Posts tagged cinnamon
Cinnamon challah

Hello, hello…. A second post on a Sunday? Ah, but it’s the Daring Bakers reveal date and this month’s challenge was Challah bread. A new experience for me!

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Right, let me tell you one thing. Nothing went smoothly for me in this challenge. First settling on which recipe to use caused me much deliberation (ok, well that’s not exactly unusual). I had the usual task of veganizing the recipe, which it itself was not too tricky as suggestions had been given and I found quite a lot of additional inspiration from other recipes already out there (I looked at too many to name specific resources!)

Then came the debate as to how to actually make the challah. I have a Thermomix and in the Thermomix cookbook there is a specific Challah bread recipe. So, was I to go with the more traditional kneading/rising  methods and times suggested in the Daring Bakers Challenge and elsewhere  online, or was I to go with the Thermomix method (a swifter process).

So I went with the Thermomix method. In hindsight that was probably a mistake as I had no gauge against others results and it required more guess work in translating my ingredients to their (simple) method and that therefore meant more room for things going awry!

My first stumble: I killed the yeast (oops!) I added it to milk that I warmed just a little too much. Move onto second trial where I didn’t add the yeast to the liquid prior mixing.

My second stumble: On to my second attempt and it all went smoothly until the point at which I had to braid. I prepared a 4-strand braid and then realised I had no clue how to create a braid with 4 strands …ha ha! The stands got a bit stretched and mauled whilst I figured it out…I got there in the end*

My third stumble: Without having the option of using egg wash for the surface, I went for a soy milk with brown rice syrup combo. This was ok I principle I think, but I’m not sure whether it contributed to the over-browning of the top.

My fourth stumble: The cookbook I used stated bake for 20 minutes at 220C. I checked after 15 and it was very much done! I took it out at this point and it was saved…but had I left it longer….

My fifth (and final) stumble: I had added a ‘sweet cinnamon butter’ centre to the inside of each strand. I had high hopes for a lovely swirly effect when I cut into the loaf. Hmmm…not so much..it was barely noticeable.

Anyway, it was a good learning experience…and for the all the things that ‘challenged’ me there were plenty of good bits too…

The good bits:

Using the banana as a binder (instead of an egg) worked really well and assisted with the light sweetness. The addition of cinnamon and coconut sugar was delicious. I learnt how to braid with 4 strands…and you know what…

Most importantly, the bread tasted YUMMY! Yes, I said it tasted yummy…perfect when lightly toasted with a mug of tea. Let me tell you I sure needed that mug of tea!

Please feel free to have a go yourself…here is a link to the original Daring Bakers Challenge, which may assist with the process and also give other ideas for ingredients and tips above and beyond my own.

Recipe: Cinnamon challah Bread

Ingredients

  • 400g mix of white and wholegrain spelt flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 sachet instant yeast
  • 200g warm soy milk (or water)
  • 1 banana
  • 30g coconut oil
  • 20g coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • To glaze- approx. 3tbs soy milk plus ½ tsp brown rice syrup, extra coconut sugar for sprinkling
  • Filling- (optional) 3tbs melted coconut butter, 1tbs cinnamon 2 tbs agagve syrup

Method

Add all ingredients to the Thermomix and mix for 20 seconds/speed 3.

Knead for 2 mins of the dough setting. Remove the dough and place ina  large oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for approx. 1 hour.

On a flour surface, remove the dough and punch it down. Divide into 4 equal portions and roll each piece into a long sausage shape approx. 40cm long.

For a filled bread- i.e cinnamon as I have done or an alternative sweet or savoury filling, flatten the strands and add a line of filling before pinching together to seal into a thick round strand.

Press the 4 ends together and loosely plait the length of the strands before pressing the ends together to complete the braid. Form into a circle if you wish

Allow the challah to rise for approx. 30 mins and pre-heat the oven to 220C (based on my experience I would now suggest 200C I would also suggest a longer rising time of 1 hour).

Brush the bread generously with the soy milk/syrup glaze and bake for 15-20 minutes  or until the glaze is golden (keep a close eye to prevent burning).

*for a 4-strand braid, think of the 4 strands in two pairs. Cross the inner strands first (one from each pair) and then cross both of the outer stands individually (each pair), repeat the procedure with the inner strands (which will now be the other strand of each pair) then repeat with the pairs…..does that make sense. Basically you are just crossing the inners and then both outers in repetition. If you’re still confused…Google it like it did! 

 Flattened strand recieving its filling

 Flattened strand recieving its filling

barely there cinnamon butter swirls!

barely there cinnamon butter swirls!

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‘Twelve Days’ day 7: Mincemeat- simple and sugar-free!

When I pulled open my blind this morning I realised we’d had our first snow! Ok, so it wasn’t really much to write home about and wasn’t particularly photo worthy either…but it was still snow! Wohoo!

It now feels much more like winter, a little boost to the Christmassy spirit!

So far this year it’s been very mild outside, I’ve barely had to scrape my car at all in the mornings before heading off to work but in the last week or so there has definitely been a winter chill in the air and snowfall was only a matter of time.

Time, to cosy up indoors with snuggly slippers a dressing gown and maybe a glass of mulled wine?   No… I’m saving that for Christmas! A mug of herbal tea with have to do.

It’s time like this I really wish I had a crackling fire to sit next to as I write…no such luck, although the glow of the tree lights is nice.  Actually an open fire would probably be a bad thing…I’d fall asleep in no time!

In all the talk of warmth and spices, Christmas is not complete without mincemeat….. Oh no, I can see some of you pulling a face…stop and re-consider.  I’ve never really liked mincemeat, it always seemed full of too many currants, mixed peel  and things like that and for someone who previously disliked dried fruit it just wasn’t my thing. 

I’d never even considered making my own and certainly not realised how simple it really can be! Now I'm brimming with ideas using this basic concept...for example a 'summer fruits' or 'tropical' version for summer time- who says mincemeat is for Christmas only?

It's simple…pick the dried fruits you like (ok so ideally there should be some sort raisin/sultana combo going on but you can add other things too) blitz together and you’re done. No cooking, no sugar, not fat and no mess. This will easily store in a jar for a few weeks and freezes well too….so make it now to see you through the holidays.

As noted above this recipe is fat free and sugar free….it’s just pure and simple and needs nothing more. The dates along with the other fruits give it all the sweetness it needs.

I have a couple of mincemeat recipes coming up.  I had planned on including the first recipe as part of this post, however the daylight faded before I’d finished in the kitchen so the photoshoot will have to take place tomorrow with recipe to follow.

Recipe: Mincemeat

Makes approx. 2 ½ cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used the sweetened variety since I could not find unsweetened at the time)
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • ½ cup coarsely ground dates
  • ½ cup whole blanched almonds
  • 2 small to medium apples
  • grated rind of one orange
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 tbs arrowroot/tapioca flour (or any fine flour) optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice or nutmeg
  • 1 tsp rum extract (optional- I did not include this as it tasted great without)

Method

Peel and core the apples and chop into quarters. Chop the dates in a food processor to get a course meal. Add all the ingredients and process until you have a sticky chunky mixture. I added a tbs of arrowroot to absorb a little of the liquid and help bind the mix together but this is not a necessity. 

When I tasted the mixture I felt it really didn’t need the rum extract but feel free to add some at the end before a final whizz if you fancy. You could also include actual rum or brandy but again I didn’t feel it needed it and it would also have changed the consistency of the mixture.


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Spelt Cinnamon Rolls

Hello! I’m feeling quite excited today as this last week I seem to have reached a bit of a turning point and people are beginning to ‘come and see’ what I’m getting up to!

I guess all new bloggers go through that stage of simply ‘talking to themselves’ and I wasn’t sure how long that would go on for or even if anyone would ever stop by and leave a little comment…but phew it looks like you’ve saved me from the madness (of talking to oneself!)

It’s makes me smile inside when I see someone has taken the time to have a little look… though at the moment I think that’s probably curiosity more than anything as I have yet to build up my archives! But hey, in time I will get there and I just hope you stick along for the ride and maybe drag a few others along with you!

I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts and in my 'why including cake’ page what this thing is all about for me. I guess you could say quite literally I want to have my cake and eat it! It is very important to me that the food I make is as healthy as possible (when compared with its regular counterpart). All my recipes are vegan and minimise refined sugars, not all my recipes are currently gluten free but I am working towards that goal as I feel that even for those without gluten intolerances a diet lower in gluten would be beneficial to us all.

The recipe I have posted today is unfortunately not GF (it uses spelt flour), however I did a little research and found this recipe for a gluten free version that may offer some insight as to how my recipe could be adapted, I’m eager to try it out myself when I get the chance-  but in the meantime if anyone does try or has made their own in the past please be sure to let me know!

Recipe: Cinnamon rolls

Ingredients - Dough:

  • 3 tbs water plus 1 tbs ground flax
  • 4 ½ cups flour (mix of wholemeal and white spelt) see also GF link above
  • 2 ½ (1 sachet) teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ¼ cup agave and ¼ tsp stevia
  • ½ cup coconut butter- melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients - Filling:

  • ½ cup rapadura
  • ½ tsp molasses
  • ½ cup coconut butter melted
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ cup walnuts chopped
  • ¼ cup dates chopped­

Method

In a small bowl mix the water and the flax and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the spelt flours and the yeast. In another medium mixing bowl add the water, agave, stevia, coconut butter and salt and whisk until well incorporated. Add the (now gummy) flax mixture to the bowl containing the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to roughly combine. If the mixture is too sticky to handle add more flour- but only a little.

Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and knead to dough for 5 to 10 minutes. The dough should be firm and smooth. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover and place in a warm place for about 1 hour. After 1 hour has passed, knead the dough for about 30 seconds and let it rest for 10 more minutes.

Whilst the dough rests, in a small bowl, whisk together the rapadura, molasses, melted coconut butter, maple syrup and cinnamon. Set aside. Roll the dough into a flat 16 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread the filling mixture evenly over the surface. Add a sprinkling of walnuts and dates also. Carefully roll up the dough lengthwise so it's 16 inches long. Cut it into 1 ½ inch sections with a sharp knife. Place the rolls close together, cut side up in a lightly greased 9x13 glass or ceramic baking dish. This will ensure that the rolls don't unravel during baking. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts and dates over them. Cover let the buns rise for one more hour.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 200C or until the tops are golden brown, rotating the dish halfway through. Drizzle a little more maple syrup to serve if you fancy.


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Breakfast oats

I love oats and I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of them! No really… there are just so many topping options. This is the way I start pretty much every day, and in times when a quick fix is in order then I’ll often have oats for lunch or dinner, particularly if I’ve had a late gym class and need a quick and healthy but substantial fix before bed.

Typically I keep the base the same and vary the toppings. Something like this…..

Serving of raw oats soaked in soya milk (the exact amount depends on time of day or how peckish I’m feeling) see also important note below on soaking.

  • 1 tbs of mixed seeds (I combine my own mix of sesame, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seed)
  • 1 to 2 tbs of soy yoghurt dolloped in the centre of the bowl on top of the oats
  • Sprinkling of raisins
  • If you like your oat base a little sweeter then add up to 1 tsp of agave nectar.

Toppings… right this is where you can really go crazy! 

I typically have grated apple and a sprinkling of cinnamon, one of my favourites. At the moment I’m also really into nectarines so a chopped up nectarine (or both apple and nectarine if I’m making up a bowl for the boy too). Blueberries or raspberries are also super yummy- use a small handful of frozen ones at a push if there are no fresh ones available, particularly if teamed with fresh grated apple…. Can you see the familiar theme with the apple obsession! I think a sprinkle of cinnamon works well with most fruit to give a warm spicy boost.

These last couple of days with the morning sun streaming through the kitchen window I took a few pictures of my breakfast bowls…. You’ll never want a boring old bowl of cereal again!

Important note:

If uncooked, raw oats ideally need to be soaked prior to eating (if you are not making them into porridge which I am not) I soak my oats in soya milk for approximately an hour or so (that’s usually all the time I have in the morning) but overnight is better!

The soaking bulks up the oats prior to digestion and prevents the need for heating which denatures the protein- it keeps the breakfast raw. Most importantly soaking helps to break down phytates in grains which, if not broken down, may prevent proper digestion of the nutrients. Soaking breaks down the phytates and allows the body to properly absorb all the good content of those whole grains. I use soya milk, but any ‘milk’ alternative could be used.


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