Nostalgic Bakes from Paul Hollywood’s “A Baker’s Life”

The recent spate of snow days has made me want to stay in my warm kitchen and bake comfort food.  Never mind me trying to diet.  Forget that! When you feel cold and tired, all you want to do is to hibernate with a giant piece of flapjack in each hand!

I ended not being able to work for three days due to the snow last week but then again I wasn’t the only one.  Then again it gave me chance to catch up with jobs and to try out some recipes from Paul Hollywood’s latest book A Baker’s Life.  I had got it at Christmas last year and had my eye on several things I wanted to test out.

The book spans the five decades of Paul’s life so far from his childhood as the son of a baker in Merseyside right up to the present day as a judge on The Great British Bake Off.  Each chapter in the book concentrates on recipes from a certain time of life.  I wanted to start with the first chapter: Nostalgic Bakes from Paul’s early years.

There were loads of recipes to choose from, including traditional favourites that we would all remember from our own childhoods.  Some of the recipes are perfect for actually making with children, such as Cornflake Cakes and Jam Tarts.  As well as these, there were also recipes for bakes that your grandma or mum may have made in years gone by.  The first recipe in the book was actually called My Mum’s Ginger Biscuits.  I absolutely love ginger biscuits and they remind me of the Yorkshire Ginger Biscuits my Nana Margaret would buy.  She would never bake them as she was a walking disaster in the kitchen.  If she could buy it in Marks and Spencer’s food hall, she would have it and pass it off as her own.

Paul says in his recipe introduction: ” Not only are they a doddle to make, but they’ve got the right balance of being crispy and chewy.” The recipe was an old-fashioned melting method one, where the butter or margarine is melted in a saucepan on the hob with golden syrup and caster sugar. Then once the melted mixture was cooled enough to handle, then self raising flour and a beaten egg were added to the mixture.

The mixture was then gathered up into a ball and made into a dough.  I separated the dough into about 24 pieces and spaced them out carefully on lined baking trays.  I put two trays in the oven at a time and watched them like a hawk. They could easily burn quickly after about 10 minutes.

I always like my cookies on the chewy side and to be honest I would add tiny pieces of chopped stem ginger to the dough.  This version has the ginger flavour coming from ground ginger and wow, did my kitchen smell wonderful! I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep them from being scoffed instead of taking them into work.

When the biscuits were cooling down on the rack, I decided to have a go at another recipe from the Nostalgic Bakes chapter.  This time it was for a Tea Loaf.  I have baked countless tea loaves in my time, including my own version of a Welsh Bara Brith which recipe is featured in the second Clandestine Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake.  I can’t resist a slice of tea loaf, slathered in butter and with a cup of my beloved Yorkshire Tea.  The recipe doesn’t feature any spices or citrus fruit zest but is crammed full of raisins, sultanas and currants.  I did not have any currants but made up the difference in weight with extra sultanas and raisins.  The dried fruit had been previously soaked in some strong Yorkshire Tea and to this I added self raising flour, demerara sugar, milk and a beaten egg.

Once this was mixed up, I lined my 2 lb loaf tin with a special loaf tin liner and put it to bake in my fan oven.  I completely forgot that I also needed to bake some potato wedges to go along with the Cajun Chicken breasts cooking in the slow oven for our dinner that night.  So half way through the baking time I had to whip the oven door open and stuff the tray of wedges in on the shelf underneath the tea loaf.  Luckily they were both ready at the same time as I didn’t want the cake sinking.

I left the cake to cool on the side with the ginger biscuits and then took them along to work the following day.  I left them in the staff room and found that half the biscuits had gone along with a couple of slices of cake when I popped in at lunchtime before going home.

Next week I’m thinking of trying out some Millionaire’s Shortbread if I have time.

Happy Baking

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Chip Scones- The Great British Bake Off Everyday.

A couple of weeks ago I had come home from work, walked the dog and had an urge to bake. As I often do.  My son had been off school with a stinking cold but this did not curb his appetite.  He was really hungry and asked if I had any biscuits.  I didn’t. I don’t buy them because no sooner than they are taken out of the carrier bag they are in my mouth and straight on my hips.  Or if I make them they don’t last long either.

As I had lots of jobs to do I wanted to make something that would be quick and easy to prepare as well as taking a short time to bake.  Scones always fit the bill for me and as I was feeling tired and sluggish myself, a scone with a cuppa would hit the spot!

Once again I thought I’d try a recipe from the latest Great British Bake Off book” The Great British Bake Off Everyday”.  I had noticed a few scone recipes in the book and knew this would appeal to my chocolate loving son.  These scones also had the extra addition of marmalade in them which sounded lovely.

Here’s how they were made:

Self raising flour, salt and sugar are sifted into a mixing bowl.
Self raising flour, salt and sugar are sifted into a mixing bowl.
Small cubes of cold butter are added to the bowl.
Small cubes of cold butter are added to the bowl.
The mixture is rubbed together to form breadcrumbs.
The mixture is rubbed together to form breadcrumbs.
In a jug some buttermilk and an egg are mixed together.
Some buttermilk and an egg are mixed together.
The egg mixture, chocolate chips and marmalade are added to the mixture.
The egg mixture, chocolate chips and marmalade are added to the mixture.
The mixture is formed together with a pallette knife.
The mixture is formed together with a pallette knife.
The ball of dough is flattened slightly and rolled out to about 3cm deep.
The ball of dough is flattened slightly and rolled out to about 3cm deep.
The scones are cut out with a plain cutter. This was meant to be a 6cm diameter one. I ended up with an 8cm one so I only got   6 scones out of an 8 scone recipe!
The scones are cut out with a plain cutter. This was meant to be a 6cm diameter one. I ended up with an 8cm one so I only got 6 scones out of an 8 scone recipe!
Split open and warm straight from the oven.  The scones tasted fab spread with butter and more tangy marmalade.
Split open and warm straight from the oven. The scones tasted fab spread with butter and more tangy marmalade.

The scones made a yummy alternative to fruit ones and were a great hit with all my family.  I will definitely make them again.  I didn’t tell my son there was marmalade in the scones itself as I can imagine he would not eat it.  He did eat them with butter though.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Orange and Olive Oil Loaf- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

A couple of weeks ago I was told by my hubby to stop baking things so much as we were all trying to lose weight.  I agreed with him as I find it is all too tempting to “taste test” what I’ve baked.  I just love baking so much though. Usually the cakes and cookies I bake for Sam’s Smart Cookies are special occasion ones and the same recipes over and over again.  But occasionally I like to try new things out so if I have a stall or someone wants something different I know I can offer it to the customer and that it will “work”.

Sometimes, though it is frustrating when my hubby comes in and says “I’m hungry. Have you got any cake anywhere?”  This happened to me  only two days after the “Stop doing so much baking” lecture.  In the end I thought well I will have to make something and keep it handy.

I looked at what ingredients needed using up and had some oranges in my fruit bowl.  I noticed that there was an orange and olive oil loaf in the latest Great British Bake Off book.  It is made with white spelt flour though, which I did not have.  I did have some wholemeal spelt flour though.  We had olive oil but only extra virgin oil, not a mild and fruity one.  At least I could try and see what it turned out like.

Eggs, olive oil, orange zest and milk are added to a large mixing bowl.
Eggs, olive oil, orange zest and milk are added to a large mixing bowl.
These ingredients are whisked together.
These ingredients are whisked together.
Caster sugar is mixed in and whisked together.
Caster sugar is mixed in and whisked together.
The spelt flour and bicarbonate of soda are sifted into a separate bowl.
The spelt flour and bicarbonate of soda are sifted into a separate bowl.
The dry ingredients are folded in with a metal spoon.
The dry ingredients are folded in with a metal spoon.
The mixture is spooned carefully into a loaf tin lined with one of the special loaf tin liners you can buy in Lakeland.
The mixture is spooned carefully into a loaf tin lined with one of the special loaf tin liners you can buy in Lakeland.
Fresh out of the oven. While still warm the top of the loaf was brushed with a tablespoon of marmalade.
Fresh out of the oven. While still warm the top of the loaf was brushed with a tablespoon of marmalade.

Well, I was totally disappointed with the cake.  It tasted claggy and the olive oil was totally overpowering.  This probably could have worked if I had used mild olive oil but all I could taste was the olive oil.  Maybe rapeseed or sunflower oil would have been better as well.

So did my hubby get his teabreak fix? No, not at all. I put it in the tin and noticed it was still there 5 days later.  Not a great success this time, I’m afraid!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lime Cream Cheese Cake- The Great British Bake Off Everyday.

Another delicious cake from the latest Great British Bake Off book and a scrumptious version of a lime drizzle loaf cake.  This one actually has cream cheese added to it and keeps the texture moist.  I had never used cream cheese within a cake mixture before, only as frosting.  A couple of weekends ago I chose to bake this as our Sunday dessert for teatime.  I was so glad I did as it went down very well with all of the family. The remains were cut up and put into slices where my hubby and son ate for pudding after dinner on the Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s how it was made:

Some soft butter and cream cheese was put in a large mixing bowl and beat together until light and creamy. I then added in the caster sugar and some lime zest.
Some soft butter and cream cheese was put in a large mixing bowl and beat together until light and creamy. I then added in the caster sugar and some lime zest.
In another bowl I beat the eggs and then gradually added it to the butter mixture.
In another bowl I beat the eggs and then gradually added it to the butter mixture.
After the mixture was beaten I added in some vanilla extract and some self raising flour by folding it in carefully.
After the mixture was beaten I added in some vanilla extract and some self raising flour by folding it in carefully.
Here is my loaf tin lined with a loaf parchment liner.
Here is my loaf tin lined with a loaf parchment liner.
While the loaf was baking I made a sugar syrup out of caster sugar and lime juice. This was put onto the cake when it was still warm so it could soak into the cake.
While the loaf was baking I made a sugar syrup out of caster sugar and lime juice. This was put onto the cake when it was still warm so it could soak into the cake.
Here is the finished cake ready to cool down.
Here is the finished cake ready to cool down.
A lime glace icing glace was poured on top of the cake. This was a bit runny as the cake hadn't completely cooled- rushing again!
A lime glace icing glace was poured on top of the cake. This was a bit runny as the cake hadn’t completely cooled- rushing again!

Despite the rather rustic look of this cake it tasted fab and I was impressed with the flavours. I am definitely going to bake this cake again as it was worth it to have everyone eating it. It wasn’t fiddly to make, either.  I bet it would work equally well with lemons or orangesas well if you don’t like limes.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lemon, Ginger and Coconut Flapjacks

A week last Saturday I took my son to take part in a fabulous Make Your Own Chocolate Bar Workshop at the York Cocoa House.  He had a fantastic time.  I treated myself to some flavoured chocolate buttons to use in my baking and came across these pretty pastel green coloured buttons delicately flavoured with lemon oil.  At first I thought they were mint flavoured but they were lemon, in fact.  I thought they would make a lovely topping to a cake and bought some to experiment with.

The day after I was at home and decided to look through my baking stash to see what flavours would go with lemon. After spending a while choosing I decided on coconut and ginger with lemon zest in a flapjack mixture which could then be topped with the chocolate buttons melted down.  My kids laughed at the colour of the chocolate buttons saying they looked like snot!

So, on went the oven at about 160oC, and I set to making the flapjacks. Here’s how they were created:

Delicate lemon flavoured chocolate buttons from York Cocoa House. They came in several other flavours. This was a 200g bag.
Delicate lemon flavoured chocolate buttons from York Cocoa House. They came in several other flavours. This was a 200g bag.
Butter, soft brown sugar and golden syrup were melted together gently in a saucepan.
Butter, soft brown sugar and golden syrup were melted together gently in a saucepan.
Desiccated coconut weighed out in a bowl ready to add to the melted ingredients.
Desiccated coconut  was weighed out in a bowl ready to add to the melted ingredients.
Porridge oats also added to the mixture.
Porridge oats were also added to the mixture.
I chopped up three balls of stem ginger into small chunks. These had been rinsed carefully previously so that all the syrup had come off.
I chopped up three balls of stem ginger into small chunks. These had been rinsed carefully previously so that all the syrup had come off.
I grated the zest of a large lemon to add to the mixture.
I grated the zest of a large lemon to add to the mixture.
The lemon, ginger and coconut was all mixed together in the bowl.
The lemon, ginger and coconut was all mixed together in the bowl.
Once all the wet and dry mixture was combined, it was spooned into a 20cm square, loose bottomed tin which was greased and lined.
Once all the wet and dry mixture was combined, it was spooned into a 20cm square, loose bottomed tin which was greased and lined.

The flapjacks baked well for roughly about 1/2 hour in the oven.  This was time for me to get the chocolate melted carefully.  As this bag of chocolate buttons was about £5 I did not want to waste them!

Once the flapjack was cooled and turned out of the tin I melted the whole bag of chocolate buttons and spread the chocolate mixture on the top of the flapjack.
Once the flapjack was cooled and turned out of the tin I melted the whole bag of chocolate buttons and spread the chocolate mixture on the top of the flapjack.
Ready to serve!
Ready to serve!

When the flapjacks had cooled, my children were asking me what was in them. When I said coconut and ginger, both of them said “Yuck, what did you have to put those in for?”  Well, how come when my back was turned, four of the flapjacks had disappeared off the plate!  I can’t blame the dog, he was asleep the whole time in his dog basket!  Wonder if I can hide broccoli or spinach in a cake?  By the following day all dozen pieces had gone. My hubby and I only had one each!

I’m already looking forward to my next trip to York Cocoa House to buy more of these delicious bags of chocolate buttons.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx