I wanted to scratch off another two recipes from my #100bakeschallenge this week. I’d already made some pizza dough on Monday for challenge number 5 which incidentally was also World Pizza Day! Saturday 22nd January was also Blond Brownie Day. I had to make some Lotus Biscoff Blondies so great: another challenge could be scratched off my #100bakeschallenge poster. I’m aiming for on average 2 challenges a week, although this might not go to plan if I have a busy week or if we’re away on holiday!
My new go-to recipe for Lotus Biscoff Blondies is by Jane’s Patisserie. I’ve tried several recipes but this one always works for me. It provides, thick and chewy blondies studded with chunks of white chocolate and filled with Lotus Biscoff spread. It’s topped with crushed and broken up pieces of the Lotus Biscoff biscuits.
I sometimes find it difficult to get hold of some of the biscuits, to be honest. Recently I’ve only seen the circular sandwich ones in my local Morrisons or Tesco. Then another time I had to buy the “lunchbox friendly” packets which come packaged in pairs. These are so much more expensive. I’ve found some at my local wholesalers now, thankfully. I don’t have any problem sourcing the spread, although I think I have some greedy fairies who come and steal spoonfuls of it out of the pot. It’s the same fairies who like my Percy Pig and my M&Ms stash!
Friday 21st January was National Granola Bar Day according to MyLegoMan #MostlyFoodieDaysOfcalendar. I love Granola Bars, even though they can be deceptively calorific. I try my hardest not to make or eat them too much, but occasionally the temptation is too much.
On Thursday afternoon I was asked to make some Granola Bars so I found a recipe I use in an old Good Food recipe book: Traybakes. It’s a handy book which I’ve had for a few years on my shelf. I must admit I think I’ve only made one or two recipes out of it, including the Granola Bars.
I adapt the recipe to personal preferences or whatever I have in the cupboard. Sometimes I include nuts and other times I don’t, depending on the recipient. In this version I used some dried apricots and some cranberries which needed using up. I left out the nuts and sesame seeds from the original recipe. The addition of cinnamon to the recipe gives it a little bit of extra flavour.
I used extra dried fruit in place of the nuts and the sesame seeds. I guess you can play around with the ingredients and use whatever you have in your cupboard but keep to the same quantities.
As with many granola and flapjack type recipes, quite often you are fooled into thinking they are healthy because of the oat content. But you find they contain brown sugar, butter, or honey, golden syrup or maple syrup. All in moderation is my motto. I find if I deny myself any treats, then I see other people eating them and want them all the more!
When making granola bars, I often find the method is similar to that of making flapjacks. You melt the butter, sugar and syrup/ honey together in a pan and then combine with the other ingredients. When combined you press into a greased and lined tin and bake.
As with flapjacks I bake on a lower heat and bring it out of the oven before it sets. Or else, your granola bars will be like bricks and you end up worrying about breaking your teeth on them!
Do you like Granola or Granola Bars? If you do, what dried fruit and nuts do you like in yours? I definitely love cranberries but I would love pecans if I was making them just for myself.
January 17th is World Pizza Day as I found out when looking at my #mostlyfoodiedaysof calendar from mylegoman.com. As if I need an excuse to eat Pizza? To be honest, I didn’t often eat pizza at home until a few months ago when I started a new job. On my way home from work I sometimes call in a local village shop (Tollerton Village Shop, just north of York) which sells the most amazing homemade pizzas. If Mr S is ever away overnight, or I fancy a night away from the cooking, I stop by and get some pizza. They are exactly how I love my pizza: thin and crispy dough with the perfect balance of ingredients. There are different toppings on the pizzas but I do love their ham and mushroom one.
I don’t often make my own pizzas, mainly because it’s time consuming making the dough and I don’t really like the ready made bases. But if I have a little more time, it’s great to make up some pizza dough. At the moment I really struggle with kneading as my hands get so hot (the menopause has a lot to answer for!) But it really is a fun activity if you have young kids who want to decorate their own pizzas. I cheat and buy the sauce ready made. My favourite is the Mutti one which you can get in Waitrose and other major supermarkets, as well as from Amazon. I prep the toppings first in little bowls and then everyone takes it in turns to come and decorate their pizzas before I stick them in the oven. I really wish I had an outdoor pizza oven but my indoor fan one will have to do.
For my pizza dough recipe I have been using Annabel Karmel’s one for years and years. It always works for me. I double the quantity to make four large adult size pizzas to suit my family.
I am not the most neatest at rolling out and shaping the pizza into the perfect circles. My pizzas tend to be the weirdest and most obsure shapes. I’d rather they tasted good than looked immaculate.
I was out for most of the afternoon so I didn’t get chance to make up the pizza dough until I got in at 4pm. This was such a rush and at first I panicked as I couldn’t find any yeast in my cupboard. I was sure I had some but my daughter had used yeast at Christmas when baking bread. Luckily it was lurking behind a packet of cornflour. I was relieved as I had promised my family pizza and Domino’s doesn’t deliver out our way!
The dough was made up, kneaded for about 10 minutes, put in an oiled bowl and covered in cling film. I put it on the worktop in my laundry room as that gets quite warm in there. Then it was time to catch up on everything else before preparing the toppings.
I’m a bit lazy when it comes to cheese for pizza. I don’t mind grating cheese but it was handy to have grated mozzarella to chuck on the pizzas. My kids were convinced one packet wouldn’t be enough for four pizzas but it was. I also used some ham which I chopped up, half a punnet of mushrooms (much to my daughter’s disgust who thinks mushrooms are evil!), some ready chopped Chorizo pieces, some chopped red peppers and some green olives. These olives were bought at Christmas and were stuffed with chilli. I absolutely love them and olives always go down well on pizza for me.
At 6pm, I got the dough out of the bowl. It had doubled in size but was very difficult to roll out on my worktop at first. I oiled the worktop a little and it did the trick. I still struggle to get the perfect circle so we went for oblong pizzas instead.
I got my family to come and make their pizzas two at a time as it gets pretty crowded when all of us are in there trying to get at the work tops. My 21 year old son and Mr S went first and then theirs were put into the oven to bake while my daughter and I made ours. My daughter was upstairs dyeing her hair so I had to remind her it was teatime! She chose to put chorizo on hers whereas I had a bit of everything else, including the olives.
I took photos of all of our pizzas, except for my daughter’s one as she said “she didn’t want her dinner on Facebook!” as she put it!
There was also another reason for making homemade pizzas: I could scratch off Pizza Dough as one of the challenges on my #100bakeschallenge poster! I’m hoping to make two of the challenges a week depending on commitments.
We loved our pizzas although we couldn’t eat them all as we were so full.
Do you enjoy making and/ or eating pizza? If so, did you celebrate World Pizza Day?
For those that are wondering what the #100bakes challenge is: it is a poster from www.crumbsbycollette.co.uk featuring 100 popular bakes. As you bake the recipe, you scratch the relevant square off the poster, revealing a beautiful hand drawn picture of that bake underneath. Mine doesn’t look that neat when scratched off as you can tell from the photo further down the post. I’ve got mine pinned up against my office door which is why it has been difficult to scratch it off. When I complete the challenge, I will take it down from the door and try to scratch the pictures off properly.
I absolutely adore Oat and Raisin Cookies and they have always been a massive hit with whoever has eaten any of my homemade ones. I’ve tried various recipes over the years but my overall favourite has to be Jane’s Patisserie’s recipe. It’s exactly everything you want in a cookie, yet it has that cinnamon and oaty hit as well as being so gorgeously chewy.
It just had to be Jane’s recipe I used to bake my fourth bake to scratch off the #100bakes challenge poster adorning the back of my office door. At the moment the target is to try and average two bakes a week so I can make them all by the end of 2022. But this won’t always be possible as I might have busy times or be away for the odd week.
As this post is published, it is now Wednesday and I baked the cookies on Sunday afternoon, straight after some Caramel Flapjacks. I was in a bit of a rush baking on the Sunday afternoon. Even though my day job is only part time, I have so much to cram in that I find baking is my relaxation time. I was trying my hardest to get a roast chicken dinner ready at the same time and wondering how the hell I could bake the cookies when I needed to have the roasties in the oven at the same time.
Hi everyone! Hope you’ve had a great weekend and I hope that your Monday is going well. It’s Blue Monday and a Full Moon! I’ve definitely felt a little bit more crabby and irritable over the last day or so. Yesterday, I just wanted to hibernate, let alone go out and do anything. But I forced myself to do housework and I went out for a couple of hours for a walk with Mr S. Coming back to a warm house to bake was just what I needed.
As you’ll know from my most recent posts, I was given a #100bakes poster at Christmas by my friend and it has inspired me to get back into blogging on here. Although I make a few of the bakes on the challenge on a regular basis, there are a few things I haven’t even tried at all!
Yesterday afternoon, after our walk I had a couple of hours before I was due to start on our Sunday roast. Although that was a disaster in itself, the chicken wasn’t cooked in time with all the rest of the meal and I had the mother of all meltdowns. My body chose to have the biggest hot flush ever (I’ve not had any for a while due to HRT) and I had to go upstairs to sit in the cold bedroom. I had to get Mr S to serve everything up as I was about to end up spilling gravy everywhere.
Baking, in comparison relaxes me for some reason. But it didn’t today. Why is it that when I bake something I get comments like “Don’t bake anything, I don’t want it in the house, I’m trying to lose weight,” etc. You know the sorts of comments. Then the moment I bake something and I say it’s for a customer or it’s going to work then I get, “Oh, you never bake anything for us! Can’t I have just one piece of flapjack?” It’s when you think, just give me a break!
I bake flapjack regularly and my go-to flapjack recipe always comes out chewy and making people want more. My tip is to bake low and slow and I always leave the mixture to stand in the tin for 15 minutes before baking. I also cut it when it is still warm but left in the tin.
My Caramel Flapjacks are a twist on the regular flapjacks I bake:
For the Caramel ones, I use maple syrup in place of golden syrup and I also added in some Callebaut Caramel Chips. I buy a 2.5kg bag of these from Amazon and have used them in cookies most of the time. As they are a beige colour, their colour did tend to blend in with the colour of the porridge oats! Thankfully, the flavour did not disappear in the baking.
Makes 12 pieces
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g soft, light brown sugar
1 generous tablespoonful of maple syrup
350g porridge oats
175g Callebaut Caramel Chips
You will need a 23cm (9″) square tin greased and lined with baking parchment.
Pre-heat the oven to 150oC (I have a fan oven) but alternatively use: 170oc/ 325oF or Gas Mark 3.
Weigh out all your ingredients and place the butter, sugar and maple syrup into a saucepan. Heat until melted on a medium heat.
Pour into a mixing bowl and add the porridge oats.
Fold in the porridge oats until well coated and then finally add in the Caramel Chips until incorporated into the mixture.
Spoon the flapjack mixture into the prepared tin and then level out with the back of a spoon.
Leave to stand for 15 minutes before baking. I bake my flapjack for about 30-35 minutes until it is still “wobbly” in the middle.
Take out of the oven and put on a wire rack to cool (still in the tin!) Leave for about 10 minutes or so. Cut the flapjack into pieces. I’ve done mine into 12 but you don’t have to do this!
Remove from the tin when cool and leave on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (they don’t last that long in our house!)
Did you know that January 6th is #NationalShortbreadDay? I didn’t until I got a My Legoman Mostly Foodie Days of Calendar for my kitchen wall. Or rather, its framed but still on the floor in my office until I can move pictures around in my kitchen and have the space to put it up!
I also noticed that Shortbread was one of the bakes on the #100bakeschallenge so this was bake number two scratched off the poster. If you’re wondering what I am on about, I got a Christmas present from my friend which is a fabulous poster made by Crumbs by Collette linked to a baking challenge. You post your results on social media using the hashtag #100bakeschallenge. I have seen that some people are giving themselves a year to do it in. I think that is achievable but quite a lot of my bakes are repetitive depending on my customer’s needs, my own time and my family’s personal preferences.
Shortbread has always been one of my favourite bakes to make as well as to eat! I love how you can turn four basic ingredients into something just utterly sublime. Then if you don’t like it plain, you can add extras to make it even more delicious. I bake lots of shortbread to send to customers and also for friends. It’s a shame that this day falls in January in a way, as shortbread does get made a lot in my kitchen for Christmas. It’s ideal for presents and for bringing out when you have visitors if they don’t like mince pies.
I absolutely love the cranberry and white chocolate combination and you name it, I have used it in other bakes where I can. It’s my brother’s favourite cookie flavour and he gets a vegan version every time I see him. I had to test it out in shortbread and oh my it looked lovely. I made extra to take to work as well.
CRANBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD
Serves 12-16 depending on how big you like your pieces.
Grease and line a 23cm/ 9″ square baking tin while you make the shortbread dough.
I make my shortbread dough in my KitchenAid as it stops me from handling the dough so much.
Cream the butter and sugar together in the mixer until it becomes light and fluffy.
Add the plain flour and cornflour to the mixture and bring it all together to form a ball of dough. Then fold through the white chocolate chips and cranberries.
Press the shortbread dough into the prepared tin ensuring that it is evenly spread and into all four corners of the tin. Prick the dough with a fork.
Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes. The shortbread should be lightly golden. After about 10 minutes, cut the shortbread up into however many pieces you would like and let it cool down on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove from the tin and sprinkle with extra caster sugar. Although I forgot to do this on this occasion as I was trying to do about ten things at once, this is what I usually do!
If you bake this recipe, do let me know how you get on with it. Do you use other ingredients in your shortbread or add extra flavours?
Happy New Year to all my followers. Sorry for the lack of blogging on here but that’s down to being busy at work in the day job, as well as all my baking commitments.
I really hope that 2022 is a better year for everyone. This time last year I didn’t feel at all positive and I actually cried when Big Ben struck midnight. Mr S thought I was being so negative. But I tend not to get over excited about things because if I do, I get really disappointed and on a downer when things go wrong or get cancelled. This year, however we had a more enjoyable Christmas and even though both Mr S and I had Covid at the beginning of December, we are so thankful we got it mildly and have made a good recovery in time for the Christmas celebrations.
I haven’t made any New Year’s Resolutions apart from that it’s my 50th birthday this year and I intend to live every day to the full and be thankful for what I’ve got. I lost two beloved family members last year and it’s made me realise how precious life is. So I’m trying to spend time doing things which make me happy and one of those is writing my blog.
My friend bought me a brilliant poster at Christmas which is from https://www.crumbsbycollette.co.uk/ Crumbs By Collette makes gifts for the home baker as well as having three different Baking Challenges which can be shared on Social Media with a hashtag. I got the #100bakes poster. The idea is that you choose one of the bakes on the poster, make it, post a photo on SM with the #100bakes hashtag and also scratch off the square above the bake, revealing a picture of that bake. There is also a Little Bakes Challenge, as well as a bread one. I thought this was a super idea as I’m always up for a new challenge.
The first challenge of 2022 just had to be a Sticky Toffee Pudding. We always have a roast dinner on New Year’s Day and I make a Sticky Toffee Pudding. It’s definitely one of my go-to desserts if we ever go out for Sunday lunch in the Winter.
My Sticky Toffee Pudding does not contain dates as my children don’t like them. I put raisins in, instead. I also bake it in my 6 Cup Nordicware Anniversary Bundt Pan to make it look extra special.
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING BUNDT
If you do not have a bundt pan, you can bake your Sticky Toffee Pudding like a cake in a 20cm round, loose bottomed cake tin. Grease this before use.
You will need:
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
115g butter or baking margarine, softened
175g light brown Muscovado sugar
2 large Free Range eggs, beaten
175g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Toffee Sauce:
100ml double cream
90g light brown Muscovado sugar
How to make your Sticky Toffee Pudding Bundt:
Preheat your oven to 180oC/160oC fan/ or Gas 4. I use a fan oven so I baked mine at 160oC.
Put the raisins into a pan along with the milk and the water. This needs to be brought to a simmer on a low heat until most of the liquid has soaked up the raisins. Take off the heat and add the spoonful of bicarbonate of soda to the pan. Great fun to watch it fizz up! When this is done, put the raisin pan to one side and let it cool down completely.
Now for the main part of the cake: Beat the butter or margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. I used Stork in my recipe today as I had some leftover from baking cupcakes. Gradually add the eggs. If it looks like the eggs are going to curdle the mixture, add a tablespoonful of flour to the mixture.
Beat in the raisin mixture as well as the spoonful of vanilla extract. Then you will need to add the remainder of the flour by carefully folding it into the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into your preferred cake tin, ensuring it is spread out evenly.
Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes. I actually took mine out at 42 minutes as my oven gets on the hot side so maybe check it at 40 minutes. I tested it with a skewer and it came out clean then.
While your cake is cooling down, make the toffee sauce. This is just made by simply heating the double cream, brown sugar and butter together in a small pan on the stove. The sauce will thicken slightly.
The cake can be taken out of the tin about 10 minutes after you have taken it out of the oven. Let it cool down completely or serve it straightaway, depending on your preferences. You could also serve the sauce separately in a jug. I chose to pour mine all over the cake and we ate ours about an hour after making it as I was busy getting the roast dinner ready.
This cake is perfect served hot, cold or with custard, ice cream or double cream. I have frozen the main part of the cake before (without the toffee sauce) and made that fresh when needed. Although leftovers are never around when I have made this cake. At the time of typing (Sunday 2nd in the afternoon), I am thinking I haven’t eaten lunch and knowing there’s half of the pudding cake left in the fridge. Oh dear!