Friday, 22 September 2017

Autumn Glory


I'm really looking forward to harvesting these 4 quince, in about a month's time. My fruit growing book says they should be left on the tree until the end of October.

I think I will peel, core and slice them, then poach until tender and freeze in small batches, so that they can be added to things like pear or apple desserts over the winter.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Raisin and Coconut Flapjack

Various family issues have meant that baking time has gone out of the window at the moment. I haven't really baked much since sometime in Spring, when Hubby said he wanted to cut down on cakes and puddings to lose a bit of weight. Nearly all my posts since April have been clearing a backlog of things which hadn't been written about. However, I did want to make something for the Bank Holiday weekend, as a little indulgence seemed acceptable.

I've said before that flapjacks are a really good way of using up ends of packets in the baking storecupboard, and this sometimes leads to exciting flavour combinations that work really well. This time I also had a pack of granola breakfast cereal that needed using up - it was just a basic granola containing raisins and almonds, so I added some golden raisins and desiccated coconut to up the flavour a bit. Granola already contains quite a lot of sugar, and often some fat too, so my basic flapjack recipe had to be adjusted a little to compensate for this.

Ingredients
140g butter
50g golden syrup
80g light muscovado sugar
165g granola breakfast cereal
100g porridge oats
35g golden raisins
35g desiccated coconut

Method
Line a 20cm (8") square shallow baking tin with parchment, folding it so that the sides of the tin are lined too. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together. I usually do this in a large mixing bowl in the microwave, but a saucepan on the hob is fine too. The mixture doesn't have to boil, just get hot enough for the sugar to dissolve.
Stir in the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Transfer to the baking tin, spread evenly and press down firmly.
Bake for 25 minutes, until just turning golden brown. This timing gives a chewy flapjack - if you like it crunchy, then bake for a little longer.
Cool for a few minutes, then cut into fingers or squares, but don't remove from the tin until completely cold.
 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Blueberry and Lemon Polenta Cake

gluten-free

We planted two blueberry bushes earlier this year, but we weren't sure whether or not they would bear fruit straight away. Fortunately they did, although the fruit doesn't all ripen at once, so I'm picking 100-150g every five days or so. I've also found out that I really prefer cooked blueberries to raw, so I've made blueberry sauce for some cheesecake pots, and added some to baked rhubarb.

I decided to put the latest pickings into a cake, but had to find a recipe using a small amount. I also had some lemons that needed using, so a blueberry and lemon cake seemed in order. I soon found this Sainsbury's recipe for a lemon and blueberry polenta cake, which only used 100g of fruit. I had to adapt the recipe a little, using vanilla yogurt instead of natural. As I was using a yogurt with a separate topping of toasted oat flakes (about a tablespoonful), I sprinkled them on top of the cake too.

This was a deliciously light cake, although I think it could have taken another 50g of fruit, as the blueberries were very thinly spread. The zest of another lemon would have improved the flavour from my point of view but I do like a tart lemon cake - others might appreciate the subtlety of a milder flavour.

It's also nice to add another gluten-free cake to my repertoire.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Chocolate Chip and Orange Cookie Bars

 Despite knowing that recipes existed for baking cookie dough in a tray, it seemed quite difficult to find a suitable recipe, even on blogs and websites well-known for cookie recipes. Perhaps I was using the wrong search words, as it wasn't until I looked at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial that the word 'slab' cropped up! Or perhaps I was just being fussy - I needed a recipe to suit my store-cupboard ingredients, as I didn't have an opportunity to shop.

I used half quantities of Celia's recipe, (also here for ingredients, and method for making individual cookies) and baked in a 20cm(8") square tin. I made a couple of minor changes - I used 180g plain chocolate, roughly chopped, and added the finely grated zest of an orange. A classic flavour combination that's hard to beat!

Cookie Bars don't have the aesthetic appeal of individually baked cookies, but, boy, are they quicker to make! These were particularly tender, with a 'melt-in-the mouth' texture, so I'm sure I'll be using the recipe again.

Ingredients
200g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
large pinch of salt
finely grated zest of 1 orange
110g light muscovado sugar
50g caster sugar
125g softened butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g 70% chocolate, roughly chopped

Method
Preheat the oven to 150C fan setting, and line a 20cm (8") square baking tin with parchment.
Whisk flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and orange zest together in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl cream the sugars and butter together, then add the vanilla extract, egg and a tablespoon of flour (to prevent curdling) and mix until just combined.
With the mixer on a low speed, add the rest of the flour mix, and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate pieces by hand.
Transfer the dough to the baking tin and spread evenly, using damp fingers, or the back of a large metal spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes, until firm and just beginning to colour. Cool in the tin, then cut into bars.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Red Gooseberry and Orange Crumble

I wouldn't normally add a post about what is essentially my usual crumble recipe, but I haven't baked anything for over two months now, so need to keep the blog alive! 'Not-baking' started with a need for both of us to lose a little weight before going away to France, so that the inevitable excesses of holiday eating didn't have too great an impact. Unfortunately, we then returned from holiday to face a family health crisis, which hasn't left me with any time to bake.

But, however little time you have, the garden continues to demand attention - this weekend it was the red gooseberries which needed harvesting. There was only 300g of fruit on  the bush, not quite the amount I usually use, so I added a chopped up orange segments to the gooseberries, and the zest of the orange to the crumble mix. It added an interesting dimension to the flavour.

Ingredients
80g plain flour
80g porridge oats
80g light muscovado sugar
80g butter, in small cubes
1 orange
300g prepared gooseberries
50g caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground rice (to thicken the fruit juices)

Method
Put the flour, oats, muscovado sugar and butter into a large bowl, and add the finely grated zest of the orange. Rub in the butter to make the crumble mix.
Cut the peel and pith from the orange, over the dish in which you are going to bake the crumble to save any juice. Cut the orange into small pieces, then mix with the gooseberries, caster sugar and ground rice, in the baking dish.
Scatter over the crumble mix and press down lightly.
Bake at 200C (180C fan), for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Peanut Butter and Honeycomb Biscuits

I regularly visit some of the Australian food websites, such as Australian Good Food, and the Australian Women's Weekly website (Food to Love), and it was on Food to Love that I noticed this recipe for Peanut Butter and Honeycomb Biscuits. I assumed - perhaps incorrectly - that Violet Crumble Bars were the same as our Crunchie Bars, and made a batch of biscuits as soon as I'd acquired the Crunchie Bars.

It was a really simple dough to mix, and the biscuits were quick to cook. My biscuits were slightly larger than they should have been, as I only got 24 out of a batch of dough, rather than 30, but they were about the size I'd expect a biscuit to be, so I wasn't too worried about that. The longest wait, as usual, was for the drizzle of melted chocolate to set, so that the biscuits could be packed into an airtight container.

The biscuits were tasty and had an interesting texture, neither crisp nor chewy - more melt in the mouth crumbly. However, I was disappointed that the Crunchie pieces had melted to become little pockets of chewy sugar, rather than retaining the crisp honeycomb texture. I'd half expected this, but it does seem a waste to add the honeycomb when this happens during baking. The recipe would have been just as good - perhaps better - with small pieces of chocolate fudge or soft toffees used instead.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Apricot, Date and Ginger Flapjack

Flapjacks are often my 'go to' recipe, when I need something quick to mix and bake. In this case it was after an afternoon working in the garden, so that the flapjacks could bake while I was getting dinner ready. Once you have melted the butter and sugars together, it only takes a few more minutes to get the tray into the oven. The other good thing about flapjacks is they are ideal for using up the last remnants of bags of dried fruit, to stop them building up in the store cupboard.

Ingredients
60g dried apricots
40g dried dates
30g crystallised ginger
160g butter
70g golden syrup
100g light muscovado sugar
240g porridge oats

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180C, and line a 20cm (8") square shallow baking tin with a single piece of baking parchment, folding it into the corners, so that the sides of the tin are lined too.
Chop the dried fruit and ginger into pieces about the size of a sultana.
Melt the butter,  golden syrup and sugar together - I find it easiest to use a mixing bowl in the microwave, but a saucepan on the hob is fine too.
Add the oats, dried fruit and ginger and mix together thoroughly. Tip into the baking tin and spread evenly, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden. This baking time gives a chewy flapjack; if you like yours crisp, then add a few more minutes.
Cut into squares or fingers while still hot, but cool completely in the tin before removing.