Monthly Archives: February 2013

Oat Banana Bread

I know, I know. I really don’t need to write about banana bread any more. This is the fourth post on banana related breads and cakes. You can find the others here, here and here. I think we can all agree that I am totally incapable of eating bananas before they are over ripe. We all have our flaws, I guess. My solution is of course, to freeze the bananas until I need to make banana bread. The problem with that solution is my freezer is tiny and last night I went on a fridge cleaning, freezer raid (to eliminate all the things that were starting to look like they had freezer burn) and decided it was time to use up all the bananas that were languishing there, threatening a coup. Obviously, if I was a smoothie drinking person, I could have just blended the bananas into smoothies. But I’m not. So more banana bread was the only solution (and convenient on-the-go breakfast food). I also had to get up at 7am to facilitate a fire drill and banana bread become a very necessary recovery activity afterwards.

Oxford with Mom and Loul Feb 2013 058You’ll be pleased to know that this is, in fact, different from the other banana recipes on this site. Apparently there are endless variations on banana bread/cake. This one is not sweet at all. In fact, you can eat it successfully with butter and honey. It’s dense with banana and heavy with oats and spelt. But it’s also addictive and more-ish and I suspect it will keep you going for days. It’s adapted from Scandilicious Baking, which is fast turning into my new, go-to book. I used a combination of plain and spelt flours, as I didn’t have any refined spelt flour. I also left out the pecans/walnuts, again because I didn’t have any but I don’t think my bread is lacking in any way. I decided to brown the butter, since it has to be melted anyway, and I am just loving brown butter at the moment. I used slightly more banana than originally called for, mainly because I wanted to be rid of the frozen bananas. Finally I reversed the method, adding the wet ingredients to the dry ones. The resulting bread feels a bit like health bread (I think it’s the oats that does it) but in a good way.

Banana Bread

Adapted from Scandilicious Baking

4 medium bananas

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk

75g butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 egg

225g plain flour

50g wholemeal spelt flour

60g rolled oats

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarb

freshly ground nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp)

a pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a loaf tin with baking paper and butter.

Melt the butter and cook it until it starts to brown and smells nutty. Remove from the heat and cool.

Mash the bananas and then stir in the buttermilk, maple syrup, egg and cooled butter.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a separate bowl.

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Make a well in the dry ingredients and then pour in the wet ingredients. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon, taking care to ensure everything is incorporated (you don’t want little pockets of flour randomly about). Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, smooth down with a spatula and sprinkle with a tablespoon of oats.

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Bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out and eating with butter and honey…

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

So I’m on half term this week and it thus seems the perfect opportunity to work on good breakfast food. Like these buns. But obviously, with my inability to get up much before 10am, they’re more like mid-afternoon buns. But I think that’s okay. Half term only comes around once every six weeks and you should be able to take advantage of long lie-ins and small amounts of relaxation, shouldn’t you?

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I’ve had these buns on my list of things to do for ages. The recipe comes from Baked Elements, which I love and am slightly obsessed with. And Smitten Kitchen wrote about them too. But both make these buns in a standing mixer, which I don’t have, so I wanted to see if I could make them by hand. It turns out you totally can although it is a sticky, messy job. But it’s totally worth it. These buns actually smell of autumn but you’ll forgive me for doing them now, when it feels like spring has sprung – after all, a cinnamon bun is good at any time of year, right?

I didn’t do that much adapting of the actual recipe – I used soft brown sugar because I didn’t have granulated (I almost never have granulated sugar around); I also used active dry yeast which you need to reactivate in the warm milk. I left out the ground cardamom because, despite going into every possibly grocery store, I have not been able to find any and grinding my own cardamom feels like a step too far. I made it with the recommended amount of ground cloves but I truly feel there could be less so I’ve only put 1/8 of a teaspoon on the recipe for the filling below. I also changed the frosting, using golden icing sugar (so my icing was golden and not bright white) and using half the amount of cream cheese. And obviously I changed up the method, which I’ll explain below. The result are soft, sticky buns that you’d like to eat in one sitting but common sense prevails upon you to share. Next time I think I might try them with butternut and see how that goes.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from Baked Elements

3 1/2 cups of white bread flour

1/4 cup soft brown sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tbsp dried active yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

90g butter, soft

2/3 cup whole milk

1 egg

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

Line the bottom of a 23cm springform cake tin with baking paper. Grease the baking paper and then flour it, knocking out any excess flour. Set aside. Measure the flour, sugars, salt, and spices into a large bowl. Heat the milk for about 30 seconds in a microwave, until it is just warmed through (and neither cold nor hot). Stir the yeast into the milk and set aside until it becomes foamy. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it’s incorporated (it won’t resemble bread crumbs or anything but just make sure it’s been nicely mixed together).

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Once the yeast/milk mixture is foamy, add to the bowl along with the egg, slightly beaten and the pumpkin puree. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together and once it becomes impossible to do any more stirring, bring the dough together with your hands. It is incredibly sticky but the idea is just to form it into a dough, knead it lightly and then form it into a ball and place it in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 45 minutes, until it doubles in size. (I find the oven works best for this.)

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In the meantime, make the filling:

3/4 cup soft brown sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/4 tsp

1/4 tsp sea salt

30g butter

Melt the butter and mix all the other ingredients together. Add the butter to these and stir until everything is incorporated. Set aside.

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Once your dough has doubled in size, knock it back and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to resemble a rectangle, about 1/2cm thick. Melt another 30g butter and brush the rectangle with about half of it. Sprinkle the filling on and then press it lightly with your hands. Roll the long side away from you to form a log, keeping the final seam underneath the log. Slice the ends off (my ends tend to be just dough, no filling) and then slice into 10 portions. (I divided the dough in half and each half into five. Amazing maths skills, I know.)

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Place the buns into the cake tin, brush with the last of the butter, and then cover the tin with clingfilm and prove again for 45 minutes. The buns should double in size. Preheat the oven to 180C (if you’re proving your buns in there, please remove them before switching it on) and bake the buns for about 35 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and glaze immediately.

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30g cream cheese

2 tbsp buttermilk

1 1/4 cup golden icing sugar

Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk until smooth. Then whisk in the icing sugar. Pour generously over the buns when they’re still hot. Eat warm…

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Milk Loaf

Hello Dear Readers

Welcome to the new location of Philosophy and Madeleines. After much thought and contemplation I decided that I needed to move the site over to it’s own domain (I won’t lie when I say Blogger has been driving me insane) and the site is now hosted by WordPress. I’m still trying to work out all the chinks in the armour and to get things back up and running normally but hopefully that will all happen this week. Apologies if you run into any issues but bear with me, I am working on it!

And so to work! I am totally obsessed with this bread at the moment. I’ve made it once a week for the last three weeks, with various variations, depending on what was in the cupboard, so it seems only natural that I share it with you. This morning I started reading The Breakfast Bible, which I bought on a whim of fancy in the bookshop yesterday. I love good breakfast, particularly on the weekend, and so, by the time I’d read the opening pages and had gotten to the chapter on eggs, I was craving eggs and bacon. And eggs and bacon need toast so I thought I’d rassle this up and have eggs and bacon for breakfast. Sometimes you just need a book to tell you what to do.

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This loaf is super easy although it does take a bit of time to assemble. The milk has to be scalded and then cooled so as not to kill the yeast. And the plaiting takes some skill – obviously if you have ever plaited anything in your life you will already have this skill. It is adapted from Scandilicious Baking, which I bought after going to Finland at New Year. Finland is the most fantastical place – it is quite unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. We went during what is known as the ‘twilight’ period – where the sun never rises above the horizon. We were in the far north, right in the Arctic circle, where the temperature on the day we arrived was -24C. (It did get warmer, rising to -4C for most of the week, and it snowed a lot.) And on the last night we were there, it cleared and we saw the northern lights. I ate reindeer (melt-in-the-mouth fillet), spice cookies (another total obsession) and lots of rye bread. When I got home I knew I’d want to explore recreating some of the things I ate, hence the purchase of the book.

The only other thing I’ve made from the book was a chocolate marmalade loaf which I couldn’t decide whether I liked or not, although all the tasters reassured me it was fantastic. But this milk loaf is just really good bread. It’s like a treat bread, made with all-white flour and tastes it’s best warm, only slightly cooled from the oven, with a lot of butter and marmalade. It does also make fantastic toast, so don’t worry about eating it on day one.

Milk Loaf

Adapted From Scandilicious Baking

250g plain white flour (or 250g refined spelt flour)

250g white bread flour (or 250g wholewheat spelt flour)

50g golden caster sugar

2 tsp salt

12g dried active yeast

250ml whole milk

50g butter

1 egg

Heat half the milk with the butter until just before boiling point (scalding). Remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl, add the rest of the milk and allow to cool to just below body temperature.

Weigh the flours, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

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Once the milk has cooled, reactivate the yeast by stirring it into the mixture and letting it sit for about 10 minutes whilst it foams and gathers strength.

Make a well in the flours, beat the egg slightly and add in, followed by the milk/yeast mixture.

You can start off with a wooden spoon but you will need to use your hands to bring the dough together. The past few times I’ve made it I’ve also had to add in some extra water. Don’t be afraid to do so if your dough is dry. Knead the dough lightly and then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm dry place to prove for an hour. (The inside of a cold oven works well – just make sure you don’t turn it on by accident whilst the dough is inside.)

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Knock back the dough and divide it into three equal portions. The easiest way to do this is to weigh the dough as a whole and then divide by three. I find it usually weighs somewhere in the region of 900g. Roll out each portion into a long sausage-like piece, all of equal length. Lie each length next to the other and press the tips that are furthest away from you together. Plait the lengths, keeping everything tight and then press the ends together to seal. Tuck both ends under the dough.

Place on a lined, flat baking tray and brush the whole loaf with some milk. Prove again for an hour, until the loaf has doubled in size.

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Heat the oven to 220C and bake the loaf for about 20 minutes, until it is dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped on it’s base.

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Cool and eat with lots of butter and marmalade.

I’ve made this with both regular flour and spelt flours. I like to put a little wholewheat spelt in, just because it adds a depth of flavour and makes the loaf more complex. I didn’t when I made it yesterday which is why the spelt flours are in brackets.

Chocolate Truffles

Friends of mine had a house warming yesterday and I decided to try out making chocolate truffles which I could take with me. I’m fairly sure everyone has made chocolate truffles at some point – I feel it’s the sort of thing you make at some point in your childhood – and they’re supposed to be super easy so I thought it would be a doddle and I could spend the afternoon transcribing interviews.

But that was before I split the ganache.

Now, I have made ganache many, many times in my life. When you work in a pastry kitchen, making ganache is something that happens almost every day and at home, in Jozi, I often made ganache as part of cupcake icings. So you’d think I would know what I was doing. Turns out I totally don’t.

I followed the instructions. I chopped the chocolate finely. I heated the cream to scalding point. I poured the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for thirty seconds. I gave it a stir. And then I made a fatal mistake. I decided to take a photograph of the cream and chocolate swirl. This photograph, to be precise.

And that is where it all went wrong. When I came back to stirring it, the mixture had cooled too much to melt the rest of the chocolate. No problem, I thought. I can just buzz it in the microwave for 20 seconds and it’ll melt and be lovely. WRONG. The microwave somehow cause the mixture to split and my pretty, glossy ganache turned into a vile butter, chocolate mixture with the most awful texture.

I managed to keep calm. Never mind the tight time schedule I was under, the light failing and the ganache needing to thicken at room temperature etcetera. I googled (thank goodness for Google) ‘split ganache’ and found a site with three options for bringing back ganache. (This was after I tried simply stirring in more cream and making the situation far, far worse.) The first instruction was to beat the ganache with an electric whisk, for a minute or two. I tried that. It failed. The second instruction was to add in some liquid glucose. Sadly I am not the type of person who has liquid glucose in the house (although I am totally going to hunt some down now.) So I skipped straight on to instruction three. It said to heat up some cream, about half the volume of the split ganache and then to pour (or in my case spoon) the ganache into the cream, slowly, stirring the whole time until you have a pretty, glossy ganache again. I guesstimated that I had about a cup of ganache and weighed out 100g of double cream. This I heated and then slowly whisked in the split mess. And you know what, the whole thing came back together. It was like a miracle.

After that it was fairly easy although more time consuming than I’d originally thought. I cheated and sped up the process by placing the ganache in the fridge where it threatened (what a surprise) to split again. This I managed to prevent by beating it every fifteen minutes or so whilst it cooled. The truffles were totally worth the effort, intense with chocolate flavour and quite bitter. (I made sure to sample one before taking them with me.) I made mine plain, just with some vanilla extract but you can add in whatever flavours take your fancy really.

Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from Paris Sweet
250g dark chocolate 
125ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the cream and vanilla until the cream boils. In the meanwhile, finally chop the 250g of chocolate and place in a mixing bowl.

Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture emulsifies and is smooth and glossy. If you have time, leave it on the counter to cool and thicken. If you don’t, place it in the fridge but stir it as it cools to prevent it from splitting.

Once it’s thick, roll the ganache into truffles, using your hands. It’s a messy job but quite fun. I kept cooling my hands under the cold water tap. Return the truffles to the fridge to harden.

Temper the two different chocolates. I did this by melting half the amount in the microwave and then putting the unmelted chocolate into the melted chocolate and stirring until the mixture cooled to just below body temperature. Place the chopped chocolate in another bowl and the cocoa powder in a fourth bowl. I coated some of the chocolates in the melted white chocolate and then rolled them in dark chopped chocolate whilst the rest I coated in dark chocolate and then rolled them in cocoa powder. I used forks to extract the chocolates.

Allow the truffles to set before consuming.

Rice Pudding with Bay

This weekend was one of those weekends you sometimes have as a single person. No agenda whatsoever and little but work (in my case, transcribing many interviews) to look forward too. I recently re-watched Easy A and it was like the weekend Olive spent avoiding Rhiannon’s camping trip – the kind where you make up dates with boys because you’d rather not confess (or it is unacceptable to confess) to having spent the weekend painting your dog’s toenails and dancing around like a crazy person. Or, as in my case, baking variations of blood orange cupcakes. I squeezed more blood oranges than I care to admit too – both for the cupcakes and also for a blood orange curd which, after three attempts, I gave up on on Sunday morning – sometimes you do just have to admit defeat. I rounded the incredibly uneventful weekend off by watching House of Cards on Netflix, which, let’s face is brilliant and disturbing, and probably totally explains the need to eat rice pudding at 9.30pm on a Sunday. I know, I know, likening oneself to an American teen movie is probably not the best thing to be confessing on the cusp of turning thirty (dear god) but teen movies just make like, so much sense. Who doesn’t relate to The Breakfast Club/10 Things I Hate About You/Say Anything/Bring It On/Pitch Perfect and think they explain most of life?

So the rice pudding craving was no random thing. I blame this post and this post. I read both last week and I think rice pudding has been playing on my subconscious ever since. Smitten Kitchen and The Wednesday Chef are two of my favourite food blogs and when they say something like ‘you need to put a bay leaf in your rice pudding’, it does cause me to wonder about it. But an 8pm craving does mean that you don’t want to boil rice and then drain it and then cook it for several hours. You want rice pudding NOW. Well, I did anyway. So I made my own version of rice pudding, with the additional, obligatory bay leaf; that only takes 30 minutes and can be left on the stove whilst you watch House of Cards, or whatever show you’re currently addicted too (I have Girls arriving later this week). You do just need to get up and check it every once in a while otherwise you’ll end up with rice burning on the bottom of the pot – which is exactly what happened to me but I managed to salvage it and it was still beautiful.

The bay leaf adds an earthy note to the pudding, rounding out the vanilla and making the dish more complex and flavoursome. I made it with whole milk and double cream – I can only guess at the fat content and calories, no doubt huge – but I think it is all the better for it. When I usually have rice pudding cravings I make it with skim or semi-skimmed milk because that is usually what I have at hand, and it’s good but this was a kind of out-of-the-universe indulgence. The kind that should, really, be saved for an occasion of sorts. This makes enough for two large-ish portions. I saved half and had it for breakfast this morning, reheating it with extra milk on the stove as it sets thick and stodgy.

Rice Pudding
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup golden caster sugar*
1/2 cup pudding rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp vanilla extract**

Heat the milk, bay leaf, sugar and vanilla to scalding point. Add in the rice. Bring back to the boil and then turn down the heat to very low so the milk bubbles gently. (The term ‘puttering’ comes to mind.)
Stir regularly so that the rice doesn’t catch on the bottom. After about 25 minutes it should be thick and the rice should be creamy but still have a slight bite to it. Add in some extra whole milk and then a good dollop of double cream. Stir for about another five minutes, until the cream is incorporated and the pudding is thick but still ‘sighs’ when you put it into a bowl. (By ‘sighs’ I mean it still spreads slightly and isn’t one sticky ball.)
Allow to cool for five minutes before dishing up.

*If you don’t want this epically sweet, decrease the sugar content slightly, by a tablespoon or so
** Or half a vanilla pod