Sweet

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.

Fail-Safe Blondies

Chocolate & Macadamia Blondies

Most of us kitchen-dwellers have that one reliable thing. A last minute recipe for when a friend pops round for coffee, a quick dessert if we’ve wasted all our planning time on the starter and main (something I often do). It’s a people pleaser that’ll get us out of a fix. This blondie recipe is mine. Over the past few years I’ve made these beauties so many times. Oh, it’s your birthday? Have a blondie! You’ve just moved house? Take these blondies to help you settle in! You know, it’s the recipe that never lets me down.

Just to illustrate my point further, in the last 3 months alone I have used this recipe for: a house warming gift, one of many puddings at an American themed going away party, an in-law pleaser and just a naughty snack for Matt and I on a lazy sunday. They’re great because they’re versatile. Cook them for varying lengths for a sliding scale of gooeyness, wrap ’em up in brown paper to eat on the go, warm them in a bowl and consume with a hefty scoop of icecream. You can chuck in whatever extras you have in your cupboard: plain chocolate, white chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, glace cherries, mini marshmallows. Seriously, they’ll take pretty much whatever you throw at them. They’re always good.

Chocolate & Macadamia Blondies

Chocolate & Pecan Blondies – makes 6 large portions, 12 smaller

225g Plain Flour
1tsp Salt
1tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs
4tsp Vanilla Extract
110g Light Brown Sugar
165g Unsalted Butter
75g Plain Chocolate Chips
75g White Chocolate Chips
75g Chopped Pecans

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Grease or line an 8×8″ baking tin, I usually grease all over with a little bit of butter or vegetable oil, then cut a square of parchment to fit the bottom of the tin.

Combine your flour, salt and baking powder. Give it a whisk to get a bit of air in there. In a separate bowl (if you’re using a Kitchen Aid mixer, use the attached bowl for this part, not the dry ingredients) beat together the butter and sugar. Once combined, add in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture is smooth.

Sift in the flour mix and combine by swiping your wooden spoon around the edge of the bowl and folding in. Now it’s time to throw in your extras. If chocolate and pecans doesn’t suit you, another top combo is white chocolate and macadamia nuts. When I change up the extras I generally stick to multiples of 75g. For this I would add 150g white chocolate and 75g macadamias. For a fruit and nut option, stick 75g each of plain choc chips, chopped walnuts and sultanas. For a rocky road affair, 75g each of choc chips and chopped digestives, and 40g mini marshmallows. Happy days.

Scrape your mix into the pan and stick in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes for extremely gooey middles, 30 minutes for a firmer snack. For a structurally sound blondie, leave to cool for at least 2 hours before cutting. Personally, I can’t wait that long, so I slide a piece out with a spatula and eat it from a bowl, natch.

12 Week Old Kittens

OK, so kittens aren’t blondies but they are cute. I thought I’d share a quick pic of the new additions to our family. Meet Hazel (left) and Rousseau (right), we’ve had them for two weeks now and they’re settling in perfectly 🙂