Category Archives: baking

After School Seedy Fruity Cookies

like to bake and we love cookies, baking your own is not only quick and easy but also you know what’s in them, no additives or preservatives,  long words or strange numbers!

fruity seedy cookies 2

These seedy, fruity cookies are low in sugar but also have a natural sweetness from the dried fruits. Light and buttery they are a perfect blend of soft and chewy textures.  Miss ND loves them, they are perfect to add to her after school snack box (which she hoovers up at great speed, she is a child with a healthy appetite and high energy levels!).

cookies and milk

After School Seedy Fruity Cookies                                            Makes 12 large Cookies

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Baking Time:  12-15 minutes

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4

fruit seed mix

Ingredients
90g unsalted butter
50g soft light brown sugar or coconut sugar
70g porridge oats
25g wholemeal self-raising flour
25g plain flour
25g sunflower seeds
50g cranberry, dried apricot, raisin mix
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten

oat cookie mix

cookie mix

Method
Cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.

Add all the dry ingredients and stir together into the butter and sugar.

Then finally add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly until everything is completely combined.

Shape into walnut-sized balls (the batter will be sticky which is fine) and flatten them onto a lined baking tray.  I use my macaron tin which keeps them evenly shaped.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Eat!

fruity seedy cookie 1

 

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Sea Salt and Pepper Oatcakes

I made these Sea Salt and Pepper Oatcakes for our Christmas Eve evening cheeseboard and beyond, not that they ever last that long.  You can add any herbs of your choice or chilli flakes and such like, delicious plain or packed with flavour,  these are relatively plain as they will be served with an assortment of very wonderful but quite strong smelly cheeses!

oatcake Collage

A batch of Oatcakes can be knocked up in under an hour, usually I just produce the classic round shape but as it’s Christmas I’ve busted out the star and heart cutters!  You can also make these up to a week before you need them if kept in an airtight box.  They make great little foodie gifts when paired up with some home-made chutney and small cheeses.   

oatcakes4

Sea Salt and Pepper Oatcakes

Yields:  around 25-30
Making time:  20 minutes
Baking time:  30 minutes

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan, gas 4 and lightly grease 2 baking trays with butter or olive oil.

Ingredients

220g oats
50g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp golden caster sugar
60g unsalted butter, melted
175ml hot water

Method

Mix the oats, wholemeal flour, sea salt, black pepper and golden caster sugar together in a large bowl.

Pour the melted butter into the hot water and mix, then pour into the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly to form a soft dough.  

Dust your worksurface with flour and roll out the dough to your desired thickness, mine are around 5mm.  

Cut out shapes using pastry cutters and carefully arrange on the baking trays and bake for around 30 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool.

Think I should leave some out for Santa Claus tonight?…….

santas oatcakes

Nutritional Info:

Oats:   good source of soluble dietary fibre, vitamin B1, phosphorus, selenium, manganese, iron and magnesium.

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Mini Panettone for Christmas

I’ve not attempted to make a Panettone before but after my bread making course my confidence with all things bread and yeast has definitely increased.

Mini Panettone make lovely little gifts for Christmas, after wrapping in baking parchment paper pop them in cellophane wrap and tie with a bow.  These were for Miss ND’s pre-school gifts along with some homemade iced Christmas biscuits.  I shall be making my Stollen next and some Stollen bites for our usual Christmas Eve breakfast.

panettone

This recipe comes from the Baking Mad website, so many lovely baking recipes there. for once I stuck to the sugar allocation and the Panettone did not taste overly sweet even with the sultanas and mixed peel.  I would definitely add more dried fruit and mixed peel next time though and maybe some dark chocolate chips!

This is another recipe I will definitely be baking again and again as apart from the 3 provings (don’t let the 6 hour prep time put you off, you can start in the morning and have it all done by tea time) the Panettone were very easy to make and came out beautifully.  

 

Thanks to Tesco for providing the flour for the Panettone.

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Seeded Spelt Loaves

Since I went on the bread making workshop  I’ve been wanting to try out some breads using non-traditional flours.  I’ve had some Wholegrain Spelt Flour in the cupboard for a while now and was wondering what to bake with it.   Spelt is an ancient grain, a cousin to wheat although  it contains a broader range of nutrients and is high in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, folic acid, E, manganese,  copper, and magnesium.   It also contains a wide range of minerals and is a good source of fibre .

I used this recipe from Dove’s Farm  except that I made 4 mini loaves, omitted the nuts and added a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flaxseeds to the top as well as the dough.  Before adding the seeds on top I egg washed the dough to give a nice sheen.

Speltflour

 

The dough was a little harder to work with and didn’t rise with as much aplomb as my usual wheat-based flour doughs but nevertheless the resulting Spelt bread rose well enough and was delicious.

Spelt loaf ND

 

We’ve enjoyed these loaves with a numbers of toppings and fillings, from cheeses to honey and even my jam!  It was also delicious toasted the next morning.  Even the tiddler enjoyed a slice  or two, although I think she’s a little confused about why I would put seeds in her bread when we usually put them in the garden!   

I popped one of the loaves into the freezer, the great frozen abyss that is my old chest freezer, I cannot wait till I have an upright one with drawers!

If you want to try using non-traditional flours, Spelt is a great one to start with,  it has a lovely nutty flavour and with the addition of seeds a very healthy alternative to traditional wheat.

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The Artisan Bakehouse

On Saturday, myself and a group of friends visited The Artisan Bakehouse located between Steyning and Ashurst in West Sussex for a bread making workshop.  The Artisan Bakehouse is owned and run by Les and Louise, a lovely couple who were very welcoming with plenty of tea, coffee and delicious home made biscuits,  a great start to what turned out to be a brilliant day.

The Artisan Bakehouse is set in 5 acres of secluded gardens and woodland, a really beautiful setting, peaceful and calm.   There are also two 16th century holiday cottages available to let all year round for a perfect country break.

The Bakehouse itself houses a custom-made wood fired traditional bakers oven, that uses nothing more than fire wood, to create the perfect bake.  

First up on the bread making list was Foccacia laden with garlic, rosemary and black olives.   We then tackled a small baguette, M&S watch out, ours were pretty good!  Next was a Tear and Share Crown Bread to which we added sundried tomatoes and more black olives.  The same dough again then produced a Seeded loaf with my favourite combination of seeds, sunflower, pumpkin, golden and brown flaxseeds and sesame seeds, a nutritionally power packed bread!  We didn’t get time for the Soda Bread, but as I’ve made it many times it was no matter and we all got a chance for a chat over tea and lunch so the day was not rushed and extremely enjoyable.

Bakes1 Collage

Bakes2 Collage 

Bakes3 Collage

The Artisan Bakehouse also hold a range of other workshops, including children’s baking and pizza making parties.  I will definitely be taking Miss ND next year (she’s a touch young at 3) I would love a mummy and me type afternoon of baking and sampling our bakes.

Lunch Tea Collage 

A break for lunch with home-made bacon quiche with plenty of salads and coleslaw plus a good selection of drinks and a lovely surprise was afternoon tea with a gorgeous selection of home-made cakes, whilst we waited for our final breads to bake, I couldn’t manage much by that point but Louise very kindly let me take home a brownie and meringue for Mr ND who was looking after Miss ND for the day.  They were very well received!

I can highly recommend The Artisan Bakehouse, warm and friendly, beautiful surroundings and superb tuition, I feel way more confident about baking a wider selection of breads now with all the tips Les passed on to us.

 A lot of kneading later and 32 breads made between us, 8 exhausted but happy ladies went away laden with bread and windfall damsons, see what I made with them here!  

 

 

Blackberry and Toasted Hazelnut Muffins

The garden has produced a bumper crop of apples this year, the cherries didn’t do so well and what little we had the birds got.  The blackberries have been so abundant in our garden that I’ve picked several bucketloads already and still they are coming!  We’ve made the usual Apple & Blackberry Pies and used a quite a few in our breakfasts and I can’t resist popping a few every time I pass the kitchen (allegedly they have super skin-tightening properties so hopefully no need for that facelift!) but I needed to use more and quite fast too as once picked they only last a couple of days in the fridge.

These Blackberry and Toasted Hazelnut Muffins from Tesco Real Food use 200g of blackberries and includes a fair amount of yoghurt  (we use Total Greek Yoghurt, it’s thick and stays on the spoon, vital when the toddler is aiming for her mouth and of course she loves it!)  in the recipe for a lovely moist, fruity muffin.  You can find their recipe here.

Blackberrymuffins Collage

I made a couple of adjustments to suit us, I used self-raising wholemeal flour instead of plain wholemeal flour and less baking powder to compensate.  Also swapped out 50g of the wholemeal flour for self-raising white flour, these muffins will be eaten by a toddler and the addition of a little white flour makes the muffins lighter.   And of course, no surprise I took the sugar down to 80g from 100g.

I shall be making another batch, it’s a great recipe, the softness of the fruit with a satisfying little crunch from the toasted hazelnuts.  Next time I will add more blackberries to the top, after all I have plenty!  

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French Apple Tart

When we viewed the house we currently live in we were both working long hours and our viewing all took place in the evenings.  We were house hunting in the winter months and only looked at the back garden in the dark.   When we finally saw the back garden we were pleasantly surprised to see 3 apple trees to go with the one beauty in the front garden.  For years now they have been very prolific (except last year, see my post here on the weather saga)  and we have found ourselves (Mr ND loves to bake too!) baking like crazy from the end of August until the Autumn and stuffing the freezer with as many apple goodies as we could fit in.

frenchappletartnd

I’ve started picking this year’s crop and giving some away to friends and family but the rest I’m cooking and baking with myself starting with this very simple French Apple Tart.  There are two ways of doing this, with or without the apple purée, today it’s with.   

I’m using ready rolled puff pastry, I have made puff pastry before but probably never will again as the store bought is so good and so convenient.   Once the apples have been sliced for the top of the pastry, pop in some lemon juice to stop them going brown.

frenchappletartNDCollage

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Servings: 12

Pre-heat your oven to 180 C,/160 C fan/Gas 4

Ingredients

2-3 medium Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped – for the purée
Ready rolled puff pastry- cut a piece to fit your baking tray
1 free-range (I use organic) egg yolk, beaten

2 medium Bramley apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
50-75g butter, melted
3-4 tablespoons caster sugar

Method

 –  Add a couple of tablespoons of water to a pan with the chopped apples, cover and place over a medium heat and simmer for a few minutes until apples have broken down and are soft.  Beat lightly so they are apples are smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

–   Roll out the puff pastry onto a baking sheet, it’s best taken out of the fridge a few minutes before baking, and lightly score an inner margin inside the edge of the puff pastry, the edge should then puff up nicely.  I usually prick the pastry too to stop the middle puffing up.  Brush the pastry with the beaten egg yolk.  Wait a minute or two then repeat.

–  Spread the apple purée all over the pastry leaving out the outer margin.  Layer the apple slices over the apple purée.  

–  Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with caster sugar.

–  Bake for 25 -30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are soft and lightly golden brown.

–  Dust with icing sugar (optional) and slice into 12 portions. 

I shall be making these a lot as they are so delicious but as I have so many apples (have I mentioned that I have 4 apple trees!!) I will double up on the apples on top as they do shrink once baked and also make into individual round apple tarts, lots more to try!

 Nutritional Info:

Vitamins A & C, plus iron and calcium

Apples are a good source of pectin which is high in fibre.

Apples should store well for months if unblemished and placed in a cool, dry place.   They should be wrapped in  newspaper and then placed in a single layer in a cardboard box.  

It’s not often I can get tree-ripened, truly organic, fresh from the tree produce to cook with, it doesn’t get better than that!

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Apple and Sour Cream Flan Cake

appleflancake1Apple and Sour Cream flan cake

Last year our apple trees produced no fruit, a first for them since we have lived here, the beautiful, delicate pink blossoms were rained on so hard that they didn’t get pollinated so no apples.  We have 4 trees, 3 Bramley’s and 1, as yet, unidentified eating apple tree.  We cook, bake, freeze and finally give loads to the neighbours.   This year all is well again,  I have been on blossom, rain, wind, weather watch and although we had a lot of rain this year, we have a healthy crop.  

apple Collage

This Apple and Sour Cream Flan Cake was inspired by an old Woman & Home recipe that I have tucked away and is a firm family favourite.   I have lowered the sugar content again but feel free to use more if your tooth is sweeter than ours.

 Pre heat your oven to 180C, 160C Fan, gas mark 4

Bottom line and butter a 23cm (9″) round cake tin, I use a springform, so easy to use.

My Ingredients
3 medium sized cooking apples, peeled and cored
125g butter,softened plus a little extra to brush top of apples
90g golden caster sugar
2 organic free-range eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
100g sour cream
1 tblspn apricot jam for glazing

Method
Beat the butter and the golden caster sugar together until pale and creamy, add the eggs one at a time and beat in. Stir in the vanilla extract, then the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and the sour cream until smooth.

Chop one of the apples into small bite sized chunks and finely slice the others, you may not need all the slices.  Add the chopped apples to the cake batter, then spread the mixture into the prepared baking tin. Make smooth and even then arrange the apple slices to top. Melt a little butter and brush over the top of the cake and apples.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake has risen and is golden. It should be firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack, then glaze the top with the warm apricot jam. Serve with creme fraiche or a dollop of double cream, this cake is so lovely and moist it doesn’t need anything but it’s summer and a blob of something creamy is so de rigeur!  Enjoy!

 appleflanslice

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Bread Time – Soda Bread

Soda Bread, leavened with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast, which makes it perfect for me as I am supposed to be avoiding yeast, it’s not easy as I love breads of every kind!  I made a plain version to start with and really enjoyed it.  Soda bread does not keep well and is best eaten within a day or so, no problem there then!  Apparently it freezes well, mine didn’t last long enough to freeze.

I expect all Soda Bread recipes are mostly alike but I’m using Paul Hollywood’s version from his How to Bake book but I did halve the recipe, I always like to do a test bake first! 

Prep: 15-20 mins

Makes: 1 small loaf

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6
Line a baking tray with parchment/baking paper


Ingredients

250g plain white flour plus a little extra for dusting your board and dough before baking

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

200ml buttermilk

Method

Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl, then add in the buttermilk and stir until a sticky dough is formed.

Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball, flatten slightly.

Then put the dough onto your prepared baking try, cut into quarters making sure you don’t cut all the way through and give a light dusting with flour.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

The great thing about some breads are the alternatives you can make. Combining wholemeal and white flour and by adding grated cheese and onion or sun-dried tomatoes, olives, etc to the dough mixture for an even more delicious Soda Bread.

For the Sundried Tomato and Cheese Soda bread I used 180g white plain flour (all I had left after baking 2 other Soda Breads!) and 70g wholemeal flour, as you can see even so little wholemeal flour has given it a lovely colour and texture.  I used 40g extra strong Cheddar cheese, will use more next time, love cheesy bread and a few sun-dried Tomatoes, again could have used more.  Can’t wait to try out more combinations!

Chocolate Valentine Cheesecake

I asked Mr ND what he would like for Valentine‘s Day, he wanted a chocolate cheesecake.  To make it Valentine inspired I cut a little heart out of the middle with a cookie cutter and filled the space with raspberry jelly.

Serves: this is a small cheesecake for two to share or in our case, all for Mr ND!

Prep time around 20 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes plus cooling

Ingredients

125g Chocolate Digestive biscuits
45g unsalted butter, melted
50g double cream
300g soft cheese
1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
1 medium egg
40g golden caster sugar
1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice
plain chocolate grated for decoration

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
Method

Line a 15cm springform tin with baking paper, I find springform easier to release cheesecakes intact!

– Place the chocolate digestive biscuits in a food processor and whiz up until crushed.  Add the melted butter and stir into the crushed biscuits, press into your baking tin.  Chill until your cheesecake filling is ready.

– Place the double cream, cream cheese, cocoa powder, egg, caster sugar and orange juice into your food processor and whiz up until smooth.

– Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base and bake for 40 minutes.  Put a bowl of hot water into the oven too on a lower rack, the steam from the hot water will keep the cheesecake moist.

–  Turn the oven off after 40 minutes and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for abour an hour or so then place the cheesecake in the fridge to cool further.

– Decorate with shavings of chocolate to your heart’s content.

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