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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Home-made Hobnobs!

I've wanted to make my own digestive biscuits since I watched the contestants on Great British Bake Off making biscuits and crackers in one of their challenges. For some reason it had never occurred to me that it would be entirely possible to make your own at home.
It seems that a GOOD digestive biscuit recipe with a good method is hard to find (I guess the big biscuit manufacturers probably prefer it that way!) Which is silly really, given just how easy to make these little lovelies are.
I'm not entirely convinced I can call them digestives though as the recipe I used did, as they seem more on the Hobnob-ey side. Nether the less, they are delicious and so quick and easy to make that I think they have become a new favourite!


Recipe:

100g Wholemeal flour
100g Oats
100g Salted butter, softened
50g Soft brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp milk

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
Blitz the oats in a food processor until they become powdery, this takes all of about 30 seconds.
Mix the oats, flour, sugar and baking powder together in a bowl until well combined.
Add the softened butter and mix until completely combined (the dough will start coming together but be crumbly). I used the 'rubbing in' method for this but it could be done in the food processor for speed and ease. 
Carefully add some of the milk, a tiny bit at a time until the dough holds together without being sticky and wet. I only used 1/2 a tbsp, though flours can differ and yours may need more. 
Form the dough into a ball and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. If left in the fridge for longer the dough will need to be left to warm slightly before being rolled as the butter will firm up.
Ready for chilling in the fridge
Roll the dough to a thickness of around 3mm, or the thickness of a hob nob or digestive biscuit.
Roll the dough between cling film to stop  it sticking to the work surface or rolling pin
Cut out in 6cm circles - this is what my recipe said, I used an upside down scone cutter, do what size suits you! 
Place on a sheet of baking paper on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Ready for their 15 minutes of flame - sorry!

They are as simple as that! I am considering using this recipe as a base and coming up with some variations such as mixing in a small amount of Parmesan or maybe dessicated coconut (not that I like coconut but then I don't eat all of my creations, I share them). Or just drizzle them with chocolate or sandwich them together with chocolate spread...

The biscuits would be a great home made gift


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Beautifully moist Carrot cake

Carrot cake is a bit of a favourite of hubby, though I've never been a fan. I guess Carrot cake is one of those things where everyone has their own idea of what makes it good, I've just never found one made just the way I like... until now!

This Carrot cake recipe was a result of a bit of time spent researching on the Internet until I found a recipe that looked just right for my tastes. It is fairly simple and easy to make and makes the most deliciously moist cake.

Recipe:

300g Plain flour
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking powder
250g Soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp Bicarb of soda
4 Eggs
250ml Vegetable oil
200g Carrots, finely grated
150g Walnuts
Zest of 1 lemon

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 130c. Line a 20cm x 10cm deep cake tin.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarb of soda together. Stir in 200g of the sugar (the other 50g is for the walnuts on the top of the cake).
Beat together the eggs, oil and lemon zest. 
Stir in the grated carrot and fold everything into the flour mix. 
Spoon the mix into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 

Whilst the cake is cooling you can get on with making the cream cheese frosting and caramelised walnuts for the topping. 

The recipe I used for the cream cheese frosting comes from Ruth Clemens (GBBO fame) 

Recipe:

70g Butter, softened
200g cream cheese (needs to be the branded stuff, not shops cheaper own brand.)
400g Icing sugar

The cream cheese should be used straight from the fridge, then drain off and discard the liquid.
The butter needs to be beaten until really soft, if it is too cold it will not combine properly with the cream cheese. 
Add the cream cheese and beat together until combined. Though be careful not to over beat the mix as the cream cheese will become runny the more you beat it. 
Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat together, then add the rest of the icing sugar and mix again. 
(A tip from Ruth on her recipe is that if you DO over beat your mix, don't add more icing sugar, just pop it in the fridge for half an hour to firm it up again).
Then the perfect cream cheese frosting is ready to be spread over the carrot cake. 

Next the walnut decoration.

I used walnut halves around the edge of the cake and made some salted caramel walnuts chopped up and sprinkled in the centre. Delicious! 

To make the salted caramel walnuts:

Gorgeous! Couldn't stop stealing little bits whilst sprinkling over the cake!
Use approximately 50g of soft brown sugar and melt gently in a saucepan. Add a pinch of sea salt and the remaining walnut halves (chopped) after decorating the outside of the cake. When all of the walnuts pieces are covered in the caramel tip out onto a clean surface to cool before sprinkling over the cake.

Be careful! Sugar gets extremely hot when melted, don't touch the caramel or walnuts until it has completely cooled.  


All that's left is to enjoy!!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Scan bran breakfast bake

Still trying to shift the last 2 stubborn pounds to achieve my new target weight I decided to try some more scan bran.
Something which I noticed whilst looking around for recipes using scan bran is that savoury recipes are about as hard to find as hens teeth! Type 'Scan bran recipes' into Google and you will get a whole host of cake and biscuit recipes, but no savoury. This strikes me as a bit odd considering scan bran is basically just compressed fibre, it has little to no taste of it's own so really can be put into anything which will give it flavour.
So, I decided to get experimental in the kitchen and see if I could fill the gap. Surely not all of us slimmers want to eat cake ALL of the time?? I love cake as much as everyone, but when I snack I feel more fulfilled if I've eaten something savoury. Cake is a treat, not a snack, and to be perfectly honest I prefer PROPER cake as my treat.

I didn't know what to name my new creation, but thought Breakfast bake did it enough justice, given the ingredients. Though it can be eaten any time of the day or night, it can be breakfast, it's perfect for a packed lunch or an afternoon snack before dinner.

Ingredients:

5 Scan Bran
3 eggs
1 shallot
1 beetroot grated
4 medium sized mushrooms
2 slices ham/extra lean bacon
Pinch basil
Pinch Oregano
Black pepper for seasoning

Method:

Soften the Scan bran in a bowl with just enough hot water to get it soft (about enough to cover it) and give it a good mash. Once done, set to one side.
Dice the onion and fry in some low cal cooking spray until soft, add the mushrooms and if using bacon chop that and add to the pan at this stage.
When the onion, mushroom and bacon (if using) are cooked add to the scan bran mix in the bowl.
Add the beetroot and one egg and mix well to combine all of the ingredients.
Put the mix into a shallow roasting dish and crack the two remaining eggs onto the top.
Sprinkle the herbs and black pepper on top and bake in the oven at 190C for 25 minutes.

I enjoyed a large slice with a baby cucumber and cherry tomatoes. For a touch of sinfulness add a small dollop of flavoured mayo.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Baking brave on World Baking Day

Today Stork have sponsored World baking day. World baking day is all about baking brave and  getting out of your baking comfort zone and making something which really tests your baking knowledge and skills.
There are recipes ranked from the easiest at level 1 to the hardest at level 100 (the ultimate challenge) which looks immense and serves 30 people!

I chose Level 24 - Lava cake which I always thought would be complicated, I didn't get how you could have a cake cooked properly with a molten middle! There were recipes on there that would have tested my skills and knowledge a lot more, but these have been on my to do list for a while so what better time than to cross them off?

Ingredients: 


250g cooking chocolate
250g butter
5 medium eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
75g caster sugar
35g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Extra butter and caster sugar for greasing ramekins (cups)

Method:


Melt the chocolate and butter together over a Bain Marie (pan of hot, not boiling water, with a bowl over the top.)
Whilst the chocolate and butter are slowly melting beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together. 
Once the melted chocolate has cooled to blood temperature (you don't want scrambled egg) mix into the egg and sugar.
Stir in the flour with a spatular until just incorporated. 

Divide the mix between the ramekins (or cups) which have been pre greased with the butter and then lined with caster sugar. Only fill the vessel around 3/4 full to allow room for the cakes to rise slightly whilst baking. 

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 230C.

The cakes are done when a cocktail stick inserted 1/2 cm in from the edge comes out clean. 

A kneel in front of the oven praying moment, not for the cake though, for my Emma Bridgwater mugs! 




In the absence of ramekins I improvised and used mugs!
All that's left then is to enjoy! These cakes are delicious either eaten warm from the oven or cooled and eaten later with a coffee and a good movie. 

So, I can say that I baked brave on World Baking day, hopefully the World baking day recipes will stay around for a while so that I can try a few more. 
Let me know if you have a go at baking brave, it doesn't have to be today, get in the kitchen and do something creative, you never know you might even enjoy it!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

I'm back!!!!

Hi all! Feels like it's been an eternity since I last posted. So much has been going on, plus I have had the dreaded lurgy that just now seems to be hitting everyone else (you have my sympathy) AND my oven died a death!!!
But none of that matters now, as I'm back and have managed to get a few bakes in to share since I was last here.

First up is my first ever Scan bran cake. For those not in the know, Scan bran is a high fibre bran cracker. It is famous in slimming circles for helping to lose weight through it's very high fibre content, which helps to curb your appetite, keeping you fuller for longer.
Anyway, I have been following my diet for a little over a year now and am working towards my second target. Which is taking longer than it should for me to achieve, so when at group this week I thought I'd buy some Scan bran to see if it could give me a boost to lose the last 2.5lb I need to shift. I tried two crackers softened in hot water and sprinkled with cinnamon and a little drizzle of honey for breakfast - it smelled just like Shredded wheat; it tasted nothing like it!
So, I decided to Google some recipes for Scan bran cakes, there are thousands out there! Who knew?!

This is my take on a Banana Scan bran cake recipe that I found.



Recipe:

For the cake mix

5 Scan Bran crackers
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
2 Tbsp sweetner
1 tsp honey
3 eggs
1/2 tsp Chocolate essence
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

For the cake topping

1 Banana sliced
100g Greek yogurt
Pinch cinnamon/chocolate powder
1 tsp Honey

Method:

Soften the Scan Bran in a bowl with just enough boiling water to cover it.
When the Scan Bran is softened mix in the remaining ingredients for the cake mix.
Give everything a thorough mix and place into a 20cm cake tin.
Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Until the cake is 'set' and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

When the cake has completely cooled, spread the Greek yogurt over the top of the cake. This is where I would use the expensive Greek yogurt and not a shop's own which tend to be quite runny. Use the sliced banana to decorate the cake how you choose and drizzle the remaining honey over the top. If you choose to you can sprinkle the cake with Cinnamon or chocolate powder for a bit of extra decoration and sweetness.

Odd looking mixture - about to go in the oven
 
 
 Fresh from the oven - looking a bit more cakey now
 
 
The finished article. Doesn't look too bad for a 'diet' cake! The smell from the chocolate essence and the banana is delicious.
 
 
It really is that simple to make, perfect for anyone wanting something a bit indulgent but also really not wanting to hurt their weight loss.



About to tuck into a nice big slice! 



Go ahead and try it yourself, let me know what you think of it.

Scan bran can be brought from most Health food stores if you don't belong to a slimming group who sells it.