Sunday, 25 January 2015

Lovely lunchbox treats

How has it come around so fast?  Yes, it's back to school time again!  This means that I'm back to super-sonic organisation levels.  I prepare all of our baked goodies for the week on a Sunday.  This can include mini savouries for snacks or lovely little baked treats for morning or afternoon tea.  What I love about preparing these things in my own kitchen is that I know each and every ingredient that goes into them and am guaranteed to be feeding my darling family food that is free of the nasties that exist in most store-bought lunchbox items.  Plus, let's face it, homemade ALWAYS tastes better.

These Blueberry and Coconut Muesli Bars are the perfect addition to my lunchbox repertoire.  They are enough to give you that afternoon sweet boost, without overdosing on sugar.  One small bar is enough to fill you up and get you through your afternoon slump (with a nice cup of tea, naturally).  Even better, they've received the approval of everyone in my house, this afternoon!  They were a sinch to make - all mixed together in a matter of minutes - and you can easily substitute in other dried fruits or flavours.
Blueberry and Coconut Muesli Bars
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup brown sugar
140g dried blueberries
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a large slice tray (mine was 30cm x 30cm).  
Add all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir.  Separately, combine all wet ingredients.  Incorporate combined wet ingredients with dry ingredients and mix well.  Put mixture into your slice tin and press down evenly. Place into your oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown and crisping at the edges.  Allow to cool completely in tin before removing and slicing into bars.  Makes around 30 small bars.

I think it's time to pop the kettle on,
F. x

Monday, 5 January 2015

It's a date, darling!

How fantastically wonderful are dates?  They are versatile and so incredibly good for you.  Not to mention, sweet and 'caramelly' and decadent.  Today's recipe is brand new and incorporates - you guessed it - dates!  This Caramel Date Loaf is based on a very old recipe from one of my favourite 'research' cookbooks.  (Yes, my cookbooks have categories!)  It's called "Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book: Recipes from an American Childhood" and is an insightful reference to how it should be done.  We take so many short-cuts and use so many convenience ingredients, these days.  I think it's wonderful, when you have the time, to immerse yourself in baking and do it the 'right' way.  So with Jim as my inspiration, I've tweaked his Date Loaf recipe (from the coffee cakes chapter of the book) and it's fantastic!  My Caramel Date Loaf is dense, but not dry...sweet but not sickenly so....perfect to share with friends, or to slice and freeze to have a little every day, all for yourself.
Caramel Date Loaf
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh dates, chopped
1 cup boiling water
80g unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a loaf tin.  In a bowl, dissolve sugar in water before adding the dates and butter.  Leave to soak for around 15 minutes.  Sift in your flour and baking powder and mix.  Stir in the egg and vanilla.  Pour your batter into the lined tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Caramel Glaze
1/2 cup brown sugar
50g butter
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
Place the brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan over a low heat.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Continue to stir and allow to thicken slightly.  Remove from the heat, sift over icing sugar and beat to ensure no lumps.  Drizzle over the loaf while the loaf is still warm.

F. x

Friday, 2 January 2015

Peachy keen.

There isn't a meal better than afternoon tea.  It's perfection.  Not a super heavy meal, usually of the sweet variety (my favourite), involving rather large amounts of chatter, and it's completely acceptable for it to go on for more than a few hours.  This week, I baked this fabulously light cake in the morning for an afternoon tea catch-up with friends.  It has a consistency much like a tea cake and the lemon comes through to save it from being overwhelmingly sweet.  

Lemony Peach Cake
175g unsalted butter, softened
165g caster sugar
3 tbsp lemon rind, finely grated
3 eggs
150g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
70g natural yoghurt
2 peaches, sliced

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a 25cm round, springform tin in readiness.  Beat together the butter, sugar and lemon rind until light and creamy.  Gradually mix in the eggs, one at a time.  Add your flour, baking powder and yoghurt, stirring until just combined (much like you would do with muffins).  Pour your batter into the prepared tin and even out the top with a spatula.  You now have two options for adding the peaches.  My preferred choice is to neatly arranged them on top in a circular formation.  Otherwise, you could take a more rustic approach and plop the peaches into the batter.  Both work well.  Bake the cake for 50-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar and serving with whipped, thickened cream.

Happy afternoon tea-ing!

F. x