Thursday, 24 April 2014

Tom's Biscuit Dinosaurs

Some time ago I was given a three-piece biscuit cutter which supposedly could make a 3D dinosaur! I decided it was sufficiently mad to have a go for the Mad March theme.

I had a look around for something which would be structurally sound and taste nice, and came across a recipe for "Pryanik", which apparently is Russian gingerbread. It turned out quite well, out of the cut pieces we made a few stable dinosaurs:

Plus lots of odds and ends - which we managed to make light work of.


200g Sugar
2 eggs
100g unsalted butter
6-7 tbsp of Honey
1½ tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp Nutmeg
1tsp baking powder
250g plain flour

Heat honey + butter in a pan over a low heat (stir regularly). Whilst it is heating beat the eggs and sugar together. When the honey & butter are melted and just starting to bubble slightly, add the beaten eggs and sugar. Leave on the heat (still stirring) until it's pretty hot to the touch, but not sizzling. Then remove from the heat and fold in the dry ingredients bit-by-bit.

Now allow the mixture to cool - I left it over night, but an hour is probably plenty. Roll out to about 5mm thickness and bake at 180°C for 10-12 minutes.

The shapes for the dinosaur had to be quite precise (for biscuit shapes!) to get a structurally sound dinosaur. I got best results from cutting the shapes immediately after taking the biscuits out of the oven, but this leaves lots of odds and ends - so if your shapes aren't so demanding then it's probably easier to cut before baking.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Stacey's Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Brownies

For "Mad March", I wanted to bake something a little on the unusual side, so when I saw a photo of "goat's cheese brownies" on buzzfeed, I knew that had to be it. The only problem was that it ended up turning out that goat's cheese brownies were not that mad at all... when I searched for recipes 100's came up! Apparently goat's cheese brownies are pretty big in the USA! So, how could I make my brownies even madder? By adding beetroot. Yummy, lovely beetroot.

This is a brownie of three layers. I used my usual brownie recipe for the chocolate layer, and took inspiration for the goat's cheese layer and the beetroot layer here and here (respectively). I started mine with the chocolate layer, then goat's cheese, and then beetroot. Next time I make them, I'll do the beetroot layer first, as that batter is much thicker than the other two and needed spreading with a spoon, whereas the chocolate and cheese layers could just be poured. I've typed the instructions below as if the beetroot layer went in first, because I think you'll find it much easier to do that way!

I've provided below all of the ingredients you need to make all three layers, so this will work as a sort of shopping list. But, to make it easier to read and to tell what goes where, I've split ingredients by layer in the method below. I hope this makes sense!

175g cooked beetroot
35ml vegetable oil
100g dark chocolate
3 medium eggs
50g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
150g soft goat's cheese
30g honey
55g margarine
110g muscovado sugar

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Makes: 25 brownies

  • Preheat the oven to 180 and line a brownie tin with baking paper
  • Start with the beetroot layer: 

For the beetroot layer:
175g cooked beetroot
35ml vegetable oil
100g dark chocolate
1 egg
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
45g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder

  • Put the beetroot and the oil into a blender and blend to a fine paste. Add the chocolate and blend until the chocolate is in very small chunks. Put this mixture to one side.
  • Pop the egg, sugar and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whisk until pale and foamy. Add the beetroot mixture, flour and cocoa powder to the bowl and fold into the eggs until all combined.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and spread level with the back of a spoon. Pop the brownie tin to one side whilst you prepare the cheese layer:

For the cheese layer:
150g soft goat's cheese
1 egg
30g honey
20g self raising flour
  • Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Carefully pour the mixture over the beetroot layer and put to one side.
  • Prepare your chocolate layer:

For the chocolate layer:
55g margarine
25g cocoa powder
1 egg
110g muscovado sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
35g self raising flour
  • Melt the margarine, either in the microwave or in a pan over a low heat. Stir in the cocoa powder, and put this to one side to cool for a few minutes.
  • Put the egg, sugar and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and whisk until pale and foamy. You'd be surprised - even brown sugar goes pale when whisked!
  • Fold in the cocoa mixture and the flour until this combines to a smooth, runny batter.
  • Pour the batter very carefully over the goats cheese layer in the brownie tin, making sure to cover all of the goats cheese mixture.
  • Pop the brownies into the over for 40 minutes. The brownies should feel "set" when you press them likely - that's how you know they will be cooked but still fudgey.
  • Allow the brownies to cool in the tin before turning out onto a chopping board and cutting into 25 squares.
  • Eat one, and be amazed at the marvellous combination of taste and texture!

March - Mad as a March Hare!

For this month's meeting, we decided to embrace all things MAD. Baker's were invited to come up with something a little bit topsy turvey - and they delivered!

We had a savoury layer cake from Gemma, and sweet sushi from Joy. Sally brought some inside-out carrot cake muffins, Laura S offered up some cookies made with chickpeas, I baked beetroot and goat's cheese brownies, Tom made us some dinosaur cookies which we had to construct ourselves, and Aileen's peppermint cupcakes were mad as a box of frogs!

We're all mad here...

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Stacey's Gluten Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

These are absolutely the chewiest cookies I ever made. Seriously good stuff. For our "free-from" month my main "bake" was to make a gluten free veggie lasagne, but I didn't like the way it turned out so I went ahead and knocked up these vegan and gluten free cookies instead. The recipe below started it's life over on this blog here, but as usually I messed with the quantities and stuff. Seriously - I think I have a problem where I'm not actually able to follow a recipe.

I think next time I make these, I may leave 50g of my oats whole to give the cookies a little more structure. I'll post pics/update to let you know how it goes!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Makes 18 cookies

150g rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
250g crunchy peanut butter
150g dark muscovado sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water (if needed)

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 and line a couple of baking sheets with grease proof paper
  2. Pop you oats into a blender, and whizz to a fine powder. Don't worry if there are a couple of rough bit. Stir in the baking powder and put to one side.
  3. Beat together the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract until well combined. Stir in the oat flour until a crumbly dough starts to form, then knead this gently with your hands until the mixture comes together. If you find the mixture is too crumbly, add a little water until you get smooth dough.
  4. Roll the dough into balls and pop on the baking sheets, making sure to leave ample space between as the cookies will spread! 
  5. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and starting to get crisp on top. Don't worry if they are still gooey when you take them out of the oven, they will firm up slightly as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes, until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Enjoy!

February - The One I Love

For February we decided to have a little walk down memory lane by baking our favourite cake or bake from a previous meeting... and it was lovely! Sadly, not many of us could make it so it was a small meeting, but we still ended up running over our time and being kicked out by the wardens!

Joy baked Sally's Venezualan Pan de Jamon from our Around the World month, Mary-Anne baked my Princesse Torta from our Eurovision Bake Contest, I baked Lorna's Pecan Cake from our Fairytale Picnic, and Tom baked Sally's Chocolate Orange Spiced Cookies from our first Christmas together. Since Ollie hadn't been for a while, and Gemma is a new member, they decided to bake some of their personal favourite recipes - for Ollie this was a triple layer Red Velvet Cake, and Gemma made her infamous Chocolate Brownies. Needless to say, we all loved them!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Tom's Autumn Apple Cake

I copied this recipe down a long time ago, and I think I forgot to halve the apples along with the rest of the ingredients.  If you like apples a lot use the full amount (I did for my bake, and it works), but it turns out very apple-y!

It's gluten free, but probably also works fine with normal plain flour. But then obviously wouldn't be gluten-free.


1lb peeled, cored and sliced apples
1½ cups GF flour (or Polenta)
½ tbsp GF baking powder
Pinch salt
1¼ cups granulated sugar (I used brown)
½ cup oil
2 large eggs
1½ tsp Vanilla
Zest and juice of 1 small orange


Put the everything except the apples in a bowl and mix it together well.
Line a 8" square tin and pour in half the batter.
Layer on half the apples.
Pour on remaining batter.
Layer on remaining apples.
Sprinkle some brown sugar and little pinch of cinnamon over the apples.
Bake for around 1½ hours at 180°C/GM4.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Aileen's Vegetarian Beanstack

Jack and the 'Beanstack'
I had made a beanstack for the July Cake and Bake meet, but unfortunately was unable to be there on the day.  I did bring my bake into work with me and managed to raise some money for Marie Curie Cancer Care in the process!

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 ¼ kg cooked kidney beans
5 large tortillas (make sure they're big enough for the dish you use!)
2 tbsp of Greek yogurt (I use way more than that, the more the better in my book)
50g grated Cheddar
Handful fresh coriander to serve
Salsa Verde to serve
31.5 cm round spring form tin, greased and lined

1.  Preheat oven to 200ºC
2.  Heat oil, sauté onions
3.  Add garlic and chillies and sauté for 1 more minute
4.  Add peppers, carrots and cover.  Leave on low heat for 10 minutes.
5.  When cooked place in large bowl.  Add beans and blend roughly, we don't want beans totally blended.
6.  Season a little more than normal as beans absorb flavour
7.  Place tortilla on base of tin, then 1/3 bean mix, then yogurt
8.  Repeat ending with yogurt
9.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes
10.  Remove, sprinkle with cheese and return to oven uncovered for a final 5-10 minutes
11.  Allow to cool before removing from tin (I may not have waited for it to cool, hence the partial collapse in the photo below, still super tasty though!)