Tag Archives: Bread

Learning to swim…oh, and eating banana bread

Look I know I’m supposed the be the parent here, but in all likelihood, I’m really just seven years old on the inside. Give me a pool and I want to do nothing more than to dive-bomb in and create a splash large enough the engulf all the sun loungers. Not this time though. This time I’m the responsible parent taking Ellis for his first swim. Yep that’s right. Just ten short weeks after (very slowly) entering the world he’s ready for his first swim.

Now swimming with a 10-week old is a new experience on me. Plus judging by the look of the five other nervous blokes in the pool it wasn’t their first time. It all started well enough with a few small splashes, followed by a few gentle bounces. Easy right? Our confidence was brimming and there were even a few ‘we’ve got this handled’ nods across the pool between the Dads…but then, they moved the lesson up a level and introduced dunking the infants.

Now dunking your most prized procession under the watchful eye of his mother, is pretty much up there when it comes to high pressure moments. It goes like this…You quietly say his name, followed by ‘ready!’ and under the water he goes for a very brief second. Easy right? I’m father #3 and have to watch two other Dads pull it off, whilst I nervously bob up and down wondering how much baby wee is actually in this pool.

We’re up. I can see Dad #6 bobbing around nervously in the corner of my eye giving me new found confidence. “Ellis…..ready” and under he goes popping out of the water like a frog that’s been picked up by his back. This is simultaneously followed by whoops and cheers around the pool. We did it and he’s loving the water. We should celebrate right? Maybe some back slapping? A bit more whooping? Nope. The instructor likes to celebrate by getting all six Dads to sing twinkle twinkle little star. So off we bounce whilst murmuring the nursery rhyme out the corner of our mouths.

Around this time I simultaneously start to crave banana bread whilst singing along, feeling vaguely annoyed we don’t have any (mostly because I haven’t made it before) and pressingly, given the context of this blog, why I don’t have a go to banana bread recipe.  So here it is. My go to banana bread recipe.

Chocolate & Banana Loaf Recipe 
125g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp baking powder
4 very ripe mashed bananas
100g dark chocolate
50g walnut pieces

Mashed Banana

Banana Bread Mixture

Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper and pre-heat your oven to 180°C. With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar, Add the vanilla extract and eggs until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder into mixture and continue to mix. Once combined, add the mashed bananas. Once it’s all combined break up the chocolate and stir in with the walnut pieces.

Pour into the lined loaf tin and level out with a spatula. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin to cool. Best eaten with a mug of tea after a long swim.

Banana Bread Recipe

Greek Holiday Gyros

There are a whole load of foods that I’m pretty sure aren’t worth the trouble of cooking at home, though I suspect this list varies depending on where you live. I’m fairly certain I won’t be making  a sour dough loaf in my kitchen, now I’ve discovered the the flour pot bakery. But all bets are off when you consider the costs of eating abroad, but are dreaming of the lazy Mediterranean street food wonder that is gyros.

Maybe we’d sampled a bit too much of the local Ouzo on our Villa Plus holiday,  perhaps it was mild sun stroke, but we’re both pretty sure that discovering gyros made by a little old lady in Crete was a holiday food sensation. Sure you can get gyros anywhere, but this little old lady made fresh flatbread like it was as easy as tying your shoelace. It was soft, stuffed with fresh tzatziki and enough red onion to shake a stick at.

Flatbread dough

Flatbread

Flat breads – makes 4
175g self raising flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g natural yoghurt

Tzatziki
175g plain yoghurt
1 large cucumber
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Squeeze of a lemon
Handful of fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Everything else
2 chicken breasts
2 large tomatoes
1 red onion
Two white potatoes
Olive oil

Slice your potatoes into chips before mixing together in a baking tray with olive oil and salt. Place in the oven at 200 °F and leave to bake. Squeeze one half of the lemon and a glug of olive oil over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper, then leave to the side to marinade.

Mix the flat bread ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with your hands. Tip the mix onto a floured work surface and knead for a minute or two. It’s not like a normal bread recipe, so you only have to knead enough to bring it together. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a plate.

Chips

If you’re in Greece then the likelihood of needing to make your own tzatziki will be fairly limited. However, I’m down Brighton….so erm, will be making my own. Grate the cucumber and squeeze with your hands until all the excess liquid has gone. Then combine with the lemon juice, cucumber, chopped mint, yoghurt and crushed garlic. Season to taste. Slice the onion and tomato, then set aside to use later

Back to the flat breads. Place the dough onto a floured surface and divide and roll into 6 separate balls. With your hands, pat and flatten, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a circle, roughly 3mm thick.  Place your griddle pan on a high heat, then once smoking hot, cook each flatbread for 1 to 2 minutes each side, or until they puff up.

In the same griddle pan place the chicken skin side down and cook for 3 minutes. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven with the chips without ever turning the chicken. After 12 minutes take the chicken out of the oven, turn them over and leave to rest.  Remove the chips from the oven and pat dry on kitchen towel.

Tzatziki recipe

Fresh tzatziki

To assemble take one flat bread and fill with sliced chicken, chips, sliced tomato and sliced red onion. Dollop a generous amount of tzatziki on top and fold in the edges. And it is exactly what  you should make this weekend. Stuff these flat breads with whatever meat you fancy on the BBQ to get you dreaming of long lazy summer holidays

IMG_0061

Aubergine & Feta Flatbread

I have a long history of spectacular bread making failures. There was the one where I was inspired to make my own sourdough starter, by the cool kids at E5 Bakehouse, only to have it explode all over my kitchen. Then the was the time I first used spelt, which looked amazing, but required hacksaw to cut a slice. But this hasn’t stopped me from trying again, and I’m happy about that, because it lead me to being a bit more comfortable in baking. Well sort of.

The one thing I lack in abundance in the kitchen is patience. If I have to rest something for 60 minutes, I’m more likely to poke it with a fork at 40 minutes. A ‘do not stir’ instruction certainly means I’ll be giving it a stir. You get the idea. It’s also April and that means it’s spring. So I fancied making something that tasted a little bit fresher than the stodgy winter food I’ve been consuming of late. Plus a recipe that allows me to poke, prod and not have to worry about doing too much, or too little.

Flatbread Dough

Burnt Aubergine & Feta Flatbread (makes 6)
For the dough;
250g strong, white flour
5g instant yeast
5g flaked salt
15g butter
150ml tepid water

For the filling;
1 medium sized aubergine
olive oil
75g Greek Feta
Sprigs of thyme (optional)

Burnt Aubergine

Take a mixing bowl and add the salt, flour and the dried yeast. Then add the butter and the water.  Mix with your hands to bring the mixture together. Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour is mixed in. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. When the dough feels smooth and silky, place it back in the mixing bowl, cover it with a warm tea towel and leave it in a warm place to double in size while you get on with the filling.

Cut the aubergine length ways in half. Slash a criss-cross of cuts into the flesh, reaching almost down to the skin. Place skin side down in a baking tray. Brush over a little olive oil then bake at 200°C for 25 minutes or until completely soft. Remove from the oven and scrape the flesh out into a mixing bowl. Crumble in the feta and stir in the chopped thyme leaves. Season to taste.

Stuffed Flatbread Feta

Pinched Flatbread

Tip the dough on to a floured surface, fold repeatedly until all the air is knocked out of it, then tear it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Make an small hollow in the middle of each ball of dough and put a heaped teaspoon of the aubergine mixture into the hollow. Pinch the dough over to seal. Do the same process again with the remaining 6 dough balls

Lightly flour your work surface and flatten a dough ball with a rolling pin into a disc about 16cm in diameter. Place the flatbreads onto a baking sheet in a warm place for 10 – 15 minutes. Now I know what you’re thinking “Hey, you said no waiting!”. Well it’s technically not waiting. You’ll need to look for your heavy-based frying pan, rub it very lightly with a little olive oil and bring up to a medium heat. That takes 15 minutes right!?

Flatbreads Many

Place two or three flatbreads into the pan or straight onto a BBQ at a time and cook them for 3-4 minutes. Once they have started to brown, turn them over and cook the other side. Eat immediately.

A Simple Sunday Loaf

Sometimes the simple things are best. Take bread for example. It’s Sunday morning and you wake up after a slightly longer slumber than in the week. You pop down the shops for the Sunday paper, switch the kettle on and get on with with making a lazy Sunday breakfast. Toast with jam, maybe a classic bacon sandwich or even scrambled eggs on toast. Either way it all normally starts with the perfect loaf of bread, right?

So how about making your own loaf and going for a flash Sunday morning breakfast? Surprisingly it’s actually not as hard as you would think. Time consuming? ….erm, yes, but the rewards for making this simple loaf are well worth it.

Dough Web

Risen Dough Web

What you’ll need?
560g organic white flour
10g sea salt
20ml sunflower oil
5g dried yeast
300ml tepid water

With a fork, stir the yeast and sunflower oil into the water and empty the contents into a bowl already filled with the flour and salt. Mix the ingredients together, then turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 15 minutes. You’re looking for a smooth and elastic dough. Pop the the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for an hour.

floured dough web

Remove the dough from the bowl and gently re-shape to fit evenly into a well oiled loaf tin. Dust with flour, cover with cling film and leave for another hour.  Make sure it’s a warm place so the dough rises. After you’re about 30 minutes into the final proofing crank the oven up as high as it goes. Aim for around 240° if you can. Before adding to the oven, slash the top of the loaf  and give it a gentle spray of water. This will give you a lovely crispy crust.

Sliced Dough Web

After 10 minutes drop the oven temperature down to 210° and bake till golden all over. Let the smell fill your home and gloat in the glory that you made this awesome Sunday loaf. Simple eh!