Pick and Mix Pancakes! Porridge, banana and coconut

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Not exactly a bake or a cake but I’m currently going through a bit of a pancake obsession. Mainly due to entering into the whole baby led weaning adventure. I wanted to find something nutritious, tasty and sugar free that we could all enjoy together.

Pinterest vs. Real life. Scrambled banana pancakes #babyledweaning #pinterestfail #pinterestvsreallife #bananapancakes #pancakes #blw

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I attempted (and burnt) a lot of banana pancakes first. They’re sweet but have more of a frittata taste and texture to them than I like in my pancakes. However they went down a storm!

Next up sweet potato pancakes. Really easy to fry up and rather tasty! They could be served as a savoury side dish or with fruit and yoghurt to sweeten them up further. Again the baby loved them so we’re onto a winner

Porridge pancakes were by far my favourite. They’re more savoury than the others but they’re fluffy and the perfect companion to fruit and yoghurt to increase the sweetness (and a good drizzle of maple syrup for me of course!). I then attempted a banana porridge pancake hybrid which was all the more delicious.

Coconut pancakes were also extremely popular in our house. Fluffy, light and sweet.

All of these pancakes require very little effort, are pretty simple to make and can be frozen for future snacking. I have a small bowl attachment for my hand (stick) blender which works wonderfully to blend the ingredients together for all 4 types of pancake.

The trick to good pancakes is getting the temperature right when frying them. I use a large non stick frying pan on an induction hob with coconut oil as it has a high smoking point. Setting 5/6 on the hob seems to have enough sizzle to it.

I use an ice cream scoop to put the batter into the pan which helps to make mini round pancakes.

Flipping the pancakes as soon as the edges are cooked (not wet or runny) and using a two palette knife approach to gently lift and flip them over means they’re easier to handle and much less likely to end up a scrambled mess. *I learnt the hard way.

Depending on the thickness of your pancakes they take a minute or two on each side to cook through. The sweet potato pancakes take a little longer (about 4 mins each side) but if you’re making mini pancakes you can squeeze about 6 in one pan and cook them in batches.

Ingredients
Banana pancakes
Makes approx. 10-15 mini pancakes
Freezer friendly
1 banana
1 egg

1. Blend the banana and egg to make a runny batter.
2. Heat coconut oil in the pan in a medium heat
3. Spoon batter into small rounds in the pan. About 5cm diameter.
4. Cook for about 1/2 mins and flip over for another minute.
5. Remove from heat carefully using two spatulas (they’re a delicate pancake!)
6. Leave to cool on kitchen paper and serve still warm.

They freeze really well too and baby enjoyed them cold from the fridge the next day too!

Sweet potato pancakes
Makes approx. 15 mini pancakes
Freezer friendly
1 large sweet potato
2 eggs
Coconut oil to fry pancakes in
Optional 1tsp cinnamon

1. Peel and cut sweet potato into small chunks. Steam until cooked and soft
2. Whizz up the sweet potato and egg in the blender to make a thick runny batter.
3.. Spoon batter into hot greased pan.
4.. Cook for about 5 mins each side or until golden brown.
5. Serve as savoury snack or with yoghurt and fruit.

Porridge Pancakes
Makes approx. 20 mini pancakes
Freezer friendly

1 1/3 cup porridge oats – blended to a fine flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup natural/greek yoghurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice
1/2tsp ground ginger
*Optional Blueberries/raspberries to drop into the batter as pancakes are cooking to make fruity porridge pancakes
Coconut oil (to fry the pancakes in)

1. Blend oats to a fine flour
2. Add baking powder
3. Blend in rest of ingredients
4. Leave batter to thicken for a couple of mins.
5. Cook in hot greased pan until golden brown on each side. (2/3 mins each side)
6. Serve with yoghurt and fruit or as a hand held snack.

Banana Porridge Pancakes
Makes approx 20 mini pancakes
Freezer friendly
1 1/3 cup porridge oats – blended to a fine flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ripe banana
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Coconut oil (to fry the pancakes in)

1. Blend oats to a fine flour
2. Add baking powder
3. Blend in rest of ingredients
4. Leave batter to thicken for a couple of mins.
5. Cook in hot greased pan until golden brown on each side. (2/3 mins each side)
6. Serve with yoghurt and fruit or as a hand held snack.

Coconut pancakes
Makes approx 15 – 20 mini pancakes
Freezer friendly

2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/8 cup (or I used half of a 1/4 cup of milk as my cups don’t come in 8th measurements) cup coconut milk (hardly seems worth opening a can for such a small amount but it really enhances the coconut flavour)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/8 cup (or I used half of a 1/4 cup) wholemeal flour
2 tbs melted coconut oil
*plus additional coconut oil for frying pancakes

1. Beat eggs together
2. Beat in coconut milk
3. Beat in the rest of the ingredients
4. Let the batter stand for a minute or two to thicken.
5. Heat oil in pan and spoon batter into small rounds.
6. Cook for 1-2 mins each side.
7. Serve with fruit and yoghurt as you like ūüôā

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39. Bagels Bagels Bagels! Polish Bakery

Bagels! Bagels! Bagels!

Bagels have been on my to bake list FOREVER! Inspired by a recent episode of¬†The Great British Bake Off¬†(new series and I’m guessing everyone else is totally addicted to it like me too?) I uncovered my wonderful (signed) copy of ¬†Thoughtful Bread¬†¬†‘Bread Revolution’¬†for a recipe I could begin late one night. (I’ve even tweeted¬†@thoughtfulbread¬†to let them know I was baking from their book and got some lovely late night baking encouragement.)

We were treated to a short history lesson on bagels by the Great British Bake Off. Although they are more recently considered to be an American bread, they were originally brought from Poland to England and then on to America. They are typically Jewish Food with a wonderfully chewy crust from the poaching of the dough before the bake. (My favourite bit!)

Mixing up all the flour, salt, honey and yeast

A spot of late night preparation was in order to get this dough on the road. I mixed together the flour, dried yeast and a little salt to0. I ran out of strong white flour so made up the difference with brown strong flour, so these bagels were almost healthy too.

Add the water to get a sticky dough and stir!

Then to add the water. I had to add a little more water as I worked with the dough, probably due to the slightly drier brown flour I used.

Ready for some good kneading

When I started kneading the dough I was determined to reach the elusive ‘window pane’ stage where the gluten in the flour has become all stringy and elastic ¬†and stretches out when pulled to create a transparent window when held up to the light in the dough. Alas after the allotted 10 minutes of kneading the rather tough dough by hand I was still windowless. A further 10 minutes of kneading (tracked by my faithful hamburger timer) and I was STILL windowless… I asked Chris to have a go with his brute strength and STILL no window. So I gave up comforted slightly that the dough had been kneaded at least twice as long as it was supposed to be and it did bounce back when prodded with my finger.

Me kneading on tip toes

I think I need lower work surfaces for bread making as I always have to resort to balancing on my tip toes to get the full impact of the kneading…

proving time

I left the ball of dough to prove and double in size over night in a greased bowl covered with greased cling film. Et voila! The next morning I awoke to beautifully risen dough.

Beautifully risen dough

Punching it back I kneaded it¬†thoroughly¬†again (it’s a good job I do yoga press ups!) dividing the dough into 12 (equal-ish) portions I left it to rest for 5 minutes whilst I arranged the next stage. Water bath!

12 chunks of dough

Taking my largest soup pan I filled it about half way with water from the kettle.

Stage 1: The dough sausage

Then to shape the bagels. I tried a few different methods to see which worked best and I think I prefer the traditional method. Roll a long sausage about 20 cms long) of dough and shape it into a circle.

Stage 2: shape into a circle

Fold the loose ends together and squash them together.

Stage 3: Fold the loose ends together

Then put your hand through the ‘hole’ in the centre and roll the join together until the two ends are firmly merged. Then if required roll the rest of the dough ring in the same way to even up the dough and shape it into a bagel.

Stage 4: Squash the loose ends together

The other method is more modern and maybe slightly quicker. Where you shape the dough into a ball, flatten it, poke your thumb through the centre and then whilst holding the dough in your palm squeeze around the dough to widen the hole and shape the dough into a bagel.

I used for each bagel? Poor dough ring on the right is a bit more of a bagel bracelet

Once shaped the bagels need to prove for about 30 minutes under a damp tea towel or greased cling film at which point you can start to warm up the oven and water so it’s simmering nicely.

If you want to add flavouring to your bagels you can add toppings like sesame or poppy seeds after the poaching stage, but if you like your bagels fruity on the inside (like me) then you will have to add your chosen flavour before you shape the bagels. I chose to make half savoury and half sweet.

pre soaked dried fruit, apple, cranberries and raisins

I pre soaked some dried fruit, raisins, apple and cranberries overnight in a little boiling water with a dash of cinnamon. Drained off the excess water and folded in a teaspoon (or 2) of the fruit along with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon into the dough before shaping it.

Step 1: Filling the bagel

It makes the bagel a bit unpredictable with spots of fruit poking out all over the place but I found if I sealed the fruit into the dough and then shaped it, it was a little easier.

Step 2: folding in the edges to make a fruit pouch. Sealing the edges together

Step 3: roll into a dough sausage and follow the stages above to shape the bagel

Then all you have to do is plonk the bagels into your pan of simmering water for 2 minutes (turning them over half way through for an even poach).

Bagels in for a swim

The bagels do expand slightly so don’t over fill your pan, do them in batches so they have room to breathe.

Ever increasing circles

Then out of the pan an into the oven! I used my Nana’s slotted spoon to scoop the bagels out and drain off the water. Then gently pop then onto a lined baking tray (sprinkle on your choice of topping while the bagel is wet) and into the oven they go.

Ready for the oven

This means you can have a continuous run of bagel poaching and baking until all of your bagels are baked. However this meant I was waiting for my breakfast for almost 2 hours. I ended up devouring 2 hot bagels and butter straight from the oven and they did not disappoint! Hot and buttery they were just what I needed.

Fruity Bagels in for a swim

They are definitely easier to split down the middle when they’ve cooled a bit though. The plain bagels were easier to eat and even better toasted too to give an even crisp coating and chewy soft centre. I LOVED this bake. You know you’re making something special when it takes a bit more effort and skill.

Bagels! Hot from the oven

The fruity bagels were a little more moist in the middle, but this is what I had expected. You can’t put fruit into a bagel without adding a bit of moisture.

bagel splitting

Perhaps in the future when I think they’re baked I might also turn them over and return them to the oven for a few more minutes just to ensure the bagels are baked evenly. As I did find that the bagels were quite wet when¬†they¬†went in the oven so they were slightly soggy when they came out of the oven, but a lot of this moisture dried as they cooled (and I guess adds to their chewiness.)

Bagel goodness

I would also add more cinnamon to the bagels as they weren’t quite cinnamony enough for me. All in all a very good bake and I’m adding this to my baking¬†repertoire¬†now!

Bagel sandwiches

Things I used to make this recipe:

Lovingly adapted  from Bread Revolution by the Thoughtful Bread Company

  • 375g strong brown flour
  • 375g strong white flour
  • 3 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 375ml warm water
  • 7 tsp honey
  • additional strong white flour for dusting the board

Fruit filling

  • A bowl full of dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, dried apple)
  • cinnamon

Optional Toppings

  • I used sesame seeds and just sprinkled enough to coat the bagels on each one
  • You could use anything such as poppy seeds, sunflower seeds,

Cath Kidston Flour Sifter – so handy when you’re covered in sticky dough

The Hamburger Timer – so handy for timing all those batches of bagels

We’re Jammin’ – Marguerite Patten’s Apple and Ginger Jam – England

Homemade Apple and Ginger Jam

Technically not a bake but as I set my own rules and disregard them frequently, I declare¬†that making something on the oven is almost the same as in the oven. Why quibble over semantics?! Also jam making is a skill that I’m yet to master as my previous charred cherry remains and ruined pan are testament to. Watching a 10 minute River Cottage Preserves Programme does make me¬†a jam expert.¬†New baking commandment. Thou shalt not invent your own jam recipe. Disaster shall prevail if so….

My Own Cherry Jam Recipe... Burnt Toffee

Jam features in so many baked items so I think it’s essential to teach myself how to make it. Also I’m sure Holly Bell whipped up a quick pan of jam in The Great British Bake Off final¬† therefore I can justify it.

My Wonderful Annotations. Thankfully I can now spell milk... My Mam must have loved those additions to her book.

I dug out my Mam’s proper cookbook. The original Prince cooking bible, complete with little Lauren scribbles and misspelt notes. (Mam must have been thrilled when I did that.) She taught me how to bake from this. I tried to help whenever I could with Graham Gingerbread, Carrot Cake and of course,¬†Rock Buns.

My Mam has always been¬†very good and artistic making impressive celebration cakes for the family. I was a very lucky child to have the Pink Panther, Hello Kitty and most recently Frank n Furter recreated in cake, icing, licorice¬†and glitter¬†for my birthdays. I wish I had some photos to share with you here! I tried to repay the¬†honour by baking Mam¬†her favourite,¬†Christmas Cake. Unfortunately the marzipan snowman got a bit squashed when I pushed a tin lid on it…

The First Ever Christmas Cake That I Baked (2009)

I didn’t really appreciate the wonder of this Everyday Cookbook until I started looking through it over the last couple of weeks. I didn’t even know who¬†Marguerite Patten¬†was, or that she received¬† for her contributions to cooking, a pioneer of economical cookery. A woman after my own heart.

The one and only Marguerite Patton Ever Day Cook Book

With my remaining wedding apples I wanted to do something special. I LOVE apple and ginger jam and can’t find it anywhere apart from Tynemouth Market once, 2 years ago. But lo and behold Marguerite has a recipe for it!

Apples in Ginger

Only one slight hand injury incurred during some late night apple chopping and I left the apples to marinade in a lot of ginger powder overnight. When I tried to measure out the sugar needed I realised that I had been looking at the wrong side of my scales and had over 1kg¬†of apples, not 1lb¬†that the recipe required. (How did I carry them all back from James and Lara’s wedding!?) It was a very close call and a good catch. I re-weighed everything and after a bit of mental arithmetic I worked out very roughly the proportions of sugar to apple that I needed to get the consistency right.

Rather a lot of apples required...

I know jam is a complicated and delicate process but despite not measuring¬†things¬†correctly,¬†I then threw¬†all of the sugar in at the very start. Upon re-reading the recipe I realised this is NOT what you do. It’s all about getting the magical pectin to seep out of the fruit to make it set,¬†but I had probably ruined it. I followed the rest of the¬†rules however and didn’t stir it once it reached boiling point and hoped that I wouldn’t have to throw out my best pan. Putting the lid on I watched it nervously¬†steam and froth.

Don't Panic! It's all (kind of) under control

It didn’t take long, maybe 15 minutes at the most and then I had jam! But I wouldn’t recommend tasting it at this stage. It’s far too hot…

Looking Jammy

I got a bit carried away when jar shopping . Luckily I¬†bought extra jars, just incase I made more jam than the recipe predicted. It’s almost like I’m psychic. The recipe was only supposed to produce 1lb¬†of jam. I made enough to fill 2 1lbs jars!

Marguerite Pattons' Preserves

I kept a little bit back to have on my toast for breakfast and it was fantastic! Real jam!

If you burn the toast perfectly then Hello Kitty's face appears. It's an art form.

Breakfast Time. Perfect with a cup of tea

Now just to decide if I should¬†keep it all for myself, bake it in a cake¬†or¬†give it¬†away as Christmas presents… What could say ‘I love you’ more than a big jar of homemade jam or ‘I built you a cake?’¬†What you will need to make your own Apple and Ginger Jam

  • 1lb of apples peeled and chopped in the cubes
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger (although I added far more and think the more ginger the better!)
  • 1lb of granulated sugar
  • No extra citric acid is needed when making apple jam as its got enough pectin in the fruit to set the jam

This recipe yields 1 ¬† ¬†2/3 lb of jam in total. When I made it it filled two 1lb jars.¬†¬†Marguerite’s Jam Tips!

  • Marguerite explains that although it’s best to use preserving sugar which has more pectin added to it to encourage the jam to set, you can still use loaf/granulated sugar (which is often cheaper) particularly when preserving fruits with higher levels of natural pectin such as Blackberries.
  • Some fruits such as cherries have low levels of pectin and therefore you will need to use more fruit than sugar and add some citric acid, such as lemon juice to encourage it to set more.
  • If using a fruit with high levels of pectin such as blackcurrants you should use more sugar than fruit. You should get better results when you use more sugar than fruit in any jam as this helps the jam to set.
  • Stew the fruit slowly to maximise the vital pectin extraction

4. Accidental Breakfast Muffins – America

I had a vision for what I wanted to bake but didn’t have a recipe to achieve it. I’ve attempted American¬†muffins from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook about 5 times now and failed miserably to get them to rise and to look more appetising than a sludgey, sticky, tray bake,¬†rather than lovely risen individual muffins. I give up!

Me in LA with Cary Grant

I’ve been to America quite a few times and they do indulgent food so well. I have quite a few American items on my baking wish list so where better a place to start than the good old fruit muffin.

Accidental Breakfast Muffins

I had over ripe bananas, oats, honey, raisins and rather a lot of apples to use up in the cupboards so I concocted this next baking attempt. I was thinking about how wonderful and creative the contestants on GBBO are and how they invent their own recipes so I found a basic banana muffin recipe and for better or worse, improvised…

Accidental Breakfast Muffins Recipe:

1 cup (115 grams) oats

2 and half  cups (230 grams) plain flour

2 cups (3/4 cup (150 grams) combination of half brown and half granulated white sugar.

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs lightly beaten

25grams unsalted butter

2 large ripe bananas mashed well (about 1-1/2 cups)

2 large apples diced

1 handful of raisins

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

sprinkle of honey and oats for the top of the muffins

Chopping the apples up in a hurry before yoga, I left them along with the oats to marinade in the fruity, sugary, cinammony mess that I had made. All that was left to do was to throw the rest of the dry ingredients in and gently mix it all together..

Accidents happen. Somehow, despite bringing my massive laptop into the kitchen and balancing it precariously on the hob, to avoid touch screen phone issues, I still misread the basic recipe!! Mixing up the measurements for the flour and sugar. I realised a little too late that I had added 3 times the amount of sugar (and extra honey that I had taken the initiative to chuck in too) that the recipe needed. Yikes, these were going to be ridiculously sweet muffins!

To balance this out I added more flour and oats. Creating more problems for myself, as per usual.¬†Now I know that oats soak up all the available moisture, wherever they are. If only hadn’t poured away all the sugary apple juice that had seeped out from the fruit. But hey, you bake, you learn.

Pre baking in lovely silicon cases

I keep considering investing in a proper¬†muffin or cupcake baking tray but have yet to commit to it.¬†Undiscouraged¬†by my lack of baking equipment yet again. (I see it as an¬†opportunity to make life interesting…) I improvised.¬†Using a set of silicon cupcake cases set¬†on a flat baking tray.¬†I¬†filled¬†paper muffin cases with the mixture and squashed them in to the silicon cases. I figured they would hold the muffins in the right place.

Extreme Close Up

You may wonder why I didn’t just cook the muffins in the silicon cases. I’ve had some unfortunate silicon cooking experiences; uncooked bottoms, half the cupcake stuck in the case etc.¬†so prefer to use¬†paper cases these days. ¬†Once I ran out of silicon cases I rummaged round for something else ovenproof¬†to hold the paper cases upright (and avoid¬† muffin sludgage) and landed upon some ramekins. Perfect.

Ramekins and Yorkshire Pudding TIn

Before I popped them in the oven a sprinkled on a few more oats on each muffin and drizzled on some honey to make them look all rustic and pretty.

The End Product

They smelled amazing and tasted really good too.¬†¬†They were fully cooked and had a proper shape too! Amazing! Maybe paper cases in ramekins and silicon cases are the way forward? No more rivers of muffins for me! The only improvements that could be made would be to add an extra banana and leave in all the fruit juices. Maybe even a slightly bigger dollop of honey on the top too would add a bit more moisture. They were definitely sweet enough though!¬†For my first attempt at full on recipe creation it wasn’t too bad, especially with a good cup of tea.

Now to share them with everyone at work, as I can’t possibly eat all of these myself!

So many muffins