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There hasn’t been much going on in the kitchen recently – not anything worth writing about, at least. I think that having fresh yeast in the house inspires me and when it is not there I tend to want to bake less often. A seeded loaf emerged from the oven this week, but just the one loaf all week. It’s the inertia of boredom that needs to be overcome. The presence of fresh yeast leavens not only the bread but also my spirits. I find it a great joy to work with real yeast. Sadly, not all of our bread circle would agree with me and it looks as though yeast-purchasing activity has ceased.

Mr L ran out of breakfast cereal, so I made up a batch of Granola-style cereal for him. It is tasty enough, but not sufficiently clumpy for my liking. I am seeking a better recipe, so if you can recommend one…

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I used this basic recipe from Good Food (with slight alterations):

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 125ml maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g rolled oats (I used a blend of Jumbo organic, cheap breakfast porridge oats, and some coarse oatmeal)
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 100g flaked almonds (I had none in, so chucked in a handful of cashews instead)
  • 100g dried berries (I had none, so I chopped up some dried fruit salad, leaving the prunes out as I ate them while I was working)
  • 50g coconuts flakes or desiccated coconut (again, none in the house when I baked)

Method

  1. Heat oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Tip in all the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit and coconut, and mix well.
  2. Tip the granola onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake for 15 mins, then mix in the coconut and dried fruit, and bake for 10-15 mins more. Remove and scrape onto a flat tray to cool. Serve with cold milk or yogurt. The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

I baked for 30 minutes, then put back into the oven with the fruit salad and gave it just five minutes more. I hate over-chewy dried fruit.

Verdict – tasty enough, very filling – though the recommended portion size raised some eyebrows in this house (it says that the batch will make 15 portions). We more or less doubled up. Disappointingly un-clumpish.

I did find some berries and some coconut in the new local Community Shop yesterday, so I stirred these in after the fact.

Yesterday was also the day that I elected to tackle those Vanilla Rooibos Fig Newtons. As it turned out, the recipe is slightly fiddly, with the pastry needing to be rested and the filling to pre-make and then cool, so I have only just baked them.

The dough instruction says this:

Pulse to mix until the mixture forms a ball. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, cover tightly and place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour (this can be done a day ahead if desired).

Mine was far too wet to form a ball. I elected to fix this quickly by adding some fine oatmeal to the mix to dry it out.

Now… something inside  me sounded a warning bell. Don’t add too much, because it will soak up moisture like a sponge and will end up making the mixture too dry.

Alas, I was on a roll. I had my eye on the mix and it was still unable to form a ball. I added more oatmeal… and carried along by my own momentum, even more.

I suppose that, had I not decided that it was getting late once the filling had been made – had I elected to cook on instead of leaving it until today, all may have been well.

Soooo… I took this ball of aggregate out of the ‘fridge this morning and my sinking heart told me all that I needed to know. I must make these again another day to give them a fair go. These will not be something to judge the recipe by.

I’ve done my best and I have produced something; not at all pretty but possibly edible. The flavours are fab but the casing is like concrete.

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Next time I shall treat the dough as pastry and mix up my “wet” ingredients and add the mix by stages just until the dough mixture forms a ball, instead of chucking it all in at once and expecting a miracle to happen.

I’m still on a roll and my ugly fig newtons have not so impeded my enthusiasm that I do not plan to return to the kitchen later. My plan is to make some crackers for cheese. I have never, ever, in my entire life made a cracker – unless it involved a toilet roll tube and crèpe paper, that is.

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