Delicious Peanut Flax Granola

Rome was not built in a day, neither was Granola, or so it seemed. The secret to good granola is to cook it slow and low!

I learn from my mistakes very quickly! The first time I made this, I put the oven on so high, the granola cooked to a crisp; rather than throw all my hard work away, I grimaced and ate the bitter cereal the rest of the week. Never again.

Top tip: after 20 minutes in the oven, take it out and turn the mixture, making sure to push the granola from the edges inward toward the middle. Then place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove and stir it one final time before returning it to the oven for the last 10 minutes: a total of 40 minutes!

Long wait but the reward is so great; your breakfasts (or even snacks) will leave you feeling so satisfied. You can thank me later…enjoy!

Peanut Flax Granola

Ingredients

* Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees

3 1/2 – 4 cups Whole rolled porridge oats

1/2 cup pecan nuts – roughly chopped

1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped

1/4 cup golden flax seeds

2 tbsp almond meal

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raisins (or your choice of dried fruit)

1/4 cup peanut butter,

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 tbsp almond extract

1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Pinch of salt

Method: 

1. Combine all dry ingredients (minus the raisins and brown sugar) in a large mixing bowl

2. Combine all wet ingredients plus the brown sugar in a small sauce pan and stir occasionally until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

3. Pour hot mixture slowly over oat mixture and stir until the mixture is moist and the liquid is evenly distributed throughout.

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4. Spread mixture evenly onto heavy baking tray and place on middle rack in heated oven.

Total baking time is 40 minutes – Remove from the oven and place a clean, heavy pan on top of the granola while it’s cooling.

Now you can break apart, add to a large bowl and add the raisins or any other dried fruit. – Keep in air tight container.

Pecan Caramel Monkey Bread

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The moment you slowly remove the bundt pan from this bread. Its like watching a child open a birthday present, in small motion and to find that it was exactly what they had hoped and wished for.

This was my experience unravelling the monkey bread. I had searched high and low for the recipe that reflected the image in my head of how this was all going to turn out, but nothing met my credentials. So I took a few ideas from here and there and put together a recipe which tastes so good! I wish you could hear me say this out loud…it is unbelievably good, the whole process of making this bread really therapeutic, I don’t know why. The process and ingredients are very similar to that of Brioche, so I felt a lot more confident putting it together. Not all monkey breads require eggs, but I wanted to the rich texture of the brioche in this one and it paid off so well.

A couple of tips: be generous with the caramel. If you find you need to make more, do so. Secondly don’t fill the bundt pan to the brim with these dough balls. Remember the dough still have to prove after you have formed it in the pan, I found during that time the mixture expanded so much that when it reached the oven, some of the balls dropped off like cinnamon golf balls! Pleasant to my quick fingers…not so good a look when your bread has holes in it!

This bread is made for sharing and makes sharing fun. I’ll let you know how my colleagues at work get on with this one tomorrow!

 

Pecan Caramel Monkey Bread

  • Servings: as many as you like!
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Dough

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (room temperature)

1-1/4 cups warm 2% milk (room temperature)

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups Canadian Strong Bread Flour

 

For the Caramel

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp almond essence

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

 

For the Dough Balls

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

 

Method

The night before

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat on the medium speed (with a dough hook) for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.IMG_7401

Keep ‘kneading’ in the food mixer until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Or turn the mixture on to a floured surface and knead by hand for the same amount of time.

Place in a greased bowl or container. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

 

The next day

The next day, take the dough of the fridge and leave it for 1 hour to get to room temperature.

For the caramel, in a saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and cream to a boil. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Pour half into the bundt pan; sprinkle with half of the pecans.
Punch the dough down and cut it into long strips, then cut it again into 2″ squares.  Shape each square into 40 -50 balls

Then take two bowls: in one combine white sugar and cinnamon in another melted butter. Dip the dough balls in butter, then roll in sugar mixture.

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Place balls in the pan one by one; top with remaining caramel and pecans, only fill to 3/4 of the pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for 10 minutes before turning it into a serving plate. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Pistachio Baklava

IMG_2739I live in a culturally rich part of London where the streets are essentially a tapestry of Turkish and Greek restaurants and bakeries. The Baklava’s are usually quite deliberately perched in long trays and pans in these shop windows, which also happen to be located behind a bus stop of some kind, leaving me drooling…for the 29 bus. Most of us are familiar with this very sweet delicacy, and only the brave or those with dentures can manage more than one maybe two squares. There is no healthy alternative to this, you can’t skip or substitute any ingredients it is what it is: yummy! Now off for my 5k run.

Pistachio Baklava

  • Servings: 60 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Filling

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

40g walnuts

250g almonds (with skins on), chopped

150g shelled pistachios, chopped

1 lemon, finely grated zest

6 tbsp granulated sugar

16 sheets Filo Pastry

75g unsalted butter, melted

Syrup

450g granulated sugar

Pinch of sea salt flakes

1 lemon, juice and 3 strips zest,

1 cinnamon stick

1tsp almond essence

1 tsp minced ginger (optional)

Whole cloves (decoration)

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the spices, in a pan and roast over a high heat until you start to smell the aromas. Allow to cool then with a mortar and pestle finely grind. Finely chop all nuts in a bowl and add the ground spice mixture with the lemon zest and 6 tbsp granulated sugar.

Open out the filo pastry, and cover with a damp tea-towel to prevent it from drying out. Brush a rectangular baking tray with vegetable oil. Brush a sheet of filo with butter and place in the baking tray. Repeat to make 8 layers. Trim to make sure it fits snuggly.

IMG_2740Add the nut mixture and spread evenly. Brush remaining pastry with butter and layer until all the pastry is used. Trim the top to a snug fit. Press down gently with the palm of your hand. Lightly score the pastry top but do not cut all the way through into the nuts. Criss-cross in diagonal lines to give a diamond pattern. Pin the whole cloves through the centre of each of the diamonds at this stage if you wish. Brush top with butter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

In the meantime make the syrup. Put the sugar in a pan with 300ml water, a pinch of sea salt flakes, the lemon juice and strips of zest, ginger and the cinnamon. Heat gently until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 5-8 minutes until the syrup is light and slightly thickened. Add the almond essence to taste. Cool quickly by placing the pan in a bowl of ice.

IMG_2747Remove baklava from oven once golden brown. Cut the pastry all the way through. Straining the syrup, gently spoon the syrup over the baklava.

(Adding cold syrup to hot pastry keeps the pastry crisp.) Cool completely.