Bert’s first loaf of bread (with a bit of help measuring) – he’s very proud.
Two hours after this photo was taken he was naked in the kitchen, slice of warm bread in hand, singing ‘go mummy! Go mummy!’ as I chased a fly around the kitchen with a fly swat muttering I will beat you. Making memories.
Makes one loaf
350g strong white bread flour
250ml hand hot water
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
75g Greek yoghurt
Mix all the ingredients together and knead for about 5 minutes or till stretchy. Cover and leave for an hour then tip onto a lined tray to form a mound and bake at 140/ gas mark four for an hour. Have a slice, still warm, in your pyjamas (or, indeed, nudie).
This is a Jack Monroe recipe.
I strapped Bert into his car seat as he picked his nose and… ‘Are you eating your snot?’ I said. ‘That’s disgusting.’
‘No,’ he corrected me. ‘It’s delicious.’
He then swiped the back of his hand across his nose and held it out to me. ‘You try it,’ he said.
This cake was moist, just sweet enough and delicious. But its not the most delicious thing we’ve eaten this week.
Makes a small loaf
125g soft butter
175g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
45g ground almonds
125ml Greek yoghurt (or other plain yoghurt)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees.
Beat the sugar and butter together till light and creamy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla with the last egg. Fold through the flour, baking powder, almonds and yoghurt, then finally stir through the raspberries, gently. Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin or 20cm round tin. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, till golden and firm on top. We had ours warm with a dollop of yoghurt, and now I’m thinking that that’s practically a balanced breakfast tomorrow.
The marmalade version’s a mother’s day present for my mum. I overheard Bert telling his dad, ‘I love Gran!’ this morning – if only I’d recorded it that it could be a mother’s day present too.
Anyway, here’s an easy to make and easy to eat cake for the person in your life who taught you how to talk, spoon food into your mouth and wee in the right places.
Makes a small loaf
150g soft butter
100g golden castor sugar
50g soft dark brown sugar
1teaspoon baking powder
150g self-raising flour
I heaped tablespoon marmalade (to convert to a banana loaf, use 2 large or 3 small bananas instead)
Zest of one orange (to convert to a banana loaf, use 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence instead)
115g porridge oats
150ml double cream or full fat yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 180°C or gas mark 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin (one of the smaller ones).
If you have a mixer, bung everything in and cream together till fluffy (about 5 minutes). You don’t even have to mash the bananas for the banana version first. If you don’t, then cream the butter and sugar together before adding the wet ingredients (bananas mashed in this case) and stiring the dry ingredients through.
Bake for around a hour, till the top’s cracked and firm.
Bert is many things – exuberant, showy, funny, caring, dramatic, brimming with relish, nerding out over the small details of functional vehicles, stubborn, determined, ridiculous, inhabiting a book so completely he has to act it out, a bizarre but brilliant dancer, all or nothing, the calm or the storm.
But one thing he is not is cool.
Feeds us for a couple of weeks
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
125ml maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g rolled oats
100g mixed seeds
50g dedicated coconut
Heat the oven to gas mark 2 (150 degrees) and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Mix the oil, syrup, honey, vanilla, oats and seeds together and spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes then add the coconut and dried fruit and bake for another 15.
When it’s cool, tip it into an airtight container, breaking it up into small pieces as you go.
I didn’t get a picture of Bert refusing to eat this, so here’s a gratuitous one of him having a cuddle with his big brother. The dark shadow sitting at his feet isn’t the ghost that foreshadows some far-off, horrible doom, it’s Ray.
1/2 cup porridge oats
2 cups milk
1 apple, grated
1/2 a cup of raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dessert spoon of maple syrup
Sprinkling of brown sugar
The night before, put the oats and milk in a pan and pop it in the fridge. It will seem like far too much milk. The next morning warm it gently with the apple, raisins, cinnamon and maple syrup till it’s smooth and creamy (you get a much creamier, softer consistency by leaving it overnight and it cooks more quickly too). Sprinkle on a little brown sugar and offer to a toddler who writhes away from it like it’s poison.
I’m enthusiastically looking forward to the day that Bert stops loudly announcing in public that ‘Mummy likes big ones’. He’s talking about dinosaurs, specifically my love of the Tyrannosaurus Rex genus.
That’s a soldier of bread at the front of the plate; the cake is being abused at the back.
Makes a 1kg loaf (about 20cm x 10cm x 7cm)
120ml whole milk
75g golden caster sugar
225 self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Good grating of nutmeg
Zest of two oranges (put the zested oranges in the fridge door and throw them away 10 days later)
100g chopped walnuts (we were lucky enough to have some fresh ones from next door’s tree) (given to us, not stolen)
120g fresh figs (the fresh ones give a bit more moistness and a lovely blush pink hint of colour, but you could used dried ones instead)
Preheat the oven to 180/ gas mark 4.
Melt the butter, honey, milk and sugar together until the milk’s just about to come to the boil. Add the flour, spices, orange zest, fruit, nuts and egg and mix gently. Tip into a greased and lined loaf tin (approx 20 x 10 x 7cm) and bake for 25 minutes before turning the tin round and baking for about another 20 minutes – till the top is springy when you press a finger into it.
In the interests of honesty I’ll admit that Bert claimed this was ‘too nice’ without even trying it. I’m looking forward to a couple of slices in the morning.
Home made bread was a big part of my childhood. It was a real treat to have a slice that was buttered while it was still warm from the oven.
After much nerding out and research, this recipe has been updated. I love home made bread, but it often has that sitting in the bottom of your stomach like a lead weight quality. This solves the problem and gives you a really light loaf. The trick is to replace one cup of flour with self raising flour and to do a really quick first rise and a long second one when it’s shaped to go in the oven (it’s normally the other way round).
Makes one large loaf or two small ones
350g strong white flour
150g self raising flour
500g seeded bread flour
10g quick acting yeast
300ml beer and 300ml water – together they need to be hand hot, so I add water from the hot tap at its hottest. Or use 600ml of hand hot water.
1 tablespoon melted butter
If you’re lucky enough to have a Kenwood mixer (thanks Tony’s mum) then weigh all the ingredients into it, mix with the dough hook and then knead for ten minutes. Otherwise mix into a dough, tip out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes or so.
When all the flour’s incorporated and before you start your ten minute knead, have a look at the dough. It will be very wet. Do not panic.
Leave it in the bowl in a warm place for just half an hour. Then knock it back to push out the air and pop it in a loaf tin. I like my rolls kind of craggy so I just tear off small pieces. In theory, for loaves, round or tin, it’s best to fold the ends underneath so you create a kind of platform for the bread. That works with a dryer dough, but for this I just sort of pour it in.
Get the bread in its shape and in its tin and then leave it to rise again. This is the long rise – maybe an hour, maybe an hour and a half, till it’s doubled in size and is springy. By my warm Aga it just takes half an hour, so keep checking it. Push your finger in and – counter intuitively to me – the dent will remain if it’s ready to bake. You can adjust your rise time by leaving somewhere cooler for a slower rise or warmer for a quicker rise, depending on how much time you’ve got. I think a slow rise is generally better – tastier and supposedly gentler on the stomach. Keep looking and keep pushing a finger in.
Anyway, after its second rise you need to prepare it for the oven. Slash the top, sprinkle with seeds, wash with egg or milk or dust with flour. I brush mine with milk and sprinkle seeds on top.
Then it goes into a hot oven. Put a dish of boiling water from the kettle on the bottom of the oven first – that gives your bread a good crust. If you’ve got a conventional oven, give the loaf a blast in a hot oven first (the hottest you can get it for 10 minutes – gas mark 9 or 240) then turn it down to 170 degrees (gas mark 3) for another 30 minutes.
In an Aga, which seems better suited to bread making, just pop it in two rungs up from the bottom of the roasting oven (that’s about 200 degrees, I think). Total time: 10-20 minutes for rolls, 30-40 minutes for a small loaf, 40-50 for a large loaf. In my Aga this quantity of dough takes 30-35 minutes, but Agas are not neccessarily representative I don’t think. In the gas oven it’s the 10 minute blast then 30 minutes at the lower temperature.
Pre-Bert I used to make this bread all the time. This is maybe the second time I’ve made it since he was born. I suppose the length of the recipe tells you why, but remembering my fresh bread filled childhood has inspired me to start again.
2 tablespoons melted butter
225g self raising wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
300ml whole milk
1 crushed banana
Handful of fresh or frozen raspberries
Mash the banana together with the raspberries and melt the butter. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the fruit and use the traces of melted butter in the pan to grease a hot frying pan. Fry dessert spoons in batches, turning over when they start to bubble. Cook till golden on both sides and firm.
Do not attempt this with plain wholemeal flour – you will get flat, dry patties.
Bert’s dad’s on a health kick and this is my attempt to make our normal weekend banana pancakes daddy-friendly. Apparently the maple syrup was missed. (I wouldn’t know – mine were drowned in it.)
This isn’t my recipe, but we eat it all the time.
This lasts us a week, but I think it’s already clear that we’re very, very greedy
250g porridge oats
150g mixed seeds
100g dried fruit
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of honey, melted together
Spread the oats out onto a tray and toast in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. (In the Aga, it seems to burn easily so I do it on the lowest rung for 7 minutes.) Add the seeds and toast for another 5 minutes in theory, 3 minutes in our Aga. Mix together with the fruit, spice and melted butter and honey and spread out to cool.
We have it with yoghurt and fruit. Amazed that Bert eats it, but he does. (He doesn’t yet know what a cocopop is.)