Posts Tagged With: fruit

Pear Gingerbread Upsidedown Cake

Yay, Autumn is here again! And, of course, the dawn of this season means baking with luscious scrumped fruit, sticky syrup/treacle and oodles of heaven-scented winter spices. It just wouldn’t be Autumn otherwise. And this lovely bake utilises all three of this holy culinary trinity.

Isn’t it funny how you can bake a seemingly failsafe recipe that you’ve made countless times before and it can turn out a disaster, and you can write something off as an epic dog’s dinner of a cake fail only for it to turn out beautifully? Unfortunately, normally the former is the case for me, but this week I experienced a prime example of the latter.

I was making some banana and caramel cupcakes for my work’s Macmillan Coffee Morning and thought I’d make use of some scrumped pears while I had the oven on. I had a flick through some of my trusty recipe books and came across an enticing apricot upsidedown number in Cakes & Slices that didn’t seem to require too much effort, for which I could easily substitute the suggested fruit for my windfall pears.

Part-way through making it I realised I didn’t have enough butter and substituted some of it for milk, and I also replaced the syrup with treacle out of necessity in my haste to get the damn thing finished. I melted the wet ingredients together as instructed before folding in the dry, and the result looked terrible!

It was wet and lumpy, and the baking powder I added in the hope of giving it a better rise (in light of the lack of eggs) let off an ominous fizz. When I poured the dodgy-looking concoction over the pear slices I barely had enough to cover them. By this point, I was convinced that this monstrosity would have to go down in the ‘disaster’ file, but thought I may as well cook it.

Anyway, I needn’t have worried as, to my surprise, it rose beautifully and tasted wonderful! The ratio of pear to sponge was just right, and the cake was deliciously moist without being overly sticky. I shared slices with various people and they all loved it. I’ll definitely make this again, and perhaps try it with other fruit.

I had some leftover caramel from my Macmillan cupcakes which is why I drizzled some over the top, but it’s certainly not essential.

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INGREDIENTS – makes one sponge of approx. 22cm/8.5 ins diameter

  • 2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped into fairly thin, neat slices
  • 175g/6 oz butter
  • 140g/5 oz brown sugar + a little extra for sprinkling
  • 85g/3 oz treacle
  • 185g/6.5 oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Half a tsp baking powder
  • Drizzle of maple or golden syrup
  • Drizzle of Carnation caramel (optional)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a round cake tin with parchment paper.
  2. Sprinkle about half a tablespoon of brown sugar over the bottom of the tin, drizzle over some maple/golden syrup, then neatly arrange the pear slices in a circle on top.
  3. Place the butter, sugar and treacle in a heatproof bowl then melt together in the microwave on a medium heat in blasts of 1 minute.
  4. Stir well and then fold in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and baking powder – don’t worry that the batter looks lumpy and runny!
  5. Pour the batter evenly over the pears, then place the tin in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. When cool, turn the cake out so that the pears are at the top.
  7. Drizzle some Carnation caramel over the cake, if you like (if the caramel is too stiff, heat it for about 30 seconds in the microwave on LOW heat in a heatproof bowl and give it a good stir).
  8. Enjoy cold, or warm with some cream or ice cream. Yum!

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Categories: Layer Cakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy Rice Krispie Granola Bars

Well, I think it’s about time to make my first blog post of 2017! A very belated Happy New Year to you all ūüôā

In my last post I said I wanted to try and eat healthier and shift a bit of weight, and by some miracle I’ve actually stuck to it (thus far)! I’ve not been following any kind of radical diet, just cutting down on the amount of naughty stuff and exercising more. I’ve been going to the work gym twice a week, walking to and from the office every day and taking lunchtime yoga classes on Mondays, also at work (one of the great things about being employed by a university is the access to an array of convenient fitness facilities, and at a significant discount!)

I’ve managed to lose 6 pounds so far, which I’m really pleased about as I’m not trying to lose a shedload of weight in a short period, only to pile it all back on when the urge to eat a wheelbarrowful¬†of Dairy Milk becomes too much. I want to do it gradually while still being able to enjoy my favourite treats in moderation. To be perfectly honest, I’ve not missed eating cake that much but chocolate is proving to be very much my Achilles’ heel…

The downside to this wee health kick is that I’ve not been doing as much baking, apart from¬†a few cake requests for colleagues. However, my other half bought me the latest Bake Off book for my birthday last month and it contained a fabulous recipe for ‘Posh Granola Bars’, which I knew I had to try right away. Toasted oats, Rice Krispies, nuts, fruit and honey in yummy crunchy¬†bar form and easy on the waistline to boot – what’s not to like?

They turned out delicious, but I decided to adapt them slightly in¬†subsequent¬†batches¬†by increasing the quantity of Rice Krispies, substituting the butter for peanut butter and using raisins instead of dried cranberries. I like these ones even better, and they’re easier to cut without turning to crumbs, meaning they’re perfect to take to work for a healthy and filling mid-morning snack.

If you’re not as mad a fan of Rice Krispies as me, cut the amount down to 25-50g and up the oats to 200g, although personally I love the crunch they add! Also feel free to use¬†whatever dried fruit you like, or maybe go wild and add some chocolate chips?

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INGREDIENTS – makes 12 bars

  • 150g/5 oz oats
  • 70g/2.5 oz Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
  • 100g/3.5 oz mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (I used pecans, walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts)
  • 50g/1.5 oz peanut butter
  • 160g/5.5 oz honey
  • 50g/1.5 oz raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan).
  2. Tip the oats and chopped nuts into a rectangular baking tray and add the cooking oil.
  3. Use your hands to combine the mixture, rubbing the oats so that they’re lightly coated in the oil.
  4. Place the tray in the oven for around 6-8 minutes until the oats become slightly dry and golden.
  5. Place the honey and peanut butter in a mixing bowl and melt together in the microwave in blasts of 1 minute until smooth.
  6. Pour the oat and nut mixture, Rice Krispies, raisins and cinnamon into the wet ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. If the mixture seems too dry and crumbly, add a dash more honey.20170212_122217
  7. Wipe the baking tray clean and line with parchment paper, then pour in the mixture and press down evenly with a spatula.
  8. Place in the oven for around 10 minutes until the top of the mixture is light brown in colour.
  9.  Leave to cool on a wire rack and then cut up into bars using a sharp knife.
Categories: flapjacks, Healthier, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mince Pie Flapjacks

Hurray! The most wonderful time of the year is upon us again! ūüôā Christmas is my favourite time for baking, and each year I have to meticulously plan when I want to make what as I always have so many¬†bakes I want to try – both old seasonal favourites and new recipes that I haven’t tried before.

This festive season I¬†intend to make another batch of my yummy stollen biscotti from last year,¬†the spiced fruitcake with fondant seal decorations that has become a Christmas tradition, and also have a go at creating my own lebkuchen. I’ve also recently been experimenting with different gingerbread recipes so no doubt there’ll be a repeat performance of some of those too before the year’s out.

After the success of the aforementioned stollen biscotti last year, I wanted to have a go at conjuring up another Christmas recipe of my own, and these deliciously spicy and fruity flapjacks are the result.

I made my flapjacks¬†using my mum’s marvellous¬†homemade mincemeat which is lovely and fruity and not too boozy, but use whatever kind you like, be it homemade or bought. Like¬†their traditional pie counterpart, they’re delicious served warmed with some cream (preferably accompanied by Christmas songs and a festive jumper).

This would also be a good recipe for the new year when jars of mincemeat are being sold off ten-a-penny in the shops and you’re in need of something sweet and warming to distract you from the fact that Christmas is over, you’re cold,¬†skint and have already broken all of your new year’s resolutions.

This may be my final blog post before¬†the big day¬†so I’ll take this opportunity to wish everyone in the Bakeosphere a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

P.S. If you’re looking for other easy festive baking ideas, why not take a look at my recipes for chocolate gingerbread cake, low fat Christmas pudding brownies and red velvet star biscuits?

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INGREDIENTS Рmakes 15 large or 20 small flapjacks

  • 280g/10 oz oats
  • 130g/4.5 oz butter or margarine
  • 170g/6 oz brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 80g/3 oz¬†mincemeat
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Half tsp mixed spice
  • 40g/1.5 oz¬†raisins or sultanas¬†(optional)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Put the butter/margarine, sugar and golden syrup in a heatproof bowl and melt together in the microwave in blasts of 1 minute until smooth, stirring at each interval. Alternatively, melt together in a pan on the hob over a low heat, stirring regularly.
  3. Stir the oats, mincemeat, cinnamon, mixed spice and raisins/sultanas into the liquid mixture until thoroughly coated.

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  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and place in the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until firm and slightly golden at the sides
  5. Leave the flapjacks to cool on a wire rack and then slice into squares with a sharp knife. Scoff in front of the fire or crappy Christmas TV.

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Categories: Festive, flapjacks, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

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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.

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

Low Fat Christmas Pudding Brownies

I’ve recently been compiling a ring binder of print-outs of healthier recipes that I’ve found online so that I can easily look them up when I feel like cooking something that’s not too chock-full of calories, fat and sugar. One Google result that caught my attention was the¬†original chocolate version of this recipe, which I came across here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/1107/i-can-t-believe-they-re-low-fat-brownies.aspx. It included the genius idea of adding mushed prunes in place of butter or margarine to create a gorgeously moist but less fatty cake.

I don’t understand why prunes are¬†so neglected as a fruit. I know they’re infamous for being used as a means of ‘keeping you regular’ and carry metaphorical connotations of wrinkles, shriveling and general lifelessness, but they’re so underrated as a food in their own right. I bought some for the first time in forever recently and had forgotten what a deliciously rich, almost caramelly, flavour they have.

Anyway, I digress (I swear I’m not being paid by some kind of Prune Advisory Board) – I’m in the grip of full-blown Christmas fever at the moment as the end of November rapidly approaches, so I decided to add a festive twist to the original recipe by incorporating some extra fruit and nuts and a dash of warming winter spice. When both my dad and I sampled them, our immediate thoughts were of Christmas pudding, hence the title!

I also reduced the amount of sugar used in the original version¬†as it annoys me when recipes are labelled as ‘healthy’ due to low fat content but include an obscene amount of the sweet stuff. I wouldn’t say these taste identical to regular brownies but they’re utterly delicious – rich, moist and full of flavour – and I really don’t think people would know they were low fat and lower sugar if you didn’t tell them. I also like the fact that they’re a healthier alternative that don’t require expensive and/or obscure ingredients. I love the new wave of inventive vegan/raw/generally all-round-saintly treats but coconut oil, agave syrup and near-industrial¬†quantities of cashew nuts don’t come cheap.

The final cherry on the proverbial cake is that these brownies are dairy free so they’d be ideal for lactose-intolerant friends.

I’ll definitely be making them again very soon!

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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 18

  • 55g/2 oz plain flour
  • 110g/4 oz pitted prunes
  • 130g/4.5 oz brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 55g/2 oz raisins
  • 55g/2 oz chopped mixed nuts (e.g. pecans, almonds, walnuts)
  • 1.5 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 18 pecan halves, to decorate (optional)
  • Silver shimmer spray, to decorate (optional)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, mixed spice and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Roughly snip the prunes into pieces with scissors and place them in a separate heatproof bowl with the water, then microwave on a medium setting in two blasts of 1 minute until soft and mushy.
  4. Squish the prunes with a potato masher to form a paste and add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Stir in the cooking oil, eggs, raisins, chopped nuts and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for around 15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the mix comes out mostly clean.
  7. When baked, leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into 18 squares with a sharp knife.
  8. Push a pecan half into the top of each square and finish with a festive spritz of edible silver shimmer spray, if you fancy.
Categories: Chocolate, Healthier, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Virtuous Fruity Porridge Bars & Sinful Nutella Porridge Bars

Okay, let’s start with the healthy version. I’m often guilty of running late for work in the morning but I really don’t like to rely on sugary and unsatisfying cereal bars for a super quick breakfast. ¬†As cereal or toast isn’t exactly the most practical thing to try and make at my desk, I wanted to try and make some homemade alternatives that are a bit more wholesome and virtuous than store bought on-the-go snacks.

These fruity bars contain no refined sugar and are adapted from a recipe I came across for blueberry porridge squares¬†as part of a guest post on Deliciously Ella’s website. I decided to incorporate¬†apples and raisins as these are two things I currently have in abundance at home (thanks, in part, to the final glut from my scrumping adventures as mentioned in my previous two posts!), but you could use pretty much any fruit you like, dried or otherwise. Dried cranberries also work well and I can imagine dried apricots, either straight out the packet or rehydrated, would be delicious too. You could also add chopped nuts to add a bit of a crunch.

These bars are a revelation in that they really do taste like porridge, despite the lack of conventional bowl and spoon! They’re not crispy and chewy like a flapjack but rather divinely squidgy and filling – perfect to keep you going until lunchtime (or at least elevenses…)

And now to mention their dark and sinful counterpart. My other half has been very poorly recently and he mentioned that he loves porridge with a cheeky dollop of Nutella in it so this was the perfect opportunity to adapt the recipe further and transform it into a no-holds-barred sugary, chocolatey, indulgent treat. This version certainly does not share its fruity cousin’s status as a healthy option but it’s so, so good and dangerously moreish! I’ve included both recipes below for you to choose depending on how virtuous or decadent¬†you’re feeling.

The fruity bars can easily be made vegan friendly and/or dairy free with a few minor adjustments, which I’ve suggested below.

20151123_190618I added some mixed nuts to this batch of fruity ones ūüôā

20160325_151756.jpgI made the original batch of Nutella ones in a round cake tin as I was at my other half’s and he doesn’t have the recommended rectangular tray!

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 12 bars

For the fruity porridge bars:

  • 300g oats
  • 225g eating apples
  • 100g raisins
  • 100ml honey (or maple/agave syrup to make it vegan)
  • 225ml milk (or oat/soya/almond milk to make it vegan/dairy free)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water

For the Nutella porridge bars:

  • 300g oats
  • 2 heaped tbsp Nutella or other chocolate & hazelnut spread
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100ml golden syrup
  • 225ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanillla extract

METHOD

For the fruity porridge bars:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Peel and core the apples and chop roughly into chunks no bigger than a 50p piece.
  3. Place them in a saucepan along with the lemon juice, water and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for around 5-7 minutes, or until the apple pieces are soft and squashable. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl, then add the apple mixture, raisins, honey, milk, vanilla extract and the final teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin then pop in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes, or until the mixture feels fairly firm to the touch.
  6. Allow to cool and slice into bars with a sharp knife.

For the Nutella porridge bars:

Follow the recipe as above but omit steps 2 and 3 and add the Nutella, syrup and chocolate chips in place of the fruit, honey and cinnamon in step 4.

20160325_151627Oozing patches of Nutella – what could be better?!

Categories: Healthier, Other Treats, Raw/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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