Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sultana and Walnut Flapjacks

I seem to have reverted back to my old (boring) baking ways recently baking only flapjacks or banana bread. They’re just so quick and easy being the main reasons I think, closely followed by also tasting good. I’ll have to get my Great British Bake Off cook book out again soon and try some more adventurous baking again. Especially after watching The Great British Bake Off Masterclass with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry the other night!

200g oats
50g sultanas
50g walnuts
1/2 tsp mixed spice
3 tbsp golden syrup
50ml milk
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Bake at 180°C for 15mins.

On the bread maker front, I’ve now also tried: the Seeded Wholemeal Loaf; Olive Loaf; Maple and Pecan Nut Loaf; and Honey and Sunflower Loaf (we get through a lot of bread). The best of these was the Olive Loaf which was tasty and had a lovely soft texture. The worst was the Seeded Wholemeal Loaf which turned out quite dense-I’ll add less water next time which will hopefully make it lighter. The Maple and Honey loaves tasted nice although the Maple loaf was a bit too sweet (even for sweet-tooth me!).

Olive Loaf

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Coconut and Cherry Scones

Not much to look at, but they taste delicious (even if I do say so myself). Unusual measurements as they’re converted from an imperial recipe. I guess I could round them up to make them neater, but I’m reluctant to change something that works, plus it’s easy to weigh out any amount on electric scales!

227g self raising flour
57g butter
28g caster sugar
150ml milk
16 glace cherries
28g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Mix together all the dry ingredients (except the cherries). Add the milk and mix, then stir in the cherries. Bake for 10-15mins. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Testing out the bread maker

In the world of baking, is using a bread maker classed as cheating? I'm not sure, but if it is, at least I'm admitting to it upfront ...unlike Lance. 
There are 18 pages of recipes in the bread maker instruction booklet. It might take me a while, but I've started to work my way through them. So far I've made Spicy Fruit Loaf, Apricot and Almond Loaf and Sundried Tomato Bread. The Spicy Fruit Loaf wasn't really that spicy, so I’d add more spices next time (still, it disappeared so quickly I didn't have time to take a photo, so it must have tasted OK). The Apricot and Almond Loaf and the Sundried Tomato Bread both worked well, although again I think they could have had a bit more flavour so would add more almonds/tomatoes in future.  Next up I think I’ll try the Honey and Sunflower Loaf and the Maple and Pecan Nut Loaf.

Apricot and Almond Loaf 

Sundried Tomato Bread

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Scottish Aquathlon Championships

On Saturday I travelled up to Scotland for the Scottish Aquathlon Champs, my last race of the season. The journey up the East Coast Main Line from Leeds to Edinburgh must be one of the nicest in Britain, passing through Durham, Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed. I always think it’s a shame to be passing through Durham and not stopping, but the destination- Dunblane was also lovely, especially since I was staying with family.

The race took place on Sunday at Stirling University. The sports facilities here are amazing with a 50m pool and athletics track right next to each other. But the real star of the show is the surrounding scenery which is just beautiful- I’ll take my camera the next time I visit. The race itself involved a 750m pool swim followed by a 5km run consisting of two laps around the University campus on a mixture of tarmac and grass. I didn’t feel like I had a great swim or first run lap, but I felt good on the second lap and was really happy to win the race (although I only found this out a couple of days later due to a problem with the timing!). My Aunty, Uncle and cousins came to watch me race which was great as it’s always nice to have someone cheering for me and following the race we went back to Dunblane for a delicious meal starring Granny's soup (otherwise known as lentil or ham bone soup).

Race report and results here: 
Scottish Aquathlon Championships

End of season interview here:
Sportsister catches up with Seonaid Thompson

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Banana Bread with Dates and Walnuts

Back to normal today-baking banana bread- to use up some brown bananas. I only like yellow ones for eating, on the green side of yellow at that. So as soon as they start to get freckles I leave them to go really brown before making banana bread with them. Banana bread sounds really healthy, but actually with the amount of sugar and fat in it, banana cake would probably be a more accurate description. Still, it tastes good and makes a great afternoon snack, especially after a bike ride. Below is the basic recipe I follow, but I often add other ingredients too depending on what I fancy that day. Today I added dates and walnuts, other favourite additions are chocolate chips or sultanas/raisins.

150g caster sugar
50g butter
2 eggs
4 brown bananas
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and bananas. Mix in the flour, bicarb, salt and baking powder. Bake for 45mins to 1hour. Cool for 10mins on a cooling rack. Remove from tin and eat!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Lemon and Pecan Cake

Today’s cake was another recipe from the Great British Bake Off cookbook-Lemon and Pecan Celebration cake, except I didn’t bother with the marzipan or fancy icing so I guess it’s not really a celebration cake any more. I also made a mistake with the recipe and added too much lemon juice so had to add more and more flour to bring the consistency back to normal. The result was, unsurprisingly, a cake that tastes like it has a lot of flour in it. The lemon and pecan flavours still come through strong though and taste delicious together. The lemon curd in the middle also adds an extra lemony burst. I’ll have to try this one again though, actually following the recipe properly, before I decide if it needs any alterations or not.

Monday, 1 October 2012

A wee trip up to Edinburgh

...for my cousin’s wedding. What a wonderful day.

We travelled up to Edinburgh on Friday evening, staying at Craigmoss Guest House. Porridge for me and a full Scottish breakfast for my husband. The breakfast was delicious, our bedroom was very clean (until we moved in) and the owners were very friendly, even ironing my husband’s shirt for him. My only points for improvement would be a bit of a revamp on the decoration front and those little jam jars (I collect them) instead of plastic tubs of jam at breakfast.

On Saturday morning we managed to fit in a run up Arthur’s Seat before heading over to the wedding at The Hub. The bride and bridesmaids looked absolutely beautiful (the groom looked handsome too) and the ceremony was lovely with only one small hitch-when the celebrant said the wrong name, well at least it wasn’t the groom! It was also lovely to catch up with all my ever growing family and the ceilidh was, as always, great fun.

The fun continued on Sunday as we went for a group walk up Arthur’s seat followed by a fantastic buffet back in the bride’s home village. We also stopped off in Durham for dinner on the way home. Lots of new restaurants, shops and bars have opened up since we were last there, but it was good to see our old favourites- Klute, The Picnic Basket, Sammy’s and La Spaghettata were all still there. Without considering anywhere else we headed straight to La Spag for a cheap and cheerful (and very tasty) dinner. A perfect end to a wonderful weekend.

Durham Cathedral, still there too