Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

(Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes)

There are no flowers in my garden at the moment. Zilch. Not from lack of trying, mind you. It’s just that everything feels as though it has come to a standstill. I could blame Winter, or I could just feel a bit grateful that the nasturtiums, lovage and bay tree are still moderately flourishing despite my attempts at love (read : possible over watering).

The bay tree is probably the oldest survivor of our garden. A gift from my mom many years ago, it has proven useful in flavouring soups and stews, as well as custards, ice-cream and cakes like the ones below. A few fresh bay leaves are even said to be the prescribed natural remedy for preventing an infestation of weevils in your kitchen cupboards.

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

Despite the lack of flowers, it’s hard to begrudge Winter its lack of colour when there are pears and quinces to poach and all manner of citrus fruits to eat and bake with. Left with a single pink grapefruit languishing in the fruit bowl on our kitchen counter, I decided to turn it into a batch of small cakes. The cakes are pretty easy to put together, and can be customised to suit the season (blueberries in Summer, cherry blossoms in Spring..).

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cake

Pink grapefruit, brown butter and bay leaf cakes :
(makes 12 little cakes)

110g unsalted butter
3 bay leaves
3 large eggs
180g plain Greek-style yoghurt
finely grated zest of 1 large pink grapefruit
225g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of sea salt
170g caster sugar

Grease a 12-hole mini bundt tray. Preheat oven to 170’C.

Brown the butter with the 3 bay leaves. Strain, discarding the solids. You should have 80g of bay leaf-infused brown butter. Allow to cool a little before using.

In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown butter, eggs, yoghurt and grapefruit zest, and add this to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pipe mixture into the greased bundt tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The cakes should spring back when lightly pressed.

Unmould the cakes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Make a drizzly icing with icing sugar and some of the juice from the pink grapefruit (to make the icing more pink, tint it with beetroot powder) and decorate the cakes with as much or as little icing as you please. Finish by dusting with bay leaf powder (dry a handful of fresh bay leaves in a low oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Blend to a powder in a spice grinder).

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Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

Chocolate Granola

(Chocolate granola)

Truth be told, being more of a muesli or overnight oats kinda gal, I used to be completely unenthusiastic about granola for breakfast. Also chalk it down to being a little slow on the uptake, as far as most bandwagons go. Microwave mug cakes for example (a regular baked chocolate cake just seems so much more satisfying). ‘Good’ chia pudding. Rainbow cakes. Or kale paired with chocolate. Although I suspect one day I may just rescind on that last statement. (Hey, I’ve seen mushrooms dipped in chocolate. Anything is possible these days) Most trends have completely bypassed me on the food highway, but now granola has officially made a pit stop.

It all started with a trip to Las Vegas a few months ago, where we sat in a little stripmall cafe having a breakfast sandwich of peanut butter, banana and granola. As well as being delicious and a textural marvel, it was probably quite apt to find a sandwich Elvis Presley would definitely approve of in Las Vegas. When we returned from our holiday, I decided to try my hand at making granola, with some future pb+b sandwiches in mind. The sandwiches never happened. Seems like the appeal had more to do with time and place. And yet now I find myself in what I’ll probably look back and call ‘my granola years’. That time I made a different flavour of granola every week because I’d suddenly become so fascinated with the possibilities, and the great texture they added not just to breakfast, but later-in-the-day ice-cream and cakes.

Chocolate Granola

My version of granola is barely sweet and not very greasy. It keeps crisp in an airtight jar for what I presume is a fairly long time, though no batch I’ve made has ever lasted beyond two weeks, thanks to my new habit of snacking on small handfuls of granola at any time of the day. The fun thing about making your own is the complete freedom you get to play with flavours. A simple base recipe can be transformed into apple pie spiced granola (with the addition of apple juice, cinnamon, fresh and dried apples and walnuts), green tea granola (another favourite), chocolate granola, five spice granola and now, turmeric and blueberry granola.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

(Turmeric and wild blueberry granola)

This turmeric and blueberry granola was inspired by Chika, and tastes -amazing- with coconut yoghurt.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola :

150g rolled oats
30g coconut chips
60g whole unblanched almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1 x orange, zest and juice
70g brown rice syrup
10g extra virgin coconut oil
30g dried wild blueberries (or substitute with dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 175’C.

Place the rolled oats, coconut chips, almonds, spices, salt, vanilla and zest in a large bowl. In a small pot, heat the orange juice, brown rice syrup and coconut oil until melted. Pour this over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well to completely coat the oats. Tip the mixture onto a large lined tray, spreading it out evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden brown), stirring the granola occasionally to prevent the clumps at the edge of the tray from browning too quickly. Remove tray from the oven, allow to cool, then stir through the dried blueberries. Store the cooled granola in an airtight jar.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

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Spelt Hot Cross Buns, Spelled Delicious

Hot Cross Buns

Spelt Hot Cross Buns

You may laugh. I certainly did. Would you believe, after playing around for the past week on what I assumed would be my new and improved hot cross bun recipe, I finally decided to refer to a post written a good number of years ago, only to discover that the new recipe, is almost identical to my old recipe! Quite the coincidence, considering I started the most recent one, completely from scratch.

The differences are mostly minimal; I believe the ratios are roughly the same, but even so, I feel it warrants a new post. Also it gives me an excuse to update my blog, after what seems like an eternity of silence. Somehow over time, I’ve managed to bake more and travel more, but blog less. So here’s my attempt at readdressing this imbalance (three dozen hot cross buns later…).

A few things to note about the recipe below. I bake mostly with spelt flour at the moment, so this recipe calls for spelt, though I’m sure it works just as well with plain flour. The roux method (also known as the tangzhong method) is great for bread baking when you want the end result to be very soft and fluffy. It’s truly well worth the effort of those few extra steps. And if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to experiment with different glaze flavourings. Coffee or cola, anyone?

Hot Cross Buns

Spelt Hot Cross Buns :
(makes 12)

For the roux :
30g spelt flour
125g water

For the final dough :
All of the roux above
150g cold milk
2 teaspoons dried yeast (1 sachet)
1 large egg
400g spelt flour
45g sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
120g dried fruit of your choice (raisins, sultanas, cranberries etc)
1.5 teaspoons ground spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger etc)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
40g soft unsalted butter

For the glaze :
35g brown sugar
40g water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the roux, combine the spelt flour and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens and reaches a temperature of 65’C. Remove from the stove and scrape this into the bowl of your electric mixer. Mix in the cold milk. The resulting mixture should be at a barely-warm temperature. Stir in the dried yeast and allow to sit for a few minutes until it starts to bubble a little. Add the egg, followed by the flour, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, dried fruit and unsalted butter. Knead this on a low speed until the dough comes together and looks smooth (about 5-6 minutes). Cover and allow to prove for an hour or until doubled.

Transfer the dough onto your kitchen bench. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, each weighing 75-80g. Ball each piece and place them 1.5 inches apart on a lined baking tray. Cover with greased cling film and allow to prove until almost doubled in size (should take another hour).

Before baking, make the cross paste out of flour, water and a pinch of sugar. The paste should be wet enough to pipe, but not runny. To bake the buns, brush them lightly with extra beaten egg, then pipe the crosses and bake in a preheated 190’C oven for 13-14 mins, rotating the tray half way through. If they sound hollow when tapped, then they’re done.

While the buns are baking, prepare the glaze by bringing all the ingredients to a boil (to dissolve the sugar) and setting aside. When you take the buns out of the oven, brush them with the warm glaze and allow to cool.

Tips :
-The amount of dried fruit and spices you add to the dough is up to personal preference.
-Omit the crosses if you dislike them.

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