to remove the skin. Add the blueberry juice to another bowl with the icing sugar and beat until it forms a thick gloopy consistency. Spread over the top of the warm loaf cake. Decorate with a few lavender heads sprinkled over the top if preferred,  then leave the cake to cool completely. 

Store in an airtight container. 
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