The first thing I tried was a recipe from Rachel Allen for a rustic (it had almost won me over already in it use of this word - rustic to me means 'doesn't need prettying or presentation skills!') cheese and bacon loaf. I found it when I was trawling her book looking for the lovely coconut macaroon recipe that Leigh's made a couple of times.
Here it is fresh from the oven
And cut open.
I wasn’t sure this would actually rise, but it did! Leigh suggested it’s probably a bit more like a savoury version of a loaf cake than proper bread (possibly because it doesn’t toast well!), but it’s still delicious and was good on the second and third day after baking.
320g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
100g bacon lardoons, cooked until just crisp in a little sunflower oil and cooled
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
60ml olive oil
2lb loaf tin
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4/170C ish fan. Lightly oil and line the loaf tin with parchment paper.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the grated cheese and the cooled bacon lardoons and mix well.
3. Pour the milk into a large measuring jug, add the eggs, mustard and olive oil and whisk to combine.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the liquid, stirring all the time until it is fully incorporated, to form a fairly liquid dough.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cook for a further 10 mins on the oven shelf to crisp up the bottom.
6. When cooked, it will sound hollow when tapped on the base. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.
The other baking was a recipe for 'Breakfast Bars' from Nigella. Leigh has recently been on a trip to Essen for a few days and wanted a snack to take that would last longer than cake. He took some flapjack as well but had seen this recipe which I tried out. I didn’t have a tin the size of the one suggested in the recipe so I used one with slightly bigger surface area. The bars came out okay but a little on the dry side – possibly due to shape of tin? But even when just mixing the condensed milk in, there just didn’t seem to be quite enough for the amount of dry ingredients I had. It’s convenient because the recipe calls for 1 tin, but as I usually keep a squeezy bottle of condensed milk in the fridge over the winter for porridgey breakfast mornings, I could just add a squeeze or 2 more next time I make these and see if it makes any difference.
1 x 397g can condensed milk
250g rolled oats (not instant)
75g shredded coconut
100g dried cranberries
125g mixed seeds (eg pumpkin, sesame, sunflower etc)
125g natural unsalted peanuts (I thought I’d be able to get a pack of roasted, unsalted nuts fairly easily in the supermarket, but could not get any for love nor money! Settled for red skin covered unsalted, which taste fin)
1. Preheat oven to 130C/110C fan/gas ½, and oil a 23 x 33 x 4cm baking tin or use a throwaway foil one
2. Warm the condensed milk in a large pan
3. Meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients and then add to the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber or wooden spatula to fold in and distribute
4. Spread the mixture into the tin and press down with the spatula, or better still, your hands (wearing disposable vinyl gloves to stop you sticking), to even the surface
5. Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and, after about 15 minutes, cut into 4 across and 4 down to make 16 chunky bars. Let them cool completely.