A Palindromic Pancake Day…

that is to say, Pancake Day on 21.02.12!

Being a real francophile at heart, I make pancakes/crêpes far more frequently than once a year on Shrove Tuesday, much to the delight of my family. We’ve tried them with a variety of toppings but it has to be said that nothing can beat a squirt of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. Maple syrup comes a very close second, with various combinations of ice cream drizzled with a favourite liqueur coming in third:

The recipe that I use is a very simple one, just 125g of plain flour, 2 eggs, 315ml of milk and 3tsp of butter melted. The eggs, then milk, then butter are gradually whisked in to the batter which is then left to stand for about 30 minutes – don’t worry if you don’t have the time to do this, it won’t end in disaster. I tend to mix the batter and leave it to stand whilst we eat our main course. Using a soup ladle, pour just enough batter to cover the base of a frying pan (tilt the pan so that the base is evenly covered), then cook on a fairly high heat for about a minute, flip the pancake with a palette knife and cook for a further 30 seconds. This recipe usually makes 8 pancakes. When all of the pancakes have been made, use your choice of topping to create a delicious desert.

Bon appétit!

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A mid-week treat …

These little beauties have to be our all time favourite ‘go-to’ recipe for a quick, easy and above all tasty treat. These are made with white chocolate but any chocolate would work – having tried them with white, milk and plain chocolate (purely for research, obviously), we think the white chocolate version is the best:

 

I used to run my own business a few years ago, when my children were really little. I would cook, freeze and deliver food for babies and young children. These cookies were on my menu in the ‘treats’ section. I used to find that many of my customers would order the healthier, more wholesome meals for their babies and toddlers whilst ordering a couple of bags of these cookies for them and their partners to tuck in to once the babes were asleep!

Here’s my version of the recipe:

250g butter, softened

250g soft brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

400g self-raising flour

250g chocolate, chopped

Line several baking trays with baking parchment, pre-heat the oven to 160*C.

Then, in a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

Slowly add the beaten egg, beating well after each addition.

Sieve the flour into the mixture and fold in.

Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking trays. Make sure the biscuits are spaced well apart as they will spread when cooking.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges have just begun to turn golden brown.

Leave to cool on a wire try, or simply tuck in to a couple if you can’t wait that long!

Happy Baking!

 

Melt in the Mouth …

There was a near disaster in our house tonight – we ran out of biscuits! With two very rapidly growing boys, this does count as a near disaster, there was only one remedy: home made shortbread.

I followed the recipe in Mary Berry’s baking book:

I doubled the quantities (don’t want to run out of biscuits again too soon):

200g plain flour

100g semolina or cornflour

100g caster sugar

200g butter

Mix the flour and semolina/cornflour together, add the butter and sugar and rub together to form breadcrumbs, carefully continue to mix until the mixture just begins to bind together, knead briefly, roll out to your preferred shortbread shape and place on a prepared baking tray, or press into a prepared baking tin, bake for roughly 25 minutes at 160 * or until the shortbread just begins to turn golden.

Allow the shortbread to cool in the tin before turning out and slicing.

Try to have some left over to avoid a biscuit deficit disaster the day after baking.

These meltingly tantalising biscuits were delicious, they literally did melt in the mouth. They were very quick and easy to make, even after a very full on day at work.  I have a feeling I’ll be making them again soon.

Wholemeal drop scones – what’s not to like?!

My youngest was out playing football this morning and I knew that he and hubby (who had been standing on the touchline for a couple of hours) would be needing something warming for lunch, so I prepared some of our all time favourite warm but quick and easy to make wholemeal drop scones:

 

 

They did the trick, delicious and hot, oozing with melting butter. Here’s my version of the recipe (from River Cottage Every Day) by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall:

 

Makes about 21:

 

250g self raising wholemeal flour

a pinch of baking powder

a pinch of sea salt

25g caster sugar

275ml milk

50g butter, melted (I used Bertoli, an olive oil based butter substitute and it worked perfectly) plus extra for buttering the scones

a little sunflower oil

 

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Pour in about half of the milk and whisk gently to form a thick paste, gradually add the rest of the milk and the melted butter. Beat until the batter is the consistency of thick cream.

Put a frying pan over a medium heat, if you have an oil sprayer, spray a tiny amount of oil over the base of the pan, alternatively rub the base of a pan with some oil dribbles onto a sheet of kitchen paper. Drop desert spoonfuls of the batter into the pan – I normally manage 6 around the outside edge and 1 in the middle.

Once bubbles are appearing on the surface of the scones, flip them over to brown the other side – this will only take 30 seconds or so. Tip the scones onto a warm plate and top with a little butter. Add some more oil to the frying pan and cook the next batch. These ingredients normally make 21 drop scones for us, depending on how big I make them on the day.

Serve and eat straight away, be prepared for them all to rapidly disappear. If you do have some left over, store them in an air tight container and refrigerate over night. They are really tasty cold with just the smallest smear of extra butter (or butter substitute).

I was tempted to make these recently with white self raising flour but be warned, they are nowhere near as tasty as the wholemeal ones and they were not good the following day. It’s wholemeal flour in this recipe for us from now on.

 

Caramel Conundrum …

I was lucky enough to receive ‘Short and Sweet’ by Dan Lepard this Christmas and today decided to make his caramel sauce – my sister-in-law and two nieces were coming for lunch today and I wanted to give the children something special on their ice cream. It went completely WRONG!! The recipe said to boil 100g caster sugar with 25ml water and to keep boiling until the liquid went a deep red colour. I didn’t even get that far as within a few moments, all the water had evaporated and I was left with 100g of caster sugar!! Time was against me so I didn’t get the chance to have another go at the same recipe. Instead I used the recipe for the caramel that I’d made for the Salted Caramel Tart earlier this week, I doubled the amount of cream as I wanted the caramel to be a pouring sauce – it was delicious:

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So far as the children were concerned, being able to top their ice cream off with caramel sauce, maltesers, marshmallows and/or raspberries, was a real hit!