Sunday, 31 August 2014

Coconut Pancakes

Who doesn't love pancakes for brunch at the weekends? It's become a Sunday tradition for us over the past couple of months now that my boyfriend's shift patterns have changed and he doesn't work on Sundays any more. This means a nice long lazy lie in followed by a big plate of pancakes drizzled with syrup and served with fresh fruit and a dollop of yoghurt. Even though I'm working increasingly long hours trying to get the thesis finished, I'm making sure that I have a bit of a rest on a Sunday to recharge.

I've adapted the recipe for these pancakes from the recipe for American pancakes in Nigella's Domestic Goddess book by reducing the quantities so it makes the perfect number of pancakes for two to share, plus making a few other little changes. I've added slightly more sugar and swapped the melted butter for sunflower oil as it's easier than faffing around melting a little bit of butter. The addition of the coconut to the batter gives the pancakes a wonderful flavour that works perfectly with any fruit. Each week I pick a different fruit depending on what's in the fruit bowl and I've tried stewed blackberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, bananas, stewed blueberries... choose your favourite and enjoy!

Ingredients - makes 12 small pancakes or 6 large pancakes

115g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar
25g dessicated coconut
pinch of salt
1 egg
180ml milk
15ml sunflower oil
  • Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl or large batter jug and whisk well to combine, leave to stand for 20-30 mins. 
  • Heat a little oil in a small non stick frying pan over a medium high heat and pour in, or squeeze from a dispenser, some of the batter. When small bubbles appear on top of the pancake it's time to flip it over and cook on the other side for about a minute. Transfer to a plate and then repeat the process with the rest of the batter until it's all used up. 
  • Serve with a generous drizzle of golden syrup, your favourite fresh fruit and a big spoonful of natural yoghurt 

To help make my Sunday pancake cooking easier, OXO Good Grips recently sent me a few new products to try. The batter bowl is the perfect size for making the batter in and it is easy to pour from, I've used this for pouring batter straight into the pan when we fancy having bigger pancakes. It holds 2 litres so also doubles up as an extra mixing bowl for making a small cake. To help make smaller pancakes which look deliciously tempting when stacked, the batter dispenser is a handy thing to have. The non drip valve means that once you've added your batter (it will hold 700ml) it's easy to give the bottle a big squeeze to dispense just the right amount of batter into the pan. The only downside to the batter dispenser is that it does mean extra washing up, but if you've cooked the pancakes then you get to leave the dishes to your other half, it's the rule in our home. Finally the flip and fold omelette turner makes flipping pancakes easy with its flexible head. 

Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review and was not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wholemeal vegan banana, blackberry and cardamom cakes

Last week I noticed I had 6 very ripe bananas in my fruit bowl, I'm not really a big fan of eating bananas whole and my boyfriend had obviously forgotten they were in there so that gave me a good excuse to whip up these little cakes. Thanks to the power of Google I managed to find a very easy recipe for vegan banana bread, essential as I was completely out of eggs and butter and wanted cake there and then instead of having to go shopping. I tweaked the original recipe a little by swapping plain flour for wholemeal, changed the cinnamon for cardamom and added some of the blackberries I picked last week that didn't get stewed. As I wanted cake quickly (ready for watching GBBO) I baked this recipe in a silicone muffin tray (instead of the 2lb loaf tin in the original recipe) which did away with the need to ferret through the cupboards looking for paper cake cases.

We munched our way through these pretty quickly as they were rather moreish but as they contain 2 types of fruit and wholemeal flour I think they count as fairly healthy. I baked a second batch using the basic banana cake recipe the next day to stash in the freezer. In the second batch I left out the cardamom and blackberries and added 50g of Nutella and 3 chopped apricots which had also been slightly neglected in the fruit bowl, totally my fault on that one.

Ingredients - makes 12 cakes - adapted from this recipe

3 large very ripe bananas
100g caster sugar
75g sunflower oil
225g plain wholemeal flour
1 heaped tbsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
200g blackberries
  • Preheat the oven to 200C and line a bun tin with paper cases.
  • Mash the bananas in a large bowl with the sugar and oil. Stir in the flour, baking powder and cardamom until everything is mixed together then add the blackberries and stir well. 
  • Divide the mixture between the cake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • These are delicious warm from the oven and also freeze well. 
For more easy vegan banana baking inspiration check out these recipes:
Vegan banana bread
Marbled peanut butter and jam banana bread

I'm linking this post up with Simple and in Season, created by Ren and this month hosted by Elizabeth, Credit Crunch Munch created by Helen and Camilla and also hosted by Elizabeth this month, No Waste Food Challenge created by Elizabeth and this month hosted by Laura, Recipe of the Week, Cook Blog Share and Tea Time Treats run by Karen and Jane where the theme this month is picnics.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Stewed blackberries with vanilla

I've spent far too much time glued to my laptop recently trying to make progress with the thesis and feeling stressed about it, so yesterday afternoon I decided to leave it all behind for an hour and take a walk to the park. Our local park is less than a 5 minute walk away and it's huge with plenty of blackberry bushes. I found the best ones last year at the far end of the park and made a beeline for them yesterday afternoon with an empty tupperware in my bag. After only 20 minutes of picking I managed to fill my tub with just over 700g of big juicy blackberries. If I'd had a bigger tub I could easily have picked twice that many but it gives me a good reason to get out of the flat again later in the week to go and pick some more. I've been working at home for the past couple of weeks instead of going into campus and I'm starting to feel like a bit of a hermit, it's far too easy to spend several days at home not going anywhere at the moment which I know is not good for me. But the prospect of free food waiting to be picked is enough to get me out and about.

I've always enjoyed blackberry picking, every summer when I was a child my brothers and I would go on holiday with our grandparents to their caravan in north Wales. We always thought this was great fun as the caravan park was close to woodlands that were brilliant for exploring in and we also weren't far from Snowdonia, and the beaches on the north west coast. My grandparents would always take us blackberry picking along the lanes near the caravan each summer and our treat was having stewed blackberries with our cereal for breakfast. One of my favourite breakfasts when I was probably about 8 years old was coco pops with stewed blackberries on top, breakfast heaven. My tastes have changed somewhat over the past 20 years and now instead of chocolatey cereal I like having my stewed blackberries for breakfast with overnight oats soaked in apple juice and a good dollop of full fat natural yoghurt.

The stewed blackberries will keep in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze them. They are absolutely delicious swirled through plain yoghurt and I think they would also work well mixed through a good quality vanilla ice cream to create a seasonal blackberry ripple. You could also use your stewed blackberries to make a blackberry crumble or pie or as filling for a layer cake. I haven't quite decided what I want to make with mine yet so they're in the freezer waiting for me to make a decision and to have time to play in the kitchen.

Ingredients - makes approx 500ml

500g wild blackberries, rinsed
100g caster sugar
2 vanilla pods, split

I've purposefully not added very much sugar to the fruit as I wanted to retain some of their natural tartness, though if you prefer your fruit sweeter just add a little more sugar to taste.

Put the blackberries into a small pan and mash them with a potato masher to break them up a bit and release some of the juice. Add the vanilla pods and sugar and stir well, place the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Allow the berries to boil for about a minute then remove the pan from the heat, stir well and leave the vanilla pods to infuse. When the blackberries are cool, remove the vanilla pods and then either use the blackberries to create a tasty pudding or freeze in a suitable container for future use.

I'm not the only one enjoying blackberries with vanilla this summer, check out these recent recipes:

Blackberry Tofu Brulée
Mini Victoria sponges with blackberry cream

And for loads more blackberry inspiration have a look at my brand new Pinterest board.

What's your favourite way to enjoy blackberries?

I'm linking this post up with Simple and in Season, created by Ren and hosted this month by Elizabeth, Recipe of the Week, Cook Blog Share, Tasty Tuesdays and Credit Crunch Munch organised by Helen and Camilla and also hosted by Elizabeth this month.