Kale, Chilli & Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins

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Buckwheat breakfast muffins packed with earthy kale & a kick of chilli

On average, how many of your government recommended 5-a-day do you manage to eat?

Despite, or perhaps (in part) because of, my love of baking and this blog, I’m very conscious of getting my daily quota of fruit and vegetables. In the UK it’s fairly easy to stick to, with the government recommending a modest five 80g portions. However in Australia it’s seven, Spain eat eight and in Japan they suggest a staggering seventeen, although I’m guessing each serving size is slightly smaller than ours given that consuming over a kilo of even the most ambrosial fruit would be a struggle for most sensible human beings in any given day.
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Squid Ink & Sesame Baguettes with Homemade Harissa Butter

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Charcoal coloured bread is offset by a pat of bright harissa-spiked butter

Black. Not a colour we necessarily associate with wonderful food. Especially those of us who are keen bakers where, unless you’re talking black treacle, black bottomed cupcakes or black cherries (of which I’d argue the latter are really brown and purple respectively), black tends to signify something that has been in the oven too long; in other words burnt.

Try to think of a black food and you’re likely to conjure one of two ends of the culinary spectrum. In the losing category come the burnt items; over baked bread, lasagne left in the oven too long, black bits of onion in a pan that should be caramelized or the singed tips of an otherwise snow-white meringue. At the other end of the scale, black seems to signify something altogether more luxurious; tiny pearls of caviar, dusky black truffle, exotic black garlic or the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of a stick of licorice.   Continue reading

Homemade Garlic Bread Baguettes

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Crusty homemade bread with wedges of creamy garlic butter

Garlic bread. The ultimate in comfort food, this simple snack was elevated to superstar status back in 2003 by Bolton-born Peter Kay’s famous sketch. Since then, it’s become nigh on impossible for people in the UK to pass a packet, produce a plate or merely mention the stuff without some smart arse chipping in with a round of ‘Garlic bread?’ intoned in a slightly nasal Northern accent.

Kay may have had his reservations, but there are few things more satisfying than the simple combination of good bread and garlic. Bruschetta made from toasted bread straight off the barbeque –  rubbed with garlic and drizzled in olive oil – is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but for something with a little more rib-sticking clout, it’s hard to beat a buttery stick of good homemade garlic bread. Continue reading

Homemade croissants: buttery, flaky breakfast pastry

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Can you beat a homemade croissant?

‘It’s a labour of love’. ‘You’ll pile on the pounds’. ‘It’ll change the way you think about them forever’ . . . 

You might be forgiven for thinking such comments are in some way related to pregnancy and children. They’re not. Despite being an avid baker, at only just the wrong side of twenty-five, I’m not quite ready for that kind of bun in the oven. Nope, I’m talking croissants.

Search for ‘homemade croissant’ online and you’ll find thousands of recipes, often accompanied by a caveat. Yes they are wonderful, and yes you’ll love the end product, but getting there is a tricky, time-consuming process and everyone seems to have a horror story to share (back to that pregnancy comparison, I think there might be some mileage in this . . .)

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