Brunch Bars – the cereal bars of your dreams

Cereal bars seem to be big news. I don’t buy them (it’s rare to find a nut and dairy-free cereal bar) and don’t often venture down the ‘bar’ aisle of the supermarket. I happened to wander down it the other day and was utterly overwhelmed by the amount and variety of bars on offer. They really must be a ‘thing’ for lots of people.

I certainly get the point – a mid-morning snack with a healthy vibe (whether that is true or not is another matter!) must be a good idea. It stuck me that maybe we needed a friendly cereal bar in our lives, one to act as breakfast on the hoof or as an interesting addition to these daily triple packed lunches I seem to be making.

This recipe took a while to evolve, but the wait was worth it, these bars are seriously good. I’ve been eating them all week, and I’m not a cereal bar eater! They combine granola (homemade in this case) for flavour and texture with rice crispies for crunch. This is enrobed in a delicious mix of sugar, syrup and biscoff spread. Nut or seed butter would work wonderfully and give a ‘nutty’ undertone if you can tolerate it. Don’t worry if you don’t have safe granola just sub for oats (ideally toasted) and a handful of dried/freeze-dried fruit of choice. There must be some shop bought dairy-free and nut-free granola available, but I’ve not come across it. Do let me know of any recommendations.

I definitely recommend the chocolate drizzle – not only does it look nice but it also gives a touch of luxury. Besides, chocolate is always a good addition!

Brunch Cereal Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 6 large bars

100g granola

25g rice krispies

60g caster sugar

90g golden or maple syrup, or use honey

50g Biscoff spread (or nut/seed/wow butter of choice)

20g dark dairy-free chocolate

  1. Melt together the sugar, syrup and biscoff spread until you have a thick smooth mixture
  2. Stir in the granola and rice krispies and stir until everything is coated in the rich caramel sauce
  3. Press into a baking tin lined with parchment. I used a 2lb loaf tin which is perfect for the amount quoted about. If you want to make more, double the quantities and use a standard square baking tin.
  4. Place in the fridge or a cool place to set.
  5. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over, leave to set.
  6. Cut into 6 bars.

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

This time of year is just wrong without Hot Cross Buns. I eagerly await the criss crossed beauties appearing in the shops, and very year there’s a new variety to tempt and inspire. These days I wouldn’t buy a Hot Cross bun as I’ve not found any safe ones (I know vegan versions exist but they’re generally not free-from enough for us) and so come March I make batch after batch of buns. I’d really recommend giving it a go, they’re not hard to make and the satisfaction of a house filled with a spicy aroma and perfect buns appearing from the oven is second to none!

I’ve made many friendly hot cross buns and they’ve become a firm favourite, so much so that Little S has them for breakfast if she gets the chance. For some reason my children have an aversion to dried fruit, so I concocted this variation that appeals more to them.

The addition of chopped chocolate may be slightly unconventional, but the resulting buns are delightfully aromatic and tasty with the bonus prize of the chocolate going oozy and gooey when the buns are toasted. The added bonus is that they freeze beautifully. Simply defrost and then warm in an oven or toaster, and enjoy perfect hot cross buns anytime 🙂

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

 

makes 9-12

500g strong bread flour

1 tbsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 or 2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

500ml warm dairy-free milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

100g dairy-free chocolate, chopped

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and dairy-free margarine, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
  5. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  6. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  7. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  8. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  10. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

 

Perfect Egg-free and Dairy-free Pancakes

 

I haven’t posted a pancake recipe for ages, but since it’s Shrove Tuesday, today is the day for an updated version. I first devised my pancake recipe when Big S was in nursery and everyone else was partaking in pancake day, and i just couldn’t let her miss out. It was moments like these that were the driving force for starting, and then carrying in my blog. Food is such a big part of life, particularly any social or celebratory occasions that I have always been desperate to make sure my girls (and everyone else with allergies) don’t feel left out.

This pancake recipe is as simple as anything and gives fabulous results from a few store cupboard ingredients. They have a bit more pouf than traditional English style pancakes or French crepes; think one step towards a big puffy American version. We’ll be having them tonight for Shrove Tuesday with sugar and lemon or garnished with Plamil chocolate spread – delicious 🙂

These also make a wonderful breakfast, and also reheat successfully so you can make a batch on a Sunday and have exciting breakfasts for the next few days. I’ve added the quantities in both grams and cup measurements because pancakes are sometimes easier to make using cups than scales

Perfect Egg-free and Dairy-free Pancakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegan, vegetarian)

makes 10-12 small or 6-8 large pancakes

 120g plain flour (1 cup)

2 tsp baking powder

30g caster sugar (2 tbsp)

pinch of salt

2 tbsp sunflower oil

250ml dairy-free milk (1 cup)

  1. Sift the flour and mix in the other dry ingredients
  2. Add oil and dairy-free milk and whisk until smooth, add more oat milk as necessary to make a ‘single cream’ consistency
  3. Fry on both sides in a hot pan wiped with a smear of sunflower oil
  4. Eat hot topped with lemon and sugar, honey, maple syrup etc.

Biscoff Spiced and Stuffed Muffins

What’s better than a wonderful Biscoff spiced muffin? Well obviously a Biscoff spiced AND stuffed muffin! 😋

This muffin recipe is a real winner, it lends itself to many flavours and produces the exact authentic muffin texture of bouncy sponge and an exterior that stands up to being packed in a lunch box and lasting til midday. As you might have noticed, I’m still on a packed lunch vibe, and these muffins will definitely feature in Little S’s lunch this week. (That is if they don’t all disappear before!)

Biscoff Spiced and Filled Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12

50g caster sugar

35g soft brown sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

250g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp speculaas spice (or sub 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp ground cloves)

115g dairy-free margarine, melted

150ml dairy-free milk

150ml dairy-free yogurt

75ml golden or maple syrup

6 tsp Lotus spread

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You want not clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, lumpy is good.
  3. 1/4 fill the liners and then dollop 1/2 tsp of Lotus spread on top. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
  4. I topped mine with some pearl sugar, but it’s not necessary
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Drizzle with water icing before serving if you like.

Christmas Spice Pancakes

I’ve decided that we’re going to do a full on Christmas this year, with festive flavours dominating our menu. After all, why do half measures when you can go the whole hog!!

That got me thinking about breakfast, our only non festive meal of the day. Surely Christmas day needs to start with a bang to set the right tone for the festivities.

I love the spices that fill the air at Christmas and that inspired these delightfully spiced Christmas pancakes. Pancakes are not only a luxurious celebratory breakfast but are quick and simple to make and light enough to leave room for the epic Christmas lunch. I think that hit’s all the requirements for a Christmas breakfast! Don’t forget though that pancakes also make a fantastic pudding too.

The spice mix used in this recipe is the epitome of the taste of Christmas and is perfect for adding to any recipe at this time of year. I’ve added it to soya lattes, pastry, apple pie and of course these pancakes.

Serve with a dusting of glittery icing sugar or a glug of maple syrup 🙂

 

Christmas Spice Mix

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp mixed spice

zest of 1 clementine

Christmas Spice Pancakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

Serves 2

1/2 cup self-raising flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Christmas spice mix

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp flavourless oil, I used sunflower

1/2 cup dairy-free milk, I used oat milk.

  1. Sift the flour, spice, salt and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
  2. Whisk in the oil and milk to form a smooth, fairly thin batter. Set aside to start bubbling
  3. Heat a frying pan and swipe with a little oil. Cook the pancakes on both sides until starting to colour and slightly puffed up
  4. Keep warm until ready to serve
  5. Serve with maple syrup or icing sugar

Gingerbread Spiced Muffins with a Crumble Topping

There’s something so inspiring about the run up to Christmas for cooking and baking, it just makes me want to get into the kitchen and recipe develop like crazy! Maybe it’s the dark days, or maybe it’s the Christmas spices and thoughts of sharing with friends and family.

I haven’t spent enough time creating in the past few months – I’ve been doing a new job which has taken far too much of my time and energy (even on days when I’m not meant to be working), and I’ve decided that has got to stop. I need to get baking again, to test myself with new recipes and challenges because that is when I’m most energised. This week alone I’ve created three new recipes, so expect lots more posts coming up soon 🙂

Unbelievably our local Christmas lights turned on last night (it was only the 15th November!), so it suddenly felt Christmassy and I had to go a little festive and introduce some warm spice into the mix.

This is a knock out recipe for warming spiced muffins, with all the scents of Christmas rolled into one irresistible fluffy muffin topped with a crunchy crumble topping. This particular muffin recipe gives a great, authentic texture and rise which is perfect for the subtle spice. I particularly like the contrasting texture of the crumble topping, and think it really does add to the whole effect. Do add more spice if that is your preference, I kept mine subtle to please all members of the family!

These were delicious warm straight from the cooling rack, but I’m also thinking they’d make a fabulous Christmas breakfast or brunch.

Gingerbread Spiced Muffins with a Crumble Top

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12 large muffins

85g soft brown sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

250g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

115g dairy-free margarine, melted

150ml dairy-free milk

150ml dairy-free yogurt

75ml golden or maple syrup

for the crumble topping:

1 tbsp oats

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp demerara sugar

1 tbsp margarine

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon

  1. First make the crumble top: rub the margarine into the other ingredients to make a lumpy mix. Set aside
  2. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade.
  3. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You want not clumps of raw flour but do not overtax, lumpy is good.
  5. 1/2 fill the liners and then sprinkle over the crumble top
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.