Recipe: Homemade Hobnobs

If you were a biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be?

A reportedly common interview question, albeit one that I haven’t been asked. I’m a bit gutted really, because I’d had the answer ready and waiting for a good few years. I would be a (chocolate half-covered) hobnob. Why? Sweet with a surprising twist (the subtle saltiness), grown up (no child would take a hobnob over a custard cream!) and commonly found with a cup of tea. And because chocolate covered hobnobs just happen to be my absolute favourite biscuit, and one of my only sweet-toothed weaknesses.

 photo Easy recipe for_zpswngcvq0z.jpg photo Homemade Hobnobs 2_zpst03rvxsv.jpgI try not to buy biscuits as a rule, but with W being diabetic there is a need to have something sweet, slightly carby and easy-to-eat-quickly on hand. Hobnobs will always be my biscuit of choice as they are super-yummy without being too naughty (well, they have oats!). One is also *enough* to fill a hungry tummy, though certainly not enough to satisfy as I’ll always want more. After several packets were consumed during the revision period (before I discovered an easy energy bite recipe!) I decided I wanted to make my own. And the very day that exams were over and done with, I did.

The first try wasn’t perfect. It tasted too much of golden syrup, didn’t have quite the salty kick I was after. The chocolate wasn’t right (using up a Lindt bunny made them too sweet – I found cheap Basics chocolate to be far better). They spread and amalgamated into a single large traybake. These are much better, though be warned they still spread and need to be far smaller than you’d think. They are sweet, but not tooth-achingly, with a good biscuity snap. So, so good, they didn’t last long at all!

 photo Homemade Hobnobs 5_zpssi6c0vv5.jpgIngredients

  • 125g butter, plus 15g for the chocolate topping
  • 85g soft brown sugar (don’t substitute for other types, as this type goes delicious sticky in the mix and helps bind the biscuits)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp golden syrup
  • 100g quick oats
  • 90g wholemeal flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste, plus extra sea salt flakes for sprinkling if wanted
  • 150g chocolate

 photo Homemade Hobnobs 4_zps19fi4ypc.jpgSoften the butter well, then beat together with the sugar – the mix should be pale, creamy and almost fluffy looking. Beat in the golden syrup, before stirring in the oats, flour, baking soda/powder and salt. The mix is very stiff so requires some elbow grease, but I promise it does eventually come together.

Roll small helpings of dough (I use a teaspoon) into balls and flatten on a tray lined with greaseproof, until they are about the thickness of a £1 coin. Leave room for spreading – I recommend a maximum of 6 on each tray. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes at 180C, until the biscuits are golden brown. Allow to cool.

Melt the chocolate together with the 15g of butter, and top each biscuit with a good helping of the mixture. If you’re being good you could leave the chocolate topping off – but I’m not a huge fan of naked hobnobs! Sprinkle with a little seasalt if you’re being fancy, then eat with a good cup of tea.

 photo Homemade Hobnobs 1_zpsdvkc95un.jpgA delicious treat, I reckon these homemade hobnobs would be a fab addition to lunchboxes – almost like a crunchier version of a flapjack. They are rather oat heavy, and have a crunchy edge with a slightly chewy middle. Perfect to dunk in a cuppa, enjoy whilst studying, or just because. I could see them making a lovely gift tied up with some ribbon too…

If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be, and why?

Recipe: Energy Bites, Two Ways

Quite a while ago, I poo-pooed the idea of energy bites as a fad, said that they didn’t appeal to me at all, vowed to never make them. Embarrassingly, I’m now going back on that. Turns out that, yes they may be a bit of a fad, but I actually quite like them, and made them on a number of occasions during exam season.

 photo Energy Bites 5_zpswagmdahi.jpg photo Energy Bites 10_zpsxc7ohzvo.jpgI’m the kind of person that doesn’t really have a huge sweet tooth, until around 9pm at night. Whether I’m watching TV, reading or studying, at that point I like a little pick-me-up. And trust me, I get super hangry without it! If I’m at home, a small instant hot chocolate does the trick without inducing guilty feelings, but when I’m in the library? I need snacks and I need them quickly.

Right at the start of exam season, I’m made the mistake of treating myself to ‘just one’ packet of half-covered hobnobs. Several packets later, skinny jeans starting to feel a little uncomfortable, enough was enough. I pulled out my favourite ‘healthy eating’ books, threw some bits into a blender, and discovered that energy bites weren’t as horrible as previously feared. I’ve now honed my recipe, and now is the time to share it…

 photo Energy Bites 4_zps0viehj6n.jpg photo Energy Bites 1_zpsmm3xn7gk.jpg photo Energy Bites 3_zpsuheif4ot.jpgIngredients

  • 75g ‘dry stuff’ – I use equal measures of oats, almonds (flaked as that’s what I tend to buy), hazelnuts, chia, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
  • 50-75g pitted dates, soaked in a little boiling water then drained
  • 50g nut butter
  • 2 teaspoons cacao powder, for chocolatey bites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – for ‘plain nut bites’ (a drop of vanilla extract is also good!)

Blitz the dry stuff in a blender (I use the grind function on mine) until you have a coarse powder. Tip into a large bowl and stir through the cacao, if using. Blitz together the dates and nut butter, adding a little of the soaking liquid if the mix is too sticky to blend.

Personal preference – I like to leave a few good-sized chunks of date in there for a fruity hit (says the person who hates fruit!).

Tip the sticky mix into the bowl, then mix together with your hands. Trust me, a spoon does not work here! I find some actions similar to bread kneading works well to combine the ingredients. Roll tablespoons into balls, place on a lined baking tray, and chill in the fridge for a few hours, before transferring to a sealed container – keep in the fridge, though I prefer to bring them to room temperature before snacking!

 photo Energy Bites 7_zps1v1xampg.jpgThe chocolatey ones are (surprise surprise!) my absolute favourites. Super chocolatey, rich and squidgy, I’ve even warmed them until melty and eaten with a spoon for a real ‘treat’ without any of the guilt. I’m planning on making them infused with some orange next time, for a healthier take on a Terry’s Chocolate Orange…

Are you a fan of energy bites? What’s your go-to sweet snack?

Baking: Snickers Brownies

Another bit of procrastination baking, these came about when W left me alone in his flat for the entire day. He came back to moan about the fact that I’d depleted his chocolate supplies, though once he realised I hadn’t just eaten then all he came around quite nicely…

 photo Snickers Brownies 6_zpsvwywdsdc.jpgI did come up against a few difficulties whilst baking these. Mainly the oven, which is pretty dreadful in his flat (nothing to do with the flat that I failed to turn it on at the wall!). It resulted in these being a little overbaked, the ultimate brownie sin. Microwaved, though, these turned out pretty good! I had also planned on having the snickers layer in the middle, but managed to pour all the mix into the tin before remembering. Revision scrambling the brain you see!

These are based on my ‘storecupboard’ brownie recipe, using cocoa as the base rather than tediously melting bars of chocolate. In fact, the recipe is exactly the same – just doubled and topped with slices of snickers. I’m prepared to bet that swirling through a spoon or two of peanut butter would go down quite nicely too…

 photo Snickers Brownies 2_zpspihinare.jpgIngredients

  • 140g salted butter, melted (coconut oil also works, though does make the brownie slightly oiler)
  • 225g sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder (I’ve been using some raw, unprocessed, unrefined stuff – it’s insanely rich and chocolatey!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g flour
  • 3-4 snickers bars, sliced

Make up the brownie batter based on this recipe. Decide whether you want a gooey layer of snickers sandwiched between brownie, or a more crunchy caramelised layer on top. For the former, spread half the batter in a greased/lined tin, top with the snickers, then spread over the remaining batter. And for the latter? Tip all the batter in, spread evenly, top with the snickers. Bake for around 25 minutes at 180C, and cool completely before cutting. Perfect warm with a little ice-cream.

 photo Snickers Brownies 4_zpseildzjlc.jpgOh, and for those on a budget? Tesco do ‘Snicker’ type bars, £1 for 8, and they are absolutely delicious…

Are you a peanut-chocolate-combo fan? What would be your favourite chocolate bar to bake into brownies?

Recipe: Banana Bread Muffins (a.k.a Procrastimuffins)

I have to admit it, I loveeeee banana bread. I adore how moist and full of flavour it is, sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth but not ridiculously bad for me. Filling, but not stodgy, managing to get me some of the way to achieving my 5-a-day. These are the banana bread I love so much, but in muffin form! Perfect for an afternoon snack.

 photo Banana Bread Muffins 4_zpsbyt4eagl.jpgOr microwaved until gooey, served with a scoop of ice-cream. Thank me later…

I always end up with over-ripe spotty bananas, due to my hatred of actually eating a banana. Sure, I’ll mash one up in my porridge. Offer me a banana smoothie and I’ll take it. But will I eat a banana? Hell no! Using them like I do means they need to be super sweet and ripe, hence I always end up rushing to use the last few. A few weeks ago I was revising for an exam the next day, wandered into the kitchen and spied some completely brown bananas. And PROCRASTIMUFFINS were born. Only taking 30 minutes, including baking and washing up, they were the perfect way to take some time out, whilst creating a yummy post-exam snack for the next day.

The basic recipe produces moist, slightly cinnamon-y muffins, very banana-y with a slightly hint of peanut butter (because p-butter). I’ve taken it up a notch here and stirred through a small handful of roughly chopped dark chocolate, but in all honesty that’s not necessary. The muffin is the star of the show here, not any additions. That said, I’m imagining a batch made with pecan-nut butter (a new discovery), with extra nuts stirred through… They are moist, but not ‘gummy’ like some banana bread can be, they don’t fall apart, and they’re not too sticky. In essence, the perfect study snack.

 photo Banana Bread Muffins 6_zpsxsg7rciu.jpg photo Banana Bread Muffins 7_zpstusz8huh.jpg photo Banana Bread Muffins 9_zpsmyvnt9a1.jpg photo Banana Bread Muffins 8_zps4ligmb2f.jpgIngredients

  • 100g butter
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 140g sugar – I used a mix of soft brown and granulated, but use what you have
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 120g yoghurt or soured cream (or a mix of the two)
  • 2 bananas, mashed well
  • 1 small handful ‘extras’ like chocolate chips

Melt the butter and peanut butter together in a large microwaveable boil, then stir in the sugar. Let cool a little, then add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until combined. Mix the flour together with the cinnamon and bicarb, then add to the butter mix and stir together. Then add the bananas and yoghurt/soured cream, stir until just combined. Fold through the extras, then pour into muffin cases – this recipe fills 12 cases almost to the top.

Bake at 170C for 20-25 minutes, watching to make sure the tops don’t brown too much. Let cool a little in the tins, then cool completely on a wire rack.

 photo Banana Bread Muffins 3_zpsmsdedzqz.jpgEat whenever you need a pick-me-up, as a speedy breakfast, or heated and served with ice-cream as an indulgent desert (preferably with a spoon of nutella melted on top, because who doesn’t love banana and nutella?!).

What do you do to procrastinate? I reckon by the end of exam season I’ll have spent a fortune on baking ingredients and won’t fit into any clothes!

Recipe: Simple No-Knead Bread Rolls

It’s no secret that I love baking my own bread; I just find it tastes far nicer, leaves me feeling fuller and gives me something to do. Baking and cooking is my ‘thing’ – when I’m stressed, I bake. When I feel ill, I crave a comforting meal. It’s very rare that I have no motivation to get into the kitchen. In fact, I quite often use it as a procrastination tool!

 photo Wholemeal No-Knead Bread Rolls 1_zpso6ns894a.jpgWhilst I still do buy bread – I’m awful at slicing so need something for toast, and I have a massive weakness for M&S white baguettes – the majority I eat is homemade. Pretty much every week this year (certainly every fortnight) I’ve proved my way to a batch of rolls, bagels or even pittas. And I’m lazy. Very lazy. So my bread requires no kneading, very little hands on work, and even the shaping takes just five or so minutes. Throw in the oven for 15 or so minutes and you’ve got a week’s worth of bread rolls for very little effort. And a rather yummy smelling kitchen.

I still maintain that James Morton’s Brilliant Bread is the best bread book I’ve read. Possibly because he advocates no-kneading, possibly because no recipe I’ve tried from it has failed yet. And he’s not exactly unattractive to look at either…this recipe is loosely based on his “Wholemeal Bread.” I’ve altered the proportions slightly to suit my tastes, made it even lazier, and turned it into 8 rolls. Perfect for lunches!

 photo Wholemeal No-Knead Bread Rolls 4_zps1xzmtwiy.jpgIngredients

  • 500g strong bread flour, made up of wholemeal and white – my favourite proportion is 375g wholemeal, 125g white, but it’s up to you
  • 7g salt
  • 6g yeast (I buy a tub and keep it in the fridge, so much cheaper than individual sachets)
  • 375ml water, warm (I boil a kettle, and use 100ml boiled and the rest cold)

 photo Wholemeal No-Knead Bread Rolls 3_zpswfejdjcs.jpgTo make up the dough, simply add the flours to a big bowl and stir with a knife to combined. Add the yeast to one end of the bowl, salt to the other, and rub in. James says to keep them separate at this stage, and whilst I do add them to separate ends I don’t make a special effort to keep them apart.

Make a well in the flour mix, and add the water. Stir with the knife until it’s coming together, then get your hands in and bring together into a scraggly ball. Cover the ball with cling-film and leave to rise for half an hour.

After the half-hour rise, using a wet hand slide your fingers under the dough and fold it over. Repeat a couple of times, turning the bowl with each fold, until the dough feels smoother. Cover with cling-film and pop in the fridge – I usually put it into the fridge at about 8am, and take it out around 4pm when I get back from lectures. If you don’t do the final rise in the fridge, leave for half an hour, repeat the folding process, then leave for another hour until doubled in size.

Once it’s risen to twice it’s size (a good 6-8 hours in the fridge), tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 roughly equal portions, and roll each into a ball. Cup one hand, place on top of the ball of dough, and make large circles against the work surface – this creates friction and gives a ‘tight’ round bread roll. Place on top of a greaseproof paper lined baking tray. Once all rolls are shaped, cover the tray with cling-film, and leave to rise for a final hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C, then bake the rolls for around 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (leaving them on the tray will give a soggy bottom), then eat as many as you can still warm. Any leftovers freeze well for the rest of the week.

 photo Wholemeal No-Knead Bread Rolls 2_zpsrnkhdxzy.jpgAs I type this I have a batch in the oven – the smell is amazing. There’s nothing better than the small of homemade bread, no? These are the perfect combination of indulgently crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, whilst having a healthy feel from the wholemeal flour. Next challenge? The perfect seeded bake!

Do you ever make your own bread?


Recipe: Storecupboard Brownies

Recently I had a 9pm craving for brownies, and it was a craving that only good, proper brownies would cure. The problem? I had no chocolate in, and all my brownie recipes utilise melted chocolate (and a lot of it!). Knowing that not eating a brownie would result in an all-out brownie blow-out as soon as I got to a shop next, I set about throwing some bits and pieces together.

 photo Storecupboard Brownies 5_zps4cv8lqjd.jpg photo Storecupboard Brownies 3_zpsibm2hbqf.jpgThe result was these – rich, moist and extremely chocolatey brownies. They have the papery thin crust that only proper brownies develop, a chewy edge and fudgy centre. This amount of cocoa-sugar does make for quite a dark-bitter brownie, so add in a little sugar (or milk/white chocolate chips!) if you have a sweeter tooth. Trust me when I say it; these were a big hit when I carted them halfway up the country to visit W!

 photo Storecupboard Brownies 10_zpsfi8dryer.jpgIngredients (makes 6 decently sized brownies)

  • 70g salted butter, melted (coconut oil also works, though does make the brownie slightly oiler)
  • 120g sugar
  • 35g cocoa powder (I’ve been using some raw, unprocessed, unrefined stuff – it’s insanely rich and chocolatey!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 35g flour
  • Any additions – I highly recommend cocoa nibs for a not-too-naughty chocolate kick

Combine the melted butter with the sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract, adding a tiny drop of milk. Let cool slightly, then beat in the egg before folding in the flour. Stir through your additions, then pour into a lined baking dish. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, then cool completely before slicing.

 photo Storecupboard Brownies 11_zpsxm5pxpyq.jpgEnjoy cold with a glass of milk or (my ultimate indulgence) warmed with a little ice-cream. You can’t beat a warm, gooey brownie topped with some smooth salted caramel ice-cream!

Are you a lover of chocolate brownies? What’s your go-to recipe?

Recipe: Super-Easy Blueberry Muffins

Whenever I get a piece of coursework, whenever I have an exam to revise for, my procrastination of choice is to get in the kitchen and bake something. So when I was struggling with a particularly hellish piece of coursework a few weeks back I shut myself in the kitchen and got my bake on.

 photo Blueberry Muffins 2_zpssxe3mmog.jpgThe result was these. I wanted a blueberry recipe to use up the Pancake Day leftovers and this fitted the bill perfectly. Sharp and full of blueberries, a moist vanilla sponge and sweet sugary crust – these Blueberry Muffins were delicious. I may or may not have eaten them for breakfast once or twice… Best of all they were super easy to make, and ready in around half an hour. Definitely my kind of bake!

In fact they reminded me just of baked goods I used to enjoy as a child. I can’t imagine why really (I was a picky person, up until around four years ago I didn’t eat any fruit at all), though I imagine it is due to the smell; crumbles are a common occurrence so the smell of cooking fruit always reminds me of home. I was challenged by leading wedding website Confetti to put together a #LikeMumMade recipe. And whilst it’s not a recipe my mum would have actually made, it is the perfect recipe for celebrating Mother’s Day (don’t panic, there’s still a few weeks to buy cards and order flower deliveries!).

 photo Blueberry Muffins 1_zpsznwj7jdd.jpgIngredients

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup flavourless oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and a 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yoghurt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • About 1 tablespoon white sugar for the top (optional – but adds a good sweet crust)

 photo Blueberry Muffins 5_zpsxvcm5ugh.jpgBeat the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until it’s no longer lumpy, then gently fold in the sour cream/yoghurt blueberries and the lemon zest.

Pour into muffin cases (this mix made eight, you want to fill the cases almost to the top) and bake at 170C for 25 minutes, or until risen and golden. Let cool then enjoy – I find these are perfect with a glass of cold milk.

 photo Blueberry Muffins 6_zpsphtslla7.jpg photo Blueberry Muffins 4_zpstxmf6cmq.jpgI just adored these Blueberry Muffins! It was such an easy recipe yet the results were simply delicious – they didn’t last long in my cupboard that’s for sure! Oh, and I did eventually complete and hand-in the ‘impossible’ coursework. It has not been a overly fun fortnight…

Have you baked anything recently? What’s your favourite type of muffin?

Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

With everyone doing ‘veganary’ and the usual ‘new year new me’ this recipe perhaps is a little out of place right now. However I’m a very big believer in the 80:20 rule – so a slice of cake is by no means out of the question. In fact, a life without cake is not a life I’d want to lead. Especially when said cake is this one, complete with peanut butter frosting…

 photo Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting 5_zps8vxkg5c4.jpgSpeaking of the frosting, this stuff is divine. Like, squeeze the icing bag straight into my mouth yummy. (I definitely didn’t do that). It’s creamy, sweet with a salty kick, and has just a hint of the cloyiness that peanut butter gives. It’s also super easy to make, no more hassle than a standard buttercream. And it’s just YUM.

The cake is also pretty good. Based on a super simple recipe I shared ages ago (that I won’t link – the pictures are horrific) it’s rich, almost brownie-like, and chocolately without being heavy. The perfect partner for the frosting.

 photo Bake Box Monthly Subscription1_zpsugydvttx.jpg photo Bake Box Monthly Subscription2_zpseicsqrim.jpg photo Bake Box Monthly Subscription4_zpswtvihmra.jpgSharing this cake (which almost knocks my favourite peanut butter cake off top spot!) also coincides with a rather exciting time – the launch of bi-monthly Bake Boxes*. I’ve never been one for subscription boxes, turns out I was super-excited to open this one. For £14.99 per box you get at least £40 worth of bits and bobs; definitely worth it in my opinion. I loved the style of the box, though it’s debatable how much the theme of ‘Spots and Stripes’ was reflected in all the items. Even so I reckon a subscription would be the perfect gift for a keen baker. I’m very tempted to carry on with mine!

Fun fact: this post was meant to be a bundt cake made with the item in the box. This was an epic fail due to the cake sticking dramatically – so bundt cake recipe still to come!

 photo Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting 1_zps7unbxpb5.jpgIngredients

  • 3 eggs
  • Self-raising flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • For the frosting: 225g smooth peanut butter, 110g butter, 225g icing sugar, splash of milk

For the cake, the weight of the ingredients depend on the weight of the eggs. Simply weigh the eggs in their shells, then weigh out that amount of flour, butter and sugar. Pop around 75g of the flour back and replace with cocoa powder, and spoon back a tablespoon of sugar.

Start the cake by creaming your butter and sugar together. I always find it easier to beat the butter a little first, and of course doing it by hand means calories burnt = more cake later. Beat in the eggs one by one, before sifting in the flour and cocoa. Thin out with a little milk, then smooth into greased/lined sandwich tins and bake at 170C for 15-20 minutes.

Once the cake is completely cool, make the frosting. Simply beat the peanut butter and butter together until creamy, then gradually add the icing sugar, beating inbetween each addition. Add a splash of milk to make it a spreadable consistency, then use to sandwich the cakes together and smooth over the top.

Or get your fiancé to show off his piping skills…

 photo Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting 4_zpsamiisl7s.jpgThis is pretty much my perfect cake – easy and quick to make, no fancy ingredients. And there’s no better combination that chocolate and peanut butter! In fact this would make the perfect Valentine’s bake…

Are you a fan of the chocolate-peanut butter combo? Would you be interested in a baking subscription box?

Recipe: Chocolate Malteaser Fridge Cake

Baking is something that’s taken a bit of a backseat at the moment. With plenty of ‘exams disguised as coursework’ to prep for, job applications and trying to enjoy final year, finding time to cook myself dinner can sometimes be difficult. To bake something is pretty much impossible right now – so to find a recipe like this that requires virtually no prep, no baking, and hardly any washing up? A dream, especially when the results are so yummy.

 photo Malteaser Fridge Cake4_zps5jjwpzft.jpg photo Malteaser Fridge Cake2_zpsiaom8f16.jpgThis is perfect for afternoons where I want a five minute break from studying mortality models and predicting future lifetime (yep, seriously). It gives me those few minutes to concentrate on something else and fill the house with the delicious smell of melting chocolate, then something yummy to nibble on in the evening. It’s also perfect as a little gift – handy for forgetful moments next week! Oh, and it’s super simple too…

Ingredients (fills an individual lasagna sized tin);

  • 150g chocolate (I use the cheap 30p chocolate)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g digestive biscuits (I use ASDA Smartprice half-covereds)
  • 2-3 treat-sized bags of Maltesers

Crush the biscuits – either pop into a plastic bag and whack with a rolling pin, or cheat like me and whizz in a food processor. Crush up a bag or two of Malteasers with the biscuits too. Throw the butter, chocolate and golden syrup into a pan and heat over a low heat – stir continuously until melted and smooth.

Tip in the biscuit crumbs, stir well and tip into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Push extra whole malteasers into the top to decorate, then pop in the fridge until set. Slices into small squares – perfect with a cuppa or a glass of cold milk! Told you this malteaser fridge cake recipe was easy!
 photo Malteaser Fridge Cake3_zps6vc9xim8.jpg

Have you done any baking lately? What’s your favourite quick recipe?

Recipe: Homemade Bagels

I’ve finally had time to get this post live! In my defence I have been tinkering with the recipe slightly, trying to work out the least-work method, making sure the ingredient ratio is exactly right. And I think I’ve finally cracked it!

 photo Homemade Bagels_zpsxrnvoguz.jpg photo Homemade Bagels 11_zps3alvzytf.jpgThis bagel recipe is slightly crusty, very chewy, flavoursome and just damn yummy. These are great for throwing in your freezer for university lunches, toasting and topped with peanut butter for a quick breakfast, or made into a warm melty sandwich. I like mine with pastrami and mustard when I’m feeling more spendy, but they are fab with ham or even cheap chorizo.

It’s super easy too – I’d have never considered making my own bagels until I was that bored over summer, but now they’re my bread of choice. This recipe makes 8 good sized bagels – with minimal effort and very little washing up. The recipe is based on both James Morton’s and from Waitrose magazine – but doesn’t really follow either. I’ve reduced the salt, made the proving time as lazy as possible and developed my own hashed-up way of shaping them.

 photo Homemade Bagels 8_zpsnlqqtte1.jpgIngredients

  • 500g plain bread flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey (+1tbsp for boiling)
  • 250ml water (I use 100ml boiling, and the rest cold to make it hand-hot)

Tip the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt to one end, the yeast to the other, and rub into the flour. Mix 1 teaspoon of honey into the warm water. Make a well into the centre of the flour and add the water, then use your hand to bring it all together – the dough should be a lot drier than normal bread dough, but add a small amount of extra water if it isn’t combining.

Lightly flour a work surface and tip out the dough. Knead vigorously (it’s a real workout!) for ten or so minutes. At first the dough should be dry and break easily, but it should become a little stretchier and more flexible. Pop back in the bowl, cover with cling-film and either leave on the side for an hour or two, or pop in the fridge for 6-8 hours. Or leave it on the side, forget, realise you have to go out and shove in the fridge until the next morning – it’s a really forgiving dough unlike normal bread!

After proving the dough should have risen. Press it down to remove the air, then divide into 8 equal parts. One at a time, roll into a sausage, then shape – I like to overlap the ends, then roll them together to seal. Place on an oiled sheet of greaseproof paper, repeat with the remaining dough, cover with clingfilm and leave for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C and heat a large pan of water to boiling point. Swirl a tablespoon of honey into the water. Then drop a bagel into the water, wait until it floats then add another – I can get four into a pan at once. Boil for 30 seconds, flip and boil for another 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, draining off as much water as possible. Repeat until all bagels are boiled, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden then cool on a wire wrack (this prevent it going soggy).

 photo Homemade Bagels 6_zpsjal9qkp4.jpg photo Homemade Bagels 5_zpswdad59qk.jpgThey might not look perfect on your first try (mine all liked to come undone and look a little croissant like!), but they will definitely taste yummy. Annoyingly these photos were taken of my second batch and I reckon they’ve improved greatly since – my latest batch had a lovely shiny texture and were pretty much perfectly evenly sized (take that Mary Berry!).

 photo Homemade Bagels 9_zps1ydqq9oy.jpgMaking my own bagels is the perfect way to take out some of my frustration on dough, it’s a cheap way of getting my bagel fix, and they are great thrown in the freezer for lunchboxes. Yum yum!

Have you ever made your own bagels? Do you make your own bread? What do you like on your bagel?