Sunday, 26 April 2015

Banana Bread

Hey lovely people out there - I hope you're all doing mighty fine with some gorgeous spring weather in the northern hemisphere or a golden autumn in the southern hemisphere right now! Wherever you are I hope the weather is just on point for some lovely picnics and outside breakfast/brunch sessions. Let's say I've been out and about for picnic dates at least twice every week recently, double the number and you can get an approximate idea of how much sun spoiled us Londoners in the past weeks - bring it on spring!

Picnics call for easy, convenient fresh recipes, like this Bulgur Salad or some small snacks. And if you decide on an impromptu one, how about bringing along a loaf of freshly baked banana bread? Skip the sugar and highly-processed ingredients of the store bought version and reach into your cupboard instead!

I almost feel ashamed about hiding this banana bread recipe from your eyes for a whole year!! It's easy, quick and requires just a few pantry staple ingredients: some flour of choice (I used whole spelt), salt, yoghurt, milk, baking soda and vinegar. Make it vegan by substituting non-dairy alternatives and throw in some natural sweetener of choice and maybe some nuts, seeds or dried fruit (I used pecans) and you're all ready to go. Stir, pour and bake. And how about filling your basket with some more homemade good stuff and maybe a few favourite toppings for your banana bread before taking it out of the oven, wrapping it up (don't forget a knife to cut the slices!) and heading out of the door?

The bread is full of banana flavour, incredibely soft and airy and without the usual sugar rush. I recommend doubling the amount of sweetener if you have a sweet tooth, for me it worked fine with just one tablespoon honey. I wish you all some glorious spring/autumn days!!

Banana Bread
- makes one half pound-ish loaf
- 360g flour of choice (I used whole spelt, but feel free to grab whatever is left in your pantry: oat flour, whole wheat, rye, buckwheat...)
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 160 ml milk
- 120g yoghurt
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 3 Tbsp vinegar
- 1-3 Tbsp liquid sweetener of choice, I used honey

1. Preheat your oven to 200 °C.
2. Mix dry and wet ingredients seperately - add the wet mixture to the dry one, stir until just combined.
3. Pour batter into a regular sized loaf pan lined with parchment paper or greased with some oil.
4. Bake for 45 minutes up to 1 hour. The bread is done if the bottom sounds hollow when tapped or a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove and let cool for at least 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and allow for further cooling or serve immediately. Enjoy!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Beetroot Bread

My spirit seems to resurrect: Christmas Cookies in March? C'mon Sabrina, it's definitely time for a new recipe! The current abundance of sunshine and warmer temperatures in London seems to stick me onto the bike 24/7 and I am literally all day (or at least during my free time) out and about, soaking in every impression and thinking about loads (!) of meals and dishes that I'd like to cook/bake. So far so good - blogging when staying abroad is far more challenging then I'd like to admit.. Neglecting my passion for food photography and writing over the past few months and not keeping you as up to date as possible makes me feel terrible.. I still have a few recipes on my computer, so be sure that I will keep giving you some culinary input during the next months on the island ;-). 

Staying abroad doesn't only involve a new culture, etc. - I also realize the few things that matter most to me in life: family, friends, quality time with good food and a lot of sketching/painting - life is good! While the abundance of nice coffee shops around (if you follow me on instagram you're probably sick of yet another coffee shot, sorry for that, I can't help myself, caffeinating is GOOD) makes it easy to balance out my need for a good home brew in the morning I do miss getting creative in the kitchen, on the stovetop and in the oven... Time is just incredibely precious and priorities have to be made.. For now new culinary experiments out of my own hands have to take a step back until summer - just as the joy of some fresh homemade bread with either olive oil+salt or butter.

When you stroll through UK supermarkets you hardly get a feeling for seasonal vegetables and fruits.. Yes, sometimes you can spot a sign saying "new season" yet berries, rhubarb and all kinds of exotic fruits and vegetables seem to be around all year long. You can hardly get strawberries in Germany during the winter and if you are lucky enough to find some be sure to pay at least half of your monthly salary for a small punnet of pale small fruits that taste like nothing.. While it might be nice to just go out and grab a few berries whenever you want to, I'd much rather run on all sorts of cabbage, root vegetables and apples during the winter instead of using artifical produce.. 

So this beetroot bread is the perfect little loaf to incorporate into your pre-spring baking routine using the little dark red gem that lingers around before all the fresh spring/summer produce comes into season! I am a huge fan of incorporating veggies or fruit into the good ol' loaf of bread and adding pureed cooked beetroot gives the bread a rich purple/red crust. I used fresh cooked beetroot for the loaf in the pictures yet canned ones will work equally as well. Despite the colour the beetroot gives the bread just a slight earthy taste, not overpowering at all so even the non-beetroot-eater will like it. It works perfect plain, with just a little butter or a nice soft or hard (goat) cheese. Enjoy!

Beetroot Bread
- makes one loaf
- 300g Beetroots, cooked or canned (I used 3)
- 500g Whole Wheat or All-purpose flour
- up to 250 ml water
- 1 tsp honey or molasses
- 1 Packet Dry Yeast
- 1 tsp Salt

1. Puree the beetroot until completely creamy. 
2. Mix 100 ml of warm tap water with the honey and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
3. Knead the pureed beetroots together with the salt and flour, gradually adding in the yeast mixture and then more water until a smooth dough starts to form. Keep kneading for five to ten minutes, then place in a slightly oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise for 1.5-2h, until doubled in size.
4. Preheat your oven to 220 °C. Fill a small deep oven-proof dish with about 300-400ml water and place on the bottom of the oven.
5. Remove dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured working surface and stretch into a small rectangle. Fold into thirds lengthwise and place on the surface seam side down. Let rest for another 15 minutes. Shape into a loaf, place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and slash deeply.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the water dish from the oven before continuing to bake the bread for a further 15-30 minutes. The loaf is done if it sounds hollow when bottom is tapped. Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes or completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Peppermint Snowflakes {easy vegan adaption}

Heya, Merry Christmas everyone! Back in Germany we've got this saying according to which we've already celebrated Christmas before xy happens - in other words it takes a freaking long time until xy happens.. and that's how I feel about my posting frequency since November, oh no it actually was October, gasp! Time flies! 

And I've hardly had any quality time in the kitchen since: my weeka usually consist of looking after the kids, looking after the kids, meeting friends somewhere between breakfast, sport and meeting other friends, eating and sleeping plus the regular UK/London exploring on the weekend aaand: I'M LOVING IT!! The city, the vibrancy, the language (still working hard on that british accent ;-) if anyone fancies offering me some help, feel free to do so) the whole state about having a whole year or at least six months left to live in this dream-come-true environment - it is just magic! 

Okay, enough spoiling for now, one fact remains: I am hardly in the kitchen, like ever! Which is a shame with all the available produce and influences from around the world here but even though I do miss it terribly I'm so occupied during the day that it mainly slips to the back of my mind.. But when I have time to whip something up I'm always reminded about how goood cooking and baking feels: like an artist working on his picture, but instead of brush and colours you use ingredients of different textures, tastes, scents and origins. 

Okay my interior philosophist is coming through again - I've already written three paragraphs without a single word about todays recipe - so sorry for that!! As you can see I've got some cookies in today's backpack. I'm in full-on Christmas mood now - it has taken almost the whole of December for me to feel that way: I was partly shocked about how commercial it is here in the UK - like seriously I as a kid was happy to write my wishlist for Santa, unwrap an Advent calender personally done by my mom and enjoy unwrapping a few precious personal gifts on Christmas Eve plus maybe having an occasional pinch of snow outside! But when you walk through the city now its all like buy, buy, buy oh and buy! Hmm.. I think I'll always rather go back to a calm Christmas with the closest family and friends, cherishing each other instead of the newest smartphone or electronic toy, even though that's just the way it is..

Ups, another paragraph finished, so back to the cookies: I won't have snow this year thanks to brilliant rainy, 10 degrees Celsius London weather so if it doesn't come to me, I have to help it a little alias: baking cookies as fragile and melt-in-your-mouth kind of textured like snowflakes plus they had to be kind of frost-y which calls for one main ingredient: peppermint!

They can be made within 20 minutes start to finish, no waiting time included plus they make a great homemade gift, providing an unexpected twist to the usual cookie plate. They are fine and buttery, but the surprising peppermint taste is what makes these exceptional. Rolled in caster sugar post baking they also sparkle like fresh snow in the sun. So even without snow: Happy and Merry Christmas everyone!!

Peppermint Snowflakes
- makes about three dozen cookies
- 250g butter {substitute for a vegan spread or even coconut oil for a vegan option}
- 100g powdered sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 100g all purpose flour
- 250g corn starch
- 1 and 1/2 tsp peppermint flavouring
- 150g caster sugar for rolling

1. Preheat your oven to 160 °C.
2. Carefully mix the butter with the powdered sugar until roughly mixed before you start beating the two together until pale, for about two minutes.
3. Mix the flour and starch and add it to the butter together with the salt and peppermint flavouring. Quickly need together a slightly sticky dough. Roll out into a snake, about 1/2 inch in diameter and cut into small pieces.
4. Roll the pieces between your palms into small balls and assemble onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Dig a fork into flour and press it onto the cookies to flatten them a bit while imprinting the forks pattern on top.
5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until they have only slightly darkened but not turned brown yet. Remove and let cool for a few minutes before carefully rolling each cookie in the remaining caster sugar. Let cool completely before you assemble them in boxes or serve. They will keep for at least 2 weeks in an airtight container. Enjoy!