Wednesday, 27 August 2008

chewy chocolate fruity flapjacks

The classic with a chocolatey twist. Much experimenting has taken place to achieve this 'jack; some are too hard, some too crumbly and, at last, flapjack mecca...perfect. These can be made without the chocolate but I had half a bar left so thought I might as well throw that in too!
250g butter
200g soft light brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
350g oats
150g extras...chopped up dried fruit (cherries, figs, apricots, apple, cranberries, prunes....) or nuts...and chocolate if you fancy!
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F
2. Butter a 20x30cm, 4 cm deep baking tray, line the tray lengthways with baking paper (enough so that it hangs over the ends - you can use this to extract the end result easily)
3. Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a large saucepan on a medium heat Melt and stir until all is dissolved and just bubbling
4. Remove pan from heat and stir in the dry ingredients; oats and extras
5. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and smooth flat
6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes
7. Remove and leave to cool in the tray for 15 minutes, then cut in to bars using a sharp knife
8. Leave in the tray until completely cooled, then lift out and place in an air tight tin...ha! no way! EAT THEM...all nice and in your belly place

less baking more making...

wednesdays I get a WHOLE day off work...wait, wait, halt your protests at how flukey I am...this is due to the fact I squoosh a whole weeks work into 4 days.  ok, so, still lucky :D
I like to do nice things on wednesdays, getting on with the old business plan for cafe a la me, doing little chores and making anythings that I have had ideas for but no time.
today was no exception!  mainly the best part was that I finally put my curtain pole back up so I can now sleep in complete darkness...oh dear...this may mean I stay in bed even more.  The other two things were...
1. the purchase of this...
a new cupcake stand!  hurrah! thank you Laura Ashley sale!
and 2. the making of this...
have had the idea in my head for ages, and finally got on with it today.
oh and 3. finished season 1 of the x-files...Helen, can I have the next batch?
tra la la...I think I'll make some flapjacks...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

fig, yoghurt & almond cake

my saturday routine for many a year has involved getting up at an acceptable hour of the day, brewing some lovely fresh coffee, gathering up the weekend Guardian papers and getting back into bed to go through them. Now, my 'reading' the papers consists of a cursory glance at the main newsy part, then onto the crossword, then to the fashion pages, the guide (for Charlie Brooker) and then at last to the recipes! 
I have many clippings gathered over the years that I return to again and again; and after making this weeks offering, I think this little puppy will be joining that list. This cake is absolutely delicious, very moist and with delicate flavours.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


ahhhh sweet chocolate brownies...joyous gooey chocolatey yumminess!

I love brownies, they are the purest form of cakey goodness to me. I don't make them very much as I rather over did it at university when I found cake making a wonderful distraction from essay writing....I like to think the science degree has aided my baking, it is a science after all isn't it?

The brownie recipe I used to use was one that I had mis-read from the back of a bag of chocolate drops, the brownies were amazing but I then realised I'd read the recipe wrong. What followed was a series of George's Marvelous Medicine style experiments as I tried to work out what exactly it was I had made, and at last I figured it out.

Unfortunately when I upgraded from a gas oven to fan-electric the timings and temperatures were not appropriate, and not wishing to waste vast amounts of chocolate in a fresh round of experiments I thought I'd try out a new recipe from Joy of Baking.

Intending to take these into work I have decided to make them into cupcakes as well as bars, so I can ice some...

**UPDATE** though alright, I guess, as brownies go, for those who have not tasted my made up version these would do...but they were not as yummy, in my humble opinion, as my ones...the recipe for which I shall do a post of tres soon...

680g dark chocolate
226g butter
6 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 176C/ mine is crazy hot I put mine at 155C
2. Grease and paper a 9x13" brownie tin, or place 24 cupcake cases in 2 cupcake tins
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl over a pan over simmering water, set aside
4. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl
5. Fold in the chocolate and add the vanilla extract
6. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt
7. Fold this into the chocolate/sugar mix
8. Pour the mixture into the prepared brownie tin or cupcake cases
9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

classic cookies

Dreary weather means grumpy souls at work and there is nothing like a cookie (and snibbling at the raw dough) to make you smile! I got the recipe from the Ben & Jerry's recipe book, scrumptious!
Recipe makes about 24
1 cup (226g) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup soft light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups & 2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
150g dark chocolate - roughly cut into chunks
1. Preheat oven to 175C/350F & line baking sheets with baking parchment
2. Beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy
3. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Mix well to incorporate
4. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into another bowl
5. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well
6. Stir in the chocolate
7. Drop small scoops of the dough onto the trays (walnut sized blobs gave nice sized cookies)
8. Bake until the centers are still slightly soft to the touch - about 11 minutes
9. Let the cookies cool on the baking tray for a few minutes then transfer to cooling racks...then pop into a tin and cheer up your work mates! yummy yum yum!

dark chocolate and lemon souffles

I was looking for the perfect dessert to follow my Lamb Kleftico from trusty Rick Stein, and thinking something lemony would go rather nicely I thought it was about time I tried out my new ramekins with a souffle! Now, having never made a souffle before I thought a basic recipe would suffice and this one was splendid, adding in the dark chocolate element to make it even more moreish!
Recipe makes 8 1-cup ramekins, the link says 6 but maybe my kitchen-aid just made GIANT meringue to prove to me it was worth the small fortune it cost!
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp milk - lots of recipes say use whole, but skimmed was fine
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
5 large egg whites
100g dark chocolate - grated
1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
2. Coat your ramekins liberally with butter, then coat with the grated chocolate to create a nice thick layer on the inside - chill (the ramekins, not you)
3. Pre-zest a lemon, then juice with the rest into a bowl & set aside
4. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium sized pan over a med/low heat
5. Mix together in a bowl a 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and egg yolks to create a paste
6. Pouring slowly, whisk in the hot milk, then return to the pan over the med/low heat - whisking constantly until it begins to thicken
7. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and peel, stir in then cover & cool (I put mine in a large bowl to cool as the volume of egg whites is quite large)
8. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy
9. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, continuing to beat until stiff but not dry
10. Fold 1/4 of the whites into the cooled lemon mixture, then add the remainder and fold in gently
11. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, leveling off the tops and running the side of your thumb just round the inside of the edges
12. Sprinkle any leftover chocolate gratings on top & wipe the rims off clean
13. Bake until puffed and brown on top....most recipes say 18mins but mine only took 13, though this may be due to my oven being rather over enthusiastic...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Hummingbird Cupcakes

I made these last week on return from holiday when a sudden baking urge came over me...well...not exactly sudden, I always have an urge to bake! I chose to make these as they looked so lovely and summery. You can also use this recipe to make a sandwich cake by simply dividing the batter between two cake tins.
Basic Recipe from Martha Stewart
3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed bananas
1 can (8oz) pineapple, drained and crushed
1 cup walnuts/pecans - which I left out as I am not a nut fan
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1. Preheat oven to 176C/350F, with the racks in the centre
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside
3. In a large bowl (or using an electric mixer) beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla for about 2 minutes until combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated. Once all are added, beat mixture for a further 3 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.
5. In a medium bowl stir together banana, pineapple, nuts (or not...) and coconut. Add to egg mixture and beat until well combined.
6. Add the flour mixture, stir then beat until combined.
7. Line 2 muffin tins with baking cases, and divide the mixture between these, filling each case 2/3rds full.
NB - I actually needed to use more as these is a lot of batter, any empty cups on the baking tray 1/3 fill with water to ensure the muffins rise evenly.
8. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 25-28 minutes, or until a clean skewer inserted comes out clean.
9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, once cooled frost with a cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Beat 8oz cold cream cheese, with 5 tbsp softened butter and 2 tsp vanilla extract until combined.
2. Gradually add 2 cups sifted icing sugar until you have reached an acceptable sweetness and consistency.

Gluten Free Shortbread

I made these as a Birthday present for someone at work, having always had nice compliments from her about my baking I thought I should make something she would actually be able to eat!
The recipe was actually pretty easy, the mix may seem too sticky to you but it needs to be to hold the little cookies together so try not to be tempted into adding more flour, just stick the dough in the fridge and all will be well.

Basic Recipe adapted from here....


1/2 cup cornstarch/cornflour

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 cup rice flour

3/4 cup (170g) butter, chilled and diced


1. Preheat Oven to 150C, 300F

2. Sift cornflour, rice flour and icing sugar together into a large bowl

3. Add chilled, diced butter and rub in to dry mix using fingertips

4. Bring dough together and refrigerate for 1 hour. NB - As I was making 4 different kinds of shortbread I split my dough into 4. To one I added grated orange zest, the second cinnamon, and the third and fourth I left plain. Before chilling I rolled each quarter into a 2" sausage so I could just slice them into cookies after an hour.

5. Remove from fridge and slice into 24 cookies, place on greased baking trays, pricking or scoring the tops with a fork. NB - To the ones I had left plain I added demerara sugar to the top of half and vanilla sugar to the remaining 6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, be careful not to overbake as they will crumble rather than crunch.

Friday, 15 August 2008

macaroons, inspiration from paris

The macaroons I developed a major crush on during a recent trip to Paris intrigued me so much I thought I should make some at the earliest opportunity! So on my return I made a batch for sale at a neighbours 'open garden'. I decided to make coffee and strawberry flavours for the first attempt, not wishing to jinx myself by being too extravagant!

Basic Recipe:


225 grams icing sugar

125 grams ground almonds

4 egg whites, aged overnight at room temperature

30 grams granulated sugar

Pinch of salt


1. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl, and set aside.

2. In a large clean, dry bowl whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip to stiff peaks—the whites should be firm and shiny.

3. With a flexible spatula, gently fold the almond/icing sugar mixture into the egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and "flow like magma" :D . When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing. At this poiint, add colouring to the mixture...I divided the mix into two and added pink dye for the strawberry ones and left the other half plain.

4. Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch (1 cm) round tip. Pipe the batter onto lined baking sheets, to make 1 inch circles about 2 inches apart (pipe larger if you want bigger macaroons). If the cookies form peaks on their tops after piping you can flatten these with a wet fingertip. Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Leave dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form...I did not have 1-2 hours and 20 minutes gave me accepatble surfaces, incase you don't wish to wait for your treats!

5. Bake in oven, at 160C, for 10 to 11 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar (don't worry, mine did not start a fire - even with the exlamations of my mother!), and rotate the baking sheet after 5 minutes for even baking.

6. Remove macaroons from oven and transfer parchment to a cooling rack. When cool, remove from parchment using a metal spatula or pie slice.

7. Pair macaroons of similar size, and pipe about 1/2 tsp of the filling onto one of the macaroons. Sandwich macaroons, and refrigerate to allow flavors to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

an idea...

...based on the premise that
1. I like cake
2. Other people like cake
3. I like baking cakes....and...
4. could I sell my cakes?
Now of course, practice makes here goes!