No-Bake Dark Chocolate Oat + Nut Snack Bars

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There is something comforting about having cake in the house. A peckish craving springs in the mid-afternoon and a slice of cake with coffee is calling your name. Although, sometimes I want something slightly more nutritious waiting for me.

Whenever I’m working I don’t really have time for a proper sit down breakfast. It’s up and out the door in half an hour and having something I can grab on the way out is really useful.

I’ve been trying to make healthy breakfast-type bars for months now. All of my attempts  were either way too sweet or tasted great but didn’t have the soft chewy texture I was after. I’m kind of put off by shop bought oat bars since they’re usually packed full of sugar and expensive.

These are easy, delicious and quick to make. No oven required, so great to make on a hot summers day when the thought of turning on your oven sends visions of burning hell. Peanut butter, oats, dark chocolate and nuts make these a wonderful filling snack.

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Rugbrød (Danish Rye Bread)

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Those of you that know me, know that I have a real love affair with the Scandinavian way of life. I love the food, the cooler weather, the idea of long summer days, the Fika culture of coffee and cake with friends and the lovely hues of the painted buildings. If I were to choose somewhere to live other than the UK, it would undoubtedly be in one of those countries.

I gifted my mum the cookbook ‘The New Nordic’ by Simon Bajada after our trip to Iceland a few years ago. On my last visit home I found myself flitting through the pages, noting recipes I couldn’t wait to try, when I came across this Rye bread. I love Smørrebrød (a traditional Scandinavian open sandwich), of which Rye bread is an essential part.

Traditional Rugbrød is made with a sourdough starter however, Simon Bajada’s version uses a pre-soak made 18-24 hours before the dough is made to give it that sour taste without the hassle of tending to a sourdough starter.

My first attempt was sunken in the middle and raw. I knew when I had made the dough that it seemed too wet so, for my second I decided to add a little more flour and it turned out perfectly.

Rye bread stays fresher for much longer than white bread and is packed full of goodness. Cracked rye grains, sunflower seeds and linseeds means this bread is really filling without being too heavy.

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Tiramisu

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With a broken oven and a week of epic kitchen fails behind me, I decided it was time to make a Tiramisu. It’s quick, satisfying and one of my favourite desserts. I’m a big coffee drinker and if I can consume even more in a creamy dessert, I’m there.

There are a lot of Tiramisu recipes out there. The last one I made a few months ago was just shy of perfect. It was beautifully soft with a moreish quality but it was too soft for a large Tiramisu. It would’ve been perfect for gooey individual portions.

I wanted to create a Tiramisu that was soft enough that the sponge and mascarpone cream melted into one another, but that was firm enough to cleanly serve and stand proud on its own. So on my second try, I decided to increase the mascarpone and decrease the amount of eggs so that the cream had more body but hopefully didn’t lose its perfect texture.

Delicately whipped with a strong creamy mascarpone flavour, this Tiramisu is wonderful. With every silky bite I just want to eat more. Tiramisu has always been something that I’ve eaten practically as quickly as I made it. This one being no exception.

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Butternut Squash, Mushroom + Stilton Quiche

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There’s something so alluring about a beautifully baked quiche, just waiting for the first cut. I’m not sure if it’s the golden pastry peeping out around the edges or the shiny surface hinting at what awaits inside.

Sweet, tender butternut squash peeping through gives this quiche a delicate orange hue. Along with the sweet caramelised onions, floral rosemary and earthy mushrooms; it has a savoury sweetness that’s contrasted against the strong stilton cheese.

Savoury tarts aren’t something that’s thrown together. It takes time, but the reward of a soft-set rich slice of warm quiche waiting at the end more than makes up for it. There are a few crucial steps to make an exceptionally good quiche. Blind baking the shortcrust pastry and egg washing it to ensure a crisp base is the first. The second, is baking it until the filling is puffed and golden with an ever so slight wobble in the centre which will result in a velvet soft filling. I also choose to opt for a deep pie-style dish so that you have a tall slice that stands proud.

Quiches are such an adaptable bake. They’re perfect for lunch and dinner as well as those peckish moments. A way to use up spare vegetables, an excuse to spend a few hours tucked away in the kitchen or a need for a stunning picnic item; quiche is the answer.

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Raspberry + Dark Chocolate Muffins

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Baked goods at breakfast are my top pick to accompany a large dark cup of coffee. Buttery croissants, sweet danishes, warm banana bread and obviously a classic muffin. I’m a sucker for a big blueberry muffin but when I decided to knock up a batch, I wanted to go for a more refined flavour that wasn’t overpoweringly sweet.

Tangy raspberries and dark chocolate compliment each other in this perfectly sweet and tender muffin batter. Alongside orange and toasted almonds, these make a delicate morning treat.

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Cheddar + Garlic Herb Buttermilk Twist Bread

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I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately. Since we’ve been blessed with some warmer days here in England, picnics have become more frequent and so have the cheese and meat plates. Browsing artisan British cheeses in lovely little Deli’s is one of my favourite things to do. Having beautifully made ingredients in my fridge is something that really inspires me to cook. It’s so gratifying to rummage in the fridge and emerge with an idea for a delicious meal.

Having this alluring loaf made me really look forward to breakfast and lunch for a couple of days. My housemate had leftover buttermilk from her homemade cultured butter, so it was the perfect excuse to make some buttermilk bread.

This isn’t the kind of bread to make a sandwich with. Its delicate and soft with a crisp cheesy shell. The strong basil and rosemary garlic butter leaves grooves in the fluffy buttermilk dough where its been absorbed along with the melted cheddar and parmesan. My favourite way of eating it is to toast it, spread over a thin layer of butter, followed by a layer of thinly sliced cheddar (yes, cheese on cheese bread), a sliced pickled walnut and a few slices of ripe tomato. It’s a very grown up version of a cheese and pickle sandwich. It’s also lovely with avocado and eggs as well as just on it own.

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Vanilla Maple + Coffee Crullers

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Puffed, soft, sticky and sweet. French Crullers. I didn’t actually know that they existed until a few weeks ago when I was thinking about making doughnuts and ended up coming across them. One of my greatest pleasures is a strong cup of coffee alongside a golden brown, shiny, glazed doughnut.

The only downside to making them at home is that its quite a long process. It takes hours to make, prove, shape, prove again, fry and finish. I’m very much the kind of person that would take half a day to do that but I get that not everyone is. That’s where Crullers come in. Make choux paste, pipe it, fry it and glaze it. Finished.

However, these don’t have an ordinary doughnut texture. Expect a soft airy interior that’s not sweet nor savoury; very much like a traditional baked choux. The outside stays soft but retains its shape so that the sweet glaze can rest in its grooves.

Quick, fun and delicious. I just wish I made more.

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Rough Puff Sausage Rolls with Sage + Pickled Walnuts

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After a week of colder and typically English drizzly weather in June, I needed some buttery baked goods to brighten up the days. If you’re wondering what to eat, the answer is often sausage roll. Lunch box treat? Sausage roll. Snack? Sausage roll. Picnic in the park? Sausage roll. Cheeky breakfast? Sausage roll.

The first time you make sausage rolls, you realise what a sad version the shop-bought ones are. Pale soggy pastry, which lost all its flake in transit, filled with grey unseasoned filling. Granted, I have bought my fair share of supermarket sausage rolls. They have their place when time isn’t on your side and you just want convenience. Making your own is definitely more work but the beautiful product you get at the end is more than worth it.

I decided to make rough puff pastry as it’s a little easier than traditional puff pastry, but still gives you a flaky glossy and flavourful crust. By adding in fresh sage, caramelised onion and crushed pickled walnuts the sausage meat develops just the right amount of tang and sweetness.

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