These cookies do many things. They are shortbread-like in texture. They have jam, which somehow makes them fancy. They melt ever so slightly around the edges to leave a crunchy rim. I like the things these cookies do.
260g plain flour
180g butter (room temp)
150g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
your favourite jam
Makes about 25 cookies
Takes 45 minutes to make, 1 hour to cool and 12-15 minutes to bake
Stage one: Cream the butter and sugar. Then add in the egg and vanilla. Finally, add in the dry ingredients until they form a stiff mixture. Put the mixture in a bowl, cover it and put it in the fridge.
Stage two: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper. Break off chunks of dough and roll it into balls the size of a walnut. Put them on a baking tray and press your finger into each one to form a hole about 1cm deep. Using a teaspoon, scoop in a little bit of jam to fill each hole.
Stage three: Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Today’s post was meant to be about scones and pea soup, but for some reason I decided to make the pea soup using only standard store cupboard ingredients and it turned out blah. Not bad, just blah. Fortunately, the scones that I am sharing with you are sufficiently wonderful that I really didn’t care. They actually de-blahed the entire meal. The recipe I used on BBC good food suggests making lots of them so they’re tiny, but I like them bigger. I prefer the crust-inside ratio this way – lots of crunchy outside, but more fluffy inside. I think these scones are another example of my lack of interest in prettiness and perfection in my baked goods. I don’t use cutters to make them look even. I don’t want them to look even. I want them to be golden and irregular. The upside of my way is that it takes far less time, and also there’s no guilt about tearing into them. You aren’t destroying perfection; these scones were not meant to last.
50g butter, room temperature
250g self-raising flour
25g porridge oats
75g cheddar cheese (I used low fat)
150ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)
a big sprinkle each of salt and pepper
Makes 8 scones
Take 15 minute to put together, and 10-15 minutes to bake.
Stage one: Preheat the oven to 220C/fan200C. Get out (and preferably measure out) all the ingredients, as you’re about to get your hands buttery and floury, and that’s just the start. Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture forms crumbs. Then add in the oats, cheddar, paprika and seasoning, and mix. Pour in the milk and mix until just combined into a moist dough, adding a splash more milk if it turns out dry and crumbly.
Stage two: If you’re a perfectionist, lightly flour a surface and then cut the scones out using a circular mould. If you’re not, flour the surface and your hands, then gently form the dough into a short sausage. Slice it into 8 roughly equal chunks. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lay the dough chunks on it.
Stage three: Bake for 12-15 minutes until the scones are golden and beautiful.
Sorry for the long delay in posting – life has been busy in a wonderful way. I’ve spent time in Cambridge with friends, and been unexpectedly offered a wonderful and exciting job as a research assistant for the next year! Now I get to stop looking at NHS jobs every 10 minutes before leaping into a panicked flurry of typing in case I miss a position that can be up for as little as 5 minutes. I get to stop worrying about what I’m going to do for new work experience this year. I get to stop living in the glum irony that trying to become a clinical psychologist is basically terrible for your mental well-being. Life is excellent. And now I get to thank my employers and work experience organisers through a medium which I find far less socially awkward than my usual rambling “thanks, really, thanks, no seriously, thanks” etc etc. Baking! Tonight I am baking for a large number of ladies in a child psychology department, so clearly chocolate chip cookies are the answer. I used this recipe. It’s good. Life is good. Good things are good.
200g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
170g butter, room temperatures
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
200g dark chocolate chips
Makes 36 small cookies, or 18 big cookies
Calories: 120 when making 36; 240 when making 18
Takes 15 minutes to make, 10 minutes to bake
Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Cream the butter with the two sugars. Stir in the eggs and vanilla, then add the flour, salt and baking powder. When everything is evenly combined, stir in the chocolate chips.
Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Put balls of cookie dough on the paper 8cm apart, 1 tbsp in size for small cookies, 3 tbsp for large cookies. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they’re golden brown and starting to crisp around the edges. Leave to cool four a couple of minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.
You know when you buy something and can’t remember what you intended to do with it? Normally this is fine. Vegetables just go into whatever I was planning to make next. The rest goes into either the freezer or pantry until I actually need it. Or else I just eat it. But the thing with Greek yoghurt is that I love how it tastes when something has been done to it, but I don’t like it quite enough to eat an entire pot. So… brownies! What I really like about these brownies isn’t just the taste – it’s how easy they are to deal with after baking. They’re rich and chocolately, not too sweet, gooey like all brownies should be, but the yoghurt makes them lighter and somehow holds them together better. You don’t need to leave them to set. You don’t need to be careful taking them out of the pan. Just take them out of the oven, slice, and eat. Beautiful.
150g dark chocolate (I used 70% Lindt)
80g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
160g golden granulated sugar
200g Greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Makes 12 brownies
Takes 20 minutes to make, 20 minutes to bake
Stage one: Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C. Put the dark chocolate and butter in a bowl, and put the bowl on top of a small saucepan filled with about an inch of water over a medium heat. Melt them, stirring occasionally, and then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Stage two: Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, and then mix in the sugar and vanilla extract. Pour in the chocolate-butter mixture and stir until everything is combined, then add the yoghurt, and finally stir in the eggs. You’ll now have a thick, glossy batter.
Stage three: Dollop the batter into a 20x20cm baking tin, and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. You can tell a brownie is done by gently shaking the tin, and if the brownie doesn’t wobble, it’s done.
I went skiing with a few years ago and stayed in a chalet where the host only knew how to make one kind of cake: yoghurt. Every day he made a slightly different version. Different flavours of yoghurt, sometimes with icing, one time he even got really fancy and baked it in a Bundt pan. While I found this somewhat uninspiring to eat every day, the method for making it is pure simplicity. Basically, you use a pot of yoghurt, and then use that same pot to measure out everything else. I had a giant tub of yoghurt so I used a cup measure for this particular recipe, but a pot of any kind of yoghurt will do. There’s no butter or stiff ingredients, so you don’t even need elbow grease to make it all come together. And yes, I made it into muffins, but you don’t need to be fancy like me. I just wanted to use the muffin shape as an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. You can be extra fancy and bake it in a funny-shaped pan. I added 1 cup oats instead of 1 more cup of plain flour, but you don’t need to follow that. Change the fruit. Add cocoa powder. Ice it. Or don’t, it works great plain. This is pretty much the only baking recipe I know where you can’t go wrong. Have fun.
1 cup low-fat Greek yoghurt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 cup oats
1 tbsp baking powder (that’s 1.5 tsp (ish) per cup of flour+oats)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
Makes 12-15 muffins
Takes 5 minutes to put together, 25 minutes to bake
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C. Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl and it will come into a batter. Put it into whatever baking utensil you choose. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Apparently I don’t put enough chocolate in this bog. Fine. I’ll keep it simple. The chocolate twists in Costa have always looked beautiful and totally replicable at home, and guess what? They are!
350g puff pastry
100g dark chocolate
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp butter
Makes 6 twists
Takes 25 minutes to make
Stage one: Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C. I used Gordon Ramsay’s recipe to make 350g of puff pastry. Roll it out into a rectangle such that the pastry is the thickness of a pound coin and measures 20cm by 30cm. Then, with the long side of the rectangle facing you, slice it from top to bottom into 6 even strips (each 20cm long).
Stage two: Chop up the dark chocolate. Gently press the chocolate chunks along the centre of each pastry strip.
Stage three: Pinch the sides of each strip together to seal in the chocolate. Then, gently twist each strip into a spiral and lay it on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, when they’re in the oven they’re going to split open a bit and some chocolate will seep out. There is nothing you can do about this, and they actually look better that way. Embrace the imperfection in oozing chocolate form. Finally, melt a tablespoon of butter, and then brush it over the top of each roll.
Stage four: Bake for 10-12 minutes until they go golden on top. Sprinkle icing sugar over them. Enjoy while hot!
For some reason I always resist making cupcakes. They seem like a lot of effort to me, and I think it’s because cupcakes nowadays are generally equal parts cake and icing. Don’t get me wrong, icing is delicious, but in practice I only tend to add it to cakes I feel unsure about. Made a vegan cake of questionable texture? Add icing! Something weird and bubbly has happened on the top? Icing! Icing is sweet and delicious and hides many mistakes, and when piped and laced with edible silver bobbles and flowers it is undeniably pretty. But to be honest, I’d still prefer a really good plain cake oozing with fruit or chocolate.
Anyway, my cupcake resistance is why I didn’t even consider making these in cups. Because really, they’re cakes. They look like cookies, but in truth they’re little flat cakes. And no, that was not what I intended when I put the first few in the oven, but I’m still posting them because they are absolutely delicious and just because they aren’t so easy to categorise doesn’t mean they don’t deserve love. I’m open-minded like that. But yes, I’m sure they’d be just as lovely if you put them in a cupcake tin. The secret to the joy of these cakes is the ricotta combined with the berries on top. The outside ring of the cake just tastes like any other cake: light and moist and vanilla-y. But the inside, around where you’ve pressed in the berries, tastes wonderfully of fruit and ricotta. I don’t know how the berries somehow concentrated the deliciousness like that, but it’s great. These are best made in small batches because, like cupcakes, they taste best on the day of baking.
100g butter, softened
120g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
raspberries/blueberries/other fruit to top
Takes 10 minutes to put together, 10 minutes to bake
These are really easy. No stages! Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C. In a bowl, preferably with an electric mixer, beat the butter and caster sugar together. Then add the ricotta, vanilla and egg in until evenly mixed. Finally, mix in the self-raising flour until just combined into a firm dough. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and scoop out the dough into balls using a table spoon. These are going to spread out and puff up, so leave at least 2 inches between them! Press the fruit of your choice into the top.
Bake for 10 minutes until they start to go golden around the edges. You’ll need to be gentle when removing them from the baking tray, as they will be very soft. Enjoy as soon as possible!