12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 2: Baked Snickerdoodle Donuts

DSC02216

I remember the first time I encountered a snickerdoodle. It was devastating. I was in 2nd grade at the time, and we were at a Christmas dinner, and the hosts were talking at length about a batch of  snickerdoodles, and how the recipe came from one of their grandmothers.

I was convinced that snickerdoodles were made from, what else, Snickers bars. I didn’t know what exactly these snickerdoodles would look like- cake, cookie, pie- but I just knew they had to have Snickers in them.

And then when the coffee was served I saw brown sugary cookies and I almost cried. How could snickerdoodles NOT have Snickers in them? I felt cheated, like when I got an oatmeal raisin cookie instead of chocolate chip. But that was then. I was 7 and didn’t know my way around the world of baking, and I assumed if it said snicker in the name, it had to have Snickers in the body. Continue reading

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 1: Streusel-Topped Rosemary Loaf Cake

20141009_124943

So here it is! The first in my 12 Weeks Of Christmas series. I’ve started with a plain cake- something that’s not overly fancy, not overly sweet, and definitely not cute like a gingerbread man. But I think you’ll like it…even if it isn’t all pretty and frosty. It’s the kind of cake you’d like to sit down to after dinner with a cup of coffee. The kind of cake you’d like to have with your post-breakfast coffee. The kind of cake you’d want to have because it’s raining or cold, or because you’re walking past it.

I’ve probably read the recipe for rosemary loaf cake in Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess a hundred times. The idea of taking rosemary, an herb used in savoury cooking, and baking it into a cake seemed….well, a little out of place. Rosemary and potatoes, to me, seemed like the perfect match- rosemary didn’t need to be anywhere near a cake. Just sit tight with your starchy spud-pal!

But then I began to think about all the desserts I like which have a sweet + spicy/savoury pairing.

♥ Chilli & chocolate…

♥ Salt & caramel…

♥ Strawberry & basil…

So why not combine rosemary with a little sugar? I was just being stupid, wrinkling my nose at the thought of rosemary in a cake. Continue reading

Sugar-Free Nutty Buckwheat Granola

 

20140916_095750

Ever since I discovered My New Roots, I’ve been experimenting with whole grains and other whole foods. (Incidentally, I discovered My New Roots via Suits star Patrick J Adams’ Instagram feed. So now we know Mike Ross likes his whole grains!)

What I love about the site is that Sarah breaks things down and explains why something is good for you- she doesn’t just preach about what to stay away from. She tells you why goat’s milk digests quicker than cow’s milk. Sweet potatoes aren’t just loaded with beta-carotene, they help digestion. Buckwheat is not a grain, but a seed!

I read about the benefits of buckwheat on Sarah’s blog, and began using buckwheat flour for muffins and pancakes.  She posted a granola recipe earlier this year using buckwheat groats, and I was toying with the idea of making my own. I’d actually been toying with the idea of making my own granola for a good year now, but I’d still end up buying those Nature Valley or chocolate chip Quaker Chewy Granola Bars at the store. (Which are probably as healthy as a Pop Tart.)

This obsessive idea that I would “one day” make my own granola led me to bookmark no fewer than 13 articles and recipes related to the art and craft of granola-making in my Evernote. Each time I’d come across a granola recipe or tutorial, I’d feverishly read it and clip it, like it would disappear if I didn’t lock it away in my digital safe. But I finally got my granola on today.

This week, when I went grocery shopping, I picked up a large jar of granola, examined it and put it back. I had just crossed a shelf with packets of buckwheat groats and rolled oats. My laziness took a backseat and I figured I might as well just take an hour out of my morning and bake my own granola already, especially since everything I needed was right under my nose.

Now the inspiration for this post comes from Sarah B, but the recipe is from Food52, one of my favourite cooking resources on the web. It’s quick, uncomplicated, and the Food52 version is vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free. I adapted it to suit what I had in the kitchen- so this one is sugar-free, but not vegan or gluten-free. (I’ve used honey in this recipe, which is considered an animal product by many.) The banana is a wonderful addition- it binds the granola together and keeps it pleasantly moist, without getting sticky. Plus, the combination of banana, cinnamon, ginger and walnuts makes this taste like banana-bread flavoured granola…and that can’t be a bad thing, right?

20140916_084543

It may seem like a lot of trouble- you know, compared to just hopping down to the store and buying granola off the shelf- but I think it’s worth it. The most time-consuming task for me was chopping the almonds, but if you have a nut-grinder than you can create some nut rubble in a few strokes. The dates needed pitting and chopping, but nothing monumental. And the good thing about doing it yourself is that you get to decide how fine or chunky you want the pieces. So no more cursing boxed granola that has specks of dried fruit that can literally slip between your teeth.

 

20140916_085512

 

 

SUGAR-FREE BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA (Adapted from Food52.)

INGREDIENTS

  • cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2cup mixed seeds and nuts (I used watermelon seeds, walnuts and almonds)
  • teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • teaspoon ginger powder
  • ripe banana, mashed well
  • tablespoons oil (I used canola, but Food52 suggests olive oil/coconut oil/almond butter)
  • tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins and dried fruit

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 170° C
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat, rolled oats, seeds + nuts, and spices.
  • Add the mashed banana, oil, and honey/maple syrup to the dry ingredients and mix well so that everything is coated.
  • Spread the mixture evenly across a baking sheet lined with Silpat and bake at 170° C for 20-30 minutes, until fragrant and golden. (You should gently stir the mixture at the halfway mark.)
  • Transfer to a bowl and fold in the dates, raisins and dry fruit.
  • Cool before transferring to a container.