Classic Creamy Porridge

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It’s cold out there!

I’m in Berlin right now and it is starting to feel like winter. 

That’s the time of year when I need a warming breakfast, such as porridge. And though I know fancy chia seed and quinoa porridges are all the range these days, often I just want a classic, creamy oat porridge made with milk.

One of the best porridges in London can be had at a lovely coffee shop called Lundenwic and when I photographed a bowl of it the other day, I asked them how they make it. They told me their secret is using full fat milk for extra creaminess. I tried it out and although I am usually a low-fat milk girl, I am a convert when it comes to porridge.

So this is how I make my creamy porridge now…

For two small or one big portion you’ll need:

  • 1/2 c porridge oats (I like Scottish ones most)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups full fat milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • one apple
  • a handful of blackberries 
  • any other toppings you like, such as other fruit or nuts

Put the oats and 1 1/2 cups of milk in a small saucepan, cover it and leave it in the fridge overnight.

The next morning bring the oats and milk to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add more milk, as needed, if the porridge thickens too much for your liking. I don’t like it too thick so I used the full 2 cups of milk.

While the porridge is cooking, cut an apple into slim matchstick pieces and prepare any other toppings you want to add – I also like thinly cut figs, slices of banana and chopped almonds.

Once the porridge is cooked, allow it to sit off the heat for 5 minutes, before serving it with the toppings of your choice.

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Pumpkin Pie French Toast

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Sorry to keep going on about pumpkin but having spend this season in the US in the last few years I got  into all things pumpkin and now associate them with autumn.

And after making the chewy pumpkin bars the other day I had some pumpkin puree left over. Some of it was put into pumpkin pancakes straight away but as there was enough to make pumpkin pie inspired french toast for breakfast the next morning as well.

I used wholewheat bread which with the spices and nuts worked really well but if you like a more classic French toast you might want to stick to white bread. Either way, don’t cut it too thin so it can soak in as much of the pumpkin spiced eggy mix as possible…

For 4 portions you will need

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 8 slices of bread (a few days old, slightly stale bread works well)

Whisk the eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, spices and nuts together in a bowl wide enough to fit a slice of bread into the bottom of it.

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over a medium heat.

Soak both sides of one slice of bread at a time (stir the pumpkin mix in between, if the pecans are starting to sink to the bottom) then place it in the frying pan and cook it for about 3 minutes, until golden, on each side.

Serve with a little butter, maple syrup and a dusting of icing sugar.

Apple, Oat and Hazelnut Cake

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Here’re in London, we’re in the height of autumn right now, which means we’re also in the height of apple season and the best time to make apple cakes!

Last autumn I posted a receipe for a lovely apple and pumpkin crumble cake, which I am planning to make again soon. But recently I had a craving for an apple cake my mom used to make us often, when we were kids. It’s an oat and hazelnut cake with apples in it and is therefore moist but also has a lovely crunch to it.

And since it’s an oat cake with nuts, it’s almost like a müsli…or so I keep pretending, when I have a slice of it for breakfast!

The original receipe came from a box of “Kölln blütenzarten Haferflocken” a type of crushed – rather than rolled – porridge oats you can buy in Germany. If you can’t get crushed oats, rolled oats will probably work too; instant porridge however will not.

You will need:

  • a 24cm round cake spring form

For the Filling:

  • 500g cooking apples
  • the juice of ½ a lemon
  • 40g unsalted butter, melted
  • 75g chopped hazelnuts
  • 70g caster sugar

For the cake batter:

  • 150g unsalted butter/margarine (plus an extra handful for the cake tin)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or 1 pck vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g crushed porridge oats (plus an extra handful for the cake tin)
  • 50g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Start by making the filling. Peel , Core and chop the apples into small squares. Put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice over a low heat for about 3 minutes to soften them a little (careful not to let them become mushy though!). Take the pan of the heat and add the hazelnuts, sugar and melted butter and stir to combine.

Now, preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius/ gas mark 3.

Grease your baking tin and ‘dust’ the side and base of it with about a tablespoon worth of oats over, which will help prevent the cake from sticking to the tin.

For the cake batter, cream together the butter or margarine and caster sugar, using an electric whisk, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In a smaller bowl combine the baking powder with the flour and oats and pour this to the butter mix, beating it together one last time, to combine.

Spoon ¾ of the batter into the cake tin, then pour the apple mixture over it before dotting the last cake batter atop of it, in a cobbler style way.

Bake for about 50 – 60 minutes and leave to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes.

Overnight Carrot & Apple Breakfast Rolls

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I probably mentioned before that I often shy away from yeast bakes. It’s because of the dough rising (or rather not rising) which I have had trouble with before (or maybe I just ran out of patience).

But fear is here to overcome, so I keep challenging myself with more yeast based doughs and try out rising methods such as the ‘fridge-rising’ whereby you let yeast based dough rise in the fridge overnight. I know it sounds strange as you normally have to find a warm spot to let it rise but there must be some science behind the magic that happens in the fridge overnight when the dough doubles in size.

These little breakfast rolls use that ‘magic’ to their advantage and all you do is have to make the dough the night before, let it rise in the fridge overnight and then form and bake the rolls the next morning for oven-fresh breakfast rolls. The carrot and apple in them makes them so moist that you won’t even need to butter them…

For 16 rolls you’ll need:

  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 40g sugar
  • ca 200ml milk, lukewarm
  • 500g flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 60g butter, at room temperature
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 1 egg yolk

The evening before:

Mix the yeast with the sugar and 5 tablespoons of the lukewarm milk until it dissolves.

Add the flour and salt to a large bowl, as well as the butter and half of the milk and pour the yeast mix in the middle of it. Knead everything together, adding more milk as needed – you want a soft pliable dough. 

Finely grate the carrots and apples and knead them into the dough before covering the bowl with cling film and putting it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning:

Take the bowl out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/ gas mark 6.

Form 16 little rolls out of the dough and place them, evenly spaced apart, on to a baking tray. Brush each roll with a little egg yolk (which you can stretch with a little milk if using a small egg) and bake for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack but have them that morning.

Courgette, Lemon and Lime Birthday Cake

CourgetteBdayCake-1It was my friend Becky’s birthday the other day and when I was going through my receipe collection to look for a birthday cake I could make for her, I came accross this little beauty here, which is the courgette cake from Nigella’s Domestic Goddess book.

Courgette cakes are always a favourite of mine as they usually come out moist and light, which is why I already posted a receipe for another courgette cake here.

This one is a more ‘pimped up’ version of the previous courgette cake though – instead of a simple lemon glaze, it is topped with a cream cheese and lime icing and the two tiers of the courgette sponge are filled with a tangy lemon curd.

It was tasty and  popular all around – and also very suitable for Becky, who is a vegetarian and keen gardener, growing her own vegetables too. But you don’t have to be either to enjoy it just as much…

You will need:

  • 2x 18-21cm sandwich tins
  • 250g courgettes (2-3), weighed before grating
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 jar of good quality lemon curd
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped pistachios

Grease and line the baking tins and preheat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees Celsius.

Grate the courgettes, with their skin on, over a sieve and squeeze out some of their moisture, then set the sieve aside over a sink to remove the excess water.

Combine the flour, bicarb of soda and baking powder in one bowl. In another, bigger bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and sugar until creamy, then add the flour mix and whisk again until well combined.

Fold in the grated courgette and pour the mixture in the prepared cake tins.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the cakes are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Leave the cakes in their tins for about 5 minutes before turning them out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.

For the filling, mix the fresh lime juice into the lemon curd (this is for an extra tangy taste but don’t over do it with the juice so lemon curd doesn’t become too runny!) and spread it on one of the cakes, sandwiching the other one on top.

For the icing, whisk the cream cheese until light and fluffy, then add the icing sugar and slowly whisk again until combined. Now add the lime juice and whisk gently once more.

Spread the icing over the assembled cake and sprinkle it with some chopped pistachios, then leave to set in a the fridge for about an hour – but bring it back to room temperature before tucking in!

Gooseberry and Almond Cake

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The summer is sadly almost over already which might mean that in some regions you might struggle to get gooseberries still but if you’re in luck, pick up a box – or go and pick some – and make this super easy and quick cake!

My work colleague Anamaria kindly gave me a box of gooseberries she picked in her garden the other day and I promised to bring them back to the office, in form of a cake.

She herself had made a nice cake not dissimilar from this one here and as I had some ground almonds at home, I opted for this sweet almond and sour gooseberry combination.

It was great on it’s own but you could also serve some whipped cream with it, if you want to be fancy…

For a small, 18cm, round cake you will need:

  • 125g (= 4 1/2 ounces) butter, soft/at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar for the cake dough, plus 3 tbp for the gooseberries
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups gooseberries, washed and trimmed of their stems/tails
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5

Butter and line a 18cm round springform cake tin.

In a big bowl, beat the soft butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy, using an electric whisk.
Add the eggs, one at a time – if the mix splits, you can add a tablespoon of the flour which should help to combine it again.
Add the vanilla extract, ground almonds, flour and baking powder as well as the salt and mix everything together.

In another bowl, toss the gooseberries with the three tablespoons of sugar.

Transfer the dough to the cake tin and pour the sugar coated gooseberries on top. Spread them out evenly and place the cake tin in the oven for 20 minutes. 

Remove the cake tin from the oven and sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top, then bake the cake for a further 10minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely before removing it from the tin and enjoy!

Nectarine and Blueberry Muffins

NectBlueberryMuffins-4smallThere’s not many tastier fruits than ripe and juicy nectarines. The ones you can only get in the height of summer.

The other day I thought I had gotten my hands of some of them but unfortunately, they were not the ripe and juicy nectarines I was expecting. And there is not much worse than those unripe and hard nectarines you usually get, when it’s not the height of summer…

Rather then eating them raw I decided to bake with them. I am not sure I had ever baked with nectarines before but saw a receipe for nectarine and blueberry muffins and thought, I can’t really go wrong with that as there’s always the blueberries for flavour that should make the muffin tasty enough, even if the nectarines are rather dissappointing.

And the muffins came out really well! The nectarine flavour was intensified through the baking and when I brought them to a picnic everyone seemed to like them, as they were “…so light” and “…super fruty”.

I think they were even better the next day but they may not last that long, of course.

For 12 muffins you will need

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup oil (with a neutral taste, such as sunflower oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1 lemon, and some of it’s juice too
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 2 big nectarines, cut into chunky pieces

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/ 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C and line your muffin tray.

As with pretty much all muffins, the most important thing is not to over mix the dough! It’s always the same idea – mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet ones in another then bring them together and fold the fruit in but don’t whisk or stir it, like you would a sponge cake.

So start by combining the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda, using a spoon (or balloon whisk) in a big bowl.

I another bowl mix the eggs with the greek yoghurt, oil, lemon zest and a generous teaspoon’s worth of the lemon juice, using a balloon whisk.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ones and combine them with a fork or spoon, until they are just combined enough (you will still see bits of flour but that’s good).

Fold the fruit in – again until just combined – and then add about 1 1/2 tablespoons worth of the mix into each muffin case and bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

Let them cool down on a wire rack completely before tucking in.