Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast in a Bowl

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Nothing like listening to Dvorak’s Violin Concerto in A Minor and eating something almost as enlightening. Like my new take on one of my absolute favourite things to eat in the morning– french toast. But not just french toast cooked up and served as two or three slabs of bread on a plate. I agree such a put-together is beautiful, but you know what makes it even more special?

Cutting it up, putting it into a bowl, and dousing everything in cold (or hot, it’s your breakfast game after all) milk.

Then topping it with bits of cheesecake, strawberries, and honey or maple syrup.

That’s all you have to do, and I know one picture isn’t enough to justify this process; I was much too excited after pouring that milk. And then I got so excited over breakfast I knew I had to dedicate a (rather late) blogpost just spilling the beans. I have written a previous post on the delight of eating french toast out of a bowl here, and I think if you haven’t already, now’s the time to heat up your pan for something a little different.

This time I used my favourite eggless french toast recipe for the base, and you can even make it vegan by substituting the normal milk I like to use with almond, rice or any other vegan substitute. The eggless recipe is actually my favourite to use for my french toast bowls, because the final consistency is almost chewy and caramelised on the outside, with the softest, fluffiest, milk-saturated middle. It’s what makes this whole thing so good.

Totally delicious, completely customisable.

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Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast in a Bowl (serves 1)

Directions

Make french toast as you normally would, or try this one if you haven’t already. I like to use 2 slices of soft whole grain/ brioche/ classic white bloomers for this.

Cut your french toast into small chunks, put into a bowl, top with crumbled bits of cheesecake (homemade/ store-bought), fresh strawberries and whatever toppings you like (I used nut butter, honey, and some chopped nuts and chocolate). Douse in hot or cold milk. I like to let the toast soak in the milk and sweetener for a while before digging right in.

Chocolate Beet Cinnamon Rolls (eggless roll recipe)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWith a chocolate beet glaze, and oh so much cinnamon, all lovingly wrapped up in what I believe is the softest, fluffiest, most tender roll ever. Did I mention you don’t even need eggs? I know it’s in the title, but I thought I’d reiterate. For that extra punch. It’s so easy, so good, so lazy-sunday-morning. In the sense that you want to yield a rather extravagant final product without actually labouring over a myriad ingredients and techniques all that much. I tell you, this roll recipe is a keeper. After a shocking realisation that I had zero eggs left in my pantry, I heavily doubted the final result, for eggs are a crucial binding component in yeast-based recipes, often offering a great degree of moisture and richness to the final product.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs much as I support certain mainstay baking components such as eggs, I’ve always been intrigued by vegan takes, and the minimalism incorporated in its recipes are refreshing and revitalising. Thankfully, my initial doubt, that cringey reluctance, was turned into ecstasy and beyond.

Beet powder is of course optional here; these rolls would nevertheless taste wonderful without it. The addition of beet offers an earthiness, the quantity of which doesn’t overwhelm the obvious main star of the show here that is chocolate.

One important and rather underrated step here is the covering of the rolls with foil paper/ cling film prior to baking, which prevents burning the tops of the rolls and helps yield a firm outside and heavenly, tender inside.

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Chocolate Beet Cinnamon Rolls (makes 8-9 medium rolls; roll recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker)

Ingredients

For the dough:

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 cup (240ml) milk of choice– I used a mix of almond and whole milk

45g (3.5 tbsp) butter

250g (around 1 3/4 cups) plain flour, plus more for sprinkling on counter before kneading

pinch of salt+1 tbsp sugar

 

For the filling:

45g (3.5 tbsp) butter, softened to room temperature

100g chopped chocolate– I used a mix of milk and dark for flavour variety

1 1/2 tbsp beet powder (optional)

7 tbsp sugar mixed with 2 tbsp ground cinnamon

 

For the glaze:

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp beet powder (again optional)

4 tbsp milk

35g (1/4 cup) icing sugar

 

Directions

Dough: In a microwave-safe bowl or in a saucepan over low heat, heat together the milk and butter until the butter has melted and the mix is warm (not scalding) to touch. Pour the mix into a larger bowl, then sprinkle on the yeast on one side of the bowl, and the salt and sugar on the opposite side. Wait 5 minutes, then add a half cup of flour at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon between each addition. Once the dough is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured counter and knead for 2 minutes. The final result should be a smooth, rather taut ball of dough, so you may need slightly more or less than the aforementioned quantity of flour. Briefly grease the same bowl, pop the ball of dough in and let it rise until it doubles in size–around an hour. At this point, preheat your oven to 176C (350F) and liberally grease an 8×8-inch pan.

After the dough has risen, lightly flour your counter again and turn the dough out onto the counter. Roll it out into a half-inch thick rectangle. Brush on (I just used my hands here) the butter that’s softened to room temperature, then sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mix, chocolate and beet powder. Tightly roll the dough from the long end, so you end up with a long, pale tube of dough. Place the roll seam side down, and using a serrated knife, cut your tube into 8-9 rolls, each around 1.5 inches thick. Place them into the greased square pan. Cover the pan with foil (impt step– refer to above notes) and place inside your preheated oven. Bake the rolls for 17-20 minutes.

While they’re baking, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl. Once the rolls have finished baking, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then go ahead and glaze the heck out of them. These rolls are best eaten immediately or at least the day they’re made, however you can keep them for the next day and microwave them to revive a bit of tenderness.

Citrus Curd Yoghurt Pillow Pancakes

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Pancake Alex struck again at precisely 6am yesterday morning. I decided it had been a while since I did a post on my pillow pancake series specifically, so today I present to you a modification on my all-time favourite pancake recipe

Thick and fluffy (it’s a little ridiculous) pancakes made with yoghurt and citrus curd. I used lime here, but grapefruit/lemon would work just as well.  The morning was ripe with possibility, and pancakes make everything else in your day that much more worth looking forward to.

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I mean, I’ve done lots of pancake variations, and have mixed up the ratios of flour, sugar, eggs, melted butter and what have yous many a time, but it’s this dry mix ratio of 1.5 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda and a generous pinch of salt that makes this recipe live finely up to its name. They aren’t called pillow pancakes for nothing. They have body. They have soul.

So it’s simple as that in the beginning. Whisk together your dry ingredients in a larger bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients in a separate bowl, pour wet into dry with a generous puddle of melted, unsalted butter, mix briefly, ladle.

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The only real difference here is in the wet mix. It differs from my favourite classic pancake recipe by incorporating, of course, yoghurt, which is what produces a slightly stickier, almost yeast batter-like texture, and citrus curd. In this case, a whole 1/4 cup of lime curd, and I shamelessly use cups here because this tried-and-tested recipe works every time I use cups; you just have to make sure that you gently level off the top of the cup (when it comes to flour and such) using the back of a knife. Other minor changes involve a slightly reduced amount of melted butter (the yoghurt and curd compensate for that nicely), as well as half the amount of milk needed.

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So fluffy, so perfect with an extra dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of honey and maple syrup. The fluff.

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Thought it would be nice to end off with a little glimpse into my common commute to Charing Cross hospital, through Margravine cemetery. All sounds a bit austere, but it’s really one of the most beautiful walks.

Citrus Curd Yoghurt Pillow Pancakes (makes 6-8 medium pancakes)

Directions

Follow the steps for making my classic pillow pancakes here, but this time substitute the wet mix with 1/2 cup (120ml) milk of choice, 1/2 cup whole milk yoghurt, 1/4 cup citrus curd of choice, 1 egg (as per usual) and 4 tbsp (60g) melted butter.

Tip: Make sure to spread out the thick batter after ladling into the pan, else one side will cook too fast.

Serve with fresh fruit, yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.

 

White Chocolate Macadamia Peanut Butter Bars

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Back to basics.

Nothing like a simple sin. Currently sitting in a café trying to remember just about every detail of my most recent creation. The coffee is making me buzz and I’m surrounded by 5 different accents. Just one thing springs to mind– how lucky I was to have yielded the results that I did with the oven that makes my heart quake.

White chocolate, peanut butter and macadamia nuts make up the base of this simple bar recipe, adapted from my favourite and reliable cinnamon roll blondies. They’re ridiculously simple to make, and yield the same squidgy and chewy innards as in the aforementioned recipe, save for a larger, thicker batch because I doubled the ingredients to suit my 10×10-inch pan. Golden crust, chewy edges and squidgy half-baked middle, chock full of white chocolate and crunchy bits of macadamia.

Peanut butter replaces half the butter quantity as stated in my original recipe, for a full-on peanut buttery experience. Though the flavour is more mild than overpowering, it adds a wonderful thickness and complements the brown sugar, the main sweetener in this bar recipe, the tinge of molasses further characterising this brown-sugar-cinnamony wonder.

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White Chocolate Peanut Butter Macadamia Bars (makes a thick batch in a 9×9 or 10×10-inch pan), adapted from my favourite cinnamon roll blondie recipe

Ingredients

For blondies:

250g (2 cups) all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

70g (5 tbsp) salted/unsalted butter, melted in the microwave

130g (½ cup) smooth peanut butter

80g chopped white chocolate, 20g chopped macadamias (or you could use Rittersport’s 100g bar of macadamia-studded white chocolate!!)

40g more of chopped white chocolate and macadamias (combined), for sprinkling on top afterward

220g (1 cup) dark brown sugar, packed

200g (1 cup) white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp whole milk

 

For frosting:

5 heaping tbsp hazelnut chocolate spread

5 heaping tbsp smooth peanut butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C (350F) and grease (and line if you want) a 9×9 or 10×10-inch square pan. Make sure your butter is microwaved until all melted–do this in a microwave-safe bowl in a 30-second increment and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, leavening agents and salt. Tip in your chopped white chocolate and macadamias and briefly toss in the flour mix to coat everything well. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, two sugars, vanilla extract, melted butter and peanut butter. Pour the dry mix into the wet mix and fold until everything is well incorporated. You may or may not need all 2 tbsp of milk, but add until you achieve a smooth dropping consistency. The batter should be light brown and will stick to your spoon or spatula until a sharp flick of the hand will force the batter to drop back into the bowl. Pour the batter into your pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in your preheated oven for 15-17 minutes.

Whilst the bars are baking, whisk together the ingredients for the frosting. Roughly chop the extra white chocolate and macadamias. Once the bars are cooked, leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing into however many bars you like. Use a knife to spread some frosting on each, then sprinkle on the chopped white chocolate and macadamias.

 

Beetroot Raspberry Porridge

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There was a sort of comfortable weirdness when I woke up and powered through a few weekdays, one of which I had to endure after 3 or so hours of sleep. It’s nice to trick oneself into thinking one is being productive burning the midnight oil, disastrously accompanied by bad snacks and waking up much earlier than everyone else, but the truth is that there’s always some form of give and take. So although I relish the time when no one else in halls is awake, it just doesn’t permit copious reckless nights. Yeah, you can’t have everything. Funny though, the routine has instilled within me a sense of adventure, a branching out of my little cocoon. The familiarity of routine does the same too, and has been proven to inherently generate creativity let alone being almost enlightening on certain occasions, but its disruption has so far proven to be worth it.

Late nights aside, sometimes random events re-instill that keen sense of belonging in the world. Almost self-regenerating. There are pockets of insight, creativity and adventure in every new street I wander, every friend I have over (hi Ruru!), every new café I visit, every baking adventure, every book I open. Do check the link out– Eagleman is an expert in his field and in the art of writing.

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The gorgeous Ruru, who may here be observed drinking green juice like the true Cali girl she is

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Just a little update on my french toast series– the french toast scene has been seriously overwhelming!! It’s what I’ve been getting up to when I’m not trying to memorise various facts on the Biology of Integrated Systems. I won’t reveal specific details or my personal opinion on the dishes for the sake of a comprehensive bird’s-eye view of everything in the future. So that’s that.

Going back to what I was referring to in the first paragraph on sleep cycles, there’s nary a fixed opinion on whether it’s best to be up much earlier or much later. I’m always up incredibly early, and one of my fallback breakfasts before the full light of day chucks me into the reality of (thankfully enjoyable) lectures, tutorials and lots of cold, is porridge. Usually toast, sometimes porridge, but when I do make the latter, it’s the most warm and delicious satisfying bowl of goodness. London always seems to be awake, but somehow there’s a sacred, solid peace just before the sun rises, usually between 7 and 7 30am.

This is when I hit the stove or microwave with my new favourite porridge oats, which I know sounds like child’s play but there’s simultaneously such satisfaction in a simple bowl of ready-made porridge, and what with having to travel with Charing Cross now and then, there’s less time to hover over the stove with totally unprocessed oats on the hob. This recipe is a simple twist on my favourite oatmeal recipe since forever, which utilises mashed banana and a simple method for optimum flavour and texture. Click on that link if you wish to try a classic oatmeal recipe that won’t fail your morning tastebuds.

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Beetroot raspberry porridge (serves 1)

If using a microwave:

Mash half a banana with a fork in a microwave-safe bowl, then add a half cup (40-50g) of porridge oats or rolled oats, half a cup (120ml) of milk of choice (I used almond here), and half a cup of water. Add a teaspoon of beetroot powder, or if you don’t have that on hand, a tablespoon of beet juice works just as well. Add a handful of fresh raspberries, then briefly stir everything together so the beet powder dissolves into the liquid. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes; check after 3 minutes and stir a while, if it doesn’t thicken up as much then chuck it back into the microwave and heat for another 30 seconds, or until you get your desired consistency.

If you prefer the hob:

Do the same as above, except have all ingredients in the saucepan. Bring everything to a boil on high heat first, then when the bubbling gets rather vigorous, bring the heat down to medium and continue stirring until you reach your desired consistency.

Serve with chocolate, more berries and maple syrup. The pairing of chocolate with berries and beetroot is marvellous, I tell you.