Nutty Oat Bars with Nutella

These came about because of yet another 'use by' date on some bran in my baking cupboard. My grandson is a Nutella fanatic, so we decided to make some bars using the bran, some oats and Nutella.

The base is a flapjack with bran and oats. Easy for K to make.

You need: 200g oats, 75g bran, 150g butter, 50g light demerara sugar, 4 tbspn honey, 5 tbspn chopped unsalted roasted peanuts and some Nutella.

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5

Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a pan over a low heat. remove from heat and add the oats and bran and mix well.
Spoon the mix into a brownie tin and flatten with a spoon. Bake for 20 mins.
Mark into 10 bars in the tin. Cool. When cold, melt some Nutella, enough to give a good layer on the bars, then sprinkle over the chopped peanuts. Leave to cool then keep in a sealed box.

Very rustic to look at, but very tasty. The hazelnut and cinnamon sticks were added by my grandson!
Nice oaty base, the soft Nutella and then the crunch of the peanuts. Good combination of textures.


Coffee cake with Espresso and Mascarpone Topping

This is the cake I  decided to make for a get together of the helpers in our Toddlers’ group. It’s just a coffee Victoria sandwich, and I used espresso powder to give it a better coffee flavour.
I now find that buttercream is a bit sweet for me. Guess your tastes change as you get older. I used mascarpone flavoured with espresso.

So it’s the usual mixture - 225g each of butter, caster sugar and sr flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 4 eggs and 2 dspn espresso coffee powder.
Filling and topping : 250g tub of mascarpone, 1 dspn espresso powder, 1 dspn sifted icing sugar

Preheat oven 180C                    Grease and line 2x20cm sandwich tins.

For the cakes - dissolve the coffee powder in the eggs. Put all the ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer or use an electric hand mixer. Beat together till smooth.
Spoon into the tins and bake for about 25mins. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing- beat the mascarpone, icing sugar and coffee powder together till smooth. If it’s thicker than you want, add a little milk.
Sandwich the cakes together with half the mixture then spread the rest over the top.

As it's Easter, I added a few eggs and chicks. I like this topping, and will certainly use it again. As you can see, my cake decorating skills amount to using a knife to make whirls!
I think it's originally a Mary Berry recipe, but as all sandwich cakes have the same proportion of ingredients, it's universal now!


Lemon Slice

I know I've mentioned my lemon tree before on here, but it's been prolific lately so I had some lovely lemons to use. This recipe is one I've made many times, having been given to me by a friend when my children were small.
It's very sticky, but delicious!

For the base: 225g soft butter, 70g icing sugar and 275g plain flour

 For the topping: 400g granulated sugar, 4 medium beaten eggs, 5 tbspn plain flour and 1 tspn baking powder, zest of 2 lemons and 90ml of lemon juice and icing sugar for dusting on top

Preheat oven 170C/gas3                     Line base of a Swiss roll tin [32x21cm] with baking paper

For the base - put butter into food processor till whipped, then add the icing sugar and blitz till pale.
Add the flour and blitz again till you get a ball of dough.
Press flat into base of tin [dust your fingers with flour if the mixture is sticky]
Bake for 15 mins then take tin out of oven, but leave oven on. Leave base to cool.

For the topping: Clean out the bowl of the processor then add the sugar and eggs. Blitz for a minute.
Spoon mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle the flour and baking powder over. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix it all together with a wooden spoon.
Pour this onto the base [fills tin].
Bake 30-35 mins till golden and firmish.
Cool in the tin, dust with sifted icing sugar then cut into squares.

Nice contrast of textures between the crunchy base and the soft tangy lemon. It is very sweet, so only to be eaten occasionally!


Caramel and Chocolate Cake

Have been having a good clear out of kitchen cupboards, including my baking one. Lurking at the back was yet another tin of Carnation Caramel, so had to use it up. Have made this cake many times, but all the family love it. It's easy to make and uses oil, so healthy of course!

75g sr flour, 3 tbspn cocoa, 1 tspn bicarb, 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 150ml sunflower oil, 150ml milk, 2 tspn vanilla extract, 125g dark chocolate, 375g tin of Carnation Caramel , 1 tspn icing sugar and extra for the top of the cake

PREHEAT OVEN 180C/GAS4                 Grease and line 2x18cm sandwich tins

Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Stir oil and milk together then add the eggs, 1 tspn of the vanilla and beat together. Add this to the dry mixture and beat together. Beat 2 tbspn of the caramel till smooth, then whisk into the batter. It's a wet mixture! Pour into the 2 tins and bake for about 20-25 mins till springy.

Cool cakes in the tins then turn onto a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave and stir till smooth. Add the rest of the caramel and vanilla to the chocolate and beat till smooth. Add the sifted tspn of icing sugar and beat in.

Fill the cakes with the icing then spread it over the top. Leave the cake to set. Sift some icing sugar over the top.

It's a really light and moist cake with a good texture. Lovely caramel icing which contrasts well with the chocolate cake. 


Chocolate Hazelnut Loaf Cake

I found hazelnuts on offer in my local deli, so decided to use them in a loaf cake. I love loaf cakes as they seem to keep longer than other cakes, and are so easy to cut.

For this one you need:

120g hazelnuts, 60g soft butter, 70g light brown sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 1 egg, 225g flour and 2 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn cinnamon, pinch of salt, 80g of dark chocolate, chopped, 80ml Nutella or similar spread and 250ml of buttermilk

Preheat oven 180C                    Grease and base line a 900g loaf tin

Spread hazelnuts over a baking tray and put in oven for 8-10 mins till golden. Put into a clean tea towel to rub off skins. Chop roughly.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer till light and creamy. Add the egg and buttermilk and beat again.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together then add to the batter. Fold in, then add the chocolate and 80g of the chopped hazelnuts. Mix well.

Put half of the mixture into the loaf tin then spread over the Nutella. Cover with the rest of the mixture and sprinkle the rest of the nuts over the top.

Bake for about 40 mins till golden. leave in the tin to cool for 10 mins then turn onto a rack.

Sorry, not a very good photo. The loaf has a good texture, with a soft crumb. Nice contrast between the nuts, chocolate and the soft cake. I'll certainly make it again, but will halve recipe and make it in my smaller loaf tin. This will be great for a few days with my afternoon cuppa!

PS Odd, but on my screen the post is all in the same font, but online it's not. Weird!


White Chocolate Fondants

Usually I stay well away from recipes for a chocolate fondant, having seen so many failures on Masterchef! My friend made these as dessert recently and I just had to make them.
The family came for lunch on Sunday, so this was a good opportunity to try them.

100g white chocolate  + 4 extra squares
1 rounded tbspn flour
50g butter
30g caster sugar
2 eggs

preheat oven 200C                   Grease and flour 4 ramekins

Melt the 100g chocolate and butter over simmering water.
Beat the eggs with the sugar in a bowl, then add the melted chocolate and flour and mix together.
Fill each ramekin half full then drop in a square of white chocolate and add more mixture to fill.
Bake for 8-10 mins.
Carefully remove the fondants from the ramekins.

Guess who took the photo? Not me! My daughter decided to add the finishing touches, some cream and blueberries, oh, not forgetting the sprig of mint!
The chocolate doesn't make the fondants too sweet. The sponge has a good texture and the gooey centre is just that, gooey! A delicious alternative to a traditional chocolate fondant.


Norfolk Tart

I needed a quick tart as a dessert to take to a get together. This is one of Mum's recipes so I've added metric in brackets. It's just a variation on a treacle tart.

8oz (225g) shortcrust pastry
4oz (100g) golden syrup
1oz (25g) unsalted butter
grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of double cream
1 egg
Preheat oven 200C/gas6                      7" or 17.5cm flan tin

Roll the pastry out and line the tin. Prick the base and bake blind for 15 mins.
Reduce oven to 180C/gas4
Warm the syrup till it's runny, then take off the heat and add the butter and lemon rind and stir together. Beat the cream and egg together and mix into the syrup.
Pour into the pastry case and bake for about 30 mins. Serve warm with some cream or vanilla ice cream.

It hasn't got the breadcrumbs like the usual treacle tart. Supposed to have been a favourite of Charles Dickens! Nice crumbly pastry and a soft filling with a hint of lemon.