It’s been nearly three weeks since my birthday but one of the presents I got with my birthday money was a fantastic recipe book. Called Stork The Art Of Home Baking, it is an amazing collection of recipes which celebrate the centenary of the famous baking ingredient. I sometimes use Stork in my sponges and cupcakes as it makes them lighter but I have never tried their block margarine.
The book contains lots of delicious recipes including both modern and traditional favourites. There are also plenty to suit special diets, including vegan recipes. I’m not vegan but I have several family members who are and it’s always great to know that Stork can be used as a butter substitute when baking vegan recipes.
With this in mind and thinking of what was in my baking cupboard because of lockdown, I chose to bake some Vegan Oat and Cranberry Cookies. They made good use of the end of a bag of dried cranberries and some desiccated coconut lurking in my baking cupboard.
These cookies were so quick and easy to make and were ready in less than half an hour. I can’t share the recipe with you, due to copyright but here is how they were made.
In a large mixing bowl, I weighed out porridge oats, desiccated coconut, plain flour, brown sugar, dried cranberries and some ground mixed spice.
In a medium pan, I put in Stork block, golden syrup and water and let it melt.
When the Stork block, syrup and water had melted into liquid form, I added some bicarbonate of soda. This frothed up and had to be taken off the heat.
Mixing the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stirring carefully to ensure everything was covered.
Mixing into a soft dough.
I had made up three baking trays with baking parchment. I put heaped dessertspoonfuls of dough on the tray putting them well spaced apart as they were bound to spread when cooking. There was enough for 16 cookies.
It didn’t take long for the cookies to bake in the oven. The baking time was from 8-10 minutes so you had to watch them as they brown very quickly.
After ten minutes cooling down on the baking tray, you can transfer the cookies onto the wire rack to completely cool down. If you move them before then, they might break before they have chance to harden up.
Please note, I am writing this to show what I’ve baked from the book bought from my own money. I am not being sponsored by Stork for this post.
If you have the book and have baked anything from it, do let me know what you tried. I’m hoping to bake a Victoria Sponge tomorrow.
Just before Christmas I was contacted by Hammerson, the developers behind the new Victoria Gate retail development currently being built in the centre of Leeds. They are working in partnership with Zest Health For Life and the Leeds East Food Bank on a project which will make a huge difference to thousands of struggling families in Leeds. Zest Health For Life is a non- profit making organisation which helps disadvantaged people in the Leeds area by giving them chance to take part in activities to improve people’s social, mental, physical and emotional well being.
Over the past three or so years there has been an increasing need for food banks as families struggle to get by due to many circumstances. As a result there are more and more food banks which are providing a lifeline for disadvantaged families. There was also a need for providng people with help in giving ideas for nutritious, yet cheap mealthat would also be tempting to eat. So Victoria Gate has linked up and created a fantastic cookbook which is given out at the food bank.
To find out more about Hammerson’s partnership with Zest Health For Life and the cookbook, read about it here:
The book “Simple Cooking On A Shoe String” is an ideal starter book to give beginners a start in cooking healthy meals that won’t cook the earth. In the ingredients list against every recipe the foods that are usually put in the food parcels are highlighted in bold type. These are usually tinned or packet foods.
I was asked if I would like to take part in a Charitable Food Blogger Challenge by either using inspiration from my own recipes or recipes from the recipe book. I agreed and was sent a food parcel full of ingredients to take up the challenge.
I was impressed with the ingredients I got in the food parcel. I knew that I could bake quite a few things with the ingredients provided, they would stretch quite far and that by including oats, wholemeal flour and bananas the bakes would be healthier than, say a cupcake with buttercream. Not only were there ingredients containing the slow release carbs, such as the oats, they were also cheap ones. I did have to add my own butter but I used Sainsbury’s own value brand of unsalted butter which at the time of writing was 95p for a 250g packet. I also used golden syrup in one of the recipes and this is also a cheap standby to have in your storecupboard.
First of all I chose to bake the Spicy Banana Bread in the Cooking On A Shoestring recipe book. According to the ingredients list you might get sugar and oats in a parcel from the food bank but the other ingredients are cheap to buy and with the exception of the bananas will keep so you could make it again and again. The recipe introduction says “bananas are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. You can use overripe bananas for this recipe so that they don’t go to waste. You could also use less sugar as the mixed spice already gives this recipe a delicious flavour.The bread could be eaten as a snack or at breakfast time”
The banana loaf was simple to bake in a 24cm size loaf tin and was easily stored in an airtight tin. It cut beautifully up into slices and tasted delicious with or without butter spread on it. My husband actually said he preferred it to other banana loaves he had tasted as it wasn’t too overpoweringly sweet.
With the remaining ingredients I had a brainstorming session and thought about what I’ve baked in the past using oats as a main ingredient and came across a wonderful recipe in another of my favourite cookbooks, one which I’ve bought for my children The Hungry Student Easy Baking by Charlotte Pike. In this book there is a recipe for banana and chocolate chip cookies. As I had quite a bit of sugar left and one banana left in the box I thought I would adapt the recipe to suit what was in the box. So instead of the chocolate chips in the original recipe I used 100g of oats and instead of the plain flour and bicarbonate of soda I used the wholemeal flour given to me in the food parcel.
The result was 18 deliciously chewy and moreish cookies whiche went down extremely well with the whole family. I had to add 90g of my own butter but I didn’t need anything else to make them special.
After the cookies I realised I still had enough ingredients left to bake some flapjacks. I combined 175g butter with 175g of the sugar in the parcel and to this I also added my own golden syrup of about 150g. Otherwise the flapjack wouldn’t have stuck together. When this had melted in a large pan I then added 500g porridge oats and some ground mixed spice. I reckon one or two of the bananas in the parcel might have worked here so long as it had been mashed in.
Unfortunately my daughter turned the oven temperature up to well over 200oC after I had asked her to turn it up. I was refering to some music playing in the kitchen, but she thought I meant the oven! I realised when I thought I could smell burning only 10 minutes after putting the flapjacks in the oven. So down went the temperature but they weren’t my usual chewy offerings. Anyhow I did find one of them was delicious with a cup of coffee at breakfast the next day!
After all this I still had a tiny bit of sugar and oats, some baking powder, some of the vanilla essence, some mixed spice and some of the flour left! It just goes to show that you can create some delicious things with store cupboard ingredients and that they don’t have to cost the earth either. I thought I could use the remaining ingredients to make pancakes and one member of my family could have porridge for breakfast.
You can find out about the work of Zest Health For Life at the link to their website here:
A few weeks back I wanted to use up a tin of pumpkin puree which had been lurking in my baking cupboard. My family don’t like pumpkin pie so I looked through my recipe books and found a few recipes which would help me use this tin. I had made a Coconut Pumpkin Bar cake from the latest Hummingbird Bakery cookbook before but wanted to try something different.
So, it was raining outside, it was cold and miserable. The dog had been walked and I wanted to crack on before the kids came home off the school bus. I found two recipes I liked, the first was a square cake from the fab (and much used in this house) The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook, and another from the brilliant latest offering from Lorraine Pascale: A Lighter Way To Bake. In Lorraine’s book she has a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Luckily each recipe used half the tin of pumpkin puree so I had enough to make both recipes!
First up was the whole Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake from the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook. Here’s how it was made:
Overall I was very impressed with the way the two recipes turned out, though my personal favourite has to be the cupcakes. They were perfect. They weren’t too sweet but provided me with a cakey fix. My hubby and kids don’t really like pumpkin so I didn’t tell them that there was pumpkin in the cakes. They were none the wiser!
A couple of weeks ago I went along to York Central’s Clandestine Cake Club event which was held in the fabulous York Cocoa House on Blake Street just around the corner from the Minster. Although I have been a member of the Clandestine Cake Club for nearly 2 years now, it was the very first time I had ever managed to get along to the York Central group. This month’s theme was Literary Cakes which to me was a brilliant theme. As a trained primary school teacher, a mother and a massive bookworm it just had to be a child’s book which would provide the inspiration for my cake.
After taking a while to decide, I settled upon Paddington Bear. I first enjoyed the Paddington Bear stories by Michael Bond as a child in the 1970’s at Infant School. Our teacher read the first book to us and I also enjoyed the TV series that used to come on just before the 6 o’clock news! When I became a Key Stage One teacher nearly 20 years ago I had a cuddly Paddington toy and a book which I used to share with the children at story time. The book ended up being passed down to my own two children who are now teenagers. My hubby loved Paddington too and I remember him exploding with laughter reading the stories to my children at bedtime. So my cake just had to be a cakey version of one of Paddington’s Marmalade Sandwiches!
I then started looking for recipes containing orange and or marmalade and then remembered only a few days previously Mary Berry had been showing how to make her Spiced Orange Cake on The Great British Bake Off Masterclass. It sounded like a great way to try out the cake and to experiment with it to turn it into a marmalade sandwich!
Here’s how it was done:
The cake went down well at cake club that night. I had about a third of the cake left along with some of the other cakey leftovers to take into work with me to share with my colleagues. It also went down well in school and I was delighted that the cake turned out the way I wanted it to. I would love to make it again and I bet it would work well with lemon or lime as a change with different spices to complement the main flavour. Watch this space!
Not another apple related blog post?! Well it certainly feels like it at the moment but then again I have been inundated with apples. The other day my next door neighbour came round with some apples. He gave us two huge carrier bags full of apples from his tree in his garden. One bag of smaller apples is being eaten by my daughter’s horse, the others by me and my family here in North Yorkshire.
The other day I posted about baking a Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding nearly two weeks ago from the latest Great British Bake Off book but I still had loads of apples to use up. I had been ill with a nasty cough so I hadn’t baked anything for nearly a week (a record for me!) But to me, Sunday lunch isn’t Sunday lunch without a pudding to finish it off especially in the colder weather. So it had to be something with apples but what could I bake? I’d made apple cakes, apple crumbles, apple pies and was running out of ideas. I looked through my recipe books and although it looked very big for a Sunday lunch I couldn’t resist having a go at the Apple Pie Cake which is from Edd Kimber‘s recipe. This cake recipe is featured in his “The Boy Who Bakes” book.
I have always liked Edd and his style of baking ever since we first saw him on the very first series of The Great British Bake Off back in 2010. His Red Velvet Cake from The Boy Who Bakes and his chocolate cake from his second book “Say It With Cake” are two of my favourite large cake recipes which I use time and time again.
Here’s how I made the Apple Pie Cake:
The cake itself is actually created using a whisking method where the eggs are separated. The air gets into the cake by whisking the volume into the yolks and then into the egg whites. I’m not as experienced at this method so I did wonder how it would turn out.
Despite still feeling rough from my cough after last week I was delighted that the cake turned out well. It tasted absolutely delicious and everyone enjoyed it. Even my son who complains he “doesn’t like apple cooked in anything” ate a second slice!