Love cakes and baking? Me too!

Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts in the kitchen!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Bakin' with Berries - just call me Mary (geddit?)

Hi y'all!

Long time, no blog. I have been doing the occasional bit of baking since I last wrote, in October, but I've neglected to upload the results. Sorry about that!

So, recently, I've been baking with berries - cranberries to be specific. After all, "'tis the season", and all that. As well as the two baking projects below, I made some white chocolate Rocky Road, re-branded it as Rudolph's Rocky Runway, and gifted it to loved ones. If you want to find out more about this easy-to-make but delicious confection, see my February 2013 blog entry.

Cranberry biscuits:
Baking-wise, I have been trying a few different things recently, all of which have been a bit of a departure from the "fairy cakes" with which I first began this blog. The results have been mixed, but I'm learning lots from my experiments in the kitchen. Yesterday, I attempted to make some cranberry biscuits following a Good Housekeeping Baking Book recipe which calls for "ground rice" (an ingredient that I have never used before) along with butter, sugar, flour and cranberries. Now, biscuits are seldom as pretty as cupcakes, but mine were particularly mis-shapen! This was, in part, because I positioned some of them too close together on the baking sheet, so they spread, then merged in the oven, and had to be broken to separate. I had also been inconsistent with the width, length and height of each one so some were rather more well done than others. They taste good though, and fortunately none were actually burnt(!)

These fragile little biscuits taste nice and are especially good with a cuppa. They're quite buttery, and they melt in the mouth. The ground rice gives them quite a grainy texture, which is interesting.

I wanted to send some of these to a friend in the post, so I packaged them up in one of the snowflake cellophane bags that I've been using to present to baked goods in this season. I tried to choose biscuits that were fairly uniform in shape and size to send. Fingers cross they get there in one piece!

I'm keeping the remaining "misfits" to be shared over the new year.

Nigella's breakfast bars:
Of these breakfast bars, Nigella writes "I'm addicted to these, and so is everyone I give them to", and it's true - they are addictive. I make them quite regularly now as they are super-easy to throw together, they keep really well, and people go nuts for them (sorry, I can never resist a pun). I made them for my Year 11 class who, with the exception of the girl with a sesame seed allergy(!), loved them. Indeed one of the students requested the recipe and made a batch to take on her D of E expedition. A colleague of mine also requested the recipe. I referred both individuals to the following web-page:

If I'm totally honest, when I initially tasted my first ever batch of these, I was momentarily disappointed. I think I was expecting them to taste like flapjacks, but, whilst they contain rolled oats, they don't contain any honey or syrup so they're quite a different outcome. My dad and I always joke that the legendary milk chocolate Rocky Road that I make (see my February 2013 blog entry) is, in fact, a fruit bar (as it contains a small amount of dried fruit), but these breakfast bars really are, I think, more akin to those "health bars" that you can buy than (though much nicer) than a really naughty indulgence (which is how I justify having one, sometimes two in a day). As well as porridge oats, these bars contain cranberries, mixed seeds, shredded coconut, and peanuts. Condensed milk (a favourite of Nigella's and a complete revelation to me) is used as the sweetening and binding agent. Now that I've made these half a dozen times, I'm thinking that, in future, I might experiment with creating some variations on the original recipe. I like the idea of using dried cherries and maybe some different varieties of nuts in there. These bars are a great breakfast-on-the-go and they really do keep hunger at bay until lunchtime.