The other day the Headmaster suggested we buy a bread machine, despite my love of carbs I know this would be a very bad decision!

However, in the spirit of the Great British Bake Off I did have a go and made this rather impressive sunflower celebration loaf, based on an easy to follow recipe at Adventures in Cookery.

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The Sunflower Bread would be perfect served fresh from the oven for a large gathering for brunch (oh to have time to meet up with friends for brunch, I do remember long and lazy brunches from my very distant past!) or a perfect match for a hearty soup.

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This is where things started to go wrong for my waistline!

Sunflower Bread

Fancy petits fours are next up…the kitchen is about to get very messy!

I finally sat down to watch the first episode of The Great British Bake Off on BBC this week and it has inspired me to try my hand at some new recipes inspired from each show.

So, here goes…

Week One – An Amazing Chocolate Creation

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

This Chocolate Pistachio Cake may not look the best, but it really is quite delicious.  The cake didn’t quite turn out as I had envisaged, the chocolate ganache didn’t coat the little petit four moulds as elegantly as I would have wished, but the ganache is very moreish and easy to make.  Based loosely on this Martha Stewart recipe.

Mary Berry may not be amazed by my chocolate creation…The Headmaster says this is best served with a glass of milk.

Chocolate Pistachio Slice

Crunchie

January 18, 2013

It was chilly but beautiful…a winter walk down to the farm this afternoon.  We were greeted by this handsome horse, nicknamed Crunchie by the Artist which may have something to do with the chocolate bar or the snow under our feet. SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Here is the recipe for a delicious breakfast treat, or any time of day actually…this granola is really tasty sprinkled over a bowl of vanilla yoghurt.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups large rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped dates

1. Mix the oats, pecans, sunflower seeds, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir well, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar.

2. Combine the oil, maple syrup and vanilla and pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture.  I found it much easier to do this bit in a lined baking tray (plus it saves on sticky washing up)…using two spoons, stir and toss until all of the oats are coated with the syrup.

3. Pop the granola in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.  At the end of 10 minutes, remove the granola and stir, moving the granola around the outside edges into the middle and the middle out towards the edges.  Set the timer for another 10 minutes.  After the second 10 minutes, sprinkle with the coconut and then stir well again.  Return to oven and set the timer for one last 10 minute bake.  (30 minutes total, stirred twice at 10 minutes and 20 minutes).

 

4. At the end of the last 10 minutes (30 minutes in the oven), remove the granola from the oven.  Stir just a bit then sprinkle with the chopped dates (you could use raisins or other dried fruits) and leave undisturbed until it is completely cooled.  Once cooled, stir the granola…store at room temperature in an air-tight container.  It will keep for several weeks which will be ideal to make ahead for Christmas, add cranberries for a festive granola.

{Now I think this recipe turned out really well and will make a lovely addition to the homemade Christmas hamper.  You can add your favourite fruits and nuts…I may add cinnamon to the mix next time.  I will definitely watch out for the last 10 minutes cooking time…my pecans are a little charred but still completely delicious!}
Next on the list to try are peppermint creams.

Congratulations to Julia Donaldson, the new children’s laureate!

We had the great pleasure of meeting Julia Donaldson at a recent performance of the Gruffalo when she and her husband Malcolm invited the children to join them on stage to act out some of her brilliant books and songs.  She was absolutely charming and dealt with the somewhat rowdy young crowd with expert grace and patience.  I found it quite emotional when all the parents and children were singing along to a Squash and a Squeeze…I have enjoyed reading aloud from any of the Julia Donaldson books from day one of our family life and am in awe of her generosity when sharing her gift for rhyme and writing.

Julia Donaldson is a hero of literature, aha oho…we are in for a treat as she takes up the role of children’s laureate!

This darling Puppy joined our family a few weeks ago and has kept us all on our toes ever since!

Here are a few things that caught my eye while looking at all things puppy this week.

For the eco-puppy

For the pampered pooch

And something for the dog and owner who appreciate finer things

Life Lessons from Movies

February 15, 2011

Wise words from Hollywood…

{can you name all 40 films?…the answers are here!}

Oh My Valentine!

February 6, 2011

Please forgive the indulgent day dreaming I am enjoying today as I research treats for Valentine’s Day…wouldn’t this be heavenly!  {Yes, I know it’s a hefty price tag for a box of chocolates that wouldn’t last very long in my hands, but like I said it’s a thing of dreams and this is not your average box of chocolates!}

…or how about this one with a personal message inside!

Still in my dream state; a romantic afternoon tea at Laduree.

And snap back to reality with a few baking thoughts on Valentine’s Day…doll up simple fairy cakes with butter icing, sprinkles and a fancy flower or bake some heart shaped sugar cookies.

{I found a very clever (and a bit fiddly) contraption on ebay to emboss these heart shaped biscuits with sweet messages.}

These pretty lollipop flowers have inspired The Artist and The Composer to get crafty and make up some valentine’s treats for their school friends and cousins.

Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27, 2011

Light the virtual candle here.  Some things we wish we didn’t have to teach our children, but at the same time it would be wrong not to…

…says The Artist at every mealtime these days!  She has a new and very enthusiastic interest in planets, asteroids and meteorites.  I need to refresh my memory and these sites are helping…

Bill Nye is Excecutive Director of The Planetary Society…the American professor has a long biography and his many achievements include bringing science to prime time TV in America with his show Bill Nye The Science Guy.  The site is full of brilliant science info at every level…check out the one page printable experiments under ‘For Kids and Teachers’ here, we had fun with Twisting Tornado and Baseball Moon.

Science With Me believe that positive experiences with science at an early age will build scientific confidence that lasts a lifetime {‘hear, hear’ says The Headmaster!}.  Science With Me is packed with loads of great resources for young children and best of all it offers bite size science for busy parents.

Meanwhile, Google are searching the world for talented young scientists…