Custard Cream Flapjacks

I’m officially obsessed with flapjacks. Up until a couple of months ago, I don’t think I’d ever actually made them, but after creating Caramac and honeycomb & chocolate ones, I now find myself whipping up a batch or two at least every couple of weeks!

I just love how they’re both so foolproof and so adaptable. Simply mix together butter, sugar, syrup and oats et voila – you’ve got the base for a million varieties and you can add pretty much whatever goodies you feel like. And all without the ever-present fears of over-mixing, soggy bottoms or sunken sponges.

Aside from the aforementioned types, other flapjacks I’ve attempted include Malteser, Fudge bar, cherry bakewell, white chocolate & cranberry, date & raisin, Dime bar, salted caramel, Milky Way…and many more to come I suspect.

As I love anything custard cream related, I decided that these yummy biccies would form the basis for my next flapjack experiment. The results were deliciously vanilla-y, moreish, and heartily demolished by my colleagues!

Oh, and if you’re also a custard cream fan, why not try my custard cream cake?

20160615_222928

INGREDIENTS – makes 12 large flapjacks or 15 small flapjacks

  • 130g/4.5 oz butter or margarine
  • 170g/6 oz granulated or caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 tbsp custard powder
  • 255g/9 oz oats
  • 100g/3.5 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 custard cream biscuits, roughly crushed

    METHOD
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter/margarine, sugar, golden syrup and vanilla extract together – either in a saucepan on the hob or in a large mixing bowl in the microwave – until smooth.
  3. Stir in the oats, white chocolate and custard powder until evenly coated.
    hfuhg20160615_193601
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the edges are slightly brown (the mixture will will firm up as it cools).
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes and scatter the crushed custard creams over the top while still warm, gently pushing larger bits into the flapjacks.
  6. When completely cool, slice in squares using a sharp knife.
Categories: flapjacks, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Spiced Tea & Chocolate Cake with Chocolate & Cinnamon Ganache Icing

I first came up with the idea of, and impulsively made, this cake for the first time over a year ago when I wanted to combine the winning combination of chocolate and good old-fashioned English tea in sponge form. The addition of cinnamon and mixed spice adds an extra layer of depth to the flavours and I’m really pleased with how the finished product turned out.

The flavours are slightly reminiscent of my Christmas favourite, chocolate gingerbread cake, but the texture is less dense and more akin to a traditional sponge, making it an ideal treat all year round.

I stupidly didn’t take any photos of my first attempt but, when asked to make a birthday cake for a pony-mad colleague, I decided to recreate it in deceptively simple but eye-catching horseshoe form. The equine motif is, of course, optional and the cake tastes just as delicious made in a regular round or square tin. It’s also very tasty in its naked form, minus the icing, but the cinnamon ganache adds an extra touch of indulgence.

I must give credit to the inspirational domestic goddess and my all-round food idol, Nigella Lawson, for the aforementioned icing – the original recipe is hers (part of her decadent Devil’s Food cake), and I simply added some cinnamon.

20160417_171011-1

INGREDIENTS – makes 1 bundt ring cake as in the picture, or 1 deep round 20cm/8in cake

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz butter or margarine
  • 115g/4 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz brown sugar
  • 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  •  120ml/4 fl oz strong cold tea
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

For the ganache icing/decorations:

  • 125g/4.5 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 90g/3 oz butter
  • 20g/0.75 oz dark brown sugar
  • 65 ml/2 fl oz water
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 Caramac buttons (optional)
  • Silver shimmer spray (optional)
  • Palm-sized piece of marzipan (optional)
    + horse-shaped cookie cutter (optional)

METHOD

For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line your cake tin of choice with parchment paper or spritz with cake release spray.
  2. Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, tea, cinnamon, mixed spice and baking powder until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, then pop in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean (it might need a bit longer if you’re using one round tin instead of a ring-shaped one).
  5. When baked, leave the cake to cool on a wire rack before turning it out of the tin. At this stage it can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.
  6. If you’re making a horseshoe cake, cut out a section of the sponge ring (and eat later!)

For the ganache icing/decorations:

  1. Place the water, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and melt together on a low heat.
  2. When the mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate. Swirl the liquid over the pieces so that they melt evenly.
  3. When the chocolate has all melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy, then transfer into a cool mixing bowl.
  4. Leave the frosting to set for at least one hour (place it in the fridge to speed up the process a bit) until it’s a spreadable consistency.
  5. When set, spread the frosting onto the cooled cake.
  6. If you’re making a horseshoe cake, arrange the Caramac buttons, evenly spaced, along the middle of the sponge and finish with a spritz of silver shimmer spray for a metallic sheen.
  7. To make the little yellow horse centrepiece as in the photo, roll out the chunk of marzipan until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin, then stamp it out using the horsey cookie cutter and place in the middle on the serving plate/board.

 

Categories: Chocolate, Icing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honeycomb & Chocolate Flapjacks with Marzipan Bees

I’m a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off’s 2013 champion, Frances Quinn, who captured my heart with her incredible culinary creativity when she appeared on the show. She is an idol of mine as I love how she always thinks outside the box and is constantly coming up with quirky new twists on recipes.

There are lots of brilliant cooks out there, but I’ve never come across another with Frances’s talent of taking baking to the next level by slathering it with an extra layer of fun and Willy-Wonka-like wonder. A big jam sandwich recreated in Victoria sponge, biscuit matchsticks, squirrel cake and a giant Swiss roll cigarette were among her wonderfully imaginative creations on the show, proving that it is indeed possible to combine both style and substance. I’ve never seen another contestant come close to her in terms of visual presentation before or since, despite the hundreds of showstopping bakes produced over the years.

Needless to say, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of her book, Quinntessential Baking, when it was released and it has become a firm favourite. Instead of churning out recipes for the same old ‘best ever chocolate cake’, blueberry muffins and yet another pavlova that hardly differ from the offerings of the dozens of other cookbooks that clamour for attention among the saturated culinary market, I adore the way in which she outlines a set of base recipes and then tells you how to transform them into something wonderfully ingenious with a few simple touches. Some delightful examples include a wall of Bourbon ‘brick’ brownies, white chocolate candles, meringue swans and bonfire cupcakes with spun sugar flames. And, as a fellow lexeme lover, her cute puns and wordplay make me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Anyway, despite my rambling ode to Ms Quinn’s fabulousness, this post doesn’t actually include one of her recipes. However, the creations I’m sharing here were very much inspired by her. Some the gorgeous adornments Frances suggests in her book are marzipan bees, which I’ve copied here and which inspired the idea of honeycomb flapjacks. I realise it’s hardly the most original concept in history, but I like to think of them as a little homage to the Queen of Creative Baking. And they taste absolutely bee-rilliant (sorry…)!

20160416_115706

INGREDIENTS – makes 12 large or 18 small flapjacks

For the flapjacks:

  • 130g/4 oz butter or margarine
  • 170g/6 oz brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 255g/9 oz oats
  • 4 x standard Crunchie bars, chopped into small cubes (as in the picture below)Untitled

For the bees:

  • 3 tbsp marzipan (approx.)
  • Chocolate or black writing icing
  • 10 flaked almonds

METHOD

For the flapjacks:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter/margarine, sugar and honey together – either in a saucepan on the hob or in a large mixing bowl in the microwave – until smooth.
  3. Stir in the oats and chopped up Crunchie bars until the oats are all evenly coated.20160409_162606
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the edges are slightly brown (the mixture will will firm up as it cools)
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then cut into bars with a sharp knife. If you’re very patient you could cut them into individual hive-esque hexagon shapes!

For the bees:

  1. Tear off pieces of marzipan around the size of a 50p piece and roll into balls with your palms.
  2. Use the writing icing to pipe three horizontal stripes and two eyes, as in the picture.
  3. Gently push two flaked almonds into each bee so that they resemble wings.
  4. Arrange artistically on top of your flapjacks!
Image of Quinntessential Baking book copyright Amazon.co.uk
Categories: flapjacks, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pinkies (Strawberry Milkshake Blondies)

I’m not really sure how this idea popped into my head. Perhaps it was because I had pink on the brain from helping to organise my gran and stepgrandad’s 10th wedding anniversary celebrations, which featured the colour as a theme (including a pink rosewater cake as a centrepiece, made by yours truly).

I’ve baked with strawberry milkshake powder before and I love the delicate rosy shade it delivers. And, despite being a vaguely gothic looking 28-year-old, I always think of pink as a fun colour that carries the promise of something devilishly sweet and exciting when it’s used in an edible context.

20160331_142049

Why limit yourself to dark and white chocolate brownies and blondies, I thought, when there’s room in the great Bakeosphere for other flavours? I’m happy to say this whimsical idea paid off, despite my initial worries that the finished product would be too synthetic, too soggy, or just downright vile. The strawberry flavour is quite subtle and really complements the white chocolate batter, adding a novel twist on the much-loved blondie.

So, don’t be shy – grab the Nesquik and have some fun with these cheery pinkies! And, if you like these, why not check out my strawberry milkshake biscuits?

20160331_153227

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 18 squares

  • 200g/7 oz granulated or caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g/3 oz self-raising flour
  • 120ml/4 fl oz cooking oil
  • 100g/4 oz white cooking chocolate
  • 5 tbsp strawberry milkshake powder (I used Hello Kitty brand but any will do!)
  • 2 tsp strawberry extract
  • Quarter tsp red gel food colouring
  • 18 sugar butterflies, to decorate (optional)

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  • Briefly whisk the sugar, eggs, oil and strawberry extract together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Chop the chocolate into small chunks and melt in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water or place in the microwave and heat in blasts of about 1 minute until smooth, then pour into the mixing bowl.
  • Fold in the flour, milkshake powder and gel food colouring until you have an even, pale pink hue, and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

20160331_141142

  • Pop in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges are wrinkled and very slightly brown and a cocktail stick inserted into the cake comes out pretty much clean. Leave to cool.
  • Cut into squares using a sharp knife and gently push a sugar butterfly into the top of each pinkie.

20160331_163718

Categories: Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boost Bar Biscuit Cake

They may not enjoy quite the same popularity as Mars bars, Maltesers or Cadbury Buttons, but I think Boost bars are such an underrated chocolate. Chewy caramel, a generous coating of Dairy Milk and super crunchy biscuit melded into one – what’s not to like?!7cb7d785-db18-473b-a25a-1d0131a49410Boosts have been my mum’s all-time favourite chocolate bars for as long as I can remember, and so I wanted to use them as the inspiration for her birthday cake this year. She’s not the biggest fan of chocolate sponge cake and the idea of doing one sandwiched with caramel and topped with Boost pieces didn’t really grab me. I Googled ‘Boost bar cheesecake’ and, to my immense surprise, there were no results! Needless to say, this was all the motivation I needed to rectify this and attempt one myself, particularly given the enticing can of Carnation caramel already sat waiting in the pantry.

After thinking about it some more, I decided cream cheese didn’t really seem necessary and decided to stick with recreating each element of the chocolate bar to create a large, sliceable, homemade version. No frills, no faff and no baking but the end result was delicious and went down a storm!

I realised afterwards that, due to the soft consistency of the tinned caramel, this creation is actually perhaps more reminiscent of Munchies chocolates rather than their chewier Cadbury cousin. Either way, it tastes good which is the main thing I think!

20160319_151302

INGREDIENTS

For the base:

  • 170g/6 oz digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 55g/2 oz butter or margarine, melted

For the filling:

  • 3/4 of a 397g can Carnation caramel
  • 250g/9 oz milk chocolate (preferably Cadbury’s Dairy Milk)
  • 55g/2 oz butter or margarine
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 x 108g bag Boost Bites (or Munchies!), or 2 Boost bars, chopped into 2cm pieces

METHOD

For the base:

  1. Place the digestive biscuits in a hole-free carrier bag and bash into crumbs with a rolling pin, or place them in a food processor.
  2. Place the butter/margarine in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave until liquid, and then pour in the biscuit crumbs. Mix thoroughly to combine.
  3. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased flan dish and press down with your fingers or the back of a spoon until flat and firm. Place in the fridge to set for at least half an hour.

For the filling/topping:

  1. Remove the set biscuit base from the fridge and spread the caramel over it evenly with a spatula.
  2. Place the flan dish back in the fridge and allow to set for at least an hour, until the caramel has firmed up a bit. Remove from the fridge before making the chocolate topping.
  3. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave on low heat in blasts of 30 seconds-1 minute until completely smooth.
  4. Stir in the butter/margarine and syrup and pour the mixture over the caramel layer. Once the chocolate has cooled completely, arrange the Boost Bites on top, and then place back in the fridge for at least 25 minutes before serving.

20160319_151312

Boost bar image copyright cadbury.co.uk
Other photos copyright cloud9point1
Categories: Chocolate, No-Bake | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cheese & Sundried Tomato Quiche

I used to HATE quiche. I couldn’t fathom why on earth grown-ups thought a slice of stone-cold, flaccid, eggy tart – like a lifeless pizza substitute – was a viable choice for the buffet table at any family gathering or event. Mind you, I used to hate eggs in general and couldn’t stomach so much as an omelette, so I probably wasn’t in a position to judge.

As with many other types of food, I’ve grown to like eggs (apart from hard-boiled, blurgh) as I’ve evolved from a fussy child/teenager into a proper, fully-fledged ‘adult’ (on the outside anyway) with a more accommodating palate. While the pre-packaged, slightly deflated-looking quiches you find in the supermarket still don’t appeal to me, I really fancied having a go at my own version, with homemade pastry and served warm from the oven. How hard could it be? Well, not at all as it happens!

I’m all for buying pre-made pastry, and even just the thought of attempting my own puff or filo makes me want to go for a lie down, but making shortcrust from scratch is ridiculously easy. Obviously, if you’d rather use the bought stuff to save time that’s absolutely fine and will work just as well, but I’d recommend giving it a go yourself if you can.

My mum requested a veggie quiche for the buffet tea we had on her birthday, and the flavours here are gorgeous, but you could add anything you like really. Bacon, mushrooms or chorizo would also work well in place of the sundried tomatoes. I like this quiche best served warm, fresh out the oven, but it’s also delicious cold.

20160306_162630-1

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 225g/8 oz plain flour
  • 115g/4 oz butter or margarine + a little extra for greasing
  • Splash of milk

For the filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 150g/5 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 80g/3 oz sundried tomatoes, thoroughly drained from their oil and snipped into small pieces no bigger than a 5p piece
  • 300ml/10 fl oz milk
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

METHOD

For the pastry:

  1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and then rub in the butter/margarine using your fingers until crumbs form.
  2. Add a splash of milk and bring together to form a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly, add a splash more milk.
  3. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C (or 180 fan) and lightly grease a flan dish with butter/margarine.
  5. Roll the pastry out with a rolling pin on a floured surface until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin and place over the prepared flan dish, gently pushing it into the grooves.
  6. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife and squidge back into a ball, then roll it out again and cut out the heart shapes with a cookie cutter (or just keep the excess pastry for another time if you’d rather). Place the hearts on a rectangular baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  7. Pop the pastry case and hearts in the oven and bake for around 15 minutes until the pastry is dry and slightly browned. Turn the temperature down to 160 degrees C (or 140 fan).
  8. Place the flan dish and pastry hearts on a wire rack and allow to cool before making the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Beat the eggs together in a mixing bowl, and then stir in the cheese, milk, flour and sundried tomatoes.
  2. Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry case in the flan dish.
  3. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for a further 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the quiche comes out clean.
  4. Place the quiche on the wire rack and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy hot or cold!
Categories: Savoury | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caramacjacks (Caramac Flapjacks)

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately as I’ve not been doing as much baking as usual, and the few bits I have done have been either from cookbooks or things I’ve made a million times before that I’ve already posted on here. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve also been trying to eat a bit more healthily and cut down on refined sugar but, admittedly, my desk drawer at work that’s groaning under the strain of the office biscuit/chocolate/jaffa cake stash is hindering my efforts somewhat…

Another reason in part for my lack of culinary activity is due to my recent rekindling of my passion for painting, something I hadn’t done in years until the other week. I’m so glad I’ve got back into it though as I’m enjoying it hugely, and I’m never happy if I’m not working on some kind of creative project. If you fancied checking out some of my work, I’ve started uploading it to my new DeviantArt account here: http://www.cloudninepointone.deviantart.com 🙂

caramac__92528Anyhow, back to the subject in hand – Caramac flapjacks! Or, as I have christened them, ‘Caramacjacks’. Weirdly enough, I’d never actually made flapjacks before but my friend at work had a birthday approaching and I decided to have a go at them as she’s not hugely keen on cake (I know, shocking!) and I wanted to make something that I could stick candles in. Like me, she’s a big chocolate fan, and there were two multipacks of the enticing sweet, golden ingots in question lingering in my pantry, so the result was a no-brainer.

P.S. If you’re crazy for Caramac, why not check out my cupcake recipe?

20160301_185541

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 16 small flapjacks (or one big one!)

For the flapjacks:

  • 330g/11.5 oz oats
  • 150g/6 oz butter or margarine
  • 150g/6 oz brown sugar
  • 100g/4 oz golden syrup
  • 100g/4 oz caramel chocolate buttons or white chocolate buttons, chopped

For the topping:

  • 5 x standard Caramac bars
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 75g/3 oz dark chocolate

METHOD

For the flapjacks:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 gas) and line a square or rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter/margarine, sugar and syrup together, either using a saucepan on the hob or by placing them in a heatproof bowl and heating in the microwave in 1-minute blasts.
  3. Stir in the oats and chopped caramel/white chocolate buttons.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking tin and pop in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  5. Transfer onto a wire rack and allow to cool before adding the topping.

For the topping:

  1. Chop the Caramac bars into very small pieces and transfer into a heatproof bowl, then microwave on a LOW heat in 30-second blasts until completely melted (don’t be tempted to put it in for longer periods or turn the heat up or it will seize and turn disgusting!)
  2. Stir the butter/margarine into the melted Caramac and pour onto the cooled flapjack. Spread the topping into an even layer using a palette knife. Don’t worry if the consistency of the mixture isn’t very smooth.
  3. Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a new heatproof bowl, then microwave in blasts of 30 seconds to 1 minute until completely melted (dark chocolate tends to be more forgiving than the more synthetic Caramac).
  4. The Caramac topping should have set by now but, if not, wait until it has. Then, using a teaspoon, drizzle the melted chocolate across the flapjack in a criss-cross pattern and allow to set.
  5. Cut into 16 small bars with a sharp knife – or go mad and leave it as one giant flapjack!
Caramac bar image copyright treasureislandsweets.co.uk
Other photos copyright cloud9point1
Categories: flapjacks, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Iris Tart

Our lovely and amazingly hardworking intern at work from the Netherlands, Iris, sadly left us a couple of weeks ago. To mark the occasion, I wanted to make her a genuine Dutch ‘vlaai’, which is a traditional tart made with fruit and a yeasted dough and topped with a distinctive lattice pattern.

Unfortunately, I only had a couple of hours to create one so I cheated and used an American recipe for a (supposedly) Dutch almond lattice tart with apricot jam that I found online and used regular shortcrust pastry instead of a dough that involved proving, kneading etc. The ingredients were pretty much all in tablespoons which was a bit frustrating (ever tried precisely measuring out a tablespoon of solid marzipan?!) and I didn’t have quite a few of the required ingredients so I ended up improvising and making up my own version. It took quite a while to cook in the oven, the top becoming ever browner while the middle remained soggy as I panicked that I’d incinerated it, convinced the finished product was going to end up an outright insult to the good people of the Netherlands.

Anyway, as is so often the case with cooking, it turned out fabulously and received lots of compliments from my colleagues. Despite its success, it’s certainly not authentic Dutch cuisine so I decided to christen it with its own unique name, Iris Tart, in her honour. I’ll certainly be making it again and will think of her when I do!

CYoUOxoW8AE2IAP

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 340g/12 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 170g/6 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the filling:

  • 115g/4 oz butter
  • 130g/4.5 oz marzipan (+ extra if you wish to use for decorations)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g/3 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 45g/1.5 oz plain flour
  • 150g/5 oz dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • Sprinkling of demerara sugar

METHOD

For the pastry:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan), grease a large heatproof flan dish with butter/margarine and place the apricots in a jug of boiling water to soak.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and then rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until breadcrumb-type bits form. Add the milk and form into a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky add some more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash more milk.
  3. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 25 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. About 5-10 minutes before the pastry’s chilling time is up, beat the butter, eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Grate the marzipan block into the mixture (you may want to chill it for a bit if it’s too squishy to grate) and then fold in the flour and soaked apricot pieces.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin until it’s about 0.5cm thick. Carefully transfer onto the prepared flan dish and gently press down into the fluted bits. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife.
  4. Squish the offcuts back together and roll out again. Cut into 9 strips, each around 1 inch wide and long enough to lie across the tart.
  5. Pour the filling into the flan dish and then carefully arrange the pastry strips in a lattice pattern on the top – ‘glue’ them together with a bit of water on your fingertip if needs be.
  6. Sprinkle the tart with some demerara sugar and then place in the oven for around 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.
  7. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool and decorate with extra marzipan adornments if you fancy. Enjoy the tart cold as it is or serve warm with a bit of cream or ice cream.

20160114_105313

Categories: Other Treats, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Othello Biscuits

Sadly, my grandad’s recently been moved into a care home and my parents are in the process of clearing out his house. Among the vast array of things unearthed, they found two big cardboard boxes full of recipe clippings from ancient magazines belonging to my late gran, who passed away in 2008.

Looking through these little relics of cooking times past has been an interesting and touching experience. It might sound silly but rifling through them made me feel closer to her and remembering the way she hoarded anything and everything to stop it from going to waste made me smile. Although hanging on to gargantuan stacks of old envelopes and keeping used individual butter wrappers to use to grease cake tins is a little extreme, I admire the way that she and her frugal generation in general were so much more scrupulous about waste than we are nowadays. As a recycling enthusiast who hates to throw things away unnecessarily, it’s quite inspiring.

Anyway, to get on track to the main point of this post: among Granny Emily’s varied collection of magazine snippets was a recipe from the 1970s for so-called ‘Othello’ biscuits which caught my eye. They’re mostly just oats, butter, sugar and cocoa powder but I love oaty things and thought they sounded tasty so I was keen to give them a go.

The unusual name added to their allure until I then twigged that it is of course a racist nod to the titular character of the Shakespeare play of the same name due to their dark colour – this certainly wouldn’t be an acceptable name for cookies nowadays but things were a lot less politically correct back then! Anyhow, despite their dodgy nomenclature, I’m pleased to say that they’re scrumptious…and quite addictive.

However, considering we are not even halfway through January, I don’t want to ignore the talk in my previous post about trying out healthier recipes. While eating one of these biscuits hardly carries the same calorific consequences as a giant doorstop of cake, I still wanted to have a go at removing, or at least cutting down, the amount of fat and refined sugar used. Therefore, I tweaked the original recipe and came up with a lighter version that contains no refined sugar and only a small amount of fat. Admittedly, they are very slightly drier than their full fat counterparts but the cheeky drizzle of chocolate on the top compensates for this and gives them a delicious edge without adding too much in the way of naughtiness. I also threw in a bit of spice which I think really complements the flavour. They make an ideal snack as they’re quite filling; even I stopped after nomming just one and that’s usually unheard of for me!

This version can easily be made vegan and/or dairy free with a few simple substitutions, which I’ve suggested below.

20160110_162610Original batch pictured on the left and healthier version on the right 🙂

ORIGINAL OTHELLO BISCUITS (this is the original 1970s recipe but I’m unable to give credit as I don’t know which magazine it’s from, sorry!)

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10 biscuits

  • 4 oz porridge oats
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • 0.5 oz cocoa powder
  • 0.5 oz plain flour
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 dessertspoon cold water

METHOD

  1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a bowl, stir in the oats.
  2. Add the margarine and, using the fingertips only, rub it in until the fat is evenly distributed.
  3. Stir in the sugar then add the water and knead the ingredients to a firm dough.
  4. Here, the original recipe tells you to roll out the dough with a rolling pin and stamp out circles but to be honest it’s far too sticky to do this so I’d suggest pulling off ping pong sized balls of it and flattening them with wet palms before placing them on a rectangular baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake the biscuits on the centre shelf of a fairly cool oven, gas mark 3 or 325 degrees F (160 degrees C), for about 15 minutes until they are firm to touch.
  6. Transfer them to a wire tray to cool and become crisp.

LOW FAT & REFINED SUGAR FREE OTHELLO BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 20 biscuits

  • 225g/8 oz porridge oats
  • 2 tbsp almond (or peanut) butter
  • 2 tbsp olive spread (or soya spread to make them vegan/dairy free), softened
  • 5 tbsp honey (or maple/agave syrup to make them vegan)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp ginger
  • 30g/1 oz cocoa powder
  • 30g/1 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 100g/3.5 oz dark chocolate (the higher the cocoa content, the better), chopped

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C (or 150 fan) and line a large rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients apart from the chocolate into a large mixing bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon and then your fingers until a sticky dough forms. If it’s too dry, add a little more water and if it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour.
  3. Pull off ping pong sized balls of dough and flatten them with wet hands, then place onto the baking tray.
  4. Pop in the oven and bake for around 10-15 minutes or until they feel slightly firm to the touch (they’ll crisp up as they cool) and then leave too cool on a wire rack.
  5. When the biscuits have cooled, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave on a medium heat in blasts of 1 minute until completely melted, then drizzle over the biscuits using a teaspoon.
  6. Allow to set before scoffing, preferably with a cuppa.
Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Chocolate, Healthier, Raw/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Year in Cake – 2015

As the end of 2015 is very nearly upon us, I thought I’d have a look back at the year’s baking and eating adventures and muse what culinary activities 2016 might have in store.

I don’t want this to become one of those tedious new-year-new-me-embarking-on-a-detox-diet-frenzy-until-the-novelty-wears-off-after-a-week type posts that are a common side effect of January’s imminent approach. However, I have been thinking about my recent eating habits and would like to make more of an effort to be healthier in the new year.

I drink gallons of water and, in terms of my savoury diet, I eat a good deal of wholegrains, fish and a hell of a lot more veggies than I used to, but fatty, sugary sweet treats really are my downfall. My typical daily work situation is as follows: eat a lovely healthy lunch of delicious homemade cous cous salad with, say, mackerel or a bit of feta cheese, accompanied by a banana, a nutritious homemade oat or raw/vegan-type bar and perhaps a packet of low fat crisps, preceded by a mid-morning snack of dried fruit or a cereal bar…and then the 3pm slump hits and I stuff my face with the abundance of chocolate, cake and/or biscuits that are a continual feature of the office.

One of my weaknesses is that I am terrible with portion control – I can’t stop at a couple of squares of Dairy Milk or one Bourbon biscuit once I start munching. I eat a balanced home-cooked meal when I get home, and then the sweet cravings start again later in the evening, only this time tenfold.

And this is why I have put on weight and frequently feel more bloated than a waterlogged whale without a blowhole. Although I walk to and from work, 20 minutes each way, every day and practise yoga once a week, my energy levels are currently zero and I generally don’t feel great in myself. This is why I really want to better my eating habits – I don’t want to use the word ‘diet’ as I’m not about to launch some desperate bid to lose a ton of weight (although shedding a few pounds would be a welcome bonus); it’s more for general reasons of all-round health and happiness.

With this in mind, I’ve been bookmarking some delicious-sounding healthier bakes. I’m also looking forward to making some of the lighter recipes I’ve tried out previously with success when feeling health-conscious, like my Christmas pudding brownies, matzo meal muffins and other treats that can be found here: https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/category/healthier/ (I’m hoping 2016 will see this category of my blog expand!)

Here are a few new recipes I’ve found that I’m already keen to try out soon:

  • Healthy Digestive Biscuits – http://www.talesfromthekitchenshed.com/2015/01/healthy-digestive-biscuits/
  • The Hairy Dieters’ Low Fat Fruit Tea Loaf – http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recipe_directory/h/hairy-bikers-lowfatfruittealoaf.html
  • Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes – https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwj_6Mrh0ITKAhVBVxQKHUUtBQ0QFggmMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsallysbakingaddiction.com%2F2013%2F02%2F19%2Fskinny-chocolate-peanut-butter-swirl-cupcakes%2F&usg=AFQjCNGet8gHepME-iC6PzI4BJbtI8MAGA
  • Vegan Apricot Crumble Bars – http://embracethecake.co.uk/post-a-recipe/2015/6/12/apricot-crumble-bars
  • Cinnamon macaron-style cookies; I haven’t found an actual recipe yet but I’m thinking of experimenting with maple syrup or sweetener or something to lower the refined sugar content in these low fat cookies – watch this space!

Aaaand finally, here’s a selection of my favourite bakes from 2015 🙂

collage

  1. Healthy No-Bake Choco-Date Bars (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/healthy-no-bake-choco-date-bars/)
  2. Autumn Bliss Cake (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/autumn-bliss-cake/)
  3. Banana Toffee Cake (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/banana-toffee-cake-with-brown-sugar-buttercream/)
  4. Cherry Bakewell & Cherry Chocolate Scones (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/cherry-bakewell-cherry-chocolate-scones/)
  5. Mary Berry’s Coffee Cake (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/cookbook-challenge-1-mary-berrys-coffee-cake/)
  6. Nigella’s Devil’s Food Cake (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/cookbook-challenge-2-nigellas-devils-food-cake/)
  7. Trine Hahnemann’s Scandi Marzipan Tarts (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/cookbook-challenge-3-trine-hahnemanns-scandinavian-marzipan-tarts/)
  8. Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake (available at nigella.com)
  9. Oatmeal Gingerbread (from the 1000 Cakes & Bakes cookbook)
  10. Minimalist Raisin Spice Christmas Cake (from the 1000 Cakes & Bakes cookbook)
  11. Stollen Biscotti (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/stollen-biscotti/)
  12. Neapolitan Cake (https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/neapolitan-cake/)

Best wishes for a fantastic 2016, fellow bakers and bloggers – I hope it’s a happy and healthy one!

Love,
Cloud9.1 x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.