The Crazy Kitchen: May 2013

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Thursday 30 May 2013

Sugar Free Banana & Blueberry Muffins with Truvia

This week we seem to have rather a lot of bananas that need eating up. I've no idea why we have more left than usual but I don't think anyone is complaining as over-ripe bananas mean cake. I decided to use some Truvia, calorie free sugar replacement, that I'd been sent in these muffins, and no-one noticed any difference, polishing them off in under 24 hours.

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Sugar Free Banana & Blueberry Muffins
- makes 12

175g Self Raising Flour
25g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Baking Powder
25g Truvia (or 50g caster sugar)
200g Mashed Banana (2 medium bananas)
2 Eggs, beaten
75ml Sunflower Oil
150 ml Milk
100g Fresh or frozen Blueberries
Sprinkling of Cinnamon

  • Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder & Truvia together
  • Mix the banana, eggs, oil & milk together, stir in the blueberries
  • Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients - do not over mix, it should be lumpy
  • Divide mixture between muffin cases 
  • Sprinkle the tops with a little cinnamon
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 18-20 minutes
  • Cool on a wire rack
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I was sent some Truvia for use in my baking

Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Ultimate Caramel Mochaccino with Tassimo

There's no denying it, I do love a good cup of coffee in the morning. It may be the only cup of the day so I like it to be a good one, usually a strong espresso or a cappuccino made with skimmed or almond milk.

When Tassimo offered to send me one of their machines and a few coffee pods I was more than happy to try it out. 

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I received a Tassimo TAS 20xx in black and after having a quick browse through the instructions it was up and running. Fill the tank with water, pop a pod in, close the compartment, press a button and away you go, simple. For cappuccino's and lattes you can pop a milk pod in and out comes hot frothy milk, genius.

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You can even dispense hot water, which is very handy for my cups of herbal tea, much quicker than boiling the kettle.

I was challenged by Tassimo to have a play about with my Tassimo and create a unique drink with a twist, so here's mine, which I have named The Ultimate Caramel Mochaccino...

You will need :

Tassimo Machine 
1 x Costa Espresso pod
1 x Costa Milk pod
3 Rolo's
10g Mini chocolate chunks
2 Marshmallows
Squirty Cream
Caramel Sauce, chocolate chunks & Cocoa Powder for decoration (optional)

  • Insert the Espresso pod into the Tassimo and dispense into a large mug or heatproof glass
  • Stir the Rolo's and chocolate chunks into the hot coffee until dissolved
  • Insert the milk pod into the Tassimo and dispense into the glass
  • Pop the 2 marshmallows into the frothy milk
  • Top with squirty cream and decorate with chosen toppings

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This is a lovely rich and creamy drink, of which you couldn't drink many, and I would dread to think of the calorie content. Not something that I would drink every day, I think I'll stick to my Espressso's and save these for very very special occasions! 

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I was sent the Tassimo machine for the purpose of review and this challenge 

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Bank Holiday Cocktails with Bombay Sapphire and #cbias

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I was really looking forward to this Bank Holiday weekend, with no plans apart from visiting family and a swimming gala on Saturday. The weather was forecast to be good on both Saturday on Sunday with chance of rain on Monday so with gin and mixers in hand, that were bought during our trip to Asda on Friday, we were set for a good weekend.

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You can see pictures from our Asda shop in my Google+ album here.
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Sunday morning we spent tidying up the garden, clearing out some of the garage, taking apart a playhouse and building the new garden furniture that we bought at Asda during the gin shop. In the afternoon my parents came up, and my Mum being the seasoned gin and tonic lover that she is was an ideal guinea pig to try my cocktails. Using a little cocktail book of mine (150 Classic Cocktails by Chancellor Press) I set to work making the first (of many) gin based cocktails, using the attractively packaged Bombay Sapphire.

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With plenty of ice loaded up in my 50p carboot sale bargain glass ice bucket and some ready made sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated gently in a pan until the sugar has dissolved) I made a very refreshing Albermarle Fizz.

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Albermarle Fizz - serves 1

4-6 Ice Cubes
1 measure  (25ml) Gin
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes of Raspberry Syrup (I used Chambord Raspberry Liquor)
1/2 tsp Sugar Syrup
Soda Water to top up
Cocktail Cherries to decorate
  • Mix the ice, gin, lemon juice and syrups together 
  • Pour into a glass and top up with soda water
  • Decorate with cherries

I tripled the measures and made in a jug, which we enjoyed sitting on the new garden furniture in the sunshine with friends who had also joined us for the evening. I think out of all the cocktails this was my favourite, a very light & refreshing drink that slipped down easily in the sunshine.

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Next we tried a simple, but just as refreshing Gin and Bitter Cranberry. Bitter Cranberry is fizzy and fruity just like bitter lemon, but with cranberries instead of lemon, obviously. With lots of ice it's perfect for a hot day.

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On Monday I continued the weekend of Bank Holiday Gin cocktails and invited some friends round to sample more of the Bombay Sapphire delights. The friends, who are normally vodka rather than gin drinkers, were surprised how nice the cocktails were, with a very subtle and not at all overpowering taste of gin. After being almost blown away in the garden we decided to party in the warmth of the kitchen.

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We started off gently with a gin and pink grapefruit fizz - a measure of gin mixed with equal parts pink grapefruit juice and soda water and plenty of ice - the only criticism was that the grapefruit juice had bits in as I picked up the wrong one.

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We then tried a gin and orange fizz - the same as the grapefruit but with orange juice - how clever!

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Last but not least, and a favourite with my friends, was a Sydney Fizz, which I made a couple of jugs of.

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Sydney Fizz - Serves 1

4-5 Ice cubes
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp Grenadine
1 measure Gin
Equal parts soda water and Orange juice to top up (although by this point I had run out of soda water and topped up instead with bitter lemon)

Again I tripled the measures and made it up in a jug

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A small amount of dancing may have been involved, accompanied by lots of laughing, followed by some mighty nibbles of home-made oven baked chips and oven roasted sausage bites and vegetables, with barbecue and ranch dips.

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We never got around to trying out one of the cocktails that I really wanted to make so the French '75  will have to wait until next time.

French '75 - serves 1

Cracked ice
1 measure gin
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp Caster sugar
Chilled champagne or sparkling dry white wine
orange slice to decorate

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When all the fun is over you can rinse the empty Bombay Sapphire bottle out, scrub off the label and have a lovely bottle which I'm sure can be upcycled into something very useful - any ideas gratefully received.

Monday 27 May 2013

Cinnamon Buns

I haven't made cinnamon buns for a very long time despite being something that I think about often. My love for them stemmed from when I lived in America and would buy trays of them in Sam's Club for just cents, it was the cream cheese topping that made them irresistible.

When Katie tweeted me last week to ask if I would be joining in with Breakfast club that she's hosting this month I saw it as a great excuse to make cinnamon buns again. It's not something that I would normally eat for breakfast but how nice was it on Sunday morning eating one of these Al Fresco with a freshly brewed coffee.

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As it had been so long since I made them last time, and well before I started blogging, I had no clue which recipe I used so decided to use my current favourite tear & share bread recipe, adapted from a chelsea bun recipe in my 'bread & bread makers' recipe book.

I made the dough using the basic dough setting on the breadmaker, however it's possible to make it using a dough hook on a food mixer easily enough, or by hand if you're feeling energetic.

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For the dough
225ml milk
500g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g butter, softened
7g yeast

50g caster sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
50g butter, melted

25g butter, softened
75g Cream cheese
25g Icing sugar

  • Add the dough ingredients into the breadmaker in the order that your machine specifies and set to dough.
  • Once the dough is ready remove onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle approx 30 x 20cm
  • Mix the caster sugar and cinnamon together
  • Brush the melted butter generously over the rolled out dough
  • Sprinkle with all of the cinnamon sugar
  • Roll the dough up along the long side & press the end to seal
  • Cut into 12 equal slices using a very sharp knife
  • Lay the slices into a buttered round or rectangular baking tin or dish
  • Brush with any remaining melted butter
  • Cover with clingfilm & leave in a warm place for approx 1 hour
  • Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for approx 15-20 minutes until golden brown
  • In the meantime mix all of the icing ingredients together until smooth
  • Whilst the buns are still in their tin and still warm smooth the icing over them
  • Serve warm or cold 

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Sunday 26 May 2013

Cheese & Rhubarb Chutney Tart

The last week has flown by in a frenzy of rhubarb, there's been ice cream, lamb, sweet pizza and pudding. To complete my rhubarb extravaganza I've gone savoury again, this time with a tart made up of a combination of cheese and sweet rhubarb chutney. The chutney was made earlier in the week and kept in the fridge until I made the tart for Friday night dinner, which we ate accompanied by a bag of the finest chippy chips, because we're classy like that.

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Rhubarb Chutney

1 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Half a small red chilli, finely chopped
350g rhubarb, diced
75ml cider vinegar
50g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 small lemon

  • Heat the oil in a pan
  • Add the onion, garlic & chilli & fry gently for 5 minutes
  • Add the rhubarb, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and stir
  • Bring to the boil
  • Simmer for approximately 20 minutes until thickened

This will make twice as much as you need. You can store any chutney that you don't need in a sterilised jar and enjoy with your favourite cheese & crackers.

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Cheese & Rhubarb Chutney Tart

Ready made puff pastry sheet
75g cheddar cheese, grated
125g mozzarella cheese, sliced
7 cherry tomatoes halved
fresh basil

  • Lay the puff pastry sheet on a baking tray
  • Spread over half of the chutney that was made previously leaving a gap around the edge
  • cover with grated cheddar, slices of mozzarella, tomatoes & torn basil leaves
  • Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for approx 20 minutues
  • Serve with more torn basil leaves scattered over

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This is another of my recipes for the May Swallows Charity Recipes for Life Challenge on Bangers and Mash. You can find out more about the challenge & see more rhubarb recipes here
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Friday 24 May 2013

Lemon & Rhubarb Pudding

Booths are a chain of food stores in the North West of England. I've never visited one as there isn't one close by but last year I did some beer and wine tasting for them - it's tough this blogging game.

During one of their recent twitter parties I spotted a lemon pudding recipe and though I would give it a go. As I have so much rhubarb at the moment I thought it would be a nice addition to the base of the pudding, along with some ginger and cinnamon in the sponge.

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Lemon & Rhubarb Pudding

75g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
juice & zest of 2 lemons
3 medium eggs, separated
75g self raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
200ml milk
200g rhubarb, cut into 1cm pieces
1 tbsp sugar

  • Beat the butter & sugar together with the lemon zest until light & fluffy
  • Mix in the egg yolks one at a time
  • Fold in the flour & spices
  • Slowly add the lemon juice & milk (it may separate but don't worry)
  • Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form
  • Fold the egg whites into the batter
  • Lay the rhubarb into the base of a buttered ovenproof dish & sprinkle the sugar over
  • Pour the batter over the rhubarb
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 30-40 minutes, until well risen & cooked right through (mine took a little longer as my dish was quite deep)

The pudding didn't look particularly pretty as the sauce looked like it had separated a bit, but it tasted absolutely great, especially with vanilla ice cream.

As this recipe is another one this month that uses the 3 ingredients in the Swallows Charity Recipes for Life challenge I may as well enter it...sorry Vanesther, that's number 4.

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Thursday 23 May 2013

Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pizza

Who said pizzas have to be savoury. I shared my recipe for fruit crumble pizzas a while ago but thought it was time to share again now that I have a tonne of rhubarb to use up. What goes better with rhubarb than custard so I've incorporated some custard in there too, the ready made tinned stuff is fine, and what better way to serve it than with some rhubarb ripple ice cream.

It's a very simple, no yeast, pizza base which, if you have a very sweet tooth, you might want to add a little sugar to.

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Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pizza

250g rhubarb
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 can of ready made custard
25g butter
100g plain flour
50g Demerara sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
zest of 1 lemon

  • wash & trim the rhubarb & cut into 1cm pieces
  • Place in a microwaveable bowl, cover & microwave for 5 minutes, until soft
  • Drain any excess juice and stir in the tbsp of sugar & set aside
  • Make the pizza base by mixing the flour, oil and milk together until it forms a dough
  • Knead for 1 minute & roll out to approx 30cm in diameter
  • Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Stir in the demerara sugar, mixed spice & lemon zest
  • Spread the rhubarb over the pizza base, cover with the custard & sprinkle over the crumble
  • Bake in a preheated 180 C oven for approx 20 minutes
  • Serve hot or cold
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I have entered this recipe into the Swallows Charity Recipe for Life challenge on Bangers & Mash, which you can read more about here.

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Tuesday 21 May 2013

Moroccan Lamb and Rhubarb with Lemon & Coriander Cous Cous

After failing to get my hands on any rhubarb via my allotment friends I resorted to the supermarket - £2 for 3 skinny sticks of rhubarb is outrageous! However, after my eldest went to his best friend's house for a sleepover at the weekend he returned with tales of rhubarb and apple crumbles (it's all about the food with him), "erm rhubarb you say? they have rhubarb growing in their garden?", "yep, loads of it". I considered donning a balaclava under the cover of darkness & scaling the fence (or 2) that divided our house from the best friend's to get my hands on the much sought after rhubarb, but instead opted for the safer option of sending my son around armed with a bagful of spiced lemon cookies as a trade.

Low and behold, the next day appeared a big bag of fresh & tasty rhubarb

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Time to get on and rustle up the next for entry into the Swallow Charity Recipes For Life Challenge for May, which you can read more about here.

I have no idea if they even grow rhubarb in Morocco but I figured that the cinnamon and dried fruit made this dish Moroccan even if the rhubarb didn't. The rhubarb creates a really rich tangy sauce which I think would be great in a chilli too.  There's not much to this recipe, just a case of throwing the ingredients in & leaving it to do it's thing.

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Moroccan Lamb and Rhubarb - serves 3/4

3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp plain flour
2 lamb leg steaks, diced
Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
180g rhubarb
1 tbsp sugar
400g Can of tomatoes
100ml water or stock
50g dried Apricots, chopped
50g juicy raisins

Lemon & Coriander Cous Cous

200g dried cous cous
grated zest of 1 lemon
Handful coriander, chopped
250ml boiling water
  • Mix the cinnamon, coriander and cumin with the flour
  • Toss the lamb into the flour & spices & coat well
  • Heat the oil in a heavy based lidded pan 
  • Add the garlic & chilli & fry for 2 mins
  • Add lamb & flour and fry for 5 mins until browned on all sides
  • Add rhubarb & sugar & cook for 2 mins 
  • Add tomatoes and water (or stock)
  • Stir, place lid on & simmer for 30 mins stirring occasionally
  • Stir in the apricots and raisins, place the lid on & cook for a further 15 minutes, until the lamb is tender
  • Add the cous cous to a bowl
  • Add the lemon zest & coriander
  • Pour over the boiling water and stir
  • Place a lid or plate over the bowl and leave for 5 minutes
  • Fluff up with a fork and serve

Garnish with sliced or ground almonds & fresh coriander (optional)

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Sunday 19 May 2013

Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Mini Spiced Lemon Cookies

It's past the middle of the month already and due to holiday and illness I haven't yet posted a recipe for the Swallows Charity Recipes for Life challenge on Bangers & Mash. This means I have some serious catching up to do as for the last couple of months I've shared 3 recipes per month. The 3 ingredients for May are Rhubarb, Lemon & spice and after initially thinking it would be tricky to do anything other than a crumble I now have a huge list of ideas, just not enough hours in the day to make them all.

First up (I couldn't let the side down by only making one dish this month could I) is a dessert as it would be impossible to have rhubarb as one of the ingredients and not make at least one dessert. Although it's ice cream it doesn't need an ice cream maker and is very easy to make, as are the cookies.

Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream 
175g rhubarb, washed, trimmed & cut into 2cm pieces
125g caster sugar
Vanilla pod
600ml double cream
397g condensed milk
2tsp ginger
juice & zest of 1 lemon

  • Cover the rhubarb with the sugar & leave for couple of hours
  • Add the rhubarb, sugar & vanilla pod to a saucepan and bring gently to the boil
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the rhubarb has softened and the syrup has thickened
  • Cool fully
  • Once the rhubarb jam has cooled whisk the condensed milk, cream and ginger together until it forms soft peaks
  • Beat in half of the jam
  • Add to a freezable lidded container and stir through the remaining jam, leaving ripples through the ice cream mixture
  • Freeze for at least 4 hours

Mini Spiced Lemon Cookies
115g Butter, softened
230g Caster sugar
35g Golden syrup
1 Egg
230g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Mixed spice
grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Beat the butter and sugar together
  • Mix in the golden syrup & egg
  • Stir the flour, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice & lemon zest together and add to the butter/sugar mixture
  • Roll mixture into small balls (approx 1-2cm in diameter) and place on a greased baking sheet, spaced well apart
  • Bake in a preheated 170 C oven for approx 10minutes, until golden brown
  • Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack

Serve a scoop or two of ice cream with 3 or 4 of the mini cookies. 

I don't wish to blow my own trumpet but the combination of the ice cream and cookies was bloody gorgeous. I usually reserve adding mixed spice to cookies for Christmas but combined with the lemon they make a delicious summer biscuit, and as they're only teeny tiny you don't need to feel too guilty having a couple.

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To find out more about Recipes for Life pop over to Bangers & Mash
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Saturday 18 May 2013

Dr Oetker Cake Decorations....not just for cakes

Dr Oetker (pronounced Urtker) , founded in 1893, has a massive range of home baking products including baking powders, chocolates, icings, cake decorations and mixes.

I was sent a variety of cake decorations to use out in my baking, so, as you do,  decided to make some fancy ice creams with them.

These are decorated with Soft Shimmer Pearls, Wafer Daisies and and Chocolate Hearts  , so pretty. 

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I have been sent a selection of Dr Oetker products to use in my baking

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Cinnamon and Raisin Bread

After watching a few episodes of Paul Hollywood's 'Bread' series I vowed I would get to grips with making bread by hand. I was then asked if I would like to put a Panasonic breadmaker through its paces so the handmade bread quickly went out of the window...I mean, why have a dog & bark yourself.

Feeling a little under the weather and in need of comfort food I wanted to get a loaf made straight away. Thankfully I had already stocked up on bread flour and yeast in preparation and decided upon a fruited bread, adapting a milk bread recipe from my Complete Book of Bread & Bread Machines, which has some great recipes in.

After a quick glance through the instruction booklet for the Panasonic machine it seemed straightforward enough, I just had to remember to add the dry ingredients to the pan first, unlike the machine I'd used previously. This one also has a yeast dispenser, to add the yeast only when it's needed, as well as a nut dispenser which adds nuts and dried fruit to the dough later in the process, to avoid being chewed up by the machine.

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I was surprised that the loaf was going to take 4 hours to bake, rather than the 3 hours in my previous machine. I suppose breadmakers are a little like slow cookers, they are a great convenience but you do need a little forward planning & organisation.

I was a little confused when I started up the machine as it didn't appear to do anything, but after checking the booklet again it would seem that for the majority of the cycles there is a rest period of around 30 minutes before the kneading begins, I believe this is to regulate the ingredients.

Anyway, after the 4 hours (perfect timing just as we walked in from the school run) I was presented with this little beauty...

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I say 'little' but it was actually huge - a whopping 8 inches in height! There are options to make smaller loaves, the quantities just have to be adjusted accordingly.

Cinnamon and Raisin Bread

675g Strong White bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar (I used Truvia baking blend instead)
2 tbsp melted butter
280ml milk
130ml water
3 tsp ground cinnamon
7g dried yeast
100g juicy raisins

  • Add the dry ingredients apart from the yeast and raisins to the loaf pan
  • Add the wet ingredients to the loaf pan
  • Insert the pan into the breadmaker
  • Add the yeast to the yeast dispenser & the raisins to the nut dispenser
  • Close the lid and start the machine - I used the raisin bread setting (03), with a medium crust and size XL
  • Once baked remove immediately from the pan

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The raisins in the bread stayed completely whole & were well distributed. I think I will add additional cinnamon next time as it could've done with a little more flavour. Still very enjoyable sliced and buttered, or toasted, or as a banana or jam sandwich, or even toasted with caramelised bananas over and served with ice cream...

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I have been sent the breadmaker to trial for a period of time

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