Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter

Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but when I do, it tends to be the focus of the meal. Enter this granola babka, the perfect breakfast treat. I was lucky to be gifted some Oatbox granola over the holidays. Inspired by their recipe for cinnamon rolls, I decided to use the granola in a same-same-but-different form, babka. Who can’t get on board with sweet, swirled bread dough?

Now the kicker here is that this dough isn’t swirled with just anything. Babka is typically filled with chocolate, but this one rather has layers of walnut butter, brown sugar, and granola. The granola is key because it adds a much-needed element of crispy, crunchy texture. As I mentioned, said granola comes from a Montreal-based company called Oatbox. They are basically a “granola of the month” club. Monthly subscriptions cost $20 and get you two bags of granola. Flavours change from month to month. I used their banana molasses variety in this granola babka. The two flavours for January are buckwheat, almond, and honey, and matcha, coconut, and mulberries. An Oatbox subscription is a great idea for the New Year to help ensure you always have some healthy breakfast (and baking!) options on hand.

As for this granola babka, it’s surprisingly good for you despite its apparent decadence. Walnut butter replaces the butter you’d find in traditional cinnamon rolls. Given the sweetness in the nut butter and the granola, there’s not a ton of extra brown sugar. Otherwise, it’s just a basic white bread dough. You could totally use whole wheat flour instead or throw some bran in if you’re looking for the extra fibre. Pureed dates would also make a great substitution for the brown sugar in the filling.

Whether you need to feed a crowd of people for a holiday gathering, or just want to treat yourself on a cold winter morning, this granola babka will warm you up from the inside out!

*Oatbox supplied the granola for this post but the words and recipe here are my own.

Granola babka with brown sugar and walnut butter
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
It's easiest to prep this recipe the night before you want to eat the babka. It's a great breakfast treat for the holidays!
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • ½ package dry active yeast (just over 1 tsp. or about 4 grams)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 2 tbsp. oil (neutral-flavoured)
  • ⅓ cup walnut butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup banana molasses Oatbox granola
Instructions
  1. Bloom the yeast with ¼ cup of warm water and 1 tbsp. of brown sugar.
  2. Once it has activated, add in the remaining ¼ cup of water, flour, salt, and oil.
  3. Mix in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment or by hand, kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes depending on what method you use.
  4. Let the dough rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Roll it out into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Smear the walnut butter evenly over the rolled dough and sprinkle on layers of both brown sugar and granola.
  7. Roll the dough up tightly into a log, as if you were making cinnamon buns.
  8. Slice the roll longitudinally right down the middle, dividing it into two even halves.
  9. Twist these halves together, forming a spiralled loaf.
  10. Place the babka into a well-oiled loaf pan, cover, and rest it in the fridge overnight. Alternately, if you want to move ahead with baking it right away, leave it at room temperature and let it rise until doubled.
  11. Once the loaf has risen (whether that was in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for about an hour) bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. It should be golden and slightly crusty.
  12. Cool slightly and enjoy. Fresh bread is always best eaten warm!

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

double chocolate oatmeal cookies
Double chocolate oatmeal cookies. That’s all I have to say for today.
double chocolate oatmeal cookies
double chocolate oatmeal cookies

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 25-30 small cookies

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp. Nutella
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Heat your oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar, egg, applesauce and Nutella until smooth.
3. Add the flour, oats, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. Stir until the dough comes together. There should be no pockets of flour remaining.
4. Using a cookie scoop, portion the dough onto the cookie sheets (about 12-15 per each).
5. Bake at 350F for 9-10 minutes. Cool and enjoy.

Variations

To make these cookies vegan, simply replace the egg in the recipe with 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp. water, let stand 15 minutes). Instead of Nutella, use peanut butter or any other nut butter of your choice.

double chocolate oatmeal cookies

The Canadian Food Experience Project: Vegan Chocolate Haystacks (Gluten-Free)

Vegan Chocolate Haystacks
Somehow virtually all of my Christmas shopping is done but I have barely started on Christmas baking. What is wrong with that picture? Well I had to get my act together and make SOMETHING for the December round of the Canadian Food Experience Project, a Canadian Christmas tradition. When it comes to Christmas traditions in my family, my grandma always gives us about a years worth of baking. Now that she is older, I have taken responsibility for a lot of it. One of our family favourites is straight out of the Lutheran Church cookbook. I love that thing, it is hilarious to flip through it and read the recipes.
“Mix and bake at 350F.” Ok but for how long?
“Bake and eat with hunger.” Do I ever eat any other way?
It goes to show that people used to actually have cooking knowledge and instinct. They didn’t need a recipe to tell them that cookies take about 10-12 minutes, you just have to look and see if they are browned to know they are done.
Anyways, as I was saying, one of our favourite recipes in the book is for no-bake chocolate cookies. Me being me, I couldn’t leave it alone and decided to veganize the recipe into vegan chocolate haystacks. All that meant was replacing the butter with coconut oil and removing the milk, adding a slash of water instead to get everything going. Oh and I guess I used brown sugar instead of white sugar (more flavour) and no coconut (this was a logistical thing, I just didn’t have any on-hand). All in all, I actually preferred this recipe to the original. It would be even better with some shredded coconut which would accentuate the flavour of the coconut oil. If you have some, feel free to stir about 1/4 cup into the oats.
These vegan chocolate haystacks are a start but I still have a lot of baking to go! Shortbread, icebox cookies, coconut balls and who knows what else. What Christmas baking traditions do you have in your family?  Is there a recipe you have been eating at Christmas time for as long as you can remember? I would love to hear all of your stories and traditions and perhaps get some inspiration for the rest of my baking!
Vegan Chocolate Haystacks
Vegan Chocolate Haystacks

Vegan Chocolate Haystacks (Gluten-Free)
Makes 12-14

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they are non-contaminated)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

Instructions

1. Measure out your oats and put them in a bowl. Also, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and cocoa. Stir to get rid of any noticeable lumps.
3. Add the coconut oil and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a rolling boil, let it go for a minute or so before removing it from the heat and stirring in the vanilla.
4. Pour the hot sugar/cocoa/oil mixture over your rolled oats and stir to combine.
5. Dollop the mixture onto your lined cookie sheet. Let the haystacks cool to room temperature as this will allow them to harden into a cohesive mound. You can speed up the process by popping them in the freezer for a couple of minutes.
6. Store in an airtight container either at room temperature or in the fridge. If you end up stacking them, separate the layers with parchment to prevent them from sticking. Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Haystacks
Vegan Chocolate Haystacks

Banana Nutella Cheesecake

Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Do you ever wonder what life would be like if {fill in the blank}? For instance, what if I had gone to culinary school at SAIT here in Calgary rather than the CIC in PEI? Would I still be cooking? What if I had gone into psychology first? Would I have switched to culinary instead?
Those are some pretty deep life questions and totally hypothetical. I don’t regret any of my decisions, it’s just interesting to consider the alternatives, had I gone down a different path.
Here is another life-altering “what if”; what if I had never discovered Nutella? What would my life look like then?  I probably wouldn’t have an addiction to the chocolate hazelnut spread, for one thing. Can you believe that my first time trying it was at the breakfast buffet of an all-inclusive resort in Mexico? Weird right? I came back home and the first thing on the grocery list was Nutella. I’ve tried to cut back a bit. I figure it’s not the healthiest thing to have on my toast for breakfast every morning but every now and then you’ve got to splurge. The best days are when the jar is almost empty and I get to sit there with a spoon, scraping out every last morsel. More accurately, I think I stand there with a knife, chocolate smeared across my face – there’s no finesse when it comes to cleaning out the Nutella jar.
Nutella in dessert? Make that, a cheesecake with banana oat crust? Mmhmm, we are doing it; banana Nutella cheesecake. Made with light cream cheese, no added sugar in the crust and only 1/4 cup of brown sugar in the filling (along with the Nutella), my Nutella slathered toast is probably worse in terms of nutritional value. But let’s face it, when eating Nutella do we really care about nutrition? Probably not.
I don’t know what my life would have been like without Nutella (pretty sad and pathetic really) but I sure don’t want to imagine living without it now! Maybe that’s a bit extreme, I probably would have survived. I would not have had this banana Nutella cheesecake, but I would have survived. You don’t know what you don’t know so if I had never been exposed to it, I wouldn’t have a clue what I was missing. Perhaps it would have been better that way…
Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake

Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Serves 4

Ingredients

Crust
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup rolled oats

Filling
1 package (1/2 lb.) light cream cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2-3 tbsp. Nutella (or as much as you need/want)

Instructions

1. Heat your oven to 325F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
2. To make the crust, mix together the mashed banana and oats. Press this into your prepared loaf pan.
3. Make the filling by beating the cream cheese until smooth (either an electric hand or stand mixer works best). Once there are no lumps, add the brown sugar and beat again until smooth.
4. Add the egg, beating on low speed until it is fully incorporated.
5. Scrape this mixture into your loaf pan, right on top of the crust.
6. Distribute about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dollops of Nutella equally around the cheesecake batter. Then use a knife to swirl it in.
7. Bake at 325F for about 25 minutes. The cheesecake should be fully set around the edges but still remain slightly jiggly in the centre.
8. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Let it chill for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving the banana Nutella cheesecake.

Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake
Banana Nutella Cheesecake

The Canadian Food Experience Project: Vegan Apple Pear Streusel Bars

Time for this month’s Canadian Food Experience Project challenge, the Canadian Harvest in….Alberta!
Vegan apple pear streusel bars
Maybe I’m following a stereotype here but harvest time in the prairies is very indicative of grains. Wheat, oats, barley; they are all grown here. Along with a lot of dry peas, lentils, soybeans and mustard seeds. But I’m not too keen on the sounds of any of those in dessert.
Let’s go back to talking about oats for a bit. Specifically these oats, my favourite oats, from Highwood Crossing. They hold a special place in my heart the folks at Highwood Crossing. Back when I baked at Boxwood they would come in, cowboy boots and all, with my weekly delivery of flour and oats. Not only did I know where the food was coming from, I made the connection that there were real people behind it. By supporting local producers like Highwood Crossing, not only do you promote community, you also contribute to the livelihoods of the people in it, rather than CEOs of industrial agribusiness. The food you get might be a little more expensive but it makes up for it in taste, nutritional value and simply knowing that you made a sustainable choice.
These vegan apple pear streusel bars are my take on apple crisp in a sliceable format. BC apples are sandwiched between an oatmeal cookie crust and an oat streusel topping, for a double whammy of oat goodness. Speaking of goodness, they are pretty darn healthy too. I always love myself a dessert that can double as breakfast the next morning. Especially when that dessert/breakfast is made from oats like these!
Vegan apple pear streusel bars
Vegan apple pear streusel bars
Vegan apple pear streusel bars

Vegan Apple Pear Streusel Bars
Makes 9 portions

Ingredients

Base

– 3/4 cup flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 2 tablespoons canola oil
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup pumpkin puree or unsweetened applesauce
– 1 cup rolled oats

Filling

– 2 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
– 1 pear, peeled and sliced thinly
– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/8 tsp. each allspice and cloves
– 2 tbsp. maple syrup
– 1 tbsp. flour

Topping

– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1/2 cup flour
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup slivered almonds
– 1/4 cup canola oil

Instructions

1. Heat your oven to 350F. Line a 9″ square pan with parchment paper.
2. To make the base, mix together the canola oil and pumpkin puree (or applesauce). Add the brown sugar and stir until it forms a paste of sorts.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and oats. Stir until combined and press into the bottom of your prepared 9″ pan.
4. For the filling, mix the sliced apples and pears with the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, maple syrup and flour. Pour this on top of the base.
5. Finally the topping. Mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds and oil. It should be crumbly but moist enough that when you squeeze a handful of it, it somewhat holds together. Sprinkle this over top of the apples in a nice, even layer.
6. Bake at 350F for about 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool for at least 20-30 minutes before removing the vegan apple pear streusel bars from the pan. Slice and serve!

Vegan apple pear streusel bars
Vegan apple pear streusel bars