First bake: oat, raisin and fig cookies

Oat, raisin and fig cookies

Anything with oats in it sounds like it must be good for you, but rest assured that these particular oat cookies most certainly aren’t. Despite the oats and two types of fruit, the calorie count per cookie is equivalent to a small meal thanks to the ENTIRE BLOCK OF BUTTER that goes into them. Sound great, don’t they?

I came up with these cookies using a recipe in my now slightly tatty BBC Good Food book (it really is brilliant!), which I adapted based on what I had in the cupboard at the time. They were very easy to make (as cookies should be) and truly scrumptious.

I’ve only ever used figs in fruit cakes before so it was nice to throw them in something different for a change. I still automatically think ‘Fig Roll’ whenever I taste them but that’s no bad thing!

Oat, raisin and fig cookies

They do indeed taste very buttery but also extremely fruity and, of course, oaty (it’s terrible that I did an English degree and work in content marketing, yet this is the best I can come up with, isn’t it?). I would definitely make these again and would happily substitute the fruit for other things – chocolate chunks, Rolos, nuts… the possibilities are endless!

Just don’t even think about making these if you’re keeping an eye on your weight.

Oat, raisin and fig cookies

The recipe

Makes 18 big cookies, or lots more small ones

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 225g porridge oats
  • 200g dried figs, chopped
  • 50g raisins

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/160C fan. Line a baking tray (or trays) with non-stick paper.
  2. Cream together the butter, caster sugar and light muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the flour and oats and stir thoroughly. Stir in the figs and raisins.
  4. Divide the dough into balls, place them on the tray and slightly flatten them. Ensure there’s enough space between them to allow for spreading while baking.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies are golden around the edge. Cool on the tray for 5 mins then finish cooling on a wire rack.
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First bake: coconut cake with chocolate buttercream (AKA Bounty cake)

Bounty cake

A while ago, I bookmarked a recipe for a decadent Bounty cake created by a Great British Bake Off contestant, with the intention of very definitely making it one day. Alas, the Bounty cake I made this week wasn’t from that recipe – in fact, I sort of invented it based on what I had in – but I suspect it tastes just as good!

I went about making the cake by baking two coconut sponges (adding more coconut than really required, obviously) and then whipping up a chocolate and coconut buttercream. I didn’t have much cocoa left, so I suspect it could have been more chocolaty, but no matter.

I sandwiched the two cooled sponges with the buttercream and then melted some white chocolate and poured it over the top. Why white chocolate? Well, why the hell not?! Actually, I just wanted it to look a bit more Easter-y, as it was for the office Easter bake sale.

Then came the best bit: chopping up four mini Bounty bars and throwing them on top of the cake before scattering it with liberal amounts of dessicated coconut. I put the finished cake in the fridge for about half an hour to allow the chocolate to set properly, but you don’t need to do this if you don’t mind messy fingers!

Bounty cake
The result was a very tempting-looking cake and lots of oohs and aahs in the office. I didn’t actually get to taste any until I got home (luckily, one piece hadn’t sold), but it was worth the wait, as it was ruddy delicious. I was especially pleased with the strong coconut flavour and the nice contrast with the chocolate buttercream and the white chocolate on top.

The only thing I would do differently next time is use unsalted butter instead of salted for the buttercream – either that, or use more icing sugar to balance it out. The saltiness was actually nice in conjunction with all the sugar, but I think it might be a bit weird for some!

All in all, this is an easy, delicious cake that’s a must for any Bounty fan!

Bounty cake
The recipe

Slices into 8-10 pieces

For the cake:

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 75g dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut, single or soured cream (I used soured)

For the buttercream:

  • 120g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 sachet of coconut cream (I used Patak’s)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa (use more for a more intense flavour)

For the topping:

  • 75g white chocolate, melted (or you can use milk or dark chocolate)
  • 2 x Bounty bars, roughly chopped (the ones with 2 mini bars in each)
  • 1 tbsp dessicated coconut
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C/160C fan. Grease and line the bases of two 20cm round sandwich tins.
  2. For the cake, whisk the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and eggs until smooth, ideally using an electric whisk.
  3. Stir in the cream and dessicated coconut.
  4. Divide the mixture between the two tins. Bake on the same shelf in the oven for 25 minutes. The cakes should be firm on top, golden brown and slightly coming away from the sides of the tins.
  5. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to completely cool.
  6. For the buttercream, beat together the butter, icing sugar and coconut cream. Stir in the cocoa until well combined. Spread the buttercream on one of the cooled cakes and place the other cake on top.
  7. Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the cake (I poured it all in the middle and let it spread across the top of the cake and drip down the sides). Top with the chopped Bounty bars and sprinkle the dessicated coconut over everything.
  8. Place the cake in the fridge and leave for around 30 mins to allow the chocolate to set (or you can skip this step for a messier experience!).
  9. Slice the cake and enjoy!

First bake: cheddar and leek muffins

Cheddar and leek muffins

I made these savoury cheddar and leek muffins for work last month along with the rum and mint brownies I blogged about last time. I do like a good savoury bake, with my all-time favourite being Dan Lepard’s courgette and mozzarella muffins. So, how did these compare?

They were pretty damn good, truth be told! The method was as you would expect – mix together the dry ingredients, mix together the wet ingredients, combine the two and bake. I used a large leek and it looked like a LOT, but it turned out to the right amount for the muffin cases. I also did my usual thing of adding more cheese than specified whenever a recipe calls for it, but that’s pretty much the law for any cheese lover.

The recipe rather intriguingly calls for mustard powder. I didn’t have any so just used some actual mustard instead. I can’t say I could actually taste it, but maybe that’s because of all the extra cheese I threw in…

Cheddar and leek muffins

Taste-wise, the muffins were very similar to the courgette and mozzarella ones, but without the chilli kick. I think I still prefer the latter but these were still very nice indeed – I just can’t shake off my chilli-saturated upbringing! I’d quite like to try making these again with different kinds of cheese (and maybe some chilli) – I can imagine them being lovely with smoked or flavoured cheese.

The recipe

Can be found online here: http://www.thecheesewarehouse.co.uk/cheddar-leek-savoury-muffins/

First bake: rum and mint brownies

Rum and mint brownies

I can’t believe I haven’t posted in so long! In my defence, I’ve been laptop-less for a while as it’s away being fixed, and I’ve also been to Berlin since my last post. Anyway, let’s move on to more important things.

I like chocolate, rum and mint, but I don’t think I’d ever had them all together until I made these lovely brownies from a Dan Lepard recipe. I’ve been meaning to bake these for a very long time and finally took the plunge when it was my turn to bake for the office last month.

What intrigued me about the recipe was not just the flavour combination, but also the use of cream cheese as a carrier for the mint flavour. I wasn’t sure how well this would work, but it did indeed work wonderfully.

The method involves creating the cream cheese and brownie mixes separately and then combining them in the tin before baking. Lepard recommends a particular type of peppermint oil for these, but I just used good ol’ peppermint extract from the supermarket. For the rum, I used my favourite, Captain Morgan’s Spiced (which is golden rather than dark, but I like to rebel).

Rum and mint brownies

Everything went to plan, although my brownies looked nothing like the ones in the recipe! This didn’t seem to affect the flavour, which was pretty damn good – the chocolate and mint is very After Eight-y, with the rum adding an interesting note. They went down a treat in the office and I do think I’ll make these again!

The recipe

Can be found on the Guardian website here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/may/14/rum-mint-chocolate-brownie-recipe