Spelt and maple oatcakes

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Not a traditional oatcake in terms of flavour but really rather good. I’m planning on experimenting with biscuits to go with cheese over the next few weeks and the first suitable recipe I spotted was in Short and Sweet, by Dan Lepard for buttermilk oatcakes, which I’ve adapted a little by replacing some of the ground oats with spelt flour for a less coarse texture and some of the sugar and yoghurt (no buttermilk within walking distance) with maple syrup. There is a hint of maple in these, they are delicate and seriously moreish. While I’m not sure how well these would go with cheese (basically, the whole batch may be gone well before dinner time), am definitely making them again as they’re much less sweet than traditional biscuits and a good tea time snack. Tea break obviously early today as I’ve been up for so long, I feel like it’s practically evening. Love gaining an hour in the autumn!

To make Spelt and maple oatcakes: preheat oven to 150C fan and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. In a bowl, stir together 150g ground oats (rolled oats pulsed in a food processor), 50g spelt flour, 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 bicarbonate of soda to combine. Add 50g cold butter cut into small pieces and rub this in until the butter has disappeared. Add 1 and a half tablespoon maple syrup and 160g Greek yoghurt and combine into a paste, then take a shelled walnut sized amount and press onto baking sheet. Not to worry about spacing these – they won’t rise. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes around 26.

Clementine and oat muffins – healthier version

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I’ve made the Clementine and oat muffins from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet before so this morning, I thought I’d see if I could make a slightly healthier version by reducing the amount of sugar and replacing some of the flour with flaxseed and ground almonds. It worked!

You will need: grated zest of 3 clementines and 100ml clementine juice and bits, 75g sugar, 2 medium eggs, 75ml sunflower oil, 50g rolled oats, 25g flaxseed, 25g ground almonds, 150g flour and 2tsp baking powder

To make 8: preheat the oven to 180 C/ 160C fan, line a muffin tray with 8 cups. Put the clementine zest, sugar, oil and 2 eggs into a bowl and mix with an electric whisk for a few minutes until pale and slightly thick. Stir in the clementine juice and bits, along with the oats, flaxseed and ground almonds. Sift the baking powder and flour together, then quickly fold into the muffin mix until barely combined. Fill the muffin cases 3/4 way up – they will rise quite a bit, top with flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes. That’s it.

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I was worried that I’d get too close a texture but they look and taste good. Next time, I might also reduce baking powder further (Dan’s recipe has 2 and a1/2 teaspoons) and also perhaps use a mix of white and spelt flour. Clementine and almond is a nice combination too.

Mini chocolate angel cakes

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I’ve made quite a lot of ice cream over the summer, love ice cream but don’t like waste so am always looking for things to do with leftover egg whites. Five egg whites to be precise. I’ve made meringue (good and also not so good), meringue roulade, financiers… Anyway, the angel cake on Great British Bake Off gave me ideas – Mary Berry’s recipe called for 10 egg whites (on BBC website), which would have created more waste so I didn’t want to do a whole cake but a quick search on Pinterest found Angel cupcakes with chocolate. So I halved Mary Berry’s quantities, reduced sugar a little and incorporated chocolate and here we are: Mini chocolate angel cakes. These are super light and great with coffee, I suppose you could ice them but I’m not a great fan of icing for personal use (great if you’re making them as a gift).

Here’s the recipe and method: in a free standing mixer (this is too much for a hand held) whisk 5 egg whites, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and a pinch of salt to soft peaks then increase the speed and start adding 140g sugar (I used Biona’s whole cane sugar hence the lovely soft brown colour to these) a tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated and the egg whites form stiff peaks (but not quite as stiff and glossy as for meringue), add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and mix to incorporate, then fold in, very gently, 70g sifted sponge flour followed by 4 tablespoons of shaved or finely chopped dark chocolate (I use 70g Valrhona and a mezzaluna to shave/ chop) – it’s important not to have chocolate pieces too big or they will sink and also important to be gentle with the folding while doing this as quickly as possible. Spoon the mixture into a 12 muffin tin smoothing the tops a little (no need to grease the tin or use paper cups) then bake in a preheated oven at 160C fan (180C no fan) for 16 minutes or until golden brown on top/ or test dry. I left these to cool in an upturned tin over a wire rack (4 ramekins propping the corners held it in place) for an hour then loosened with a knife gently and took out.

This was my first attempt at making Mini angel cakes and I can see potential for experimentation with ingredients – I reduced the sugar amount that Berry uses a little (by 10g only) but you could probably reduce this a little bit more – e.g. to 130g and add a couple of tablespoons of good cocoa powder. Equally you could use lemon zest and juice instead of vanilla and I’d imagine you could use finely chopped (but not ground) pistachios and rose water or hazelnut and cinnamon perhaps. The other day I remembered Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus (which has, for some inexplicable reason, been stored in the bedroom bookshelves and not in the kitchen) and this has some very good ideas of other flavour combinations that I could explore. The great thing about these Mini angel cakes is that they are very easy to do, don’t require much effort and are not quite as sweet as meringues + not so much work as for macarons so I can see them becoming an ‘egg white leftover’ staple.

White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake

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An annual tradition this, staying with Beloved’s brother in Wales for his birthday and making him a cheesecake. I’ve made a couple of cheesecakes for friends and family this summer already so the recipe I used for this one was a mash up of sorts and it worked out beautifully. It is simple and quick to do and also relatively healthy as it hardly uses any sugar and while I am not a greatest fan of white chocolate, it works very well here with the combination of fragrant raspberries and coconut in the base.

Ingredients and method

Wash and clean 225g ripe raspberries, put them in a bowl and sprinkle with 1tsp of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice (I also squeezed a little orange juice as I found half an orange in the fridge, but this isn’t necessary). Leave to macerate while you get on with the rest of the cake. For the base: crush 150g digestive (unsweetened) biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or pulse briefly in the food processor then mix with 50g desiccated coconut. Melt 110g butter and pour over biscuit/ coconut mix, combine then press down into a 23cm springform tin lined (bottom and side) with baking parchment. Leave to cool in the fridge.  To make the filling, melt 200g white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water). While this is happening, mix 250g mascarpone (or any other cream cheese) and 250g Greek yoghurt to combine, then add the melted chocolate and mix well. Briefly puree the raspberries with a blender then combine with white chocolate, cream cheese and yoghurt mix. Spread over the base, working from the outer edges towards the centre, smooth the top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

I’ve also made this cake with strawberries and think it could work well with blackberries too. Here’s a photo of a slice – I had to work fast here to take photos as the cake was quickly disappearing!

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Strawberry cheesecake

strawberry cheesecakeThought I’d use the last of the strawberries picked on Friday in a cheesecake for Beloved’s family get together. It went down a storm, which was nice but it was on the verge of collapsing by serving time – it was so hot yesterday, I don’t blame it. Still looks quite presentable, I only managed this one photo as was acting as ‘official photographer’ and services were needed elsewhere. It was rather good, light and not too sweet, served with quite an intense strawberry puree on the side. I scaled up a basic recipe from Good Food website and just made it a little more interesting by adding a few ingredients and not scaling up the amount of sugar used. 

Recipe and method – for a 25cm spring form tin, serving 12. For the base – 280g digestive biscuits, 50g desiccated coconut, 1tsp cinnamon, 125g unsalted butter, melted. For the cheese layer – 680g cream cheese – I used 500g ricotta and 180g mascarpone, 100g icing sugar, 1 vanilla pod, 300ml double cream. For the top – 600g strawberries, 25g icing sugar, 1tbsp water, couple of sprigs of mint to garnish.

To make the base: crush digestive biscuits by pulsing in the food processor or put in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Put into a bowl, add desiccated coconut, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well to combine then press evenly into a 25cm spring form tin lined with parchment. Chill in the fridge for an hour to set.

For the cheese layer: sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the bowl with the icing sugar. Add the cream cheese and mix with an electric hand held whisk until smooth. Takes seconds. Add the double cream and whisk until the mixture just starts to thicken – this will help it set and keep its shape but no need to overwhisk here. Pour on top of the base, smooth out the top, working from the edge towards the centre making sure there are no air bubbles. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours – overnight is better. 

For the top: take 300g strawberries and the icing sugar, add 1tbsp water and puree until smooth. Sieve and leave to one side. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge half an hour before serving and carefully remove the side of the tin. Arrange rest of the strawberries on top, roll up mint leaves tightly then slice thinly and sprinkle over the strawberries. Pour the puree on top or on the side as you serve. 

Perfect for a hot summer day.