Cheese scones

So lately, I’ve began my adventures into savoury baking and I’m actually really fond of it now! I’ve never been the kind of person who was very enthused about baking savoury things. To quote Miranda: “a savoury muffin?? Life is full of disappointments…” However, I’ve actually discovered that by baking things like these super-simple cheese scones I can actually save money and have some freshly- baked lunch. And we all know that shop-bought stuff never tastes quite as good as fresh baking!

These cheese scones are really easy and cheap to make, and only take half an hour (including baking time!) to make, so are perfect for those of you with not too much time or who are looking for something easy to bake. I find that they’re best enjoyed cut in half and spread with margarine, but they’d work well with ham or salad too. A perfect first-time bake for all you bakers out there who, like me, haven’t baked a whole lot of savoury stuff!

Cheese Scones

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients
(makes 8)

1oz/ 28g Butter
6oz/ 170g Self-raising flour
3oz/ 85g Grated Cheese
1 Egg
2 tbsp Milk
1 egg or 1 tbsp milk (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Cut the butter into small cubes, then add the flour in a bowl with the butter.
2. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together to make breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in the grated cheese.
4. Add the egg and the milk, and stir/ knead the dough until all the ingredients are combined and the mixture forms a coherent ball of dough.
5. Divide the mixture into 8 segments.
6. Place each segment onto a greased baking tray and squash/ roll flat (to about 1cm thick)
7. Coat the scones with either the extra egg (mixed up before hand) or the extra milk. This doesn’t need to be a thick coat and don’t worry if some runs off onto the tray, it just gives the scones more of a shine.
8. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden and well risen.

Handy Hints

Breadcrumbs- When combined, these should just look like slightly darker flour i.e. there should be no lumps of butter left in the mixture.
Cheese- You can use any cheese you like for this, though I wouldn’t recommend using one that’s too creamy and not ‘solid’ enough (like Brie). I find that simple cheddar works best, or maybe red leicester but don’t be afraid to experiment!

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Ice Cream Cake

Summer is here!! For all you students and year 13s out there, that means you’re finished with exams- congrats! Take advantage of your time off to go and do fun stuff (maybe even bake something new…) I feel like I actually have a right to say that now that I’m working on my dissertation through summer. And yes I know, I brought that upon myself by doing a Masters degree, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sit here and feel sorry for myself, ok? But anyway,from the midst of my pity-party came a great idea- a combination of my favourite thing (cake) and summer (represented here by ice cream).

Although summer seems to be manifesting itself largely in the liquid sunshine form here in the UK so far, I feel that it’s summer-y enough to start consuming large quantities of ice cream.  I briefly toyed with the idea of making a baked alaska for my first summer post, but quickly realised that a) although it’s impressive, it seems like far too much effort and b) I don’t have the freezer space for a cake like that. Also, we all know how making baked alaska in the summer goes- especially if you’re in a very warm tent with other bakers… (too soon?!) The idea behind my ice cream cake seems to me to be much simpler, and also fit better in my shared freezer shelf! It has a brownie base, ice cream middle and chocolate ganache topping, which makes for a nice combination and isn’t too rich.

Ice Cream Cake

Baking time: 20 mins

Preparation time: 30 mins (not including cooking time)

Ingredients

200g Dark Chocolate
100g Butter
250g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
60g Plain Flour
60g Cocoa Powder
900ml tub of Vanilla Ice Cream
100g Milk Chocolate
200ml Double Cream

I baked this in my 23cm diameter springform tin.

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Break up the dark chocolate and melt in the microwave until smooth. Set to one side.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing a little after each one, then add the vanilla essence and mix until the eggs are fully combined.
3. Add the melted dark chocolate to the mixture and stir until combined. Next, add the flour and cocoa powder and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
4. Spoon the mixture into a greaseproof paper-lined cake tin and spread evenly. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the brownie base from the oven and set aside to cool. Once it is cool, take the ice cream out of the freezer to melt slightly.
6. Once the brownie base has cooled completely, spread the slightly melted ice cream onto the brownie base, spreading as evenly as possible and making sure to cover the brownie base. Once the ice cream has spread, place the cake tin in the freezer.
7. Whilst the ice cream re-sets in the freezer, make the chocolate ganache. To do this, first break the milk chocolate into pieces, then heat up the cream in a saucepan until boiling.
8. As soon as the cream reaches boiling point, add the cream to the broken up milk chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and combines with the cream.
9. Once the cream and chocolate are combined, take the cake from the freezer and pour on the ganache. Spread the ganache evenly over the ice cream layer. It is important to do this quickly as the ice cream will start to melt due to the heat of the ganache, so as soon as it is spread, place the cake back in the freezer.
10. Store in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy it!

Handy Hints
Ice Cream- Although I made this with vanilla ice cream, I think it would also be great with other flavours, such as mint or cherry (two of my favourites!) I would avoid anything too sweet though as it may make it too rich overall!
Cooking- These brownies are quite fudgy, but should still pass the knife/ cake tester test (i.e. the knife should come out clean after sticking it in the brownie)
Spreading Ice Cream- This process can be a little tricky. You want the ice cream to have melted enough so that you can (roughly) spread it, but not so much that it becomes soup! If it’s easier, cut chunks of ice cream and fit them together like a jigsaw on the brownie base!
Ganache- When making the ganache, keep stirring the cream and chocolate at all time until they’re combined. If you let it cool too much, it’s still fine but it will have a thicker consistency, if you want a smooth, glossy finish then you’ll have to add the ganache whilst it’s still quite warm.
Serving- If you are serving the whole thing at once, then defrost for 5-10 minutes before serving. If you want to cut a slice or two, this is more difficult but I found that for the most part it cut ok, even when I’d just taken it out of the freezer. Don’t leave it too long or the ice cream will melt everywhere!

 

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P.S. The apples totally offset the huge slice of cake, right?!

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

The other week, I introduced my international friend to the concept of Jaffa Cakes. Ironically, they asked the age old question: is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake? People have debated this a lot and I’m sure that there’s food-y people out there who can tell me, but I can tell you now the true answer: Who cares?! The more you debate about it, the more other people can eat while you talk about it!

Not to sound too British, but I do love a good biscuit (/cake), especially with a cup of tea! However, I have felt for a while that some snacks of this description should be incorporated into a pudding of some sort. This is the thought that created the idea, whilst food shopping, of Jaffa Cake cupcakes. They’re easy to make into cupcakes, because they’re essentially three elements: chocolate, orange curd and sponge. Even if you’re a beginner to baking, you’ll see that this isn’t a conversion that’s hard to create! And what better than a cake and a Jaffa Cake on top (that’s two puddings in one!!)

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
Baking time: 10-15 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
For the sponge:
110g (4oz) Butter
110g (4oz) Caster Sugar
2 eggs
110g (4oz) Self-raising Flour
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Orange Marmalade (or see this recipe for 10-minute orange curd)

For the Icing:
130g Butter
500g Icing Sugar
170g Cocoa Powder
3-4 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence

12 Jaffa Cakes for decoration

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until the mixture is fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mixture until combined.
3. Add the flour and vanilla essence and mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
4. Spoon the mixture and divide evenly into the cupcake cases. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the sponge is golden and springs back when pressure is applied to it.
5. When the cupcakes have baked, set them aside to cool.
6. To make the icing, soften the butter in the microwave, then beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until combined. Add the vanilla essence. Add the milk a little at a time until the icing is a good texture.
7. Once the cupcakes have cooled, using a teaspoon, hollow out a small section from the top of the cupcake and fill with orange curd/ marmalade. Replace most of the sponge back on the top of the curd/ marmalade (as if you’re putting a lid over the orange). Repeat for all the cupcakes.
8. Cover the cupcakes with the chocolate icing.
9. Cut 12 Jaffa Cakes in half, and using two halves, create a butterfly effect by placing one half on each side of the cupcake.

Handy Hints
Icing texture– this matters more if you choose to pipe your icing onto the cakes. If you do, it needs to be firm enough that the mixture holds on a spoon (i.e. it doesn’t drip off the spoon), but not too stiff that it doesn’t mix easily.
Adding the orange– for more tips on this, see this recipe.
Adding the icing– Piping the icing gives a more neat effect (and possibly adds more icing), but this works just as well with a knife and using the back of a spoon to shape.

Jaffa cake cupcakes

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Easy-Peasy English Lemon Drizzle Cake

This post is in honour of 2015 Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya (I was team Tamiya, so I’m happy!!) and her lemon drizzle showstopper last week. For those that don’t watch the Bake off (why?!), she made the wedding cake she never had, which comprised of three lemon drizzle cake sponges, and was pretty much the sweetest thing ever (no pun intended). I can’t promise this recipe will be as good as that, but it’s certainly a good recipe for one of the classics.

Apart from coinciding nicely with the Bake off final, this bake served another purpose, for which I needed a traditional English dish- remarkably, one of those points in life where things just seem to co-ordinate quite nicely! The reason I needed a traditional English dish was all down to the brilliant idea of some of my new friends here to host an international party/ buffet type event. The idea was simple- cook and bring a dish from your native country, which is great for students who like eating new food, but can’t be bothered to cook anything more complicated than pasta. It was amazing and I was very excited at the idea, but was wracking my brains as to what was traditionally English. I don’t have much patience with cooking, so established pretty early on that I would bake something but couldn’t think of anything to bake that didn’t have too many ingredients. I decided on this recipe sprung to mind for a few reasons- a) I’d not actually baked it yet, b) it’s cheap, c) it’s a classic (thanks for the recipe Gran- I know you’d be pleased to hear that I’d used it!) and d) it’s something that’s not too unusual!

So, whether you’re English or not, this is a great recipe to try out- it’s simple, with a classic flavour, and it’s a great texture! It’s a good one for students because it contains really standard ingredients, involves very minimal mixing and is a bake that everyone’s willing to try because everyone knows what it’s supposed to taste like. Although I guess that could be a negative if it turns out bad… if it does, lie and say it was supposed to be something else (I’ve never done that. Promise.)

Lemon Drizzle Cake
Preparation Time: 10 mins base, 5 mins topping
Cooking Time: 35-40 mins

Ingredients
(Base)
225g/ 8oz Butter
225g/ 8oz Caster Sugar
275g/ 10oz Self-Raising Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
4 Eggs
4 tbsp Milk
Rind of 2 Lemons
(Topping)
175g/ 6oz Granulated Sugar
Juice of 2 Lemons

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160C and line a tin with greaseproof paper (I used a 30x23x4cm brownie tin and baked this as a traybake.)
2. Throw (not literally, don’t get too excited) all the ingredients for the base into a bowl and mix until smooth and well incorporated. Transfer mix to tin and smooth so it’s flat.
3. Bake for 35-40 mins until the sponge springs back and a skewer comes out of the mix clean. Put aside to cool while you make the topping (on a wire cooling rack if you have one.)
4. Make the topping by mixing the sugar and juice to give a runny consistency.
5. While the sponge is still warm (but not hot) spoon the topping over the sponge.

Handy Hints
Cooling the sponge- Wait until the sponge is cool enough to handle, then preferably transfer to cool on a wire cooling rack. If you don’t have one, improvise! We balanced a tray from the oven on top of some mugs and put an old tea towel underneath.
Cooling rack- This preferably needs to have something to catch drips, as the topping will run off the sides a bit.
Sponge- The sponge will be quite delicate so be careful transferring it from the tray to cool (if you lift up the greaseproof paper it should be fine)
Topping- Don’t faff about too much while you’re making the topping- it needs to be put on the sponge while it’s still warm
Lemon Juice- The juice of one lemon should equate to about 3 tbsp of juice, so if you have more than that keep it as a reserve.
Applying the topping- Don’t panic that it seems like loads of liquid. It should be quite a bit, as the idea is that it soaks into the sponge a lot.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t written up a ‘proper recipe’ in ages on this blog, so I want to start this blog by promising to post one soon! This one is a recipe but unfortunately isn’t a cake or pudding or anything, as over the past week devoured quite a lot of cake and still have lots to spare! Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t just how I spend my time- it was just a consequence of having a birthday and a dissertation deadline on the same day. So, due to the excess of cake I have at the minute, I decided to do a more different recipe for this post and in the process, face one of my nemesis’s- caramel.

The inspiration to try out this recipe, although I aim to utilise the product in a more healthy way, actually came from the brainwave that I could make the chocolate brownies I was made by my flatmate more unhealthy by drizzling caramel sauce on top of them. It could be also used to form a caramel sauce to add to the centre of brownie or cake recipes, or even as the caramel layer in my Millionaire’s Cheesecake recipe. However, this sauce could be also used for more healthy snacks, for example as a sauce for dipping apples in, as used in the recipe I found on this blog. I was a little scared about trying this recipe, given a slightly disastrous track record with caramel, so it may not have turned out as well as in the recipe, but it’s still a good consistency although it is thinner than it perhaps should be. Still, I’m proud that I didn’t burn it to the pan, and it still tastes good!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (very unhealthy I know!)
1/2 cup water
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method
1. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium- high heat (I put my hob on 4/6). Boil the mixture until it reaches a medium amber colour (it takes roughly 12-15 minutes). Don’t stir it while it boils, shake the pan instead to stop the sugar sticking. I think I took my pan off the heat a little early, so the picture below gives an idea of how it should look a shade lighter than when it should be taken off the heat.
2. When the mixture has reached the amber colour, take the pan off the heat and add the cream. It will bubble up a lot but don’t panic- that’s fine. Whisk the mixture then add the butter, vanilla essence and the salt and whisk until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients have combined.
3. Leave to cool, either in the pan, or transferred into a measuring jug so it will be easier to pour into containers. Once the mixture has combined, transfer to containers and keep refrigerated.

Handy Hints
Amber colour- My mixture looked like this:
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Adding the cream- don’t panic if your mixture lumps up and forms a tough caramel. Mine did the same, but I salvaged it by putting it back on the heat and whisking it for a minute. I realise this is probably what caused mine to be thinner than it should be, but it means that all is not lost.
Cooling- The mixture takes a while to thicken, meaning that when you first leave it to cool it will be a fair bit runnier than it will be once it’s cooled.

If anyone has any advice on how best to judge when the sugar and water are ready for the cream, please comment and let me know because I struggle to get it just right! Enjoy!

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The easiest bake ever- Toffee Marshmallow Crispies

Before I start this post properly I just want to say I’m sorry this post is a little bit late- I moved back to uni a week ago today so I’ve been catching up with my flatmates sorting all my uni stuff out! It’s great to be back, despite the 9am start I had today, and it’s great to be blogging about student baking when I’m actually back at uni! I’m on campus again this year so the other night we decided to go and play pool in the bar and then have a film night so I suggested that we bake something to eat while we watch the film, because obviously snacking is an essential part of any film night. So, having just got back we needed something we could buy the ingredients for in the Spar on campus, which although has a good stock of general stuff doesn’t have that much for baking. I had the idea to bake something that I used to make when I was little, which is toffee marshmallow crispy cakes! They’re so easy to bake and only have 3 ingredients, so we decided to pop to Spar and see if we could find them. We did have to improvise a bit on ingredients (a big part of student baking if, like me, you’re not very good at planning ahead), so I’ll put in the recipe what you need to get, then explain what we used instead.

Since this recipe is so easy, and because I have flatmates whose phones have good cameras, I’ve decided to try a new kind of post to present my recipe. I took a picture of each key stage of the bake, so I’m going to put the pictures alongside the steps of the recipe as a kind of visual aid. Let me know if you like this method and if you think it works better then my usual posts; if you prefer just a written recipe with a picture of the finished bake at the end; or if you’re indifferent.

Toffee Marshmallow Crispies:
Preparation Time: 2 minutes
Baking Time: 5-10 minutes
Price: £3.20

Ingredients:
150g Marshmallows
150g Toffee Sweets
Rice Crispies
A bit of Butter or Oil
200g Chocolate for topping (optional)
Sweets for topping (optional)

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Method:
1. Unwrap all the toffee sweets and put in a pan with a little bit of butter or oil.

10588821_10152336616260423_1256786914_n2. Keep the pan on a moderate to high heat (I used number 4 on our hob, so not too hot but not simmering either) and wait for the toffees to melt to a thick liquid consistency. Then, add the marshmallows.

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3. Stir in the marshmallows and keep stirring until the toffees and marshmallows are all combined and melted.

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(the mixture should look, at this stage, should look more like the melted toffees on their own, and should have a stringy, sticky consistency:)

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4. Take the pan off the heat. Then, add as many rice crispies as you like, depending on whether you want more dry kind of slices, or more sticky toffee-like crispy cakes.

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5. Stir to combine the rice crispies and the toffee marshmallow mixture. You know you’ve got the right consistency when it’s hard work to stir the ingredients together! You’ll want to give up at this point but power through- they turn out nice in the end! When they’re all combined, spoon them into whatever container you have (I just used a brownie tin).

6. Leave to cool in the container. While cooling, melt the chocolate in the microwave. When cooled, spread the melted chocolate on the top as much as you can.

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7. If you’re using sweets to decorate (I cut up fudge sweets into little pieces as a topping), scatter them on the chocolate before it melts.

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8. Fridge for a bit, or cut up immediately and serve!

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Handy Hints:

Toffee sweets- We couldn’t find any toffees so we used Cadburys Eclairs. I think pure toffees work better but feel free to experiment a bit- as long as they’re sticky they’ll hold it together.
Stirring- The toffee and marshmallow mixture needs to be constantly stirred or it will stick to the bottom of the pan and be a nightmare to clean off!
Cooling- Don’t keep these in the fridge for too long or they will go really crunchy and are hard to eat!

How to win over your flatmates: The best cookie recipe!

Hello everyone! Now that I’m back from holiday I’ve been starting to gather up all my stuff to take back to uni, which got me thinking about freshers week. With my sister about to head to uni for her first year, and with different friends disappearing back week by week, I thought about the best way to make friends- biscuits! In my experience it’s hard to turn down an offer of a cookie and a cup of tea/hot chocolate/ coffee (or just the biscuit on it’s own). So, if you’re feeling a bit shy at uni, or wherever you are, what better way to tempt someone into being your friend! My favourite cookie recipe is from my Divine cookbook (see my brownies recipe), and they’re so easy to make as well as being amazingly chocolately! I especially love that they have whole pieces of chocolate instead of small chocolate chips, which breaks up the biscuit. Cookies are perfect for uni baking as they don’t need many ingredients and keep for a longer time than a lot of bakes. They’re even more perfect because the raw dough can be frozen, meaning you can have instant cookies on hand (see the ‘Handy Hints’ section at the bottom).

Recipe:
Preparation Time: 20/25 minutes
Baking Time: 12-15 minutes
Price: £2.86

Ingredients:

100g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Egg
220g Plain Flour
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

(also 2-3 non-stick baking trays, ungreased)

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4.
2. Break up the chocolate into squares and put aside until needed.
3. Soften the butter by melting slightly, then add the sugars and mix with a hand whisk until soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides then beat in the egg.
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
6. Using a heaped tablespoon of mixture for each cookie, roll the mixture into balls and arrange on the baking trays. Flatten each with your fingers and space them well apart as they spread a fair bit in the oven.
7. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until until firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Handy Hints:
Pecan pieces- The recipe actually says to add 100g Pecan pieces with the chocolate, but I never add these as I’m not a fan!
Cooling- Make sure you transfer the cookies from the trays to wire cooling racks, as if you don’t they’ll stick to the tray and become a nightmare to unstick!
Tins- If you don’t have enough tins to spread them all out, bake one tray, transfer to cool then bake the next tray’s worth on the used tray. Or, if you’re feeling a adventurous, why not bake one big cookie? Just put all the mixture on one tray- it’s great for an alternative to a birthday cake, and keeps longer too!
How many?- I find this recipe makes about 15 cookies, but it depends on how big you like your cookies to be! They do spread lots so don’t be afraid if they look really small!
Freezing- Cookie dough is perfect for baking as it can be frozen and kept for ages! Make extra cookies (or just the normal recipe) and freeze the raw dough between greaseproof paper. Then, when you have a hankering for cookies, bake as many as you like directly from frozen. All you need to change is to add a little bit more time to the baking time.

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