The Art of Mindful Baking



Mindful Baking

My birthday is later this month and I have never liked having a January birthday. As a child I always seemed to be getting presents for my birthday which were ‘part of my Christmas presents’. Would that have happened had my birthday been later in the year ? I doubt it !

Last year, my sister in law sent me this book for my birthday and as January always seems to be about new beginnings , reflecting on the previous year and what and how you are going to do things differently, I have taken it off the bookshelf , of where I have many delightful books about all sorts of foodie things and thought I would start reading it .

Oh my ! The Art of Mindful Baking,  wow !

This is exactly what I keep shouting about , the simplicity of my baking , the result of my bakes is in the taste, the use of as few ingredients as possible, connecting to the foundations of baking……… I would just like to leave this  quote from the book with you,  as it really resonated with me .

Hestia , the ancient Greek Goddess of the hearth and home who’s accountability for nurture still allows us today to be drawn to the hearth when we are hungry , cold or even bored. This representation of the hearth “enables us to take nature’s offerings and transform them into baked goods, which are perhaps the most tempting of all the foods that we have the pleasure to eat. When we bake with our modern ovens we are in essence using the same primordial fire of old, and it requires respect, skill and mindfulness about what we are making”


Happy mindful baking

Nicola x





Chewy Muesli bars




Who remembers making flapjack as a child ? I certainly do , mixing those porridge oats with lashings of golden syrup. But , times have changed  and people are now choosing recipes that have less refined sugar which led me to look through my multitude of flapjack recipes, all  combining various additions of dried fruit and seeds . I have mixed two recipes together and added my choice of extras , resulting in a moist , chewy bar packed with seeds , perfect for those times when you need a kick start of energy.

What you need:

A baking tin measuring 26cm x 16cm


150g butter  or margarine ( I always use unsalted butter)
150g runny honey
75g light muscovado sugar
225g rolled oats
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds

Note : you can add any quantity of seeds or dried fruit , for example sultanas, dried mango, apricot or even pineapple for a tropical twist , and also mixed chopped nuts

What you do :

1. Measure out the honey in to a pan. If you have electronic scales , put the saucepan on the scales , then weigh out the honey
2. Weigh out the sugar in the same saucepan, remember to reset the scales to zero
3. Weigh out the butter in the same saucepan , and remember to reset scales to zero again


4. Measure out the oats and seeds and mix together in a bowl


5. Melt the honey, sugar and butter over a low heat until it turns to liquid


6. Stir the melted honey, sugar and butter into the oats and seeds in the mixing bowl


7. Press the mixture in to the baking tin, levelling the surface


8. Bake at 170 C 325 F gas mark 3 for approx. 29 minutes until lightly browned and very slightly crispy at the edges
9. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then cut into squares
10. Leave to cool completely in the tin before removing
11.Enjoy x

Any time of day Granola


How deliciously scrumptious can home made granola be ? Well , this recipe that my son and I have devised is just that. We know exactly what has gone into it, with no addition of refined sugars and really does fill you up for the morning. I have even been known to dip into it later on in the day !

So, what makes ours so special ? we have selected all our favourite things in the quantities we like, mixing it all together with honey and maple syrup. The dates add a rich depth to every mouthful , the variety of nuts add texture and the overall crunchiness is from baking it in the oven.


So here is our recipe but you can adapt by adding anything you like or taking out what you don’t like

Gregory & mummy’s home made granola

300g jumbo oats or muesli mix ( I buy mine from a local wholefood shop)
100g each of cashews, almonds, hazelnuts ( I am not fussy whether they are flaked, halves or skinless nuts , just what ever you have to hand)
50g each of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds ( we tried poppy seeds but they went every where and were hard to serve up as they got left behind in the box)
50g dessicated coconut
100g each of apricots and dates ( make sure these are pitted as I found out when I chopped them in my food processor)
A handful of mango and banana chips
Zest of an orange
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
75ml each of honey and maple syrup
30ml sunflower oil

1. Put the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, cinnamon, mango (do chop the mango chips quite small otherwise it takes a while to chew them ) and banana chips into a large bowl, ticking of each as you go so you don’t forget anything
2. Add the chopped apricots and dates I (I find this quicker to do in my small bowl off my food processor )
3. In a small pan gently warm through the honey, maple syrup and sunflower oil, then pour this over the ingredients , stirring continually to incorporate everything together.
4. Add the vanilla extract and stir again

5. Carefully put all the mix into a shallow baking tray (mine measures 40cm x 29cm) and shake gently to level it out
6. Place in the oven at 160C gas mark 4 for approx. 30 mins. The important thing to remember here though is you must shake it gently every 10 mins. or so , so that the granola browns evenly
7. The trick is to bake it just right so that when it cools it has the right crunchiness
8. Once baked, leave it to get cold and store in a plastic box or jar
9. Serve with your favourite milk or yogurt, mine has to be almond milk and Gregory’s is natural plain yogurt

Yellow, brown & black bananas


Sometimes an idea just comes into your head , or you hear something on the radio or tv and you think ah that is something I could write about. Well that is exactly what happened to me this week. I was catching up on The Great Sport Relief Bake Off and one of the contestants was making banana muffins and Paul Hollywood said that you get more flavour with over ripe bananas. Well I didn’t know that but I did know that brown bananas should never go to waste. The only thing to remember though is that they become very alkaline when they are ripe so don’t forget the baking powder in a recipe , as this will off set it.

Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium and provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. Bananas should be stored at room temperature however the warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. Did you know you can peel and freeze bananas to add to a smoothie ?

My favourite recipe for those brown bananas has to be the butterscotch banana cake , just take a look at the photo at the top of the page. The soft banana flesh is simmered in a frying pan with a little water , golden caster sugar and vanilla extract to produce this wonderful rich coloured caramel. When added to the mix of plain and wholemeal flour, along with mixed spice, eggs, sunflower oil and the unexpected ingredient of plain yoghurt the result is a deliciously sweet loaf with a banana toffee flavour.

So , remember if you have some brown bananas in your fruit bowl , check out your recipes and you will find they can be added to make muffins, cookies and cakes.

Bursting day


Buttermilk pancakes with blueberries

As we approach Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday it has made me think about all those luxuries that people may want to give up for Lent. You know the ones, chocolate and alcohol, to name just two. Eggs were once considered a luxury but I know I couldn’t do without them in baking and have yet to find a recipe that doesn’t use them. This is why eggs were used in pancakes on Shrove Tuesday as a way of finishing them up before lent started on Ash Wednesday, which was traditionally a time when Christians cut back on indulgent foods for 40 days. Did you know the Swedish call Shrove Tuesday Fat Day, the French call it Fat Tuesday and the Icelandic’s Bursting Day ?

So, this is my recipe for pancakes which comes from an American lady I used to work for as a mothers help in Geneva. I used to make these for ‘my charges’ for breakfast before they went to school. I have converted the measurements to metric as the original recipe was in American cups.


125g plain flour
1 egg
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon oil ( I use sunflower)
1 level tablespoon caster sugar
a splash of milk
1 carton of buttermilk
optional: a large handful of blueberries or an apple grated

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients
  2. Add the egg, oil, buttermilk and milk. If it looks very thick add a little more milk, but you don’t want it runny
  3. Add the apple or blueberries
  4. Whisk with a hand whisk and leave until the surface is covered with bubbles
  5. Melt some butter in a frying pan, I use a large one as I can get 4 pancakes in
  6. Ladle an amount into the frying pan, but keep the heat fairly low
  7. When bubbles pop on the surface, turn them and cook on the other side for a minute or two, keep an eye on them
  8. Serve them with maple syrup or whatever takes your fancy

I always make a double batch as they are always eaten up, enjoy x


Dairy free honey bread


P1040958There are many people at the moment who are becoming more aware of their diet and want to eat more healthily. I have been practicing lots of recipes that don’t contain gluten or even any dairy products. This is one of those and is such an easy recipe, that even bakers who are not very confident I am sure will be able to produce this wonderfully sweet, soft moreish tea bread.

What you need:
A small loaf tin ( these can be labelled as 450g or 1lb size)
I line these with the loaf tin liners from Lakeland , do make sure they are compatible with the size of the loaf tin , otherwise they can be a nuisance/tricky to fit in neatly

225g pain flour
115g caster sugar ( I used golden caster sugar)
115g runny honey ( it is easier to pour if it is runny)
150ml hot water ( I boiled the kettle and then let it cool for a minute)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
zest of 1 lemon

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 160 C 325 F gas mark 3
2. Pop the lining paper into the loaf tin
3. Measure out the flour and sugar and put into a large bowl


4.You now need to weigh out the honey. If you have digital scales it is easier to put the saucepan on the scales and measure out the honey straight into the pan.

Melt the honey and water in the pan over a low heat , stirring until dissolved

5. Sprinkle the bicarb. of soda over the honey and water mix, this is the fun bit as it bubbles up . Stir until completely dissolved


6. Pour this over the flour and sugar in the bowl , and add the lemon zest, stirring until just incorporated

P1040951            P1040953           P1040954                                                                 

7. Pour the mixture into prepared tin



8. Bake for at least 50 minutes, before checking to see if it is cooked .You can use the skewer test, if it comes out clean when inserted into the middle , it is done. My cake took 59 minutes and rose beautifully

9. Cool on a rack and then serve thinly sliced

Enjoy x

Coconut & Sesame raw fruit bars


main picture

There is a lot being said about raw food at the moment , so I thought I would share this recipe for coconut and sesame raw fruit bars. These super healthy bars are perfect for those mid morning munchies or after school snacks and are really simple to make.
Packed with dried apricots, dates, sultanas, sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, ground almonds and orange and lemon zest and juice they are truly scrummy

What you need:

18cm square tin( I used one that measured 19cm and it was fine)


150g dried apricots
150g sultanas
150g stoned dates
200g ground almonds
50g desiccated coconut
grated zest and juice of 1/2 orange
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

What you do:

  1. Line the tin with baking parchment ( I buy the ready cut to size ones from a very well known shop – Lakeland)
  2. Measure out  the apricots, sultanas, dates and ground almonds
stage 1 coconut and sesame bars3.Place in a food processor ( I use my magimix,)add the zest and juice from the orange and lemon and blitz until smooth
step 5 bars

4.Measure out the sesames seeds and desiccated coconut

step 2

5. Sprinkle half the seeds and coconut in to the tin. They will go everywhere and they won’t stick to the parchment paper
6. Then spread the blitzed mix onto the seeds and pack it down as tightly as you can
7. Sprinkle the remaining seeds on top and pop in the fridge. I chilled mine for a good couple of hours

step 6

8. Cut into squares or rectangles but keep chilled
9. Enjoy x