Hipster Banana Bread

Am I a hipster? Oh god. I like organic food, make my own kefir and ride a cruiser. Yes, I’d love to save the world and my husband has a beard. Hmmmm….. maybe I am just enough of a hipster to be allowed to call this Hipster Banana Bread?!

hipster_banana_bread_sweetpea_darlingheart_honeycomb

Eating a bite of this loaf made me think of my Mum. I’m sure she would have baked something like this, while I watched at her elbow; something wholesome and healthful, and knowing her she would have spread on some tahini and honey for extra goodness/yummyness.

Times change, and now I am the mum with my little one standing at my elbow. And so whilst I originally thought to call this recipe Hippy Banana Bread (as I think of my mum being somewhat of a hippy earth mother) I decided that for my times, perhaps it is more of a Hipster Banana Bread.

So get out your spelt and your cocoa nibs, mash a few bananas and then sling a few slices into your satchel for a snack whilst out on your bike. Lovely alongside a good cup o’ chai.

Hipster Banana Bread

This really is more bread than cake, and is abundant in seeds and cocoa nib crunch. I imagine it would be a great snack to take on a hike; it fills you up in a good way and keeps you going for a long time. It stores well for at least 5 days, and actually gets better after a day or two. And as with all banana breads (in my humble opinion) a generous buttering is a must.

hipster_banana_bread_sweetpea_darlingheart_wholefoods

Adapted from Seeded Banana Bread from A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones.

  • 250g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 125g brown sugar (I think coconut sugar would substitute well here, I’m going to try that next time)
  • 150g little seeds (I used 50g golden linseeds, 50g sesame seeds and 50g cocoa nibs)
  • a pinch of salt (go on, rock in some Himalayan Crystal salt)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large bananas, mashed as you will
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Butter and line a loaf tin with baking paper, and let the paper reach up the sides so it is easy to remove.

Mix together in a bowl all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, seeds, salt and baking powder) until there are no lumps.

In a separate bowl mash the bananas, then stir in the olive oil, yoghurt and eggs.

Gently mix together the wet and dry ingredients, just until there are no pockets of flour left. Hippies or Hipsters alike, be gentle and loving to your mix.

Pour the mixture into the tin, then bake a little lower down in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

When the loaf is cool enough, transfer to a cooling rack. This is pretty yummy still warm, but also good at room temperature or toasted and spread with either butter and a little honey or your favourite nut butter. I also had the notion of making a slice into french toast and topping it with some maple, greek yoghurt and extra bananas, but haven’t got there yet! Let me know if that’s where you take it!

hipster_banana_bread_sweetpea_darlingheart_slice

a little romance with some Persian Love Cake

PersianLoveCake1

Life’s big experiences always feel a little easier when you have someone to share them with. Having your first baby changes you immensely, and I was lucky enough to make two dear, dear friends just after we all had our first babies. We’ve shared hard times and happy times, day to day hum-drum and excitement, and now our children have the most special kind of friendship that hopefully they will take with them through their entire lives, friends you have had since birth.

These ladies are my kin, and our families feel interwoven.

Times may come when we don’t get to see each other as much as we have in these formative years, but I know that we will always hold a special place in each other’s hearts. My life has been so much richer for having grown alongside them.

Congratulations to beautiful H + D, we love you and all you are. Another of life’s big moments, what a treat to share it with you.

And whilst I made this as a wedding cake, it really is perfect to share for morning or afternoon tea with some close friends or loved ones.

Persian Love Cake for H + D…

honest and exotic just like you, to help celebrate your declaration of love xx

adapted from Nutmeg Love Cake by Amber Rose, from Love Bake Nourish.

  • 80g mix of toasted pecans, almonds and pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 260g spelt flour
  • 200g rapadura sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 280ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 large free-range egg

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour a 20cm springform cake tin.

Measure the flour, salt, sugar and nutmeg into a medium bowl and stir to combine.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and maple syrup together, until liquid.

Pour the butter and syrup into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the butter has been incorporated. Press half of this mixture into the base of your cake tin.

With the remaining half of the butter/flour mixture, stir in the natural yoghurt, egg and bicarbonate soda. Mix well until there are no lumps, it will be quite runny. Pour this mixture into the cake tin over the buttery base.

Sprinkle your chopped nuts on top and place in the middle of the oven (pop an oven tray on the bottom of your oven to catch any buttery drips) and bake for around 40 minutes, or until the centre of the cake springs back when you touch it. I baked mine a little longer at H + D’s request, turning the oven down to 160 degrees C after 40 minutes to avoid burning the nuts. If you bake it until the centre just springs back, the middle layer will have the consistency of a thick, set custard… if you bake it a little longer it will be chewier and a bit more spongey.

Let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing the springform.

PersianLoveCake2

Because this cake was for a celebration, I decorated mine with crystallized rose petals, nut praline, edible glitter and a touch of edible gold leaf. But really, the nuts look beautiful on top just as they are. Honest, comforting and delicious.

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

StrawberryCoconutCupcake

My kids have pretty strong opinions about cake.

This should come as no surprise really, given the amount of cake that is often being whipped up and going out of our kitchen. Always eager ‘helpers’, they often come up with their own combinations and drawings to articulate exactly what they mean. There were some pretty fancy numbers being dreamt up this year, let me tell you.

Speculation was rife as to what kind of cake everyone was going to have for their birthday. Some prefer tradition, whilst others have constantly evolving ideas throughout the year; the anticipation was huge.

Finally, after the usual intense brainstorming of ideas, it was decided that strawberry cupcakes with raspberry icing would suffice. But only if they were in the style of a fairy garden. Vision AND flavour, you see what I mean.

No worries, strawberry and raspberry, a berry-licious combination, as Strawberry Shortcake would say. The only challenge now, to make one that all our kinder friends can eat. Nut free, dairy free, egg free.

I got my substituting brain on, and remembered a birthday cake from my own childhood. A strawberry and coconut cake, which we baked in a heart shaped tin. Inspiration drawn, I got a-baking.

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

(nut free, dairy free, egg free)
  • 120g spelt flour
  • 140g raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g coconut butter (not coconut oil), the more fragrant the better
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg
  • 100g chopped strawberries

Put out all of your ingredients, and allow them to come to room temperature. Cross fingers for a day that is not too cold so your coconut butter will be soft and pliable (please use coconut butter versus coconut oil. The butter is made with the whole coconut flesh, not just the pressed out oil, this gives it a much more voluptuous consistency as well as maximum tropical flavour! My favourite by far is Niugini Organics; they work with local communities in PNG to produce their coconut butter, so not only is it totally delicious, it’s good for karma points too.)

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with some pretty cases.

Measure out your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on slow until the mixture looks uniformly sandy, without any large lumps and bumps.

Pour in the coconut milk and the splash of vanilla, and mix until well combined. Add your constituted egg replacer and give it a spin on medium speed until everything is nice and smooth.

Stir in your chopped strawberries, or if they are a bit on the cold side, drop them directly into the cupcake cases (so you don’t give that coconut butter a cold shock!)

Divide the mixture amongst the cupcake cases, it will be runny but don’t worry! These cupcakes turn out sweet, delicious and fragrant and not at all dry (if someone knows a better word than ‘moist’, then please, let me know).

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. My cupcakes didn’t go very brown, I think this is to do with using coconut butter rather than normal butter, so don’t rely on ‘golden brown’ being your indicator for the cupcakes being done!

Let the cupcakes cool down a touch before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Now, I wish I could give you a super awesome dairy-free and delicious frosting recipe. Unfortunately I can’t. I did experiment using coconut butter, icing sugar and fresh raspberries to create a super yummy and good for you frosting, and…. it was an epic fail. It went straight to the chickens. So instead I had to default and use a standard frosting recipe, just substituting dairy-free spread (I used Nuttelex) and coconut milk instead of cow’s. A dash of raspberry oil (from some macaron-ing days) added the required raspberry element. I would have way rather used fresh raspberries, but after one botched attempt, I just needed to get these babies done. I’ll put conquering that frosting recipe on the to-do list, and if you have an awesome dairy-free frosting that doesn’t use vegetable oils, then please let me know!!

Oh, and decorate to your heart’s content xx

StrawberryCoconutCupcakeBite

Coconut Berry Loaf Cake

coconut-loaf-above

The past few weeks I have been having an existential crisis of sorts… a baking related existential crisis. There are definitely worse things than baking crises. But things have been on my mind, none the less.

My particular deliberation is basically this. I love to bake. For sure. It is a space where my creativity is in flow, and also a platform from which I can nurture others. And on the other hand, I have recently made the decision to go sugar free for a while. I have Type 1 diabetes, an auto immune disease (gosh, I really don’t even like labelling it as that) and have been reading the buzz lately about others reversing their various forms of auto immune by going sugar free. I just want to say, I am not recommending any of these changes to anybody else, in fact my doctors are pretty much dead set against the whole idea of going sugar free (somewhat ironic, no?) but tired of merely managing my condition, I’m seeing what I can do to help support and heal my body.

So, how to marry these two ends of the spectrum? Sugar free yet love to bake. Oh, and the fact that I have a small business making delicious sugary cakes for other people?!

If you’ve visited here before, you will notice that many of the recipes I post tend towards the wholefoods side of things. I like creating and eating food that is delicious and full of nutrients. I want to have my cake, and get some additional goodness from it too. Goodness for the soul and for the body, if you like. And with a beautiful little girl by my side who has a definite sweet tooth, I want to make sure I can get as much good nutrition into her as well, whilst still giving her something she will want to eat for afternoon tea.

I will continue to make special treat cakes for others who are having celebrations, but have decided that I also need to work on a range of sugar free and wholefoods cakes that also taste delicious and look beautiful, so that people who have these different wants and needs can be catered for. And I guess I will also allow some room in my life for the freedom to have some treat cake when the time is right. But amazingly, having been sugar free for about 7 weeks now, I am not wanting it so much.

Anyway, my beautiful girl is totally in love with coconut at the moment, so here is a quick after kinder treat we whipped up. Low sugar, low fructose, high in protein and pretty darn delicious.

Coconut Berry Loaf Cake

Coconut-berry-cake

  • 200 g wholemeal spelt
  • 100 g coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • scant 1/3 cup stevia (I use a one for one stevia which is mixed with erythritol to make it measure as you would for sugar, however, if you use pure stevia please put this in to taste as a drop of the pure stuff goes a long way!)
  • 1/3 cup rice syrup
  • 400 ml buttermilk
  • 120 g berries
  • handful of coconut flakes

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a medium bowl, combine the  spelt flour, coconut flour, baking powder, vanilla powder and stevia and give a good stir.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add in the rice syrup and warm until just loosened. Pour the butter and rice syrup into the flour mixture and stir.

Stir through your buttermilk; the coconut flour is very dry and will absorb lots of moisture, it will make a fairly firm batter.

berries

Pour your mixture into your loaf tin, and push in the berries however you feel. Try not to eat them all along the way.

coconut-loaf-ready-to-bake

Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes. Place towards the bottom of the oven, to stop the coconut flakes from burning, and bake for 60 – 65 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

This is a subtly sweet, rustic style cake, very comforting and delicious with the pop of soft juicy berries. It is delicious eaten warm as is, or would also be good served with some orange or vanilla scented ricotta.  It keeps well in an airtight container for up to 4 days, although we gobbled ours all up long before then.

Coconut-berry-loaf-cake

Tangelo + Honey Buttermilk Cake

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We seem to have entered the deep dark depths of Winter this past week, and with super early sunsets and late start mornings, I feel like I am often up with the birds. It is at these times when I yearn for bright colours, bold flavours and warming aromas… anything to remind me of a little golden sun.

How to quench these yearnings of warmth and sweet summer fragrance? Come on, bake a cake! Pairing honey with the most vibrant of citrus fruit, the Tangelo, makes a little slice of warmth.

Tangelo-cake-ingredients

Tangelos are a relatively new discovery for me. As a kid I only ever had the ubiquitous lunchbox mandarin, with the occasional navel orange thrown in for good measure. Tangelos are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit, they are fragrant and zingy without being as bitter as grapefruit can sometimes be (okay, I admit it, I am a little afraid of grapefruit), and they are seriously beautiful. They are boldly orange, almost luminescent in their colour and are oh so cute with their little knobbly bottoms!

Tangelo-rind

This cake is rich and buttery, tangy and fragrant, just slightly sweet and perfect for feeling warm from the inside out. If you have a fragrant honey, this is a perfect use for it, as the honey really shines through. And the buttermilk provides a little extra tang. The almond sugar sprinkle creates a nice little crunchy layer on the bottom of the cake, a delicious contrast to the top.

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Tangelo and Honey Buttermilk Cake

Makes one bundt cake

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tangelo zest (this was 1 tangelo for me)
  • 3 cups white spelt flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225 g butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) tangelo juice (again, from 1 tangelo for me)
  • 30 g slivered or flaked almonds
  • 1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease well and lightly flour your bundt tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and pinch of salt and give it a whisk.

Next, melt your butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and add your honey and tangelo zest. We don’t want to cook the honey, just warm it slightly  to make it easy to mix.

Juice your tangelo and add it to the melted butter mix.

Once the melted butter mix has cooled slightly, whisk in your eggs and buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just smooth.

bundt-tintangelo-cake-ready-for-oven

Pour the batter into your prepared bundt tin. Sprinkle over your slivered almonds and demerara sugar.

Pop the tin into the centre of the oven, and bake for around 45mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. You should also have a lovely little golden crunchy crust!

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Allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

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This cake is delicious when warm, and would be lovely with a dollop of clotted cream and a good strong cup of tea. It also slices well and would be great to take on a hike or Winter picnic with a steaming thermos. And you could even pop a piece in your lunchbox the next day.

Keeps for 3 – 4 days in an airtight container.

strawberry + rhubarb crumble muffins, a recipe made for mixing it up

rhubarb

Are you a list writer? Or more of a free spirit, able to roll through life and summon the gods of ‘winging it’?

I confess, I am a bit of a list writer. Believe me, I often wish it weren’t so. But writing things down helps clear my mind for other, more fun things. Otherwise I am constantly reciting the things I need to do, hoping not to forget anything. Pen and paper help me out with that. But when it comes to food, that’s where my hidden free spirit is really allowed to shine.

StrawberryRhubarb

Yes, this may mean that I am always without one thing we really need, but hey, this just inspires extra creativity, right? When it comes to savoury food, I hardly ever have a plan when I start to cook. An idea, yes, but rarely an end. Maybe this is why I find it hard to ever cook a recipe as it is written, and why it is even harder for me to write one, because I usually end up throwing in a bit of this and a pinch of that, never really measuring, just going with the flow… anyway, here is a recipe just for the likes of me, where you can add whichever fruit takes your fancy and it will always turn out super delish.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Muffins customised from Classic Earth Market muffins found in Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau

CookedMuffin

  • 1 quantity cinnamon and nut crumble topping
  • 400g fruit of your choice, chopped into good-sized chunks
  • 130g white spelt flour
  • 145g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 75g rapadura sugar or raw sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml buttermilk, kefir milk or yoghurt
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place paper cases into a 12 hole muffin tin.

For the dry mix, place the flours, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and give it a good whisk, breaking up any lumps. Add your chopped up fruit (keep it chunky so you get good fruity bits in your cooked muffin) and stir gently, giving the fruit a light coating so it doesn’t clump together. I used rhubarb and strawberries as they were calling my name, but here is where you get to make it your own! Choose whichever fruit is calling to you, bananas, berries, plums, figs… you get the idea, it’ll all be good. If your fruit is on the fragile side, we’ll add it later so it doesn’t get smooshed.

For the wet mix, place equal amounts of the two milks in a measuring cup to make 185ml. Add in the egg, vanilla and cooled, melted butter and whisk together.

Fold together the wet and the dry mixes gently, until just combined. Here is where you add that extra milk if you feel you need to. And if your fruit is fragile you can fold it in now too.

MuffinMix

For the topping combine 70g raw nuts (I used walnuts), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut and 2 tablespoons rapadura sugar in a bowl. Please, please make the topping!! It makes these muffins a bit more special, and adds great texture. Trust me, do it!

Spoon the muffin batter into your cases, and sprinkle generously with the crumble topping.

ReadyForOven

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and cool on wire racks.

I must confess I didn’t have any wholemeal spelt, so I used only white spelt, and substituted in 40g hazelnut meal which I did have hanging around. Yes, I can never play it straight when it comes to cooking.

TrayBaked

And when you think they are just cool enough to eat, make yourself a cup of tea, call the kids into the kitchen and enjoy a quiet moment of freshly baked goodness.

These muffins aren’t super sweet, but they are beautifully light and pretty delicious. And as per usual when it comes to muffins, eat them as soon as you can! The same day is best, but if it is the following day, give them a gentle warm in the oven and they will breathe life anew. Enjoy.

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how to make a Monday, feel like a Friday

Mondays. I know it’s the start of the week, woo hoo, umm yeah, the start of something great, right?! Let’s be real, sometimes they are just hard work.

Enter: pizza. It’s cool, go with me here.

I have long been a believer in cake, and how it can make almost any moment feel more special (don’t tell me you’ve never had an emergency piece of cake!). Well, my latest idea is pizza, and how it makes any night of the week feel like Friday night.

Go on, give it a go. Shake it up and make pizza on a Monday night; it might just be the start of something great…

pizza with red quinoa salad

Spelt Pizza with Red Quinoa, Fennel and Apple Salad

250g spelt flour

125ml warm water

pinch of salt and sugar

25ml olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons instant dried yeast

Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and give a little stir. Combine the warm water and olive oil, and pour into a well in the centre of the flour. Give it a quick mix around with a spoon until it comes together into a ball. Now, do yourself a favour, and give the dough a little knead whilst it’s still in the bowl (mix in all those little bits around the sides). This makes it less sticky when you turn it out, and you will need less flour on your kneading surface (i.e. bench top!).

Turn your dough out onto your nicely floured benchtop and knead that baby until it looks smooth on the outside when you shape it into a ball. Depending on your enthusiasm, this will take around 5 minutes. I like to hold one edge of the dough with my left hand, and push the bulk of the dough away with my right, virtually stretching and smearing the dough across the bench. Give it a try.

When it’s looking all nice and smooth and dough-like, pop it in an oiled bowl, cover it with cling-film and let it rise somewhere nice and cosy for about an hour.

Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius. If you have a fan forced oven, then put on the fan for a crispier base.

One hour later, divide your beautiful dough into two. Give it a workout with a rolling pin and roll it as thin as you dare (the thinner the better in my books). Don’t worry, pizza isn’t supposed to be round, asymmetrical is how the cool kids are doing it, trust me.

Transfer your magnificently shaped pizza base to a tray lined with baking paper, and top it to your liking. Tomato paste or pizza sauce first, then some mozzarella and then – go crazy! I chose salami cause I think it’s hard to beat a classic. If you’ve got some garlic oil hanging around, drizzle it around the edges and your house will smell like a real deal pizza shop.

Pop it into the oven for about 20 mins or until it’s nicely golden. Eat, enjoy, sigh and forget that tomorrow is only Tuesday.

PizzaSlice

And in my house, every good pizza needs a good salad. Give this one a go.

Cook yourself up about a handful of red quinoa. One day I will actually measure how much quinoa and how much water I put in, but sorry, today was not that day. Once it is beautifully cooked (I know you can do it), let it cool. Grab a salad bowl and put in a generous teaspoon of honey, a splash of olive oil and a swig of red wine vinegar (technical measures I know, but it’s hard to go wrong here). Oops! Don’t forget a pinch of salt. Give it a whisk! Pop in your cooled quinoa and let it soak up that dressing goodness. Tear up a few leaves of lettuce (I had cos on hand, but I think wild rocket would be awesome). Pop them in. Slice up half a bulb of fennel, and one small apple. Pop them in too, along with a handful of toasted walnuts. If you’ve got some good goat’s fetta in your fridge, then crumble in a little bit of that too. Salads in my mind are supposed to be freeform, substitution is totally allowed. Give it a toss to dress it all up, and you’re good to go.

Salad

And if you have a bit of salami and some lettuce leftover, why not make yourself a cracking sandwich the following day. Just pop the salami on a tray in a 200 C oven for 5 – 10 mins until crispy and bubbling, then layer it on some good sourdough bread with mayo, tomato, avocado and a leaf or two of lettuce. Hey, this pizza even makes Tuesday lunchtime feel special. Thanks pizza.

SLAT