Super easy oat pancakes

The easiest oat pancakes you’ll ever make.

I can’t be the only one right?  I mean, if it’s a choice between making pancakes at 6:30 am, or 10 pm, apparently I’m the kind of person who chooses 10 pm.  “I’m just trying to be organized”, and “I’m just trying to get ahead of things by a day or two”.  Really?  Truth is that I’m just not a morning person, and making pancakes before coffee is just not really a thing for me.  “But why pancakes?” I hear you ask.  Yes, there are less labor intensive breakfast options.  But pretty much nothing makes my little man as happy as pancakes, as you may remember from my baby pancakes post.  Seriously, he does this happy squeaking noise and this face that we affectionately call “cheese face” (because he also loves cheese enough to do the face), and there’s nothing that makes my morning like that face.  So here I am, almost 10:15 at night, just waiting for the pancakes to cool so that I can put them in the fridge for the morning.

Way back before I had a baby, I used to do a “low-carb” type thing after the holidays until I’d lost the extra weight.  No bread, white potatoes, white rice, pasta…  It doesn’t sound that much fun, but it does the trick, along with calorie counting and working out.  Along the way I’ll admit I got bored of kale chips and baked egg cups, and I decided that low carb might not be as important as “better carb”, at least on occasion, as long as those pesky calories still got counted!  So I went digging, and found what has turned out to be one of my family’s favorite breakfasts – oat pancakes.  I can’t remember where I found the original recipe from, but I do remember that it took some locating.  Between all the “grind the oats, then… then… then…” or the list of odd ingredients that seem to so frequently accompany gluten free or other “healthy” recipes, it seemed like I would have to give up on the idea of simple, fluffy pancakes.  Until I found what seemed to good to be true.  4 ingredients, all of them completely normal, and a blender.  Done!  Since then, I’ve experimented with a few variations, and all of them have been surprisingly successful.  The one caveat I will make is that these are not sweetened.  At all.  You could do if you wanted to, I’m sure.  I just haven’t done it, and personally have felt no need to.  I normally like my pancakes with fruit, and my husband would cover his in syrup either way, so it hasn’t even come up for us.

One batch is typically about right for one person.  At least, one fully grown person.  Or my toddler.  OK, slight exaggeration.  He normally eats 1/4 to 1/2 a batch, depending on how hungry he is.  The rest keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, and I’m pretty sure they’d freeze well between pieces of parchment paper.  I’ll let you know if/when I get around to making enough to try that.  I like to make these in a non-stick pan (which will eventually be a non-stick griddle, when our house eventually gets finished!), and I’ve found that by doing that, you don’t need any oil at all.  The oil actually made them a little worse.  Not bad, just not as good.

For 1 person: put 1 egg, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 tsp baking powder in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Leave to rest for at least 5 minutes, to give the baking powder a chance to activate.  (If you cook them too early, the first ones will be a little flat, but they’ll still be OK).  Heat pan on low-medium heat.  Pour or ladle in batter to required size and cook for a few minutes.  You’ll know when the first side is done, because it will release easily from the pan.  If it’s sticking, it isn’t done yet.  I speak from experience…  You can also look for the large air bubbles – they’re usually a decent indicator that it’s almost ready to flip.  Flip the pancakes, and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes.  Done!

You can make pretty much any variation of these that you want.  Just add whatever extra ingredients you want after blending.  So far we’ve tried blueberry, chocolate chip, cranberry/orange and lemon/poppy seed, all of which worked really well.  I’ve also used these as a way to hide vegetables – not from my toddler, but from my 41 year-old husband.  Really.  Just add 1/2-1 zucchini to the blender, and they’ll never know the difference.  I hope you enjoy them!

Super easy oat pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Leave to rest for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Heat non-stick pan over low-medium heat.
  3. Pour or ladle batter into pan.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until large bubbles appear and the pancake releases easily from the pan.
  4. Flip and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes.

  • Add in other ingredients after blending: e.g. blueberries, chocolate chips etc.
  • To easily be used to hide vegetables from your toddler or husband(!) – add 1/2 – 1 zucchini or other squash to blender with other ingredients.  Alternatively, add winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, acorn etc) or sweet potato puree to the blender.

Key hook chalkboard

Make your own chalkboard key hook from a picture frame and some paint!

Do you ever feel like you’re running just to catch up with your own life?  That’s how I’ve felt since about July.  Between being a full time mom to a now toddler, part time teaching and having a house built, I feel like I’ve barely had a moment to breathe for the last 6 months.  Hence, no posting for some time.  Which makes me very sad… 😦

My husband and I starting looking for a house about a year ago, and all was going well until he decided that the only thing he really wanted was a brand new house.  As in, built from scratch brand new.  I wasn’t opposed to the idea, but I really need to not be living in our tiny apartment with the world’s tiniest kitchen and the world’s worst appliances.  Seriously, 1 square foot of counter space, and a dryer that honestly takes around 5 hours to get a regular size load of laundry dry.  Just what I need when I have a matter of a couple of hours a day to get anything and everything done.  So the agreement was that we would go ahead with the building thing, but we had to have moved by the end of the year.  Well, obviously that is not happening.  6 months in and we still don’t even have the drywall finished, with little to no explanation of why every stage is taking 3 times longer than we’re told it will.  Building a house is not something I could ever recommend to anyone, and will definitely not be doing again.

On the understanding that we’d have moved by now, I starting working on some small projects for the house, so that we could actually make it feel like home when we moved in.  One of the things I really wanted was a designated spot for keys, so I started looking on Etsy and found a bunch of picture frames that had been converted into key hooks.  Since we’re spending (read: wasting!) all of this time getting the house done, I’m being very picky about styles and colors, and couldn’t find just the right one.  So, in my usual fashion, I decided to do it myself.  This is a pretty easy and quick project.  The only time consuming part is waiting for the paint to dry.  Of course, if you wanted a pin board instead of a chalkboard, it would be quicker again.  Just take the glass out and then either add foam and fabric or cork, depending on the look you’re going for.

Bear in mind when you do this, that you’re painting on glass, so you’ll have to either use a primer, or use paint that will stick to the surface.  My choice was to use multi-surface paint in place of a primer, since I have a couple of other projects that will need it.  Just make sure the glass is really clean before you start.

Supplies:

  • Picture frame of required size (mine was 8×10)
  • Primer or multi-surface paint (skip if you use chalkboard paint for glass surfaces)
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Cup hooks (I used 1 1/4 inch)
  1. Remove glass from frame.  Clean thoroughly and cover with a coat of primer or your multi-surface paint.  Allow to dry completely, then apply a second coat of paint, with brush strokes going in the opposite direction (horizontal if your last coat was vertical etc.), to ensure the glass is completely covered.
  2. Repeat the 2 painting steps with chalkboard paint, making sure you let it dry completely between each coat, and you change the direction of the brush strokes on the second coat.
  3. Measure the width of your frame, and make light marks at even spaces across for the number of hooks you want to use.
  4. Screw in each hook, trying to keep them straight.  You might need to use pliers for this, in which case be gentle so that you don’t bend the hooks.
  5. Once the paint is completely dry, put the glass back in the frame.

That’s it!  Now you have somewhere to hang your keys and leave messages in a place where they’re guaranteed to be seen.

If you give this a try, I’d love to see how it turned out!  Stay tuned for more house-related projects, including the crocheted hanging basket to hold the chalk pens on one of the hooks.

Bacon brussel sprout pizza

Good evening all!  I may have mentioned on more than one occasion that my husband is one of those guys who finds a new food or restaurant, and that becomes the only thing that we can eat for weeks.  And weeks.  And weeks.  While most of the time this drives me absolutely nuts, since he already eats like a 12 year old when I don’t cook for him, I was pleasantly surprised when last year he became obsessed with brussel sprouts.  Since I’m continuously trying to get him to eat more vegetables, I was at least happy about eating these several times a week!

In England, brussel sprouts are typically eaten with Christmas dinner, boiled to death alongside the roast turkey.  The rest of the year, they don’t really exist for 99% of the population.  So, imagine my surprise when the waiter at our favorite restaurant recommended their brussel sprouts to us, and when they arrived they were even better than his recommendation had made them sound!  They were crispy, mixed with bacon and topped with parmesan cheese – absolutely delicious!  Since that day, I have made many attempts at recreating that wondrous bowl of vegetable bacony goodness, to varying degrees of success.  Even better though, is that every time my husband sees brussel sprouts with bacon on a menu, he orders them!  Our most recent variation was the bacon brussel sprout flatbread from California Pizza Kitchen, which we are both big fans of.  So when I had half a bag of my tiny green best friends left over from cooking roast chicken on Sunday night, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.

Given the baby’s now 1.5 hour naps, I figured I could make the pizza dough from scratch if I did it early in the day.  The recipe I like is this one from Karrie at happymoneysaver.  I have made it in the food processor and in my stand mixer, and I don’t find any difference between the results of the 2 methods, so go with whichever you prefer.  Since we have the a/c on all the time here in Houston, I typically heat the oven to 200 F and then turn it off, to make a nice warm place for the dough to rise.  I do the same thing with bread.  For both I find it takes about an hour to double in size.  I made a full batch of the dough, which is enough for 8 servings, and froze the other 6 individually wrapped and placed into a large zip top bag.  I then kept the portion that I needed in a container in the fridge for the rest of the day.

This is not one of my “throw everything in one pan” recipes, but it is pretty quick and it’s worth making a couple of extra dishes for your other half to wash later!  If you refrigerated the dough, you’ll want to let it come back up to room temperature before you use it, so while that’s happening and your oven is preheating to 450 F, you can prepare the toppings.  I started with a basic cheese sauce:  melt the butter over a low heat, add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes.  Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps.  Once you get to around the consistency you want (I like it fairly thick for this), add the cheese and stir until it’s all melted.  If the sauce is now too thick, add a little more milk.  If it’s too thin, you can add a little more cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the toppings:  Dice the bacon and cook over a medium heat to render the fat.  Cook to your desired crispiness, then remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat.  Add the thinly sliced onion to the bacon fat and cook over a low-medium heat until caramelized.  Remove the stems from the base of the brussel sprouts, cut in half lengthwise and finely slice.

Roll or stretch the pizza dough to your desired thickness (I find it’s better if it’s on the thin side), leaving a slightly thicker crust around the edge.  Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the base (if you have extra leftover it’ll be great with some pasta or in a croque monsieur for lunch!), and sprinkle the onion and bacon over.  Add the brussel sprouts, thyme and parmesan, and bake at 450 F for around 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown, rotating the baking sheet part way through if needed.

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pizza

My husband actually ate it, all of it, and said that he couldn’t even taste the vegetables!  That’s definitely not true, you can absolutely taste them, but what he means is that he doesn’t have to tell himself that it’s not vegetable in order to eat it!  It really is delicious, and completely customizable – whatever cheese, vegetables or other leftovers you have in the fridge would all be great.  Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pizza

[ingredients]

For the pizza dough (credit: happymoneysaver.com):

This amount of dough is enough for 4 of these pizzas – the rest of it will freeze well in individual portions.

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • Approx. 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan

For the toppings:

  • 2-4 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • 8-12 brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup parmesan

[directions]

  1. Make the dough: mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor.  Add the oil, then with the mixer running gradually add the water.  Once the dough comes together, place in a lightly greased bowl and leave to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.  Knock the dough back to remove the air bubbles and portion as needed.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450 F
  3. Dice the bacon and cook until crispy over a medium heat to render the fat.  Remove the bacon, but leave the fat in the pan.
  4. Finely slice the onion and add to the bacon fat.  Cook over a low-medium heat until caramelized.
  5. Trim, halve and finely slice the brussel sprouts.
  6. Make the sauce: melt the butter, add the flour and cook over a low heat for a few minutes.  Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking to avoid clumps.  Once it reaches the desired consistency, add the cheese and continue to heat gently until melted.  Add more milk if the sauce is too thick, or more cheese if it’s too thin.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Stretch or roll the dough out to roughly 8×12 inches, leaving it slightly thicker around the edge.
  8. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the dough, leaving the edge uncovered.
  9. Sprinkle the onion and bacon over the sauce, and then cover with the brussel sprouts.
  10. Sprinkle the thyme and cheese over the top.
  11. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, turning the baking sheet part way through if needed.

 

 

Lemon lavender shortbread (gluten free!)

First of all, happy Easter!

This recipe is something that I first made for an Easter brunch last year.  My best friend offered to host, and so of course my first thought was to bake.  Actually, that’s usually my first thought, regardless of occasion!  She has a pretty serious gluten allergy, and I love that this challenges me to find new things to bake.  I’ve been baking with regular wheat flour since I was a child, but I’m still relatively new to the world of gluten free baking.

While searching for gluten free shortbread I found this beautiful and simple recipe from King Arthur flour.  The base shortbread recipe is only 4 ingredients: almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and butter.  Throw everything together in a mixer, chill, slice and bake.  Even with a small monkey at home I can get that done.  Since I was making this for an Easter brunch, I wanted to go in a more “springy” direction with the flavor, so I opted for lemon and lavender.  I would suggest you don’t overdo it with the lavender – it’s a pretty strong flavor and can either end up a little bitter or smelling like Grandma’s soap, neither of which is overly appealing.  This is an incredibly versatile recipe that lends itself well to a variety of flavor combinations, and it’s so easy to make that you’d be able to whip up a batch for any event, whatever the season.

The add-ins for this recipe don’t require any additional steps in terms of the actual baking.  Just throw them into the mixer with everything else.  I added the zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 tbsp of food grade lavender which I had pulsed in a magic mix to grind it slightly, but you could put it in whole if you wanted.  Once everything starts to come together, turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and squeeze it into a log.  Chill for at least an hour to let the butter re-harden, slice into rounds approximately 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges.  They’ll firm up as they cool, so don’t overbake them thinking that they’re still soft so they’re not done yet.  Been there, done that.

Of course, being me, this wasn’t enough work yet.  I so love to make things more complicated for myself, just in case everybody else doesn’t think they’re fancy enough.  So, once the shortbread had completely cooled, I half-dipped them in melted semi-sweet chocolate.  If you choose to melt your chocolate in the microwave, do it in small increments so that you don’t burn it.  Let the chocolate harden, and there you have it.  The most Easter-y thing I could come up with, completely gluten free, and totally melt in the mouth.  OK, so my chocolate isn’t going to be winning any awards any time soon, but unlike many gluten free baked things, these don’t have a weird cardboard-type texture and you won’t find yourself looking for the “real”  thing later on to make up for it.  So I consider that a win!

Gluten free lemon lavender shortbread

Base recipe: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp food-grade lavender, ground or whole, as desired
  • Optional – semi-sweet chocolate for coating

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment until a dough starts to form.
  2. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log
  3. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  5. Slice chilled dough into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  6. Place on lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  7. Cool for 10 minutes on tray to allow cookies to firm up before transferring to wire rack
  8. Once completely cool, half dip the cookies into melted chocolate, if using.

 

Bandanna bib

Finally, after all of the chaos of last week, I’m able to get back to some of my (far too) many ongoing projects.  If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I currently have a drool monster living in my house!  Since he got more mobile and is rolling everywhere, he has also become something of a spit up monster.  In the hope of keeping at least some of his clothes clean, I wanted to put bibs on him all the time, instead of just for meal time (homemade baby food posts to follow – stay tuned!).  But, the bibs that we have, while cute enough and certainly functional, cover up the cute outfits that I so diligently choose several times a day.  Cue my search for bandanna bibs.  These tend to be smaller than regular bibs, so they’re great for drool (although not so much for food-related messes), and can be more a part of the outfit than a cover for it.  And you know what I found?  Man, are those things expensive for what they are.  I mean, seriously, a small piece of flannel and cotton for $4 each?!  Are you kidding?!

With this is mind, and armed with coupons, off we went to Joann fabrics and crafts after church on Sunday.  I had planned to get a couple of flannel fat quarters and a couple of cotton fat quarters and start from there.  What I actually ended up with was a small bundle of each (reduced from $9.99 to $5.99 each).

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OK, the polka dots may not be the most masculine of prints, but it’s going to be drooled on by a baby who hasn’t yet been introduced to the concept of masculinity.  I think we’ll get away with it.

I should say at this point that I am definitely not meant to be a seamstress.  Sewing always seems like it should be so easy, but for some reason I seem to create a multitude of problems with tension, threads catching or breaking, or just not even getting the stitches straight.  So if I can make these, you can!

For these you’ll want one piece of cotton and one piece of flannel.  Actually, it doesn’t really matter what fabric you use, as long as at least one of them is absorbent.  Once you have your fabric, you want to start with squares.  Or at least, roughly squares.  I measured 12 inches down each side of the fabric, folded it intro a triangle and cut around it.  If you want the pattern in a specific orientation when the bib is finished, you may have to rotate your fabric, since the diagonal between 2 corners will end up being the top of the bib.  One square will make 2 pieces, so you can just use one square if you want the same pattern front and back, or you can use it to make 2 bibs so that you can replace the first one when it’s been soaked through!  Keeping your “square” folded into a triangle, fold it in half again so that you can find the middle of the long side.  Either mark or make a small cut here (you won’t be keeping this piece, so don’t worry about making a hole in it). Unfold back to the first triangle, and measure 1 inch down from the middle point that you just marked or cut.  Draw a straight line from this point to each corner and cut, leaving 2 pieces that are roughly triangular with a shallow v on the long side.

Pin the pieces with the right sides facing each other and cut around an inch off of the top corners to make it less bulky when you turn it.  Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, making sure you leave a hole to turn it the right way afterwards.  Where you leave the hole is up to you.  Personally, I find the finish a little neater if I leave one of the ends open, but it is definitely harder to turn.  You may also want to cut a small notch into the point at the bottom (being careful not to cut the seam), just to remove some of the excess fabric.

Once your bib is the right way round, press it to neaten the seams.  Of course, you don’t have to do this.  If I’m rushing because I don’t have much nap time left to work with, I’ll skip this step.  If I was making this for someone else, I would definitely do it.  Pin the hole closed, and top stitch all the way around  Finish up the ends, sew on a snap and you’re all done!

The only thing left to do is wrangle it onto the drool monster!

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Since the fabric was reduced and I got 40% off the snaps, I managed to make 8 of these for about $14.  There are no specific fabrics that you need to use for these – you could upcycle an old towel or t-shirt, or dig through the bargain bins at the store.  The only hard and fast rule is to make sure those snaps are on nice and tight so that they don’t become a choking hazard.

If you want a printable pattern instead of measuring, folding and cutting, please let me know and I’ll make one.  If you make some of these, I’d love to see the results!

Oatmeal “cupcakes”

Being a nursing mom, there’s one thing that I spend a fair amount of my baby’s nap times doing.  No, sadly not sleeping.  Eating.  I eat A LOT!  While originally I was concerned about when I was going to lose the weight, I found that what I was really concerned about was when I could stop wearing maternity jeans and wear “real clothes” again.  Well, during all of the planning of workouts and counting of calories I discovered that what is far more important to me than that is producing enough milk to feed my tiny boy with a seemingly monstrous appetite.  Once again, the pinterest searching began, looking for ways to hide those ingredients that are supposed to help with milk supply.  I’ve stayed away from the brewer’s yeast, partly because of the hassle of getting the right thing, and partly because everyone seems to think it tastes awful, but what I do eat in fairly large quantities is oats and flax seeds.  I’m not the biggest fan of morning oatmeal – I’m a savory breakfast person, and so oatmeal just doesn’t do it for me.  I’ve been making chocolate, almond butter “energy balls”, which are fantastic, but take a block of time to prepare, thereby taking up all of the time during one of my son’s naps when I could have actually been eating or showering, or doing any of those other things that simply need to be done in order for life to work.  So, I decided to try to come up with something a little quicker, or at least less involved.  Out came the cupcake pan and the silicone liners, and a few of my pantry staples.  Within minutes, these were in the oven, and 20 minutes after that they were cooling to go into the fridge.  I use the term “cupcake” fairly loosely here, purely because I don’t have another name for them at the moment, but I’ll gladly take suggestions!

To make these I literally took all of the ingredients and threw them in a bowl.  After mixing, I distributed everything into the silicone cases, topped them up with water, and put them in the oven.  Done and done.  So foolproof that even I, with my mommy brain, managed not to screw it up (unless you count accidentally throwing the measuring cup in the trash and then spending 10 minutes looking for it!).  And it’s completely customizable with any ingredients you like.  Can’t eat nuts?  Just leave them out.  Don’t like coconut?  Swap it for something.  Don’t have applesauce?  Switch it for banana, or just leave it out.  You get the idea.  Mine are not particularly sweet because I don’t add any sugar, but you could sweeten them if that’s your thing.  If you come up with other flavor combinations I’d love to hear about them!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup each of your fillings
    • chocolate chips
    • coconut
    • dried apricot
    • chopped walnuts
    • anything and everything you like!
  • pinch salt
  • water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with silicone cases (or paper cases)
  3. Mix all ingredients together
  4. Distribute between cases
  5. Top up with water – just below the top of the filling, you don’t want it too wet
  6. Bake for 20 minutes
  7. Store in the fridge once cool

Chocolate walnut couronnes

This is not the post I had planned for this week.  I was hoping to get my next baby project posted, but sadly it’s taking more time to finish than I anticipated.  So, instead, I baked.

My husband and I have recently starting binge watching the Great British Bake Off, and it makes me want to bake.  A lot.  I shouldn’t be surprised by this given my affinity for baked goods.  Apparently, at the age of 3, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I responded with “some cake”, and at the age of 5 or 6 I asked my Mum to teach me to bake without a mixer, in case at some point in my life I didn’t have one and still felt a compulsion to bake.  So what I wanted to bake first was some kind of sweet bread.  I would have loved to start with a traditional Cornish saffron cake, but my husband isn’t a big fan, and he tends to get mad when I bake for people who aren’t him!  So instead, I was planning to make a Croatian povitica.  That is, until I looked at the recipe and saw that the dough would need to be stretched out to 1m in length, and that just isn’t going to happen in my mournfully small kitchen.  So, option 2 was a couronne.  This is a twisted sweet bread named for it’s crown-like shape.  The one on the show was filled with apricots and marzipan, which sounds delicious to me, but my husband wasn’t loving that idea.  I’m not much of a traditionalist with much food – I’m all for changing things up to suit different purposes.  In this vein, I switched out the filling for something closer to that of a povitica, although I’ll say now that I didn’t really follow a recipe so much as look at a list of ingredients and make something up.  I also decided to make 6 small ones instead of 1 large one.

I made a couple of substitutions to the dough itself.  I didn’t have any bread flour, and with a 5 month old I’m not dealing with the hassle of the grocery store for 1 ingredient.  So I used regular all purpose flour instead.  I also didn’t have instant yeast in my pantry, but I did have a jar of active yeast in the fridge, so I used that instead and just converted the quantity.  The rest of the ingredients and instructions for the dough were following Paul Hollywood’s recipe, which you can find here.  OK, one other substitution I should admit to – I made it in my mixer and just finished the kneading by hand.  Tired Mommy arms and all that…

Once the dough was made and rising, I started on the filling.  I creamed 1/4 cup butter with 1/3 cup sugar until pale and, well, creamy.  I then beat in 1 egg yolk, followed by 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa and finally 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.  The walnuts could have been finer, but I wanted there to be a bit of texture instead of the filling just being paste.

To assemble the couronnes, I basically followed the instructions in the original recipe except that after rolling the dough I cut it into 6.  I spread the filling onto each in a fairly thin layer and rolled them tightly from one of the long sides.  I did find it helpful to pinch the seams closed before cutting the rolls in half lengthwise, and then twisting the pieces around each other.  Once twisted, I curled the ends around to make circles and transferred the couronnes to a baking sheet.  Next time, I’ll probably reduce the width of the initial rectangle so that the 6 pieces aren’t as long and either have them be wider or a little thicker to make the rolls smaller but thicker.

The recipe stated to glaze with apricot jam, but since I didn’t have any, and I’d already separated an egg to put the yolk into the filling, I used the beaten egg white to glaze them.  I did this once they’d been in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes, and then put them back in for another 5.  The final step is the icing, which has to be done once they’ve cooled.  For this I used the icing that I put on my scones when I bake them.  It’s very simple, just powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  The exact quantities aren’t overly critical, it depends on what consistency you’re going for.  All I would suggest is to add the liquid very very gradually – it doesn’t take much to make it too runny.  You can use water instead of milk, and switch the vanilla extract for something else or leave it out altogether if you prefer.  I didn’t want the hassle of cleaning a piping bag for something so small, so I used a snack sized zip top bag with one corner cut off.  Put the icing into the bag, squeeze out the remaining air and seal the top.  Cut one of the bottom corners off (the amount you cut will determine how fine your piping is) and squeeze.  Then just throw it out when you’re done!

OK, they might not win me any baking championships any time soon.  But that’s not going to stop me eating them all before my husband gets home fighting my husband for them when he gets home from work!

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Chocolate Walnut Couronnes

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 packet instant yeast or 2 1/4 tsp active dried yeast

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 1/2 oz milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

For finishing:

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 drops vanilla extract

1/2 – 1 tsp milk or water

 

To make the dough:

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer, add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until a soft dough has formed.  Knead until the dough is soft and smooth.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

Cream the butter and sugar until pale.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Stir in the cocoa and walnuts.

Then, assemble the couronnes:

Pre-heat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cut width-wise into 6 even pieces.  Spread the filling on each piece, leaving a gap around the edge.  Roll each piece tightly from the long edge, and then cut in half lengthwise, leaving a small piece attached at one end to make the twisting easier.  Twist the 2 pieces together like a rope and join the ends to form a circle.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Glaze with the egg white and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.  Once cool, finish with a drizzle of icing.