Back to basics: Tiffin

This week has been a good week to continue the (rough) theme on my blog recently of baking simple, but classic and enjoyable bakes. When I’m stressed out with work, or am baking things for an event but don’t have much time, I often find that it’s best to go back to basics a bit. It means the recipes are easier, quicker to make and, in this case, don’t even need cooking! Tiffin is the perfect recipe for all these things- it’s the perfect tray bake! Not only does tiffin not need oven time, meaning that you can throw it together in about 10-15 minutes, but it’s also a very adjustable! This is great trait in a recipe for students, the masters of the improvised what’s-in-my-cupboard meal. Not that I’d admit it to everyone (yes Mum, of course I eat properly when I’m at uni…), I’ve made my fair share of throw-together meals in my time! Bacon strips and pot noodle? Sure! Plain pasta and plain chicken? Of course! You get the idea… and tiffin is the throw-together meal of deserts!

All the ingredients below can be swapped out for pretty much anything else, with the exception of the chocolate, butter and golden syrup (but that stuff lasts ages!). All that you need to maintain is the balance of dry ingredients, and you’re good to go. I like tiffin to be chocolatey and fudgy rather than a dryer, bisuity mix, but if you prefer it more biscuit-like, simply reduce the amount of golden syrup and butter by about 25g.

Tiffin

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

250g Digestive biscuits
200g Dark Chocolate
125g Butter
175g Golden Syrup
100g Raisins
75g Glace Cherries
75g Maltesers

A 20cm (8oz) square tin lined with greaseproof paper or cling film.

Method

1. Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs, either by putting them in a zip-lock bag and bashing them with a rolling pin, or by hand. Leave some slightly larger chunks if you like biscuit pieces in your tiffin.
2. Put the chocolate, butter and golden syrup into a pan and melt gently until fully liquid and combined.
3. Take off the heat and add the chocolate mix to the biscuit crumbs and stir in, making sure that there’s no biscuit crumbs uncovered.
4. Add the other dry ingredients and stir until combined.
5. Tip mixture into the brownie tin, flatten out and place in the fridge.
6. Allow mixture to set in the fridge, then cut up and enjoy! Store in the fridge.

Handy Hints
Crushing biscuits- Having had a fair few disasters with the zip-lock bag technique, I tend to just crush the biscuits between my fingertips to get the consistency I want.
Melting the chocolate mixture- Don’t let the mixture boil or you run the risk of ruining it. Melt on a low heat- it shouldn’t take long!
Dry ingredients- you can pretty much substitute these for anything- I like to play with a mix of textures, so I go for raisins and cherries, but also something with a crunch like maltesers or, stay with me here, meringue pieces last time (I had some left, but it actually worked really well!)
Chocolate- I use dark chocolate because it’s my favourite, but you can use a mix of dark/ milk, all milk or all white if you wanted! (White chocolate and cranberries/ raspberries would be nice?!)

 

 

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Na-na-na-na Na-na-na-na… Pancake!

So it seems to be that a huge baking trend lately is pancake art. These sort of trends always get me- it’s the sort of thing that you see on Buzzfeed or Facebook that looks really easy and makes me think ‘I could do that’. The idea, if you’ve somehow missed this, is that you draw a shape with pancake batter, let the outline cook, then fill in the middle. The outline should then cook more than the filled-in middle, making the lines defined. This is made to look very easy, so the other day I invited some friends round and we gave it a go. Needless to say, it was a disaster. Here’s the best attempt we came up with:

Flower fail

I think the problem is that our mixture was a thinner pancake mix, rather than the thicker batter used for more American-style pancakes but I’m not sure! If any of you know how to stop getting the patterns on the pancakes, please comment and let me know!

Now you might think that given the disasters that we’d created so far, we’d have just given up (the picture above is honestly the best one we managed), but we weren’t giving up that easy. We still had half a batch left so, driven by a stubborn determination to create something worthwhile (felt more strongly in some of us than others it must be said), we adapted our technique to creating pancakes in the shape of things instead. This we had a lot more success at! If you’re looking for something easy and fun to do then this couldn’t be better, even for those who may be more artistically-challenged! The trick is to pipe the outline quickly, then fill it in with batter from a jug and, as long as you’re careful not to pour too much on and spill it over the outline, you’re good to go!

Pancakes are perfect for anyone who wants to bake something easy and doesn’t have much time, or patience, to wait for things to cook/chill. They need three ingredients, no fancy equipment (if we can make something at guide camp, you can make it in a student kitchen) and taste nice with any number of toppings. If you’re not feeling artsy, or just don’t fancy faffing about making your food look pretty before you demolish it, then just follow this recipe ignoring the bits about separating the mixture, and just pour your batter into the pan- simple!

If you do want to be artsy, you’ll need an empty sauce bottle- you can buy these online or from lots of shops, an example of one is here.

Pancakes

This recipe makes about 10 small pancakes.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
125g (41/2 oz) plain flour
250ml milk
Butter
Toppings

Method:
1. Add the eggs to the flour. Add a little milk.
2. Whisk gently until the mixture becomes thick, then add a little more milk and mix again.
3. Making sure to mix in all the flour from the sides, add the rest of the milk and whisk until all the ingredients are fully combined and the mixture is smooth. Separate the batter between the bottle and a measuring jug.
4. Melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan on the hob (medium heat) and tilt the pan until the melted butter covers the pan.
5. (to make pancake shapes) Using the batter in the sauce bottle, draw onto the pan the outline of your shape. Fill the inside of the shape with batter from the jug, making sure not to pour too much at once (or it’ll spill over the edge and ruin your shape!)
6. Let the pancake cook until it starts to come away from the pan, then flip it over (whether you use a spatula or your awesome pancake-flipping skills is up to you) and let the other side cook.
7. Serve and add toppings!

Handy Hints:

Shapes- Create away! Let your imagination run free- anything is possible! (well actually there are some limits, my friend did attempt the Sistine Chapel, which I think is taking it a little too far.)
Cooking time- Pancakes cook quickly, so you shouldn’t be waiting long. It’s cooked on one side when it starts to come away from the pan- wiggle the pan and if it moves without sticking, it’s cooked on that side.
Batter- If you’re using a bottle to make the shapes, make sure that there aren’t any chunks of flour in your mixture, as they’ll get stuck in the nozzle!

Batman pancake