Flapjack (made with condensed milk)

Flapjack made with condensed milk IMG-20130504-00547

My friend Trupti mentioned she makes flapjack with condensed milk (which surprised me as she is very slim). Since I’m still in search of the perfect flapjack recipe and I needed to make cake for eating as we walk the Thames barrier to Tower Bridge section of the Thames walk with my cousin Yasmin today I thought I’d have a search on the internet. The following recipe has been reworked some from the info I found to turn it into a recipe.

These flapjacks were very different, closer perhaps to good commercial flapjack in they had a softer texture although still chewy.  They were also paler in colour. The families conclusion was they these were pretty good, although I found them a little sweet. I tried with a little less sugar which worked and adjusted the recipe below.

As suggested in the comments I’ve tried freezing them and they freeze very well.

Ingredients

  • 300g Butter
  • 4 tbsps Golden Syrup
  • 300g Demerera sugar
  • 1/2 tin Condensed milk
  • 500g Porridge Oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
  2. Line a 30 x 23 cm traybake tin with baking parchment.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the sugar and syrup. Keep heating and stirring until all is melted and mixed. (Don’t rush by turning the heat up, the sugar will start to caramelise. If it starts to boil take it off the heat)
  5. Add the condensed milk and mix.
  6. Gradually add the oats, folding them in. All the oats should be coated, and the mixture quite dense, but still sticky.
  7. Pour the mixture into the tray bake tin and spread evenly.
  8. Bake in the oven for ~15mins.
  9. Take them out when they just start to go brown round the edges, don’t leave longer than this. If they’re still squidgy in the middle that’s fine, they set on cooling.
  10. Leave them to cool before cutting into small slices with a sharp knife (these can still be cut into slices the next day.

Condensed milk flapjack being cut IMG-20130504-00545

Dairyfree (Vegan) Flapjacks

Dairyfree Flapjacks

In my last post I mentioned I was baking afternoon tea for someone with dairy, egg and nut allergies. Whilst I’m still searching for the perfect butter flapjack recipe I reasoned I could substitute butter for a dairy free spread that did not have a high water content and not go too far wrong.

These were good, not as good as butter flapjacks and they were quite sticky but my godson loved them, ate lots at tea and took every flapjack that hadn’t been eaten home with him 😀

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 250g/9oz soft light brown sugar
  • 250g/9oz dairy-free margarine
  • 450g/16oz rolled porridge oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 170C.
  2. Put golden syrup, sugar and margarine into large saucepan and heat gently until melted.
  3. Add the oats to the pan and mix well.
  4. Place in greased and lined traybake tin press down then bake for 15 mins.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins before turning out.
  6. Slice into portions.

Shining star biscuits – Usborne Christmas Cooking

Shining star baked

I love these little cookies, you can make them to hang on the Christmas tree but I didn’t have a second tree this year so not enough room. Usually I do a second tree between my kitchen and dining room that I decorate with edible decorations but this year I needed to put up a second table on Christmas day as there were 12 for Christmas dinner so I just couldn’t fit it in.

I doubled up the quantities and since they were for giving away after Christmas rather than to hang on a tree I baked the stars cut out from the middle as little cookies to mix in. They look lovely in a cellophane bag with ribbon

Shining star in cellophane

I also doubled the ingredients as the recipe in Christmas Cooking (Usborne Cookbooks) had 1/2 egg! If you were just making shining star biscuits the quantities below would make about 30 – 40.

Ingredients

  • 100g/4oz light soft brown sugar
  • 100g/4oz softened butter
  • 1 small egg
  • 230g/9oz plain flour
  • 30g/1oz cornflour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • solid boiled sweets

Instructions

  1. Mix the sugar and butter together very well until there are no lumps
  2. Break egg into a separate bowl and mix well, then add to the butter mixture a little at a time mixing in well
  3. Sift flour, cornflour and mixed spice into the bowl and mix well
  4. Squeeze the mixture with your hands until a firm dough is formed and make into a large ball
  5. Sprinkle work surface with flour and roll out dough until it is 4mm/0.25in thick
  6. Line baking tray (I just greased mine and it was ok). Use cutter to press out lots of stars.Use fish slice to put them onto tray (this is much easier done now rather than after you have cut out the middle).
  7. If you are planning to hang on a Christmas tree make a hole in each star by pressing a straw through the dough near top of one of the points.
  8. Use a smaller cutter to cut  hole in the middle of each star. The hole should be slightly bigger than the sweet. I used the smallest star cutter, the book suggests a round cutter. I think a round cutter would be better if you were making a hole to hang on a tree.
  9. Either squeeze the pieces of dough into a ball and roll out again. Since I have nice little star shapes I baked those as well. Roll out excess and cut out more cookies.
  10. Drop a sweet into the hole in each star shape.
    Shining star before baking
  11. Bake the shapes for 10-12 minutes then take out. Leave them on the tray until they are cold.

Cookie Christmas Tree

Cookie Christmas treeI made this cookie Christmas tree from a cookie cutter set I bought 2-3 years ago from Cox & Cox (they don’t do the set any more but you can get similar sets from amazon Wilton Cookie Tree Cutter Kit). I baked the cookies a good week before I assembled the tree and kept them in a tin. Tonight we had parents of friends of our boys coming over and I wanted a fairly easy dessert so I assembled the tree. This was lovely with coffee and between 4 adults and 4 teenage boys we ate almost all the tree!

We have friends with children/teenagers coming to dinner next week so I think I’ll make this again. This would also make a nice present wrapped in cellophane and ribbon.

Ingredients

  • 600g/22oz Self raising flour
  • 110g/4oz cornflour
  • 350g/12oz butter, diced
  • 350g/12oz caster sugar
  • 4 egg whites

for assembling and icing the tree

  • 120-150g royal icing sugar
  • 75-100g icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/350F
  2. Grease 3 large baking trays
  3. Sieve the flour and cornflour into a bowl
  4. Rub in the butter and stir in the sugar.
  5. Stir in enough of the egg white to get a fairly soft dough
  6. Knead lightly until smooth and roll out until 5mm thick.
  7. Stamp out two of each size of every star with each size of cutter (the set contains 10 cookie cutters).
  8. Bake until cookies are a pale golden colour
  9. Cool cookies and keep in an airtight container until you are ready to assemble
  10. Sort cookies into size order on the counter where you are working
  11. Make up the royal icing sugar into a stiff mix and use to stick the biggest cookie to the plate then use to stick each cookie onto the tree in size order. As you assembe  you need to twist/offset the cookies so you get a layered effect.
  12. Make up plain icing sugar into a more liquid mixture and drip onto the tree.
  13. Add silver balls or sprinkles to decorate.

Shortbread

Shortbread has an easy way to remember the ingredients – a ‘1, 2, 3’ rule. One part sugar to two parts butter to three parts flour. For shortbread you really do need to use good quality ingredients. You can use either caster sugar, granulated sugar or brown sugar each changes the taste or texture a little, I prefer granulated sugar for my plain shortbread.

You can use a mix of flour together with ground rice or semolina, (my personal preference is for 1/3 ground rice, 2/3 flour), you can even substitute some ground almonds for flour. If you want chocolate shortbread you can substitute cocoa for some flour (instead of 300g flour, 260g flour and 40g).

You can add a wide variety of flavours:

  • chopped nuts of your choice (pistachio, hazelnuts etc)
  • citrus fruit zest
  • chocolate chips
  • dried fruit
  • crystallised ginger
  • spices
  • lavender
  • rosemary

I’ve given basic quantities below for a a 20cm tin.

Ingredients

  • 100g sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 300g flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Mix the flour and sugar, either by stirring in a bowl or by giving them a quick blitz in the food processor
  3. Rub in the butter, this is amazingly easy in a food processor! If you are using a food processor blitz until you get just past the breadcrumb stage and it is starting to clump together as a dough.
  4. Press into a greased 20cm loose bottomed tin and score the top into pieces
  5. Bake for about 25mins. If you’re making chocolate shortbread watch it a little more carefully as it burns more easily.
  6. if you can see the scored lines mark them again as soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, then sprinkle with caster sugar whilst still in the tin.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.
  8. Carefully cut along the scored lines with large sharp knife

Stem Gingernuts – The Great British Book of Baking

These are the best ginger biscuits I’ve every tasted! my boys agree with me. The relative quantities of ingredients with other ginger biscuit recipes is not major but it obviously is significant. The size of walnuts used in the The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pastiesis rather larger than in Mary Berry’s books as well. This recipe made 24 large biscuits. The biscuits were slightly cookie like with a bend rather than a snap. I will be baking these again soon. I’ve used all my stem ginger but I have a jar of crystallised ginger in the cupboard to use up. They stack well and look pretty in cellophane bags with ribbon so would make good presents.

Ingredients

  • 350g self raising flour (or 350g plain & 3 tsps baking powder)
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 1 free range egg
  • 35g (2 pieces) stem ginger drained and finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3
  2. Grease 3 baking trays
  3. Gently melt butter and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside until barely warm.
  4. Sift flour, ground ginger, bicarb of soda and sugar in a large mixing bowl
  5. Pour cooled and syrup mix, beaten egg and chopped ginger into the bowl with the flour mix and mix with a wooden spoon and combine thoroughly.
  6. Roll mixture into 24 (large) walnut sized balls and place on prepared baking trays well apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until a good golden brown.
  8. Leave biscuits to cool on trays for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Sticky Nutty Flapjacks – The Great British Book of Baking

I’ve been away for a weeks holiday and found I really missed cooking. Having baked lots from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible I’m trying to use some of the other baking books I have on my shelf and found a recipe for Sticky nutty flapjacks in The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pasties. These flapjacks were delicious! Slightly chewy, sweet but not too sweet. Held together well and the nuts gave a nice contrast of texture and taste. The quantities were perfect for the tin size. I’ll definitely be making these again.

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g light brown muscavado sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of golden syrup
  • 200g porridge oats
  • a good pinch of salt (optional)
  • 75g unsalted mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios)

Instructions

  1. Grease and base line 20cm square tin
  2. Heat the oven to 150 C/ 300 F/ Gas 2
  3. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Heat gently, stirring from time to time, until the butter has melted
  4. Remove from pan from the heat and stir in the oats and salt (if using). Then stir in the roughly chopped nuts.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the mixture.
  6. Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the flapjack, then score into 12 or 16. Leave to cool before cutting the flapjacks.

Pistachio and Orange Shortbread – Jo Wheatley A Passion for Baking

I felt the need for biscuits the morning and now I’m baking more often, McVities just don’t hit the mark. I had another browse through Jo Wheatley’s A Passion for Baking and whilst very tempted by her custard creams however I don’t have any custard powder so I decided to make her Pistachio and Orange Shortbread hearts instead.

These are not even close to instant gratification biscuits, there are two sessions of chilling dough in the fridge which to be honest is a bit of a pain when I just wanted to take a short break from my desk to mix up some biscuits and I ended up leaving my youngest to take them out of the oven whilst I went to a meeting.  The double chilling would be fine if you’re pottering around doing not a lot in an evening or if you plan a baking sessions with strict timings.

There was a lovely orange scent as I rolled out the dough. Elder son liked them well enough to eat several but wouldn’t chose them if I asked what he wanted me to bake, younger son was more taken with them but he has a more sophisticated palate and an interest in baking. These would be a very nice addition to a sophisticated afternoon tea but I wouldn’t make them for children’s/teen’s tea.

Ingredients

  • 60g unsalted pistachios, shelled
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 60g semolina
  • zest of 1 orange, finely grated

Instructions

  1. Whizz the pistachios in a food processor and tip into a bowl. Add the butter, caster sugar, flour and semolina, and using your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the grated orange zest and work until the mixture comes together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very gently until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough out to a thickness of about 4mm. Using heart-shaped cutters, stamp out cookies and arrange on lined baking trays. Gather any dough off cuts into a ball and re-roll to make more cookies. Chill for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile preheat the oven 170°C/325°F/ Gas Mark 3. Bake the cookies on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15–18 minutes or until pale golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle with caster sugar then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Peanut Butter Cookies – Usborne Cakes and Cookies for Beginners

Making chocolate chip cookies yesterday reminded me how much nicer home baked biscuits are than shop bought (and I say this even with my all time favourite shop bought biscuit Kimberley’s sitting in the biscuit tin).

I feel like I’ve been over using Mary Berry’s Baking Bible when I still have a number of neglected cookbooks, especially as this blog started off as a way of making me use more of my many cookbooks. Since I have no chance of working my way through any of my hefty tomes I picked up one of the slim children’s cookbooks Cakes and Cookies for beginners (Usborne Cookbooks) that I’ve used recently and decided to try the peanut butter cookies. I love the way Usborne illustrate every step in the recipe, although again I’m a little surprised that they have nut chopping for a children’s recipe (and they get you to chop twice as many peanuts as you need really, I’ve adjusted the quantities below), also mixing the mixture was hard work, ok for me but children would give up fairly quickly. However rolling the cookie dough into balls was a very child-friendly step.

The quantity below make 24 biscuit sized biscuit. They are nice crumbly biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 100g/4 oz butter
  • 150g/6oz soft light brown sugar
  • 200g/8oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 100g/4oz self raising flour
  • 100g/4oz rolled oats
  • 1 egg (for egg washing cookies before baking)
  • 50g/2oz roasted unsalted peanuts for the topping

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170C/Gas 3
  2. Lightly grease two baking trays
  3. Put butter, sugar and peanut butter into a mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy.
  4. Sift flour into bowl, add oats and mix well
  5. Knead mixture in bowl until it forms a soft dough
  6. Divide the mixture into 12 piece and roll into balls
  7. Put the balls onto the baking sheets leaving space between them, flatten the slightly with your hand
  8. Break egg into a small bowl and beat well (I use chopsticks, this book says use a fork). Brush the top of each cookie with some beaten egg
  9. Chop roasted peanuts into small pieces and sprinkle them all over the top of the cookie. They will stick to the beaten egg.
  10. Bake cookies for 10 – 15 minutes until the are golden. Leave them on the trays for a few minutes to cool then lift them onto a wire rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

I usually bake cakes or biscuits to send with Jon for the friend he stays with in Cambridge but was too busy and tired yesterday after long drive to and from customer site followed by cubs so I thought I’d give it a miss this week. Then this morning I realised from facebook it was his birthday. So quick panic then I did the only thing any sensible person who needed a quick bake would do and reached for Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. Biscuits and cookies are always quick to bake and cool enough to transport quickly as well. Biscuits were mixed, baked, cooled and in box ready to go in about 40mins.

These cookies are beautifully light, soft, sweet and I love them. I much prefer these to Mary’s more impressive looking double chocolate cookies. I doubled the quantities below so there would be some cookies for my boys after school as well and got 35 cookies out of the mix. I’m hoping I can show some restraint and eat no more than 2…

Edited to add Comment from elder teen son where that in his opinion these were the best cookies I’ve made!

Ingredients

  • 100g/4oz/1 stick softened butter
  • 75g/3oz/ 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 50g/2oz/ 1/3 cup light muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g/5oz/1 cup self raising flour
  • 100g/4 oz/ 1/2 cup plain chocolate chips

I’ve done the conversion to American cup measurements so any errors are mine, if anyone tries using the cup measurements please post a comment to let me know how they worked.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/Fan 170/ Gas 5
  2. Lightly grease 3 baking trays
  3. Put butter and sugars into a mixing bowl and beat until evenly blended. Add vanilla extract to beaten egg then slowly add to butter and sugar mix beating well between each addition.
  4. Mix in the flour then stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon large teaspoons of mixture onto the prepared baking trays leaving room for the cookies to spread.
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Watch carefully as these can go from golden to brown very quickly.
  7. Leave cookies to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes (but not too long or they stick) then carefully lift onto a cooling rack with a palette knife.