Pear Spice Loaf with a Crunchy Oat Topping

Pears, spice and everything nice. My new winter motto? I think so!
This pear spice loaf exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Let me be honest: I knew when I was pouring the batter into the loaf tin itself that it was going to be good. But did I know how good? Most definitely not!

Rustic and nutty from the whole wheat flour. Winter-y and warming from the cinnamon and nutmeg. Subtle sunny undertones from the coconut oil. Gooey sweetness from ripe pear chunks. Crunchy sugary goodness from the oat topping.

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, because you should stop staring at your screen and start baking (and subsequently eating!) this amazing, super delicious, wholesome, healthy, yummy (do you get the gist yet?) loaf cake!
For loaf:
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 ripe but still firm pears*, chopped into chunks (size is up to you!)
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
2/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
*Feel free to peel the pears if you wish, but I didn't!

For the (not-so) optional crunchy oat topping:
1/3 cup whole rolled oats
3 tsp raw sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Toss in chopped pear until each pear chunks is fully coated in flour mixture. If you feel that your pear is slightly soft and might mash easily, don't mix the fruit into the flour yet.

Mix maple syrup and Greek yoghurt in a small bowl until combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat coconut oil and sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs and beat until just combined. Finally, add in the milk, and once again, beat until just combined.

Using a large spoon to fold the ingredients together, add egg mixture and Greek yoghurt/maple syrup mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Don't over mix! If at this point, you haven't yet added the pear, now is the time to do so - simply stir the pear chunks into the batter.

Pour/spoon into prepared tin and gently smooth the top.

Stir together the ingredients for the oat topping and sprinkle the mixture on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or a toothpick inserted comes out clean and top is slightly crisp and a light golden brown.

Cool in tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Banana Maple Pecan Coconut Muffins

Soo... I guess I sort of just disappeared into the blue. No explanation. No reason. Just *poof*! In all seriousness, I just went and came back from the first term of my second year at university. I had planned to actually post another recipe (or two!) before I left, but things, as usual, got busy and it just never ended up happening. The two recipes I was going to post include a gorgeous bircher muesli and THE BEST CAKE I have ever eaten (chocolate fudge cake with espresso buttercream and rich chocolate ganache!). I hope to post these in the near future, but now it's back to the present.

This term just went by so quickly. I have no idea where or how the time flew by. I'm not complaining, though! It means I'm having a blast at university and also means I'm already back home! On another note - this year, unlike last, my accommodation is equipped with a great kitchen! Cooking meals for a single person, however, is much less exciting and much more difficult that I'd have thought. It requires thinking of recipes that can work for one, or making something in large batches that can be used for the week, to planning grocery shopping for at least a few days. I made things ranging from pastas (whole wheat!), to stir fries, to fried rice, to single-serve lasagna and even (my attempt at) daal! Cooking with friends ended up happening once or twice a week an that was simply a blast!

What I didn't unfortunately get around to much was baking. I did bake once or twice for parties and events, but never really for myself. This lack of baking meant that my baking impulses were so strong that I baked an hour after arriving home yesterday.

And that's how these banana maple pecan coconut muffins were born! I had initially thought of making something with apple in it, as we always always always have apples at home so I knew I didn't have to worry about the ingredients. But when I looked around my kitchen, I spotted three overly spotty, slightly overripe bananas. And that's when apples became bananas. But banana bread seemed too mainstream. What else could combine well with banana? And then it hit me - maple and pecan! I wanted to jazz it up even more so I added coconut as well! My sister, as you'll definitely know if you've read some of my other posts, does not appreciate nuts in her baked goods. That's why you'll see some muffins with chocolate chips in the pictures. If you fancy, you can do the same by simply replacing the chopped pecans with the same amount of dark chocolate chips. Or heck, why not just add both?!

No surprise here, but these are delicious, healthy and hearty! Infused with cinnamon and coconut, moistened with banana, coconut oil, almond flour and textured with baby oats - perfection. Grab a mug of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and one of these muffins fresh out of the oven - pure bliss.

Makes 9 large muffins
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup baby oats
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 cup whole milk
3 small ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
coconut flakes, for decorating

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners and set aside.

Mix together the dry ingredients (except coconut chips!). Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate, larger bowl.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Fill the cupcake liners almost to the top. Decorate with coconut chips and additional chopped pecans or chocolate chips, if desired.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Peach Pie Oat Bars

As much as I can't accept it, summer has officially ended. True - it actually ended a while ago, but here in London, the weather was (and is!) holding up so well that it may as well still be summer. Anyways, what I'm really trying to get at (other than the fact that I'm devastated that summer has left) is that with summer, summer fruits are going as well. Now, I know how obvious that sounds, but seriously. I mean, it's not like there is no stone fruit or buckets of berries in the markets. It's just that they aren't that great. And that's how these peach pie bars were born.
I was searching through our fridge and countertop for some baking inspiration and I spied a mixture of peaches and nectarines that looked slightly bruised and like they were about to start shriveling. They were no longer good enough to eat straight from the counter. I was first simply going to make a sauce/compote of the fruit, so I began by blanching the fruit so I could easily remove the skin. And then it hit me. Peach pie! But I didn't want something as cumbersome, tedious or decadent as the real deal peach pie. So peach pie turned into peach crumble which eventually turned into these juicy peach pie oat bars.

I also had some almond pulp from having made almond milk, so I threw it into the mix! The base is dense, yet light and crunchy. The filling is just ah-mazing. The true flavors of the fruit really shine in a very natural, sweet and juicy peach filling. And the oat crumble is just perfect - crispy and sweet. The crumble top/streusel is always my favorite part, but in these bars, the filling really gives the topping a run for its money! As always, this is easy to throw together, doesn't require any fancy ingredients, is simple, delicious and healthy!

For the crust:
1/2 cup wet almond pulp
1 cup whole rolled oats
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup unrefined sugar
pinch of salt

For the filling:
4 peaches/nectarines, peeled and diced
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
dash of cinnamon
1 tsp flour

For the crumble topping:
1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Begin by preparing the filling. Peel and dice the peaches/nectarines (I blanched them first in order to peel them easily).

Place the the chopped fruit in a medium saucepan along with the sugar and cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the mixture reduce slightly, then add in the flour and stir until the flour dissolves completely. Let the mixture cook for another 3-5 minutes to let it thicken. Once it reaches the desired consistency, turn off the heat and set the filling aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a square or rectangular baking dish with baking paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the crust until they just come together. If your pulp is too dry, add a bit of milk. Press the crust mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 12-15 minutes until crust begins to set and just begins to turn golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven to let cool. Keep the oven on.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the topping by stirring together the ingredients for the topping. Feel free to add some chopped nuts.

Now, you're ready to assemble! Spoon the peach filling on the crust, spreading it around so it covers the entire surface of the crust. Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over the filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Cool completely, cut into squares and serve! These are delicious warm, at room temperature and cold from the fridge. Enjoy!


Banana Chocolate Nutella Surprise Muffins

Banana baked goods never fail to satisfy. They never fail to impress. They just never fail. I'm being completely serious here.

I really don't know what it is. I mean, bananas wouldn't even be on the list of my top ten favorite fruits. Before all you banana advocates out there try to defend your beloved fruit, I'd like to stop you. Yes, I know bananas make oatmeal creamy, they add sweetness to everything, they pack a great punch of energy, they can be turned into "ice cream", essentially they can do a lot. And I love them for that. But just bananas, eh, they're not really my thing.

So why are all banana baked goods so amazing? Who knows... What matters is that they are. Especially when combined with chocolate. You saw that coming, didn't you?

Long story short. These banana chocolate chip nutella surprise muffins are just wow.  Delicious, moist banana batter embedded with dark chocolate chips and filled with a "surprise" nutella center. Are you drooling yet?

A lot of the moisture and sweetness in these muffins comes from banana itself, so if you scan the recipe, you'll see that there's not much add fat or overdose of sugar. Which also means you can eat these for breakfast! And the days breakfast includes chocolate are definitely the best days! Super easy and super delicious, these muffins are definitely worth a try!

Makes 7 large muffins
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup baby oats
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 egg
3 tbsp yogurt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp nutella or other chocolate spread, melted

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, oats, baking and salt.

In a separate medium bowl, beat together egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in mashed bananas, honey, vanilla, coconut oil and yogurt and beat again.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Mix until just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 7 muffin cups until each is 2/3 full. Dollop a small blob of nutella (so many technical terms here!) on each muffin and top with remaining batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with no crumbs or batter (it won't be clean per se, as the nutella and chocolate chips will be gooey). The tops of the muffins should be golden brown.

Cool in the muffin tray for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.

These taste so amazing all warm and gooey right after they are baked, but equally good re-heated slightly the next day.