Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Mincemeat Wedges

I’m sure there are many of us with jars of left over mincemeat at the back of the cupboard begging to be used and incorporated into something scrummy. My hubby loves anything with mincemeat and as I was browsing some of my cookbooks this week I came across this great recipe in The Cookie and Biscuit Bible for Mincemeat Wedges. These wedges are certainly a fantastic way of using up your home-made mincemeat left over from Christmas, while your kitchen is filled with that festive scent once again. The recipe is so simple and quick to make and the wholemeal flour used adds a nutty flavour that combines well with the mincemeat. These rustic looking wedges would be perfect accompanied with a steaming mug of hot tea, sat by a blazing open fire.

Mincemeat Wedges

Makes 12

225g/8oz/2 cups self-raising wholemeal flour
75g/3oz/6 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
75g/3oz/⅓ Demerara sugar
1 egg, beaten
115g/4oz/ ⅓ cup good quality mincemeat
60ml/4 tbsp milk
crushed brown or white sugar cubes or a mixture, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Line the base of a 20cm/8in round sandwich tin and lightly grease the sides. Put the flour in a bowl, add the diced butter and rub in with your fingertips just until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Stir in the Demerara sugar, egg and mincemeat. Add enough milk to mix to a soft dough. Spread evenly in the prepared tin and sprinkle generously with the crushed sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes until firm and golden. Cool in the tin, then cut into wedges to serve.

Ollie has a purrfect life!!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Carrot and Pecan Square Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Its half-term this week in the UK, which means kids are at home and no doubt doing their parents heads in. Thankfully my son is 16 and likes to spend his time at the top of the house in his loft room playing Xbox live, PS3 or out with his friends, so it’s not too hard on me these days! Tomorrow we are driving down to Dorset to visit with my sister and her kids and spend the day. I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like because we live over 100 miles from each other, therefore I’m really looking forward to it. Especially seeing my baby niece Leyla whose 7 months and just adorable!! I’ve baked a Carrot and Pecan Square Cake to bring, that’s the thing when you’re a baker, you can’t ever visit family without bringing the bakes! The recipe is yet another great one from Rachel Allen’s Bake and one I couldn’t wait to try. I’m a big fan of Carrot Cake, so this cake was a must try. It’s very similar to a carrot cake with the difference being that it's denser, and richer and uses wholemeal flour. The end result is a gorgeous moist sweet sponge with flecks of carrot and studed with raisins throughout, with the added crunch of pecans. Finished off with the classic luscious cream cheese icing and a sprinkling of pecans!

Carrot and Pecan Square Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 12 to 16 squares

175g wholemeal self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g raisins (optional)
150ml sunflower oil
150g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g finely grated carrots
50g chopped pecans, plus 25g for sprinkling

Cream Cheese Icing
25g butter, softened
75g cream cheese, from the fridge
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
75g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4. Butter the sides of an 8in/20cm square tin, and line the base with parchment paper.Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and spices into a large bowl. Add the raisins (if using) and mix well. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla, grated carrot and chopped pecans in a separate bowl, then mix in the flour and spice mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until springy to the touch and a skewer, when inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool, then remove from the tin and place on a serving plate. Make the cream cheese icing: Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together, then gradually add the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Then using a palette knife; spread the icing onto the cooled cake. Sprinkle with additional chopped pecans and cut into squares to serve.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bitter Orange Loaf Cake

This lovely recipe is from the new Good Food 101 Teatime Treats, which I purchased last month on one of my famous amazon cookbook shopping sprees. The book is a collection of the very best recipes that are featured in the Good Food Magazine and follows on the success of 101 Cakes and Bakes. I was looking for a cake my boys would enjoy and love and came across this easy all-in-one cake. I adapted the recipe around my boys likes and I omitted the poppy seeds but I'm sure it would be great with the poppy seeds too. This zingy cake is so simple to make and using the yogurt gives the sponge a very moist and delicate texture. Orange lovers take note, this is definitely a must bake!

Bitter Orange Loaf Cake

3 tbsp good-quality thick marmalade (I used Frank Cooper's Thick Cut Oxford marmalade)
150g pot natural bio yogurt
3 eggs
175g golden caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
175g butter, softened
Zest 1 orange
2 tsp poppy seeds, toasted (I omitted the seeds)

For the Sticky topping:
Juice ½ orange
5 tbsp marmalade

Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter a deep, medium-sized loaf tin (about 20 x 10cm, measured from the top), then line the base with a rectangle of non-stick baking paper. Put the marmalade into a small pan, heat gently until melted (or use a microwave proof jug or bowl, then cook on High for 30 secs). Beat in the yogurt, then let cool for a few mins.

Put the remaining cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until smooth. Quickly beat in the yogurt and marmalade mix, then pour into the prepared tin. It will be quite runny. Leave the mix mounded in the middle of the tin rather than levelling the top, to help it rise and crack in the middle.

Bake for 1 hr-1 hr 10 mins until golden and well-risen; a skewer should come out clean. Take a look at the cake after 45 mins; if it has taken on a lot of colour, loosely cover with baking paper. Meanwhile, heat the orange juice and marmalade in a small pan over a gentle heat until the marmalade melts (or use the microwave as before). Set aside to cool, stirring now and again, until you have a thick, but still runny, glaze. When the cake is ready, cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn onto a rack. Spoon the topping over the cake while it's just warm. The cake is best served the day it's made, but will keep for up to 3 days tightly wrapped in an airtight container. Will freeze for up to 1 month, un-glazed.

A real afternoon teatime treat!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Glitter Heart Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Valentines Day is a time for romance and love with chocolates and sweet treats normally at the centre of things but nothing can beat the love, passion and enjoyment that go into baking your own treats! My boys love cookies and what could be better than baking them a batch of these Glitter Heart Cookies to show them how much I love them! The original recipe for these cookies is the Gold Dust Cookies I made over Christmas, courtesy of Nigella Christmas. I loved the idea of using the recipe and turning them into Valentine themed cookies with heart shaped cookie cutters and pink glitter. If you’re looking for a simple but fun cookie recipe, try these delicious lovable cookies!
Glitter Heart Cookies

Makes about 30, depending on size

90g soft butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or vanilla extract)
200g plain flour, plus more for sprinkling
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
Edible pink dust or glitter flakes

Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet or two with baking parchment or Bake-O-Glide.

Cream the butter and sugar together until whipped soft and pale, then beat in the egg, followed by the ginger (or vanilla), flour, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until it all comes together to make a soft dough.

Form into 2 discs, wrap each one in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Then roll out to a thickness of about 5mm.

Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the biscuits a little apart on the lined baking sheet/s. Keep the scraps of the first disc, to mix with the scraps of the second and roll and cut, re-roll and cut, until you’ve used up the mixture. This is wonderfully pliable dough, which makes it an unstressful joy to work with.

Bake in the oven for 18-12 minutes: this depends on their shape, how many sheets are in the oven at the same time, and whether on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after 5 minutes. When they’re ready, expect them to be tinged a pronounced pale gold around the edges; they’ll be softish still in the middle, but will harden on cooling.

Take the sheets out of the oven, remove the cookies, with a flat, preferably flexible, spatula to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Using a small (unused) paintbrush or eyeshadow brush, dip in the edible pink dust or glitter flakes, and give each cookies its gilded coating.

Friday, 13 February 2009

White Chocolate Love Heart Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

If ever there was a day for Love Heart Sweets, it’s definitely Valentines. These retro sweets have been around since I was a child; in fact production of them began in 1933 and was part of many a childhood romance. The messages on each sweet are all love related and over the years the messages have changed, I certainly don’t remember “Email me” or “Fax Me” as a child but then again most kids in the 70’s wouldn’t have had email or a fax machine!! So this week the idea came to me to find the perfect cupcake recipe and adorn each cupcake with a love heart and it wasn’t long before I came across this simply amazing recipe. These cupcakes have a lush white chocolate, milky, sweet flavour and the sponge is moist and fluffy. The cupcakes are then topped with this unbelievably delicious white chocolate cream cheese frosting, that you will love! Each cupcake is then topped with a love heart, which was my favourite part.

White Chocolate Love Heart Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 18 Cupcakes

White Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
4-oz white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tbsp milk (low fat is fine)

Preheat oven to 160oC/fan 140oC/325F. Line muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners.In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in some of the milk and some of the flour mixture, ending with a final addition of flour. Mix until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.Bake at 325F for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.Cool on a wire rack.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1-oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp milk or cream
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
18 Love Heart Sweets

In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and melted white chocolate. Beat in vanilla and milk, then add in the confectioners’ sugar gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife).Spread frosting onto cupcakes with a knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a Love Heart Sweet.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Don’t say it with words – say it with Love Custard Cupcakes!!

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, and what better way to show that special someone in your life how much you love them, than to bake them a batch of romantic cupcakes, cookies or a heart shaped cake! I love Valentine’s, and part of the celebration I love the most is the baking, it’s where the enjoyable part begins for me and my love for pink, hearts, glitter and anything girly comes into its own. I started my Valentine baking fun today with a batch of Love Custard Cupcakes; these tasty bundles of love are deliciously moist and the buttercream frosting is luscious, all the right ingredients you need to let your loved one know what they mean to you. Plus...women and cakes? They’re a partnership made in heaven – he can’t go wrong.

Love Custard Cupcakes

Makes 12

100g custard powder
200g softened butter
2 eggs
4 tbsp milk
140g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour

To ice the cupcakes:
75g butter, softened
550g sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp custard powder
4 tablespoons milk
A drop of red food colouring
Hundreds and thousands, to decorate

Heat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC/gas 4 and place 12 paper cases into a muffin tray. Beat the custard powder with the butter, eggs and milk, then stir in the sugar and fold in the sifted flour. Spoon into the paper cases. Bake for about 20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

In a bowl beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add the custard powder and the icing sugar, beating well.
Slowly beat in half of the milk and beat. Add a drop of red food colouring and beat. Beat in additional milk, if needed, to make a spreading consistency. Decorate each cupcake and finish with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands

Monday, 9 February 2009

Cook Yourself Thin Quick and Easy~ Sweet Potato and Apple Soup and Banana Loaf

Over the recent last year I’ve piled on some weight, and after being in a rut for months (a first for me, as I’m generally very strong willed), I’ve now started to watch what I eat and cut back on calories. I will however still continue to bake delicious treats for my boys, family and friends but I’m going to be good and keep reminding myself how lonely my skinny jeans are sitting in my closet! Last month I purchased the new Cook Yourself Thin Quick and Easy cookbook and like the previous book it is packed with great recipes to help you shift the bulge with a few clever changes to the way you cook and the ingredients you use. Of course until today I had not tried any of the recipes from either of the Cook Yourself Thin books, so today I jumped in at the deep end and went for 2 recipes in one afternoon. I love soups and they are perfect for this cold weather we are experiencing, which is why I chose this Sweet Potato and Apple Soup as the first of my 2 recipes. I must say I’ve never had apple in a soup but it does add a different dimension to the flavour, making this is a delicious winter warmer and let’s not forget low in calories. My second choice of recipe had to be the Banana Loaf, after all I love baking and although I’m cutting down on calories, this low fat version will still allow me to enjoy a slice with my afternoon cup of tea. Who said dieting was boring?!

Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

Serves 4
143 calories per serving


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
420g peeled sweet potatoes, diced into 1 ½ cm pieces
1 cm piece of ginger, peeled or ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
140g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1.5cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft, but not browned. Add the sweet potato, ginger, cumin, coriander and apple. Cover with about 750ml boiling water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes until the sweet potato is tender. Whiz with a hand blender or in the food processor until the soup is smooth. Season to taste and serve.

Banana Loaf

Makes 14 slices
201 calories per slice

50g butter
175g light brown soft sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
350g peeled ripe bananas, mashed
200g self-raising flour sifted
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g walnuts, roughly chopped (I used pecans, I was out of walnuts)
6 walnuts halves

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan 160oC. Line and grease a 1kg loaf tin. Cream the butter with the sugar in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs, and gradually whisk them into the butter and sugar. Add the mashed bananas and beat the mixture well. Carefully fold in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the walnuts. Put the cake mixture into the prepared loaf tin and decorate with the walnut halves, pressing them gently into the mixture. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the cake has risen and us golden. Allow to cool.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Dutch Apple Cake

I love lazy Sundays like today, having a sleep in and taking a leisurely breakfast to start my day off, while looking through my new slow cooker recipe book. After lusting over a slow cooker for ages, yesterday I decided to take the plunge and buy myself one and I’ve been getting familiar with my new kitchen toy. I also bought The Slow Cooker Cookbook to get me started and chose the Provencal Beef Stew for tonight’s meal. Once I had the beef stew started I then moved onto doing pudding. I’ve had this Dutch Apple Cake recipe book-marked since receiving Bake by Rachel Allen and after seeing this cake propping up on other blogs I couldn’t wait any longer. This cake has a very light and fluffy sponge, with a lovely juiciness from the apple slices and topped with a sugary crust. I will be serving my cake for pudding, alongside hot creamy custard. What could be better than ending a lazy Sunday like this?

Dutch Apple Cake

Makes 12-16 squares

2 Eggs
175g caster sugar, plus 15g extra for sprinkling
½ tsp vanilla extract
85g Butter
75ml Milk
125g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 ¼ tsp Baking powder
2 small (or 1 large) cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
double cream or custard, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC Fan/Gas Mark 6. Line the sides and base of a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin with parchment paper. Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a figure of eight pattern (this will take about 5 minutes). Melt the butter in a saucepan with the milk, then pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Arrange the apple slices over the batter. (They will sink to the bottom.) Sprinkle over a tablespoon of sugar and bake in the oven for ten minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180oC/160oC Fan/Gas Mark 4 and bake for a further 20–25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Cut into squares and serve warm with cream or custard.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Do your loved ones have a favourite that you bake? I’ve often asked this same question to both my hubby and son and they always give me the same answer. My son’s favourite is a Chocolate Orange Cake, which tastes just like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and one I have baked many times. As for my hubby, his choice is Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies, he just adores them! I’ve baked different varieties of this combo but this cookie recipe wins hands down. I first made these cookies at Christmas to take over to my sister’s house and needless to say everyone simply loved them and I received many compliments, which is always something rewarding for a baker. These soft but chewy cookies are a gorgeous combination of smooth white chocolate, blended wonderfully with the cranberries, the rolled oats and crunchy pecans. The recipe comes courtesy of Nigella’s Christmas cookbook; a definite must have in your book collection.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Makes 30

150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
75g rolled oats (not instant)
125g soft butter
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, roughly chopped
150g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ 350°F/gas mark 4.

Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy — this is obviously easier with an electric mixer of some kind, but you just need to put some muscle into otherwise — then beat in the egg and vanilla.
Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and oat mixture and then fold in the cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking sheet and squish the dough balls down with a fork. You may need two baking sheets or be prepared to make these in two batches.
Cook for 15 minutes; when ready, the cookies will be tinged a pale gold, but be too soft to lift immediately off the tray, so leave the tray on a cool surface and let them harden for about 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula to cool fully on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Honey Loaf

After my lack of blogging at the beginning of January it seems I’m definitely making up for lost time and what with all the snow this week and not being so pleasant to go out, this is the perfect time to try out some of those book-marked recipes. I decided to bake this effortless Honey Loaf, with great success from yet another recipe from Rachel Allen’s Bake. The honey adds the sweetness to this loaf, which really comes through, especially when toasted and buttered.

Honey Loaf

Serves 12

300g (11oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
100g (3 ½ oz) butter, softened
175g (6oz) runny honey
2 eggs, beaten
75ml (3fl oz) milk
1 tbsp warm honey, for brushing

13 x 23cm (5 x9in) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 170OC (325oF), Gas mark 3. Oil and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and set aside. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the honey and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Continuing to beat, gradually adding the eggs. Fold in the flour with a spatula or metal spoon, the fold in the milk to form a soft dough. Place in the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until golden and when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to stand for 3 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack. Brush the loaf generously with warm honey and allow to cool.

The Goddess's Kitchen No1 fan, Ollie my kitten. He loves sitting on my computer desk watching me blog!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Mincemeat and Raisin Muffins

After Christmas I always seem to have a jar or two of my home-made mincemeat left over. Now what better time would there be to bring the aroma of Christmas back into the house, then when outside is a snowy winter scene. I came across this fabulous recipe on Angela’s blog, A Spoonful of Sugar, a blog well worth a visit! I knew I was onto a winner with these muffins as Angela’s blog never fails to inspire. There was one person who was very excited when I was making the muffins and while they were baking, yes that person was my hubby who has to work from home again today as a result of the lack of transport into the city, due to the weather. I’m not complaining, I love having him home and he loves not having to wait till he gets home from work to sample any baked goodies. OK back to the muffins, these are everything I expected, moist, full of flavour and in hubby’s words, gorgeous and addictive!! If you have any leftover mincemeat then I urge you to make these. Below are some pics of last night. I eventually ventured outside with hubby into the snow and wish I had done so sooner. The snow in our garden was deep and it really was a winter wonderland!

Mincemeat and Raisin Muffins

Makes 11-12 standard size

10oz (280g) plain flour
2 teaspoons (10ml) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
3oz (85g) golden caster sugar
1 egg
8fl oz (240ml) milk
12oz (350g) ready-made mincemeat
3fl oz (90ml) vegetable oil or 3oz (85g) butter, melted
3oz (85g) raisins or sultanas
Icing sugar for dusting the tops, optional

Prepare muffin tins (either grease or line with paper cases). Preheat oven to 190-200C or Gas Mark 5-6.
In a large bowl, sift together: flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar.
In a separate bowl, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk, mincemeat and oil/melted butter.
Pour all of liquid ingredients into dry mixture. Stir until just combined, adding the raisins or sultanas in the final few strokes. The batter will be lumpy but no dry flour will be visible. Do not overstir.
Fill muffin cups three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are lightly browned and spring back when pressed gently. Allow muffins to cool for several minutes to make removal easier. Sieve icing sugar over the top.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies and lots of snow!!

The weather forecast predicted snow and boy did we get snow (the worst in 18yrs)!! It started last night and by 10pm we had over 6 inches of snow. My boys were out in the garden at that time having snow ball fights; I opted to watch them from the warm confines of the conservatory. I awoke during the night like an excited child to look out of the window and it was still snowing heavy. This morning we were greeted with over 14 inches of snow, a real winter wonderland. Unfortunately due to all this snow, London and southern England are in travel chaos and transport has come to a standstill and schools are closed. My hubby commutes to the city everyday and is having to work from home, as there are no trains running and we don’t even know if the trains will be up and running tomorrow, as there is more heavy snow on its way. I still haven’t braved it outside but instead decided to bake some Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip cookies which are already disappearing off the cooling rack!! These thick and chewy cookies are super quick to make and will be perfect with a cup of hot chocolate in this bitterly cold weather. The recipe comes courtesy of Rachel Allen’s Bake book.

Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

110g (4oz) butter, softened
110g (4oz) caster sugar
110g (4oz) soft brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g (9oz) porridge oats
110g (4oz) self-raising flour
1 level tsp salt
110g (4oz) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF), Gas Mark 4. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg, water and vanilla extract while still beating. Reduce the speed and gently mix in the oats, flour, salt and raisins to form a dough. Using your hands, roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place slightly apart on two baking trays. Bake in the oven for 12-25 minutes or until light golden brown but still slightly soft in the centre. Allow to cool on the trays for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Snow pics of my garden.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Banana and Chocolate Bread ~ Sweet and Simple Bake!

Wow, this month seems to have flown by quick and I can’t believe the moment has arrived for another wonderful round-up at Sweet and Simple Bakes! This month I chose this really scrumptious Banana and Chocolate Bread, I’ve made this before and knew it would be a hit with everyone. Not only is the recipe easy but the combination of flavours makes this a perfect tea time afternoon indulgence. I’ve baked lots of different versions of banana bread but this version ticks all the right boxes, making it one of the best recipes yet! Please check out all the other great and delicious entries over at Sweet and Simple Bakes.

Banana and Chocolate Bread

Serves 10-12

250g (9oz) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
150g (5oz) caster
100g (3 ½ oz) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
475g (17oz) whole bananas (about 4 small ones), peeled
75g (3oz) dark chocolate chips

13 x 23cm (5x9in) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 170oC (325oF), Gas mark 3. Lightly butter and line the loaf tin with parchment paper. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the sugar and butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest in another bowl. Add the bananas and mash very well with a potato masher. Add the chocolate chips. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture. Gently but thoroughly bring all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, then pour into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth the top and bake in the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.