Baking

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

Weirdly, I’ve started doing a bit more baking lately. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a particularly competent baker. I don’t really have the patience needed for really great results, but I spend a lot of time at home these days and it’s a nice thing to do to pass the time.

Now that the newborn fog has finally cleared and I’m feeling a little bit more “me” again, we’ve been trying to get back on track with meal planning and cooking. This is mainly on my part, Matt loves it and needs no motivation, but I find it hard to think of something new and exciting to make everyday without a bit of forward planning. Buying ingredients for one bake a week with our regular shop means we’ve always got a sweet treat to hand if we want one, and it’s also a great time filler for a dreary afternoon.

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

Baking is actually a really fun activity for the girls too – I usually sit them in their bumbo seat or lie them on the kitchen table facing me, giving them a little of each ingredient as I go. They just pat their hands in it, get to know the texture and maybe give it a taste (no raw eggs, obvs). It’s fun for them, and educational, and as parents I guess we have a pretty laid back attitude towards weaning anyway so we don’t mind if they give any of it a little try. We’re planning to start Baby Lead Weaning in a few weeks when the girls hit six months, and I think it’s important to get them feeling enthusiastic about food as early as possible.

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

Tray bakes are always a good option for me because there’s little to no pressure (minimal rising, very few fancy techniques to master, just mix it all up and shove it in the oven etc). Over the past few months I’ve made rocky road, my Fail Safe Blondies and flapjacks. Yesterday was the turn of the Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake. They’re a nice sweet and salty treat and you can cut the pieces as big or as small as you like. Plus the recipe is customisable so you can add all your favourite extras! I’d like to try it with bigger chunks of chocolate and maybe some mini marshmallows for a s’mores-esque vibe.

I basically only use Le Creuset bakeware these days *hair flip*. Because I’m no aficionado, I find I only use a few tins anyway, so I’d rather spend money and get quality in return. So far I’ve got my excellent 9×9″ Square Cake Tin (£20) which I used for these, and I have my Kugelhopf (£30) for cakes, as well as mousses and jellies. Next I think I’ll replace my simple round Sandwich/Sponge Tins, then my loaf tin and my muffin tin and I’ll be pretty much set. The Afternoon Tea Set (£78.40 down from £112) is actually really good value and currently on sale, so that’s worth checking out. I love the Le Creuset bakeware because it’s thick and sturdy, plus it’s really easy to clean. I promise they’re not sponsoring this, as always I just love them!

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake
Yields 16
A sweet and salty treat, perfect for a rainy day.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 250g Plain Flour
  2. 220g Unsalted Butter, melted
  3. 150g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  4. 110g Caster Sugar
  5. 2 Large Eggs
  6. 1 Vanilla Pod
  7. 1 tsp Table Salt
  8. 175g Dark Chocolate Chips, split into one 100g and one 75g portion
  9. 100g White Chocolate Chips
  10. 60g Salted Pretzels, in 2 x 30g portions (I used Penn State Pretzels - deelish!)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºc or if you're using Fan, go for 160.
  2. Grease a square baking tray (mine's 9x9") and line it with greaseproof paper ready for the filling.
  3. Pour your melted butter into a medium sized bowl (or a mixer, if you have one) and stir in the Muscovado and caster sugar until combined.
  4. Next, add the eggs one at a time, then split the vanilla pod and scrape out its insides. Add it to the bowl and mix in.
  5. Now it's time for the dry ingredients. Stir in the flour, followed by the salt until it's just combined. Don't over-mix.
  6. Follow that with any extras you might like - I used 100g each of dark and white chocolate chips, along with the first 30g of salted pretzels, which I snapped into smaller pieces. Mix well until they're well distributed.
  7. Scrape the batter into the tin (it'll be super thick - almost like caramel!), smooth it and press the remaining 30g of pretzels into the surface. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife poked into the middle comes out clean.
  8. While it cools, melt the remaining 75g of chocolate chips over a bain marie or in the microwave until smooth. When the bake is completely cool, drizzle over the melted chocolate with a spoon.
  9. Wait for the chocolate to set and cut into 16 squares (or however many you fancy!). Store in a tin for up to 5 days.
Adapted from Just a Taste
Adapted from Just a Taste
whip until fluffy http://whipuntilfluffy.com/

I waited until nap time and tucked into two of these with a steaming cup of tea and Lunch Lady – it’s an awesome blog and print magazine all about food and family. It’s packed with fab photography and great recipes, I love it. In Leeds, I buy my copy from Colours May Vary.

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

Giving these a go? Let me know how it goes! You can reach me easily down in the comments, or over on Twitter or Instagram at @whiptuntilfluffy. Happy baking!

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

The thing about me and baking is that I don’t really like cake. Sure, every now and again I could go for a slice, and there’s a couple of flavour combos I can get behind, but generally… not my thing. I guess it starts with the absence of much of a sweet tooth, then it develops into a texture thing… too soft, too dense. Where’s the crunch, cake? How about the chew? Why u so fluffy, cake? Anyway, occasionally I get the urge to  dust off the cooling rack and plug in my mixer. Today was one of those days.

It’s been my first Saturday off in quite a few, and after a lie in, eggs on toast for breakfast and a coffee al fresco at my local shop, I felt the urge to fasten my apron and reach for my whisk. I wanted something a little different from the usual suspects, the sunshine meant I wanted light and fluffy, tart and fresh, so I set to work adapting a few recipes I’d collected over the years and viola…! Made in the gentle sunlight of my kitchen, to the sound of Rafa Nadal in the French Open, here comes the Coconut Cake. 

Coconut Cake
Serves 8
The lightest, softest sponge with a hint of tropical flavour - perfect for summertime.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
For the Cake
  1. 350g Plain Flour
  2. 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  3. ½ tsp Table Salt
  4. 300g Golden Caster Sugar
  5. 155g Unsalted Butter
  6. 60ml Vegetable Oil
  7. 300ml Coconut Milk (well mixed)
  8. 2 Egg Yolks
  9. 6 Egg Whites
  10. 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  11. ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  12. ⅛ tsp Cream of Tartar
For the Icing
  1. 150g Unsalted Butter
  2. 360g (2 Packets) Cream Cheese
  3. 400g Icing Sugar
  4. ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  5. 75g Desiccated Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line the bottoms of two round, deep cake tins with parchment paper. I used a loose bottomed tin by Delia Smith for Lakeland. Butter the parchment paper and set aside for later.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vegetable oil until smooth. I used my KitchenAid mixer with a paddle attachment to make short work of this, but it's possible by hand too.
  4. Mix in the lemon juice and vanilla extract, and then add the egg yolks one by one until combined.
  5. With the mixer on a medium setting, add one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the coconut milk. Once combined, add a second third of the flour and the last half of the coconut milk. Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and beat until the batter is smooth.
  6. In a clean bowl, whisk your six egg whites and cream of tartar until they stiffen and form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter mixture half at a time, until just combined - be careful, overmixing will deflate them.
  7. Spoon your mix into your two tins until each one holds about 2 inches of mixture. Shake your tin to flatten the top and place both tins on the middle shelf of your oven. Close the door and set the timer for 24 minutes. Do not open the door until the timer beeps.
  8. Test your cakes with a skewer or fork - if it comes out clean, remove the cakes from the oven and leave them to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before running a knife around the outside edge and turning them out onto a wire cooling rack. If the skewer doesn't come out clean, put them back into the oven for five minutes at a time, checking with the skewer after each five minutes passes.
  9. While the cakes are cooling, beat together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and sugar for the icing. Refrigerate the icing until the cakes are at room temperature.
  10. Using a palette knife, spread icing on top of one of your cakes, then place the other cake on top to make a sandwich. Ice the top of the sandwich in whatever fashion you like - I take the rustic approach and just smear it on - then shake over the desiccated coconut to finish.
Notes
  1. Oven temperatures vary so if your cake doesn't bake as fast as mine did, the important thing is not to panic. Take your time and keep testing it with the skewer - it'll be worth the wait.
whip until fluffy http://whipuntilfluffy.com/
Baking a cake always brings a mix of emotions for me. It starts off therapeutic: the whir of the machine, the crack of eggs, the splash of milk. But very quickly it gets stressful. The cake mix goes in, the timer goes off and suddenly my patience is no where to be seen and no matter how many hours I have to while away, I’m slathering too thin icing onto too hot cake simply because I can’t find it in me to Just. Wait. I’m trying though, honestly, today I really tried.

So, with the benefit of hindsight readers, I urge you to take your time with this one. Give it some love and care and attention. The Coconut Cake is a simple being, but done right, it’s a thing of beauty.

Goats Cheese, Chorizo & Chilli Scones

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One of the only things my mother has ever truly mastered in the kitchen, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying so, is the humble scone. I didn’t exactly grow up in a home-baked household – my mum didn’t teach me the culinary basics and she certainly isn’t the kind I’d call to request fondly-remembered childhood recipes, years later. She has a go, bless her, with varying results, and I can’t fault her for that. Scones though, that’s different. Years of practice have lead to success, and somehow I don’t think anyone’s can beat hers. 

We hail from Bristol, all of us, the Neales (though my sisters and I have all given up the name, the characteristics are forever embedded). But since we all left home, my parents have moved even further into depths of the West Country, and now live in the quaint little seaside town of Sidmouth, Devon. As you can probably imagine, scones (plus the obligatory clotted cream) are a very important part of their lives. 

As a child with diabetes, baking with mum never consisted of fairy cakes and Rice Krispies folded into melted marshmallows, but being the great mum that she is, she was determined that we’d still give kitchen creation a go. After a short dalliance with peanut butter cookies packed with a teeth-squeaking amount of Canderel,  we almost always defaulted to scones. We thankfully stuck to caster and simply halved the sugar content, and we packed in raisins to make up the shortfall. I always ate the scones hot, straight from the wire rack, twisting and pulling the two halves from each other with my fingers and dabbing on too-cold butter before it was ready. The texture was, and still is, something that dreams are made of: soft, buttery and comforting – the three characteristics that describe most of my favourite things in life.

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Because of all that, scones are a fairly regular occurrence in my own kitchen. As always, I favour savoury over sweet, so more often than not I’m packing in leftover cheese and morsels of salty, fried pork, cut through with a bit of garlic or a wilting spring onion or two. Whatever’s in the fridge, basically. And that’s how we got here, today: a dreary Sunday filled with fluffy socks, the Observer Food Monthly and linen laundry. January budgets and an enthusiasm to just be better has lead me to another of those fridge-raiding meals that’s somehow managed to become something quite delightful. Nigel would be proud. See also: Beetroot & Carrot Gyoza from a few weeks ago.

Mostly, I eat scones on their own, but they also work amazingly well on top of stews and chillis, as an inventive alternative to rice, bread or potatoes – indulgent and packed with flavour. 

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Previous experiences with scones… the first bacon and stilton, I think, followed by gorgonzola and spring onion atop a beef and ale stew

And in the spirit of frugality, these babies freeze like a dream. Portioned and unbaked, they’ll last in the freezer for up to three months. Just defrost them thoroughly before putting them in the oven. If anything, a bit of time in the freezer improves their texture. For us, there was no need for freezing this time, Matt and I devoured two for a low-key Sunday lunch, spread with soft, salty butter and garnished with a scoop of last night’s fiery coleslaw. Two more are currently sitting in a tin for tomorrow. Take that, January. 

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Goats Cheese, Chorizo & Chilli Scones
Serves 4
Soft, buttery and comforting - a quick, cheap and easy alternative for lunch
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 315g Plain Flour
  2. 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  3. ¼ Bicarbonate of Soda
  4. 1 tbsp Sugar
  5. 115g Salted Butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  6. 120ml Natural Yogurt
  7. 1 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
  8. 100g Goats Cheese
  9. 100g Chorizo, chopped
  10. 1 Onion, diced
  11. 2 Birdseye Chillis, chopped and deseeded
  12. Pinch of Black Pepper
  13. 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 220ºC.
  2. Combine your flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar. I used golden caster sugar because it was all I had, but you could use normal caster or granulated without a problem.
  3. Make sure your butter is very cold, in fact, freeze it if possible. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix until the butter is in roughly pea-sized lumps. If you're using a mixer or processor this'll be easy enough, but if using your hands just rub the butter into the flour, trying to handle it as little as possible - you don't want it to melt!
  4. Add the yogurt and mustard, mix to combine, and then follow with the goats cheese, chorizo, onion, chilli and black pepper. The mix should come together to form a rough, sticky lump - this is what you want.
  5. Turn the lump out on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a smooth ball. Flatten so as to form a round cake, 4-5cm high. Divide into 4 or 8, depending on your preferred portion size.
  6. Brush the beaten egg over your scones and place on the middle shelf of the oven.
  7. After 17 minutes, remove your scones and poke them in their fattest part with a skewer or fork. If it comes out clean, transfer them to a wire rack to cool. If still raw in the middle, pop back in for two minutes at a time until the skewer comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy warm with lots of butter.
Notes
  1. Can be frozen in portions before baking. Defrost thoroughly before putting in the oven. Will last for up to three months.
  2. Eat within 48 hours of baking.
whip until fluffy http://whipuntilfluffy.com/
You can mix things up a little by switching your extras. In place of goats, use blue cheese or parmesan. Try bacon or ham, or throw in half a tin of sweetcorn or some sorry-looking herbs languishing in the fridge door. There are loads of variations to be enjoyed and the formula is simple. Get creative and enjoy. For example, these Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones by Joy the Baker look awesome.

Got a favourite scone recipe? Share it with me down in the comments or over on Twitter @whipuntilfluffy. Let’s talk soon!

Drunken Snowman Brownies with Malibu

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A few weeks ago I was offered a bottle of Malibu. For me, Malibu is oh so very 2005. A smell and taste that reminds me of very late nights, dancing to The Killers and Britney Spears one after the other, and eating chips while giggling with my best friend Anna. The idea was that I put the Malibu to use in a creative way – in baking or cooking, instead of straight up with a splash of pineapple juice – the way I used to drink it back in the days of my youth.

Christmas sweets are difficult. The desserts of this season really aren’t for me. I’m not into sweets at the best of times, really. Christmas for me is all about the cheese, and a dark, dense pudding of dried fruit really isn’t my idea of fun. I do, however, love to put a festive spin on a classic. These brownies are rich and indulgent, but the Malibu and desiccated coconut cut through and add a hint of Caribbean flavour. Perfect for listening to “Mary’s Boy Child” by Boney M (my favourite Christmas song) and having a dance in your living room. 

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As for the melting snowmen, well I can’t take the credit for that idea – it’s one of those Pinterest projects that’s all over the internet. Cute little snowmen with perplexed faces sitting on top of sugar cookies. This kind of thing is usually a bit fiddly for me, but in reality, I found this pretty easy – little hassle for a nice pay-off. They’re fun, festive and guaranteed to get a smile. Take a batch to your Christmas gatherings and you’ll definitely be in the good books.

The brownie recipe is fairly spongey – there’s a lot of rise from the little baking powder that goes in. You’ve got two options, really. Bake for 20 minutes and you should get a nice gooey middle. Go for a bit longer (no more than 25 minutes) and you’ll have a springy, cake-like texture. I’ve adapted the recipe from my Fail-Safe Blondies, adding cocoa and a few other things, swapping the vanilla extract for the Malibu. 

DrunkenSnowmanBrownies2

Drunken Snowmen Brownies
Serves 4
A very sweet festive treat with a bit of a boozy kick - oh, come on, it's Christmas!
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
For the Brownies
  1. 200g Plain Flour
  2. 25g Cocoa Powder
  3. 1tsp Baking Powder
  4. 1tsp Salt
  5. 2 Large Eggs
  6. 5tsp Malibu
  7. 60g Light Brown Sugar
  8. 50g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  9. 165g Unsalted Butter
  10. 75g Milk Chocolate
  11. 75g White Chocolate
  12. 15g Desiccated Coconut
For the Topping
  1. 25g Icing Sugar
  2. 1 tbsp Water (approx)
  3. 4 Marshmallows
  4. Orange Midget Gems
  5. Black Icing Tube
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs one by one, followed by the Malibu. Beat until smooth.
  3. Fold the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Chop the chocolate into shards and mix into the batter, with the coconut, until evenly distrubuted.
  5. Transfer to a greased tin (approx 8x8) and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºc for 20 minutes. 25 for a firmer, more cakey finish.
  6. While cooling, mix the icing sugar with water a little at a time until a thick icing forms.
  7. Once the brownie is completely cooled (this could take a while, so plan ahead!), cut into four pieces. Spoon a little icing into the centre of each brownie. It should spread into an artful splat, but if you need to, help it along with a spoon.
  8. Use your black tube icing to decorate marshmallows with eyes, smiles and anything else you fancy. Use a tiny blob to stick on an orange midget gem for the nose.
  9. Place the marshmallow on to the top of the brownie, the tacky icing should hold it in place. Add buttons and arms to your melted snowman's body.
whip until fluffy http://whipuntilfluffy.com/
DrunkenSnowmanBrownies4

 Happy Holidays!

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches for the Yogurt Council

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

This week, my first recipe for the Yogurt Council went live. Frozen yogurt is having a bit of a moment right now, so for my August recipe I wanted to focus on that, as well as adding a little bit of extra sparkle to make it stand out. I think an ice-cream sandwich is one of those things which instantly conjures an image. It’s a bit of whimsy, the food that dreams are made of. For me that image is America: jean shorts and baseball jerseys, the hazy heat of summer vacation with hotdogs at the diner followed by coke floats and an ice-cream sandwich on the walk home. Sticky fingers and a full tummy. It’s a memory I’ve created, romantic and wholly unrealistic, something I’ve picked up from films and books. But it seems overwhelmingly perfect.

Of course, ice-cream sandwiches (like most good things) are terrible for your health. At least 600 calories in one sitting, that stuff is reserved for days when you’re determined to shake that halo right off. Frozen yogurt though? That’s positively good for you, right? Right! While I’m not boasting that this is a low-carb or low-sugar recipe, it is certaining a little more virtuous than it’s heavy weight big brother. The yogurt needs sweetening because freezing dulls flavour – so for that I used honey. For the cookies, I used oats and wholemeal flour to keep the sins down. There’s still butter and brown sugar a-plenty, but hey, you gotta get your kicks somewhere.

Read the full recipe over on the Love Yogurt UK Blog…

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Ingredients for the oat cookies: there’s wholemeal flour, rolled oats AND oat bran in there…

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Scooping makes portioning easy!

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist…

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Things might get a little messy: a bowl and spoon help!

Have you ever experimented with frozen yogurt? I’m dying to try out some more flavours. I’m thinking next time I’m going for a greek yogurt, honey and banana mix.  For a naughtier take, I’d make mini sandwiches from chocolate yogurt and Ritz crackers for a little bit of salt and sweet together. Roll these out at barbecues and picnics, or wrap them in cling film and freeze them for a sneaky mid-week pudding.

I’ll be back here on the weekend, and my next recipe for the Yogurt Council will go live next week – not long to wait!

Disclaimer: As part of my #YogurtStylist win back in June, I was asked to work with the Yogurt Council from Love Yogurt UK to provide three recipes showing off how versatile and practical yogurt can be as an ingredient. This is the first in the series, the second if you include the recipe I won with. Read about my win and what I received here: Courgette & Yogurt Loaves: A Recipe for the Yogurt Council

The Blue Cheese, Bacon & Apple Wafflewich

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I finally got a waffle iron. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and it turns out it is, officially, the best. But I didn’t want to go about my first foray into the waffle world the predictable way. Waffles and syrup are a delicious combo, for sure, but let’s be real: it’s the easy option. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to set the bar for the waffle game high. So when I made blue cheese, bacon and apple sandwiches for lunch this week, I swapped the bread for waffles. Turns out, this is life changing stuff.

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All credit for this idea must go to Joy the Baker for bringing us Waffle BLTs with a side of ginger cat in May. They looked so delicious they’ve barely left my consciousness since I read the post. I used her recipe for my waffles with some tweaks – purely because I live in the UK and couldn’t get all of the ingredients. Sure, they’re mostly made up of standard stuff. Things like eggs, flour, baking powder, you know the drill. But obviously, the best waffles – just like the best pancakes – contain buttermilk. I used to be able to find it in my local Tesco, but then one day it disappeared from the shelf. I could make my own – buttermilk is a simple byproduct when you make your own butter, which I quite fancy doing, but haven’t got round to yet. So until then, I’ve been working on the perfect ratio of yogurt to milk to replace it in baking recipes. For me, it’s working well as four parts yogurt, one part semi-skimmed milk.

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Once the waffle mix was made, it was time to talk fillings. Breakfast foods are nothing without crispy, salty pork fat, so naturally bacon was a clear match. Streaky and smoked, please! Baked on a sheet in a 175º oven until dark and glistening. Blue cheese adds some creamy sharpness, while apple brings tartness and crunch. Squeeze over some maple syrup and you’ve got a party.

The warmth of the freshly made waffles brings the fillings together in a series of gooey, squidgy mouthfuls, and I could’ve eaten eight of these in one sitting. Cut them into quarters and devour around the breakfast table with friends, with no one speaking a word. I spent last night out in Manchester with three of my best lady pals, and I plan on making a large pile of these tonight to banish the hangover I’m nursing from one too many Zombie cocktails at the tiki bar.

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Blue Cheese, Bacon & Apple Wafflewiches (makes 8 waffles or 4 sandwiches)

nb. my first batch of waffles had to sit around a bit, and as a results weren’t as fluffy when it came to eating them. Learn from my mistake and don’t even switch that waffle maker on to heat up before you have all your fillings prepped.

Preparation and Cook Time: 15-20 minutes all in

Waffles adapted from Joy the Baker:
180g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Granulated Sugar
50g  Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Eggs
230ml Yogurt
70ml Semi-Skimmed Milk

For the filling:
150g Gorgonzola Cheese
12 Rashers of Streaky, Smoked Bacon
1 Apple
50ml Maple Syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 175ºc and place your bacon on a baking sheet with a rim, lined with foil. While the oven heats up, crumble your gorgonzola. Slide the bacon into the oven and set the timer for 14 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix all of your dry waffle ingredients. In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients. All at once, add the wet to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Don’t beat the life out of it, you want a few lumps left so nice big bubbles form as they cook and you have a light, fluffy waffle.

3. Leave your mix to thicken as your waffle iron heats up. By the time the iron is ready, the mix will be super thick with bubbles already forming. Cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions. When they’re done (mine took 2 and a half minutes each), remove from the iron and place on a wire rack – this will prevent unwanted sogginess and create ultimate crunch. Repeat until you’ve cooked the whole batch.

4. Remove the bacon from the oven, leave to drain for a minute on kitchen paper. Slice the apple and then assemble your sandwiches. I went for cheese first, smooshed into waffle number 1 with a fork, bacon next, then 4 slices of crisp Granny Smith, drizzled with maple syrup. Take a big bite. Heavenly.

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Courgette & Yogurt Loaves: a Recipe for The Yogurt Council

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A few weeks ago, something quite exciting happened. I won a competition! Love Yogurt were looking for an official “Yogurt Stylist” to work with them on a few recipes as part of Yogurt Week. It was easy to enter – just upload a pic of your favourite recipe including yogurt for a chance to win. I did that, and after being shortlisted due to my Instagram likes (big thanks to all of you for following and liking my pictures – I really appreciate it), my shot was plucked from the other nine finalists by a couple of expert judges: Jo Sweetman, top nutritionist and advisor to many of the UK’s biggest food brands, and Karen Burns-Booth – food writer, blogger, recipe developer and food stylist extrordinaire who runs Lavender and Lovage.

I like courgette bread. I’ve been making it a lot over the past year or so, so my recipe for the competition was easy to come up with. It’s a much more nutritious way to consume baked goods than a sandwich loaf or a cupcake, it tastes really good, and the vegetable content means it stays moist too. I’ve tried it lots of different ways, but this recipe is the one I’ve settled on. The pecans and sunflower seeds give it an extra bit of bite and the spices provide a subtle warmth. In baking, I think yogurt really comes into its own. I use it a lot in place of buttermilk in recipes – since that isn’t easily obtainable here in the UK. Yogurt adds a tangy freshness and makes for a really soft, light crumb. What I like most about these loaves is the way they rise – giving you that perfect, golden dome bakers everywhere long for.

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The image above is the competition winner. I chose to keep things simple and according to feedback, that’s why the judges chose me. They liked that the recipe was clear and achievable for even novice bakers, and that my photos were styled in a clean and honest way. The recipe is simple – completed in little over 30 minutes, and the loaves will last for around five days in a sealed container.

Courgette & Yogurt Loaves (makes 6 small loaves)

nb. If you don’t have small loaf tins you can use one large loaf tin and enjoy in slices, or you can split the mix into 12 and use a muffin tin for smaller, snackable bites.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

120g plain flour
120g wholemeal flour
140g courgette, grated
2 large eggs
125ml natural yoghurt
100ml vegetable oil
30g pecans, chopped
20g sunflower seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, together with the vegetable oil, yogurt and vanilla.

3. Drop in the grated courgette and set aside.

4. In another large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except the pecans and sunflower 
seeds.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture about a quarter at a time until a batter forms.

6. Fold in the chopped pecans and sunflower seeds.

7. Grease your loaf tins and divide the batter between them.

8. Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown.

9. Leave to cool and enjoy plain or spread with butter.

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I’m pretty chuffed with my win. I’ve been putting a lot of work into my styling and photography over the past few months – trying to post quality over quantity, with really top notch images. That’s mainly because those are the type of posts I enjoy reading on other blogs. It’s nice to get confirmation that it’s paying off! I’ve had a lot of feedback recently from you guys, telling me that you like my photos and I really appreciate it – thank you. Hopefully I can keep improving.

As for the prizes, I won £1000 prize money (!!) which I intend to plunge right back into the blog. I’ve bought a new 50mm camera lens so I can capture higher quality images, and I’ve invested in some cooking equipment to bring some more diverse recipes to Whip Until Fluffy. Those of you who know me will know that my ambition is to integrate food styling into my day job, so this is a real boost to morale and a very welcome surge of funds. I also won a trip to the South of France to take part in an edible food styling masterclass with Karen of Lavender and Lovage at her home there. I’ve just had the date confirmed and I’m so excited to be going – I can’t wait to pick up new skills, travel and take advantage of a fantastic opportunity to do the thing that I love with someone I can learn a lot from. On top of those prizes, I now hold the title of Official Yogurt Stylist for 2014, which means I am working with The Yogurt Council to come up with more recipes to really show how versatile and tasty yogurt can be.

Want to take a look at my competition? Browse the #YogurtStylist tag on Instagram to see what I was up against – the competition was stiff #humblebrag. Runners up include @me_and_orla who runs the beautiful Me and Orla blog, @kateveggiedesserts who makes amazing cakes and sweet dishes from all kinds of veg at Veggie Desserts, @sylviahappiness who writes at Happiness is Homemade, and @eat_your_veg who caters for the little ones over at Eat Your Veg. All gorgeous entries well deserving of the prize – it’s genuinely such a pleasure for me to be counted side by side with them.

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I’ll be reporting back on my adventures over the summer as well as sharing the links to the recipes that I write for The Yogurt Council, so you can look forward to lots of content from me over the coming months. And in conclusion, thank you. For reading, commenting, liking and sharing. I really appreciate every single person who reads my blog and I value your feedback, so drop me a note down in the comments or over on Twitter @whipuntilfluffy to say hi. Follow The Yogurt Council over at @LoveYogurtUK on Twitter and @LoveYogurtUK on Instagram.

You can now also Like my page over on Facebook if you fancy it – find me at Whip Until Fluffy.

Simple Biscuit Sandwiches with Lemon & Thyme Buttercream

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Sometimes I just want a sweet treat. You know how it is, you eat your tea and it was nice, but for some reason you’re still hankerin’ for something and you can’t quite put your finger on what. It’s in these times of trouble that I’ve learnt to turn to the baking cupboard. Rustling something up off the cuff can be hard when it comes to baking, more often than not you need specialist flours, sugars or flavours. That’s why we all need one fail-safe option up our sleeves, something you know you’re always going to be able to make. This simple biscuit recipe is mine.

You don’t need nothing fancy, just butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and one egg yolk. Simple stuff, right? Buy one set of all these ingredients and they’ll last you a while (just remember to refresh your eggs!), they’ll work in loads of other recipes, and you won’t need to pop out to the shop when you fancy something sweet. The biscuits come out like shortbread, buttery and crumbly, and are the perfect base to add extras too. That half a lemon that’s shrivelling in your fridge door? Zest it! A 3/4 used block of cooking chocolate? Throw it in! Chopped nuts? Check! Dried fruit? Don’t mind if I do! You get the picture… it’s a yummy vehicle for more yumminess.

Don’t get me wrong, these guys are fine on their own, but I like a sandwich. Twice as nice, right? This time around I kept my biscuits plain and I chose another use for that half a lemon from the fridge that’s going a bit brown around the edges… buttercream! While I was in there I grabbed something else that was looking a bit ropey. Leftover from the sunday roast, half a packet of fresh thyme. I’ve used lemon thyme in baking before so I figured lemon + thyme = lemon thyme, right? Well not quite, but kinda. You can add more or less thyme dependent on your tastes, or just keep the buttercream plain old lemony. Personally, I like a herby kick. Next time I’d like to add a splash of booze to the mix. Maybe use orange zest and Cointreau with a chocolate chip biscuit. Nice.

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Ingredients (Makes 16 large sandwiches – whoopee pie style!)

For the biscuits:

250g Unsalted Butter
140g Caster Sugar
2tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Egg Yolk
300g Flour

For the buttercream:

100g Unsalted Butter
200g Icing Sugar
Juice of Half a Lemon
1/2tsp Thyme Leaves

Method

1. Cream the butter together with the sugar. If you’ve got a mixer, great, but otherwise just use the back of a spoon and use those biceps. Make sure your butter is softened and you should have a fluffy consistency in no time. Next, beat in the vanilla and egg yolk.

2. Sift the flour in a little at a time (not sure why you’re sifting? Have a read of Joy the Baker’s Baking 101 post!) and fold it in with a wooden spoon. The mixture will go a little bitty, but once it’s a rough ball take it out of the bowl and shape it into a ball with your hands. It should stay together without a problem.

3. Wrap the dough in cling film and stick it in the fridge for half an hour. This step isn’t essential but a colder, firmer dough will make it a lot easier to handle. Preheat your oven to 170ºC.

4. For this next bit, I got a bit technical. I like to keep things as simple as possible but after one too many incidents with separate cookies blending into one big plank in the oven, I like to make my biscuits uniform. I separate the dough into little balls and weigh each one on my digital scales until they’re all a matching 40g. This helps keep them roughly the same size and shape when they bake. It seems like a lot of trouble but it’s actually pretty easy and the look of the finish product makes it well worth the time.

NB: feel free to cut the measurements down to 30g and use a cutter to cut the biscuits – they’ll look a whole lot prettier than the “rustic” look I’ve gone for.

5. I baked mine in batches. I placed 6 balls on my baking sheet in alternate spaces (see picture) so they each have their own space to spread. I created the pattern in the top just by pressing down with a fork to form a cross. I don’t really know why; my mum used to do it so I guess it’s just habit! Keep an eye on them but 10-12 minutes had them turning brown at the edges for me.

6. While the biscuits are in the oven, beat 100g of unsalted butter together with 200g of icing sugar. If you’re using a mixer, turn it up to the highest speed. By hand? Work up a sweat. For plain buttercream I’d add 2 tbsp of milk at this point, but here the lemon juice does that job. Once the mixture gets to a whipped texture, add the juice and the thyme leaves. Whip until fluffy (wahey!) and the butter should turn from yellow to a lighter, creamier colour.

7. Cool the biscuits on a wire cooling rack. They’ll be flimsy when warm so go steady. Once they’re completely cooled, the biscuits themselves will stay crispy for 2-3 days in a sealed container. If you’re making them for a special occasion, don’t sandwich them with the buttercream until the day you intend to eat them, it can make them a little squishy in the middle if they sit for a bit.

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