what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the tag “cookies”

A new star in the baking firmament – #TanyaBakes

Earlier this year I was asked to make an index for a baking book written by a YouTuber (yes that is a word, it’s in the dictionary). So I did the job and ended up a bit puzzled. There were plenty of recipes for cakes, cookies and cheesecakes, but they were a bit ‘easy’, no complicated techniques, no hard-to-find ingredients, not many flavours, and I wondered faintly why anyone had bothered to make the book. So I put the work behind me and got on with other things and wasn’t even tempted to try making any of them.

Last Friday, 1st July, while Britain and Europe were still reeling from Brexit, I was labouring over an index for a book about medieval trade across the North Sea, and on the day the destruction of the Somme was remembered (wasn’t #wearehere fabulous? I wish I’d been able to see some of the young men myself), Tanya Bakes was launched. And I finally got why the book was written, it’s not a book for my demographic at all, it’s a cookery book for people who want straightforward, simple, feelgood recipes, with nice pictures. It’s for girls (and boys) who want to thank their mum or dad or sister, or nan or uncle or teacher and make them a few cookies. It’s for friends who want to spend an hour together to make something before settling down to watch a movie. It’s for anyone who wants to make cheesecake or party pudding or a cake you can stick sparklers in. There’s not much in the way of fancy icing to be done and it shows it is OK to put sweets on cakes if that’s what you want to do. If you want recipes for Nutella or put peanut butter in something, you’ll find something to help you.

Twitter went mad. #TanyaBakes was used by people expressing their excitement at having received their copy, saying they were going to one of the book signings she has arranged, and more importantly perhaps, showing off their bakes. So it’s not my demographic, but I’ve got to congratulate Tanya if she encourages people to try a few things for themselves. It’s not a book to grab and use every day, I had to laugh a little at the person who put a review on Amazon complaining about the amount of sugar, but in moderation it has got good points.

And I made some brownies. Tanya’s most ‘exotic’ recipe uses coconut sugar and coconut oil, I swapped that out for brown and white sugar and some butter, but I did put in the half an avocado. Here’s a piece with some raspberries out of my garden and a bit of cream.




they don’t make Wagon Wheels as big as they used to

Haven’t we all said that and apparently although Burton’s say it is to do with the size of our hands getting bigger, not their snacks getting smaller. As with many snack foods the apparently the sizes vary in different countries – my how we laughed when we encountered a six-finger Kit-Kat in the USA a few years ago.

But it’s my husband’s birthday, so as a special treat I have hunted down a recipe for do-it-yourself Wagon Wheels – thank you to Kitsch in the kitchen for a recipe. And supersized them by using the largest round biscuit cutter we had. I used Galaxy chocolate for the coating and some home-made raspberry jam in the middle with the marshmallows. The bit with the marshmallows went a bit sticky, so there’s no pictures of the making, just the finished results. Picture below shows one ginormous biscuit, a ‘real’ Burton’s biscuit for comparison – you can almost see through the chocolate flavour coating on that one and a few small ones that I made.


minor victory snatched from the jaws of defeat

A lesson learned the hard way. Even the best recipes can sometimes go awry. Last week I was trying out the Cinnamon and Raisin Flapjacks with White and Milk Chocolate Topping in Pat Ring’s Cake book that I mentioned in a previous blog entry. I love eating flapjacks but seldom find recipes to my liking because the result ends up too hard and crunchy or two chewy or doesn’t cook or some other disappointment. So there I was following the instructions to the letter. The flapjack bit was easy peasy, with the usual butter, golden syrup, sugar, flour, oats, raisins and as secret weapons some vanilla essence and some ground cinnamon. The topping was to be melted chocolate with added vanilla extract. Now as ‘any fule kno‘ adding liquid to melted chocolate is going to lead to disaster – seizing up of the liquid to a chunky mess. And I’d even read the bit in Pat’s book about not doing it! I was using a brand she recommended as well, so in for a penny, in for a pound I added the requisite vanilla extract to the melted chocolate, and low and behold both the milk and white seized hard and fast. I had to melt more for the flapjack topping and didn’t add any more essence to those batches and just spread them. No pictures now exist but the result was rather yummy and I’ll definitely do the flapjack again, and might even go for the ‘without vanilla essence topping’.

There I was stuck with about 200g of seized chocolate. What to do? I Googled a bit and found a) that it is impossible to retrieve seized chocolate (no sh!t Sherlock) and b) a recipe that suggested using the seized chocolate in cookies. Aha! So I kept the bowls of seized chocolate to one side and once the flapjack was gone I set too and chopped up the seized chocolate mixes for cookies. Thank goodness they worked OK. The result was a bit less regular than the usual ones (recipe over here), but they taste just fine. seized

Launching LakesBakes


I’ve decided to practise what I preach and try and sell some baked goods to local people. I’ve made my facebook business page, so if there’s anyone out there reading this, please take a look and give it a ‘like’.

I’m sorry, you can only order if you’re local enough to collect or for me to deliver.

I have a blog to write later about Christmas pudding, but you’ll have to wait for that while I do some other chores.

cakes and cookies – in the name of charity

It’s coming to the end of the school year and making cakes for charity seems to be the order of the day. Now I don’t mind this as a fundraiser, so long as they don’t charge less than it costs me to make them. Last month, school had a Father’s Day Fayre which demanded baking, so I produced some of Dan Lepard’s gingerbread wafers, some of the Hairy Biker’s lemon and cardomon cookies and a batch of Bake Off Chocolate Crackles (which every man and his dog who blogs about baking seems to have made, so I won’t give you a link – they all put the recipe up if you care to Google, which, obviously I don’t). Two of each in a bag with a nice label, bingo.  Actually the other thing I object to is the mummies that supply a box of stuff baked by the local Co-op convenience store, still in the box so I know you didn’t make it. Really my dears if you can’t do it, or don’t know how, let those of us who do and can get on with the job!

This month it was the turn of the cub pack to do the tea tent at the town’s carnival yesterday. Didn’t much feel in the mood for it, but managed to come up with one of Dan’s dark banana and ginger cakes from the Guardian with a bit of lemon icing on the top to pretty it up. [Note to readers I used 3 large eggs and that looked like enough]. Woefully easy this one and almost feels like it could do you good! Accompanied by some white chocolate and cranberry cookies from the Sainsbury Magazine. As they don’t give you the recipe for that online so far as I can see it is:

125g soft unsalted butter, 125g caster sugar, 2tbsp condensed milk, 175g self-raising flour, 100g white choc in chunks, 40g dried cranberries.

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the condensed milk, work in the flour, then the chocolate and cranberries. Divide into 50g blobs for big ones, 25 g for small ones, flatten a bit (12 or 24 cookies). Bake at 150C for 25 mins.

A tin of condensed milk goes a long way, and I have found the wretched stuff doesn’t freeze, but can at least be kept in icecube trays in the freezer. A very useful recipe if you’ve got no eggs but need some cookies or something sweet.

For home baking we have also had cake, and another recipe that uses the condensed milk.

Dan’s Brown sugar chocolate cake from Short and Sweet. There’s a version from 2005 on the Gruniad website, but the Short and Sweet version is slightly different.  Having had a quick browse today I see that some people have found the Short and Sweet version challenging but I found it easy and it came out looking like it should. And after all that description and no pics, here’s two of the one that I made.

Being a bit old school I am often sceptical of cakes that move too far away from a basic fat, sugar, flour and flavouring mix, and this one does have some faffing about with melting dark chocolate, adding water, and glycerine(!), and I’ve had some bad experiences with the Hummingbird cake book, sadly for my readers not during the life of this blog, maybe I’ll go back there and we can relive those horrors. Anyway, all was good with that one. I diverted from Dan’s frosting suggestion and just bashed up some butter, icing sugar and cocoa.

And yesterday I’ve made some more bits to take to my auntie (Little Red Riding Hood me!) and she’s going to be on the receiving end of some double choc cookies as per the Sainsbury’s recipe above – 125g flour, 50g cocoa and 100g white chunks:

A marmalade cake from the Bake Off Book. You can Google the recipe if you want, other’s have reproduced it and it’s not for me to do that for you here. I am pleased with the outcome, and also pleased that I used eggs provided by one of my work colleagues who keeps a few chickens. I don’t know what she feeds them on but the yolks always come out very yellow and that helps to colour the sponge nicely. A simple butter sponge with spoons of home made marmalade stirred into it, topped with more marmalade and some icing. 

And I’ve made some strawberry jam, despite haranguing Olly over on http://breadandbikes.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/bread-maker-jam/ about his use of the breadmachine to make jam. Boys and toys! Me, I used a saucepan and a wooden spoon.

And finally she gets a small loaf of 50:50 white and einkorn bread. No pics of that, it’s a small brown loaf! But the trick with that one has been to use Dan’s white bread sponge method over night to get the yeast going in the white flour, add the einkorn this morning, do the kneading stuff and then once it’s in the pans rising, go for a run. Eight miles and a bit – and being an idiot going along the route of the MK HM but thankfully off the course before they passed by, and the loaves are ready for the oven. My oven has an auto timer thing so I can decide when it comes on so it is ready for when I get back. Flour, slash and steam. In they go, 20 mins at 240C while I have a shower, turn down the oven and another 25 mins.

Right that’s me done for, only the lunch to finish cooking and then I’m done. Off to track the Tour de France (go Wiggins – a man who could do with a bit of cake IMHO) next and not watching Wimbledon (Roger Federer looking for his 8th title, no chance Murray), or Silverstone (makes me fall asleep and I’ve had enough of the helicopters going too and fro already today).


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