Apricot And Cranberry Granola Bars

I love Granola Bars even though they aren’t as healthy as they seem. All in moderation is my motto!

Friday 21st January was National Granola Bar Day according to MyLegoMan #MostlyFoodieDaysOf calendar. 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.

The original recipe can be found here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/cinnamon-berry-granola-bars

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.

Pressed into the greased and lined tin, the granola bars are ready to be popped in the oven!

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!

As with flapjacks, I let the granola bars cool in the tin for a little bit. After about 10 minutes, I cut them up and then let them cool completely before removing them from the tin. If not, I find they’ll fall apart. Or if I leave it until they’re cool before cutting, then I find they’re difficult to cut.
Looks like there’s a lot of pumpkin seeds in these Granola bars!
Ideal for breakfast, a lunchbox or for a treat with a mid morning or afternoon cuppa.

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.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cranberry and White Chocolate Shortbread #100bakeschallenge/ National Shortbread day

My latest try out flavour for shortbread- Cranberry and White Chocolate!

January 6th 2022

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!

My Mostly Foodie Days of Calendar which is still propped up against the bookshelf in my office. Excuse the Instagram link all over the photo.

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.

My #100bakeschallenge poster. It’s pinned up on the door of my office as there’s nowhere else to put it.

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 also had a couple of batches of chocolate chip shortbread to bake earlier in the week. For that, I use the same basic shortbread recipe then substitute 75g of plain chocolate chips and 75g of dark chocolate chips. I always use Callebaut chocolate chips.

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.

The shortbread picture was scratched off my #100bakeschallenge poster. Two challenges completed, ninety eight to go!

CRANBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD

Serves 12-16 depending on how big you like your pieces.

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 125g caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g cornflour
  • 50g white chocolate chips (I use Callebaut)
  • 100g dried cranberries

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 Baking!

Love Sam xx

Sticky Toffee Pudding- #100bakes

My first bake of 2022: a Sticky Toffee Pudding baked in my Nordicware Anniversary 6 cup Bundt Pan.

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.

Here is my #100bakes poster in situ on the back of my office door. I’d love to have it up in my kitchen but there’s no room!

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.

A perfect dessert for a Winter’s day. Thanks to my sister in law for taking the photo of me pouring the toffee sauce all over the pudding!

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.

Serves 8

You will need:

  • 225g raisins
  • 100ml milk
  • 100ml water
  • 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
  • 30g butter

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!

1/100 of the #100bakes challenge completed. What shall I bake next?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #31: Apple, Maple and Walnut Streusel Cake

October 17th 2021.

It’s been over a year since I set myself the challenge of working my way through the bakes in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes. I’ve only managed about half of the recipes and it’s getting to the stage where there are some bakes that I might not be able to attempt. These are because they are big celebration cakes which I don’t have the occasion to make a cake like that for and baking all that cake for nothing would be a terrible waste. Over the next month or so I am going to try a couple more recipes which will be suitable and then I will start another challenge.

The Apple,Maple and Pecan Strusel Cake was a big winner.

Now it is Autumn, I am beginning to struggle a bit. I know lots of people love Autumn and Winter but I am not one of those people. I am a Spring and Summer person and dread the clocks going back. Dark nights and cold, damp weather are not my idea of fun. I struggle to get up in the mornings when it is dark. The only way I can embrace the seasonal changes, apart from trying to get out as much as possible for fresh air and exercise is to cook comfort food. I make our Sunday roast and try to make us a Sunday dessert as something to look forward to.

For our Sunday dessert last weekend, I chose to bake an Apple, Maple and Streusel Cake from the Amazing Cakes book. Featured in the Bakers’ Favourites chapter, this gorgeous and gently spiced cake was one Henry made during Series 9. This was one of Henry’s childhood favourite cakes inspired by his family holidays to Germany. I have never been to Germany myself but have tasted several Streusel cakes in the past. They are usually cakes topped with a crumble like topping with added nuts. This version uses chopped walnuts but pecans are a great alternative.

To start baking the cake, I lined and greased the bottom of a 20cm (8″) deep loose bottomed circular cake tin. I then put all the dry ingredients needed into a mixing bowl. These were self raising flour, baking powder, ground mixed spice, ground cardamom, and cinnamon. Then I rubbed cold cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until they became like breadcrumbs. Then I added brown sugar, some chopped apple pieces and some raisins. The recipe stated sultanas or blueberries but I had a load of raisins which needed using up and I didn’t want to waste all my blueberries in a cake. I wanted them for my yoghurt on my breakfast!

In another mixing bowl, I whisked eggs, double cream and vanilla together. This was then tipped into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and the fruit. When this was done, I made the Streusel topping which was quick and easy to make. I rubbed butter, flour, cinnamon and brown sugar together and then stirred in some chopped walnuts.

The cake mixture was spooned in to the prepared tin and then finally the Streusel mixture was sprinkled on top. The cake went into the oven and was baked for just over an hour.

When the cake came out of the oven, the kitchen smelled wonderful. Never mind me moaning about miserable weather, the smell of cinnamon is enough to cheer me up!

The Maple cream cheese frosting finished this cake off beautifully.
This cake was a great way to use some walnut halves I had left over from a previous bake.

I gave the cake a good hour to cool down. While it was cooling, I made up some Maple Icing. This was butter, brown sugar, Maple Syrup and full fat cream cheese mixed together. I filled a piping bag with the mixture and then piped twelve rosettes around the edge of the cake. To finish, I put a walnut half on top of each rosette.

A perfect balance of raisins, apple and nuts in this extremely moreish cake!
A piece for Mr S after work during the week. He really enjoyed it.

In the end we were so full after our main course that we left the cake and didn’t eat any! We didn’t start on it until the Tuesday and believe it or not it was still fresh. It was such a deliciously moist cake, with the aroma of the spices still lingering. I can honestly say this has been one of my favourite things to bake this year.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam. xx

A Bake For All Seasons #1: Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake.

3rd October 2021

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not that much of an Autumn/ Winter persion. Mainly because I don’t like it being dark early and getting up in the dark. Not to mention the lack of sun. But having said that, there are positives to this time of year- it’s Bake Off Season!

The 2021 Season is well underway as I write and I’m enjoying it as much as ever. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers on here.

I preordered the new Great British Bake Off recipe book to accompany this series from Amazon and it arrived on the day of release. I’ve done a review on the book as a separate post: you can read it here!

I looked to see which recipes tied in with Autumn and what fitted in with ingredients we had at home. I also wanted something suitable for a Sunday lunch dessert and not an overly complicated occasion cake which we wouldn’t be able to eat.

We chose the Blackberry and Pear Crumble Cake on page 200 in the Autumn section of the book as our first recipe. But I subsituted apples in place of pears in the recipe as we had apples to use up. I also have struffled to find blackberries recently. I’ve noticed not so many growing on the hedgerows recently, or have I missed something? The only way I could find any blackberries to use in this recipe was to buy a mixed berried frozen fruit bag from the supermarket and to separate them out to use in this recipe. To peel and core the apples, I use an apple segmenter which I have had since my children were little so that I could cut apples up for them when they had a snack.

So, on with the cake. I used a 20cm (8″) springform cake tin for the recipe which was greased and lined. When that was done, I put the chopped apples into a small saucepan with a tablespoonful of sugar and 25g butter. These were slowly cooked so that they would caramelise.

In another bowl I added 50g more butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and 75g plain flour and mixed this together with some toasted hazelnuts. The hazelnuts I found a bit fiddly to do as even as they toasted, it took ages to get the skins off. This made the crumble topping.

I then got out my KitchenAid and beat together some more butter and some more caster sugar until it was pale and creamy. I then added in eggs, one at a time and beat them well one at a time. In went the rest of the flour followed by some baking powder and finally some sour cream.

Now it was time to assemble the cake in layers. Starting with two thirds of the sponge mixture in the base of the tin. Followed by a third of the crumble topping and then the rest of the sponge. Then another third of the crumble topping. To finish off I arranged all the caramelised apples and blackberries on top, followed by the final sprinkling of crumble topping.

The cake takes quite a while to bake: the recipe stated 1 1/2 hours but I found mine was ready after 1 1/4 hours. It smelled absolutely delicious and there was nothing else you needed to do to serve it, except put a generous slice on a plate with some warm custard. The recipe suggested creme fraiche but we wanted custard.

I will definitely make this again. It might work with almonds instead of chopped hazelnuts and I will try it with pears as well. It really did hit the spot on a chilly Autumn afternoon. I must admit I had some leftovers the next day when I got in from school as I had a sweet craving!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #25: Coconut Sugar Fruit Cake

I’ve been trying out recipes from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes recently. The book has a chapter brimming full of Free-From recipes which is really useful. So far I’ve made the Gluten Free Brownies, the Vegan Marble Bundt Cake and the Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake. To fit in with dietary requirements, lifestyles and allergy needs, it’s fantastic to have a collection of recipes to fall back on.

One of the recipes was a Coconut Sugar Fruit Loaf Cake. Although the recipe contains natural sugars in the form of dried fruit, it does not contain refined sugar. Coconut sugar is palm sugar produced from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm. I have used coconut sugar before, in a vegan cake and it is definitely more expensive to buy than your average refined sugar. It’s roughly about twice as much as the same weight of soft brown sugar. I bought The Groovy Food Company’s Coconut Sugar to bake this recipe.

To start making the cake, I soaked mixed dried fruit in some hot tea the night before. I left the bowl covered in cling film overnight.

The following day when I got in from work in my day job, I started on the cookie and brownie order I had for that afternoon. When they were finished, I kept the oven on and started to make the fruit loaf.

I put self raising flour, the coconut sugar, some ground ginger and mixed spice into my mixing bowl and stirred it before adding in two beaten eggs, I then added it into the dried fruit and tea mixture.

I then spooned the mixture into my loaf tin. I use ready made loaf tin liners as I’m dead lazy and any shortcuts you can have are a massive help. I’ve bought some more recently from Tesco and they’re a godsend.

The cake baked in the oven at 160oC (fan) for about 55 minutes. I tested it and it was still a bit sticky right in the middle, so I gave it another 10 minutes. This did the trick. When it came out of the oven I left it to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes.

Usually when I have fruit loaf, I spread it with a bit of butter and serve it the Yorkshire way with a slice of Wensleydale cheese. I was so hungry, I ate a slice straightaway without either. The result was a moist and delicious cake but without feeling overly sweet.

Would I bake it again? Yes I would although the coconut sugar does make it a rather expensive bake. You can only get two loaves out of one bag of sugar.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #17: Traditional Fruit Cake

I was far too disorganised to bake my Christmas Cake early, let alone on Stir Up Sunday! I got as far as buying and mixing the dried fruit up and soaking it in some port on that day. I did manage my Christmas pudding as that steamed away in my slow cooker while I did other things. I was even thinking of not making a Christmas cake at all this year. Things as you know are very different this year and it will just be my own household for Christmas: Mr S, myself and our two grown up children. Neither of my children like Christmas cake. Mr S and I like it but by the time we get round to eating it in the New Year I am always on my usual New Year Diet!

Last year’s Christmas Cake leftovers are still in the same tin I put them in back in January. We had one slice each I think on New Year’s Day after I had cut some off for my mum to have. I think I love making the Christmas Cake just to decorate it to be honest! Last year’s cake was decorated with Christmas roses and holly leaves but I just do not have the time this year. Mr S suggested buying a small cake from M&S. I was outraged! Telling a cake baker to buy a cake is not what you do and although I love M&S food and their cakes are lovely, there’s nothing like homemade.

In the end I decided on a compromise. I would like something like a Christmas cake but with smaller bitesize portions and less marzipan and icing. So I found a recipe in the Amazing Cakes book which would do just that. There is a recipe for a traditional fruit cake but there are adaptations to and ingredient quantities for baking the cake in various size tins. I was pleased to see one option was for a shallow traybake cake. This meant I could cut the cake into tiny amounts and only be able to ice the top as well.

Finally, my cake was baked last Monday morning when I had a day off work. I was at home catching up and so glad I could finally put all that dried fruit soaking into a cake instead of seeing it in a bowl covered in a clean tea towel on the worktop.

Now you may be wondering why I had soaked my dried fruit in port when usually it is traditional to soak it in brandy. Well that’s because I forgot to get some brandy and we had a bottle of port left over from Christmas last year. We ended up with two bottles of it given to us and it’s not something we really drink much of except at Christmas. I have a port with my Christmas pudding or with cheese and that’s about it! So the dried fruit was soaked in some port and it did smell lovely. I will feed the cake once a week until I get round to icing it nearer Christmas.

To start the cake itself I had to melt butter and dark brown sugar in a pan on the hob. The recipe asked for molasses sugar but I couldn’t find any so used dark brown muscovado sugar instead. Once this had melted I took it off the heat.

I then weighed out some plain flour and various spices, such as ginger, cinnamon and ground mixed spice. The mixed spice was in place of ground cloves and nutmeg as I wanted to use what I had in the cupboard. Then I added beaten eggs and the whole mixture was carefully folded in before spooning carefully into my prepared traybake tin.

As it was a traybake tin, the cake’s cooking time was a lot shorter had it been in a different and deeper tin. It only needed roughly about an hour but I checked with a skewer.

The cake doesn’t look all that attractive and looks very bumpy but I am sure it will look much better once it is decorated! I will update the post as soon as that’s done nearer Christmas.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Great British Bake Off Signature Bake- Florentines

I just love Florentines so I was really glad to see them featured as the Signature Bake on the Bake Off’s Biscuit Week. I don’t really think of them as biscuits though, more like chocolates. They’re something I always associate with Christmas and foodie presents though. I think they’re so pretty and the colours shine through like jewels depending on the sort of dried fruit you use. They can be fiddly to make so that’s why when I make them they don’t look that neat! So long as they taste great, that’s what matters.

I don’t have my own recipe for Florentines but I use the recipe in the Great British Bake Off Christmas book which came out a few years ago. I had to adapt the recipe this time as I had to look at what dried fruit I had in the cupboard. I had to add sultanas instead of dried cranberries as I didn’t have any. I weighed out some chopped glace cherries, some dried mixed peel and some sultanas as well as some flaked almonds. In a pan I gently heated together some butter, sugar and some double cream. Then the cream mixture was combined with the fruit and nuts.

On lined baking trays I put teaspoonfuls of the Florentine mixture spaced well apart. These tend to spread very easily on the tray so I didn’t want them too close together. The other thing I’ve learned to watch with Florentines is that they can burn very easily so they don’t need that long in the oven. I put them in for 8 minutes and even the almonds were beginning to go brown.

From the original Bake Off recipe you needed 100g each of dark chocolate and white chocolate. I didn’t have white chocolate, only some dark chocolate. I couldn’t be bothered to go out to buy just a bar of chocolate. I then remembered I had a packet of strawberry flavoured pink chocolate buttons in my cupboard. I had bought these a few weeks on holiday when I was on holiday on the Isle of Arran and had forgotten I had them.

Once the Florentines were out of the oven, I let them cool down completely before I dared to move them onto a wire rack. From experience I’ve had them completely broken trying to move them off the tray. When they were cooled, I turned the Florentines upside down and spread melted dark chocolate on half of them. The other half had the melted pink chocolate buttons on them. I tried to give them a pattern but it didn’t quite work until the chocolate had set a bit.

I really loved making the Florentines and they were worth the effort. I definitely will be making them again at Christmas for my foodie hampers. They’re not a budget bake especially as dried fruit, nuts and chocolate can be expensive. This is why they are probably seen as a treat for special occasions.

Did you try any of the bakes from Biscuit Week? If so, which did you try? Or do you have a favourite you want to have a go at?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Rock Cakes

Does anyone remember the first thing they baked at school in Home Economics lessons? Gosh, I’m showing my age here. It’s called Food Technology in schools these days! My very first experience of baking in school was when I was in the Top Infants (as Year 2 was called back then). A parent volunteer used to come into school one afternoon a week and we used to take it in turns to go and bake. It seemed like forever until it was finally my turn and I remember being so excited.  My excitement soon turned to frustration though.  We were going to make gingerbread men. I already knew how to make gingerbread men and had made them before with my mum at home.  I can recall having to stand there whilst the adult did everything for us. We weren’t allowed to weigh anything out or to even gather the dough up into a ball.  Finally, we were allowed to roll the dough out but we were only allowed to make two gingerbread men each despite there being enough dough to make gingerbread men for the whole class.  When it came to decorating them, we had glace cherries and currants. I was so proud of my two gingerbread men but I didn’t feel that it was a real hands on experience.

When I became a teacher I always loved to do a bit of cookery if it fitted in with the curriculum.  Sadly, nowadays, along with all the other “life skills”, it’s been brushed aside for the 3 R’s and not much else.  I fondly remember a reception class I had being so excited when we had a teddy bear’s picnic one afternoon near the end of term. We spent all morning making the food for the picnic in groups. The children were so happy making sandwiches, baking buns and making teddy bear shaped biscuits as well as creating a fruit salad and healthy dips. I’ve always believed in the hands on approach and feel that you learn more by actually doing it.

After my children were born and I went back into education, first as a teaching assistant and then as a supply teacher, I found I could use my cookery skills to help others. I ran a very popular After School Cookery Club for a few years. I absolutely loved it and if I ever see one of my ex-pupils in town, they always mention Mrs Smith’s Cookery Club.  One thing we baked were rock cakes.  After talking to others, they often say they remember baking Rock Cakes!

I’ve always thought the name Rock Cakes has a double meaning.  They’re called that because they look like rocks but imagine if you’ve overcooked them and they come out hard as rocks!

Just before I went back to work from being furloughed, I dug out a few old cookbooks including my old Be-Ro one. I can just imagine my late Nana Mary baking from an earlier edition of it. I can’t remember her making Rock Cakes but I’m sure she must have done. My mum definitely did when we were young.

The Be-Ro Rock Cake recipe contains mixed, dried fruit and peel as well as ground mixed spice. I’ve used cherries and even chopped stem ginger in my rock buns in the past but I didn’t have those in. So I stuck with tradition.  They are so quick to make and are done within half an hour.

For copyright reasons, I am not permitted to copy the Be-Ro recipe word for word with you, but I can share a very similar recipe I have found online from the BBC Good Food Website: here 

For some reason this time, my rock buns looked more like cakes than knobbly rocks. They still tasted delicious, though and I took one to have on my tea break on the days I was working last week. The rest of my work mates got the other bakes, my Chocolate Mocha Latte Cake and some Lemon Cupcakes!

Can you remember what you first baked at school? Did you like cookery at school?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx