Flapjacks

I love flapjacks.  Slightly chewy, not too soft, not too crunchy, a blissful mixture of both.  And, I can kid myself they are healthy. Well, relatively so.  I mean oats, nuts, seeds….!

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On the face of it, a more easy recipe would be hard to find.  Melt the butter and syrup, add the oats and seeds / nuts / fruit and slap it in the oven. Yet somehow, this is a recipe I cannot master.  Mine barely hold together.  I follow the recipe exactly (yes, really I do!) I squash the mixture down hard in the baking tin, I cut the slices whilst still in the tin but leave it to cool completely before turning out. And still they crumble.  I have googled this many a time, I am using the correct oats, the correct balance of other ingredients. I just don’t know what I should do to make them slightly less crumbly.

But, as I said, I do love flapjacks and so I decided to give them another go.  I figured if it failed completely I would use them as a crumble topping for a fruit pudding.  Think laterally, and all that!

I added pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pecan nuts to the mixture. The result?  A partial success. Partial in that some of the mixture stuck together, but a lot of it crumbled.  The squares that seem to hold together fall apart too easily in the hand though. I will not be defeated! One day I will find a recipe that I can bake with success!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

Bounty Cheesecake

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Yes, it has been a while since I have blogged.  I’m afraid life defeated me for a while.  However, once again, my thoughts turned to baking. I couldn’t decide what to do, and in the end I thought cheesecake.  I love cheesecake, a nice stodgy, densely cheesy pudding. Baked or not, it’s a luxurious, comforting eat.

Today I chose a no-bake cheesecake, and it is a recipe new to me.  Of course, I did the few obligatory tweaks, I can’t help myself!

This starts with a biscuit crumb base and I used milk chocolate Hobnobs.  My preferred method for crushing the biscuits is to put them in a strong plastic bag, put it on the floor and stamp on it – just being careful not to burst the bag.  Who says baking isn’t physical! Mixed with melted butter, the chocolate on the biscuits melts nicely, and makes the difference from being a plain crumb crust. A bit of desiccated coconut adds to the texture.

A few chopped bounty bars on top of the crust and then the cheesecake mixture (cream cheese, vanilla, icing sugar, a jar of bounty spread, double cream) goes on top.  This goes into the fridge to set for a couple of hours. Once set, I melted some Galaxy milk chocolate and poured it over the top, and once again back into the fridge to set.

And there you have it.  Now I wonder how it would turn out if I replaced the vanilla extract with a coconut liqueur…..?

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Stuffed Focaccia

This is a recipe I always feel smug about.  It is so simple and easy, but the end result makes me feel as if a whole lot more skill and effort are required to achieve it.

It is, put simply, focaccia dough, filled with grilled vegetables, Parma ham and Taleggio and then baked. The filling however is very flexible, you can change the ingredients to taste.   I think Taleggio is the perfect cheese for this, but again, there are many cheeses which would also work with the ingredients. When I first saw this recipe, it called for a packet of  focaccia bread mix.  But honestly, there is no difference in effort required when making the bread from scratch or making it from a packet.  I choose to make it from scratch because I know exactly what is going in to it, and there will be no preservatives or additives.

The first task is to grill your chosen vegetables.  I have used courgettes, red onions and mixed peppers.

Aren’t the colours just beautiful?

I have also chosen to add mushrooms and tomatoes to the mix.  I bought a bottle of mixed mushrooms with herbs in oil.  This is because I have never mastered the art of cooking mushrooms so that they don’t end up oozing water. The tomatoes I have used are a pack of sun-dried tomatoes in herbs and oil.  I always find the flavour of these is a bit more concentrated, and therefore ideal for this kind of recipe.

Then start on the focaccia dough and leave it to do its first rise for around two hours.. Once it has doubled in size, knock it down and divide into two pieces, one piece just slightly larger than the other.  Roll out the smaller piece of dough and place on a baking tray.

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Yes, I know this looks a bit rough and ready, I ended up with a few holes I had to patch up!

Then spread a thin layer of sun-dried tomato paste over this, leaving a clear centimetre around all the edges. Now you can begin by layering your ingredients.  First a layer of Parma ham, and then the courgettes, peppers, Taleggio, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and a final layer of Parma ham.  Roll out the last piece of dough and carefully place it over the vegetables, pressing down the edges to meet the base layer of dough.  You want to seal the edges so that the filling does not leak during cooking. Bake at 200°C (180°C fan) for 30 to 40 minutes.

This is a dish that can be eaten hot or cold, but is at its best when just warm.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I hope you  have a peaceful day 🙂

Vanilla Cupcakes with Fondant Icing

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My thoughts are turning back to baking.  Apart from the greed factor – I LOVE cake – there is something very comforting and satisfying about baking. It’s a combination of the idea, combining the ingredients, the delicious aroma as it bakes, and the wonderful end result. I was torn between tweaking my brownie recipe and baking cupcakes.  The latter won.

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Vanilla – or plain – cupcakes have their moments, and the recipe I found includes ground almonds in the ingredients, which just gives these lovely cakes their extra ooomf!  In fact, I prefer this version to any previous ones and it’s super-easy to make.

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I might have mentioned before that I am an icing girl, and there are not many times I prefer a cake un-iced.  With this particular recipe I like to use a fondant icing, as it compliments rather than detracts from, the cake itself.  I confess that I buy my fondant icing, it is just so much easier to open a packet and roll it out. With the help of a stencil and some edible lustre in blue, pink and gold (of course, gold!!) I have the finished result.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

Whisky Mac Cake

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I haven’t baked for a while because the horrors of real life intervened. But in a desperate attempt to restore some sort of normality to my life, I have been going over all my recipes.  It has been tempting to rely on an old favourite.  A many times tried and trusted recipe.  But curiosity overcame me when I saw a recipe for a sticky ginger loaf……and I thought “how can I tweak that recipe….”

A whisky mac is a lovely warming gingery drink and so I thought I’d see how it translated into cake form.  I suspect, like the boozy banana bread recipe, that it will be subtle, but hopefully give the cake just a little something extra.

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This recipe still needs tweaking (I can’t help myself, can I!). I want to swap the butter for oil, maybe add extra dates, and see how I go from there. In the meantime, it is a lovely gingery, slightly sticky cake. Mmmmm….breathe in deeply.

Just right for these “not quite yet summer” days.

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