For the August challenge Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make a Seed & Nut Loaf, a super-healthy and gluten-free alternative to standard wheat-based bread. The theme of both challenges this month is ‘whole and healthy’! It is a gorgeously dense and nutty whole-wheat bread with lots of taste and texture along with masses of protein and fibre but without gluten. It may be slathered with all sorts of delicious toppings, from avocado and tomato, to salmon and cream cheese, to home-made nut butter and mashed banana.

The psyllium husk is the ingredient that binds the loaf together in the absence of flour. If you use ground flax seeds instead of whole, you will need to add more water to the mixture. Oats are inherently gluten-free, however they can be cross-contaminated with wheat. If you are gluten-sensitive, ensure your oats are certified ‘gluten-free’. Buckwheat or spelt flakes make a good alternative. While you can use any nut, it is best to chop them finely; if the nuts are too big, it is harder for the loaf to hold together and you might end up with a crumbly loaf.

GLUTEN-FREE SEED & NUT LOAF

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) (140 gm) ( 5 oz) sunflower seeds

½ cup (125 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) flax seeds (linseeds)

½ cup (125 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) sliced almonds

1½ cups (375 ml) (135 gm) (4¾ oz) gluten-free rolled oats

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (20 gm) (¾ oz) chia seeds

4 tablespoons (60 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) psyllium seed husks

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) fine grain sea salt

1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure maple syrup or liquid honey

3 tablespoons (45 ml) coconut oil or ghee, melted

1½ cups (375 ml) water

Method:

  • In a standard sized silicone, non-stick, or greased and lined loaf pan, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients.

  • Combine until it is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick. Transfer mixture to the loaf pan.
  • Smooth top and cover pan with plastic wrap. Sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.

  • The mixture should feel very firm to the touch. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F or gas mark 4.
  • Bake bread initially for 20 minutes. Take the loaf out of the oven, place a wire rack over top and invert.

  • Remove bread from pan and remove the lining paper if using. Put inverted loaf on its rack in the oven.
  • Bake the bread again for another 30 to 40 minutes. The loaf should be starting to brown on the outside.

  • This gives a nutty crunch to the finished loaf. It should sound hollow when tapped. Cool it completely.
  • Slice with a fine serrated knife and store in an airtight container (or in plastic wrap) for up to 4-5 days.

Daring Bakers August 2015 Challenge

Cold winter mornings make it so difficult to get up and out of bed. This specially holds true on the rare Sundays when I happen not to be working and therefore do not have to force myself out to bed to attend the ’emergency’ patient with a foul smelling sebaceous cyst or a non healing diabetic wound in casualty. Lazy Sundays also call for lazy, over-the-top breakfast items which can be indulged effortlessly and without guilt. After all, Sundays are home are treat and deserved all the special treatment which I cannot otherwise afford on my busy weekdays.

Thin and light French crêpes from Taste.com.au with sweet almond custard filling were on today’s breakfast menu. Making crêpes is quite simple and relatively faster than pancakes which are thicker and have a longer cooking time. The techniques lies in twirling the crêpe batter in a thin even layer on a hot griddle or crêpe pan before it has time to set. Your first crêpe might be somewhat odd shaped or overcooked but you will definitely get the hang of crêpe-making after a few trials. I think I will need to do another crêpe post soon, a savory one!

CREPES AMANDINE

Ingredients:

For the Crêpes

310ml (1 1/4 cups) whole milk

2 eggs, room temperature

150g (1 cup) plain flour

2 teaspoons caster sugar

For the Almond Custard

2 eggs, room temperature

110g (1/2 cup) white sugar

50g (1/3 cup) plain flour

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

500ml (2 cups) whole milk

100g (1 cup) almond meal

For the Chocolate Topping

150g dark chocolate, chopped

50g unsalted butter, chopped

60g (1/3 cup) whole almonds

Method:

  • To make the crêpes, whisk milk and eggs in a jug. Sift the flour and sugar into a medium bowl.

  • Make a well in the centre. Gradually whisk in milk mixture until it is smooth and homogenous.

  • Rest in fridge for 20 minutes. For custard, stir eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla and milk in a saucepan.

  • Cook over low heat for 4-6 minutes or until custard boils. Stir in almond meal. Place in a bowl.

  • Cover surface with plastic wrap. Lightly grease a 20cm frying pan. Heat over medium low heat.

  • Add 2 tablespoons batter. Tilt pan to cover base. Cook for 1 minute or until the edge starts to curl.

  • Turn and cook for 1 minute or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.

  • Place 1 crêpe on a plate. Spread with a little custard. Continue with remaining crêpes and custard.

  • Finish the stack with a crêpe. For the topping stir chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat.

  • Stir until smooth then drizzle topping over crêpes and top with coarsely chopped toasted almonds.

What’s better than a mug of steaming hot chocolate to warm up a rainy winter day? This wonderfully creamy chocolat chaud from my all-time favorite blog by David Lebovitz, gets its luxurious richness from lots of top-quality chocolate; I used Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa which has a subtle aroma of roasted coffee and Natural Bourbon vanilla beans. The beverage is best served in tiny espresso cups rather than regular coffee mugs with a large basin of freshly whipped cream on the side to overcome any possible chocolate overdose.

PARISIAN HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk

65 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon light brown sugar, optional

Method:

  • Heat milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk in chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot.
  • Cook mixture at a very low boil for about 3 minutes whisking constantly. Keep an eye on the mixture.

  • It may boil up a bit during the first moments. Add brown sugar and serve warm in small coffee cups.
  • It improves if made ahead and allowed to sit for few hours. Rewarm before serving. Makes 2 servings.

If you have a penchant for white chocolate, you might like to try this recipe from Will Cook For Friends spiked with a dash of cardamom and fresh orange zest. As usual, I stuck to Lindt with its Excellence White Chocolate bar, infused with Madagascan vanilla, which melts readily into a smooth and deliciously rich chocolate drink.

SPICED WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients:

60g good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk

2 green cardamom pods, crushed

1 inch strip of orange zest

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg

Fresh whipped cream, for serving

Method:

  • Place a small pot on the stove over medium-low heat, and add the milk, crushed cardamom, and orange zest.
  • Heat until the milk begins to steam, and small bubbles appear around the edges of the pot, stirring frequently.

  • As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat. Do not let mixture boil. Place chocolate in heatproof bowl.
  • Place a strainer over the bowl with chocolate, and pour milk through to remove cardamom and orange.

  • Add vanilla extract and sit for 20-30 seconds to allow chocolate to begin melting. Whisk till smooth.
  • Garnish with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. Top with freshly whipped cream.  Makes 2 servings.

Hot Chocolate for Cold Days!

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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