Sunday, 15 February 2015

Spiced Wholegrain Seeded Fruit Loaf


125g extra strong wholemeal flour
200g malted wheat flour with wheat bran
50g oat bran
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground alspice
1 sachet fast action yeast
40g soft dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1tblsp olive oil
300ml hand-hot water
25g ground linseeds
25g mixed seeds
25g candied peel
25g chopped glace cherries
25g sultanas


This is easy to do in a bread machine. Choose the 'dough' setting and add everything but the seeds and nuts, as your machine's instructions suggest. Once the machine has finished, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and follow the steps below from step 7.

1. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, salt and spices. Any bran caught in the sieve can be thrown on top of the flour.

2. Add the oat bran, yeast and sugar, mix well

3. Make a well in the centre and gradually pour in the water, stirring the flour into it as you pour. Add the oil and bring together. You should have a sticky dough. Add more water or more flour if you need it.

4. Knead for about 10mins until the dough is smooth and elastic

5. Oil a large bowl, put the dough in the centre, cover loosely with oiled cling film and put in a warm place for an hour till doubled in size.

6. Turn out onto a floured surface

7. Mix the seeds and fruits in a bowl. Spread the dough out so it's a large rectangle, and pour the
seeds and fruit evenly over it. Then fold the edges of the dough over, roll is up, and knead until the fruits are evenly distributed.

8. Oil a loaf tin, pour some flour into it and tap it on each side until the flour coats the bottom and sides. Tip out any excess flour. Then press the dough into the tin and put it back into a warm place to rise. No need to cover it this time. Preheat the oven at 200 C.

9. After about 30mins, it should have doubled in size. Place it gently into the oven, being very careful not to knock it or it'll sink! I actually put the oven on at about 40 C and let the dough rise in the oven, then just turn the temperature up to 200 C and leave the loaf where it is so I don't risk loosing the air in the dough by moving it.

10. Bake for approx 20mins, till just turning brown on top. If you tip the loaf out and tap the bottom, it should sound hollow, and when you cut into it you should be able to press a finger softly into the dough and it should spring back rather than sticking together.

11. Great with lots of butter!

Sunday Evening Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Risotto

Serves 4, or 3 very hungry diners!

For the risotto:

1 pint veg stock
1 tblsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
200g arborio risotto rice
1 large glass dry white wine
50g butter
small handful grated gruyere cheese
lots of salt and pepper

For the toppings:
1/2 medium butternut squash
1tblsp olive oil
1tblsp fresh thyme leaves
1tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper

small handful almonds, chopped
small handful pumpkin seeds
small handful wholemeal breadcrumbs
large knob of butter

crumbled feta cheese to taste


1.      Preheat the oven at 200 C. Peel and de-seed the butternut squash and chop into 1cm cubes. Put on a baking tray with the olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well then pop in the oven for 30mins, along with the un-touched whole garlic bulb. Put them both to one side once they’re cooked. The garlic bulbs will be squishy not crispy, the squash should be soft and slightly brown at the edges.

2.      In a medium saucepan, keep the stock on a low heat so it stays hot.

3.      In a second heavy based saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and celery. Cook over a low heat for about 5 mins till it starts to go translucent.

4.      Add the glass of wine to the onion and turn up the heat so it cooks quickly, stirring constantly. 

5.      When the wine is absorbed, turn the heat back down, add a ladle full of stock and keep stirring until the liquid is absorbed.

6.      Add more stock, a ladle at a time, till it’s all been absorbed. Take your time over this. It should take about 30mins. You might need to add more hot water if the rice isn’t cooked after all the stock is gone.

7.      Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the butter and gruyere cheese. Add a decent amount of salt and pepper, tasting to make sure you’re putting the right amount in.

8.      Squeeze the soft garlic out of the roasted bulbs and stir into the risotto.

9.      Next heat a heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat (don’t use any oil) and add the chopped almonds. Keep tossing them so they turn brown evenly. Add the pumpkin seeds after a couple of minutes to toast these too. Then throw in a knob of butter, allow it to melt, then add the breadcrumbs. Mix well and take off the heat.

10.  Stir the squash into the risotto and scoop dollops out into large warmed bowls. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and top with the nut/crumb mix.