Chewy Maple & Bee Pollen Oat Cookies

Not really much of a tale behind these other than I just REALLY wanted an oatmeal cookie one day. But I can be particular about my oat cookies! Not for me are the crisp, brittle types. I prefer the soft, chewy variety that meltingly give when you bite. Maple syrup ALWAYS makes things better so why not include it? To be honest it’s not too prevalent in the taste of this cookie- just enough boost the “cookie comfort factor” (I may trademark that as a baking calibration tool!) The bee pollen was a “why the heck not?” addition from a pantry rummage, albeit with added health benefits. If you don’t have any feel fee to omit. Which of course means these become “Chewy Maple Oatmeal Cookies”. One less ingredient but just as tasty.

Makes 30 apx

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

• 1 cup light brown sugar, packed

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon fancy molasses

• 3 cups whole rolled oats

• 1/2 cup bee pollen

• 1/4 cup maple syrup

Method

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until blended, about 5 minute, then increase to high speed and whip for another 5-6mins
  3. In a jug combine the eggs, molasses, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to the butter mixture and beat for 3 minutes until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat again as needed to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients (I usually do it in 1/4 cup increments) and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the oats and bee pollen. The final dough will be thick and sticky.
  5. Cover and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats
  7. Use a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoon size) to scoop the cookie dough on to the prepared baking sheets, placing 2 inches apart. Bake for 15minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look soft.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  9. Cookies can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 1 week

Classic Angel Food Cake

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I recently tired making one of these to pass (yet another) day in self-isolation. I knew of it’s reputation for being a difficult and finicky cake to master. I’ve got to be honest- as long as you have the correct Angel Food/ Tube cake pan it’s a breeze. The recipe is a classic standard and sure it can be found with ease on Google. I’m posting it here for convenience as I’ve had a number of people inquiring about it.

A final parting word. Despite it’s fabled complication in the kitchen the cake itself is quite easy and well worth the effort. In my opinion it hands down beats any Japanese Souffle Cheesecake.

Angel Food Cake Checklist

  • Always use Cake Flour (see note below)
  • Always use room temperature egg whites
  • Always whisk/ sift the flour to aerate it
  • Always leave the cake pan ungreased
  • Always FOLD the mixtures together, do not beat
  • Always invert the baked cake straight out of the oven
  • Always allow to fully cool before removing from tin
  • Always use a serrated knife to cut cake slices to avoid squashing the crust

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Cake flour*
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 14 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Special Equipment

  • 10″ Angel Food/ Tube cake pan

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and 1 cup sugar. Set aside until later
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy
  4. Add remaining 1 cup sugar. Increase mixer speed to high and immediately add cream of tartar and salt. Add vanilla extract, and beat until peaks form
  5. Transfer egg white mixture to a clean and dry large bowl. Gently fold in flour mixture in 4 additions just until combined. Transfer the batter to an ungreased 10-inch removable-bottom tube pan. Run a sharp knife through batter to remove any hidden air pockets, and smooth the top level
  6. Bake until cake is firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 205°F (96°C) to 210°F (99°C), about 40 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and immediately invert pan** and let cool completely.
  8. When cool turn cake-side up and using an offset spatula, loosen cake from sides and remove bottom/ cake insert from pan surround. Loosen cake from bottom and tube by same method. Invert onto a cake plate and serve, cut using a serrated knife

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    Served with blueberry & gin compote and peaches

    *When I was making this I discovered I didn’t have cake flour to hand. A frustration-saving substitution for cake flour is as follows

    For 1 cup of cake flour- 1 cup of All Purpose flour but remove 2 tablespoons of it. Add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift the mixture twice. Remeasure 1 cup of the resulting mix as 1 cup of cake flour. DO NOT use All purpose flour on it’s on in this recipe – your cake will have a texture verging on bread!

**Some Angel Food/ Tube cake pans come with pronged feet attached which allow for inverted cooling. If yours doesn’t have them (like mine) then invert the baked cake tin tube onto a narrow wine bottle neck or spirits miniature bottle (some balancing or leaning against something may be required)

PB & J Coffee Cake

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PB & J – Never have three letters caused such divisive reactions. To be honest the quintessential North American stable of childhood has often has left me baffled in the past. I guess the secret of it’s appeal lies in that age old combination of sweet and salty. Whilst I struggle with grasping it’s appeal in it’s original sandwich form I’ll confess to being partial to it in bake form with contradictory fervor. Just as long as it’s not with grape flavoring! That attraction still eludes me.

So imagine my interest when I stumbled upon this recipe. Although I wish I could lay claim to this recipe the credit all lies with the publication Bake From Scratch and their recent issue on “One Layer Cakes”, If you haven’t heard of BFS I’d definitely recommend checking them out. If not directly for their recipes then certainly as a source of inspiration as I have done in the past.

Whist the original recipe calls for making two 6″ single layer cakes I couldn’t help but think who on earth wants a cake that small! So I instead baked mine in a single 9″ with the only variance being a longer cooking time with the necessity for aluminium tenting the top of the cake towards the end of baking. 

Prepare to surrender to the peanut buttery goodness! I love the crumbly peanut streusel topping- it’s a unique twist on the signature coffee cake feature. I’m sure jam/ jelly to suit your taste could be subbed in, there just happened to be strawberry lurking in my pantry. All in all this cake didn’t last long as it proved a quick hit with the kids. I kept mine on the counter top, in an airtight cake box, and after 4 days it was still tasty ever.

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Ingredients

Streusel topping

  • 1/3 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup strawberry jam

Garnish

Warmed peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” round deep cake pan with baking spray and line with baking parchment
  2. To make the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and brown sugar. Stir in peanut butter and butter until mixture is crumbly. Crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached. Stir in peanuts. Chill in the refrigerator until needed later
  3. For cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 stages alternately with buttermilk, beating just until combined after each addition. Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into your prepared tin. Spread on strawberry jam, and top with remaining batter, smoothing the top for a level surfaced. Sprinkle with the peanut streusel you prepared earlier
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 60-65 minutes, if needed loosely covering with foil to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of cake to loosen sides. Invert onto a plate, and then invert again onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. Garnish with warmed peanut butter, if desired.

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Millionaire’s Shortbread

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“Millionaire’s Shortbread”, “Caramel Slice”, “Millionaire’s Slice”…call them what you will these caramel laden shortbread bites remain hugely popular from many a childhood memory. Investigation would point to it’s origin’s thanks to our Antipodean friends in the ’70s and as such the initial recipe remains unchanged- buttery shortbread, sweet caramel and luxurious chocolate.

Yes it may seem like such a chore laboring to make each of those individual layers but the end result is surely worth it? None of the intrinsic layers require any great skill in the kitchen, but with some attention and patience a batch of delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread is pretty much a cinch. 

The shortbread layer is first out of the starting block. The pale, crumbly dough that you’ll press into you pan will be baked to a golden, buttery slab of goodness. I mention in the recipe below a handy trick that I’ve used over time and in addition have seen cited in a few other recipes. Using a measuring cup or spoon to compact the freshly baked biscuit layer helps avoid surplus crumbling when slicing the baked shortbread. Simply press the back of the measuring cup (I find 1/3 cup a good size) or spoon gently but firmly on to the shortbread surface in it’s entirety, taking can not to drag it lest you pull some of still-setting crumbs with you. Once this is done you can leave to cool (or pop it in the fridge as I do) and carry on. See- that wasn’t so hard was it? 

And now for the infamous caramel layer! Yes, boiling sugar in a pan and the resulting caramel can sound daunting but with some care and a good candy thermometer on hand those fears will soon be waylaid. I have two pointers here a) constant gentle stirring is a lifesaver in order to avoid the molten mixture catching at the bottom of the pan and charring b) adding in heavy cream to the caramel mixture not only adds a luxurious touch but also keeps the mixture emulsified and avoiding separation which can occur due to heating the condensed milk. The last thing you want ruining your hard work is a gluey, grainy approximation of caramel. 

As for the final finishing chocolate layer, the one that always gets me salivating, there is one common pitfall. One that I can admit to making more than a few times. Don’t forget to add butter to your chocolate for the finishing coating. Practice has taught me that just melting the chocolate and slathering it on in it’s virgin state leads to a brittle layer that frustratingly cracks at every cut and bite. Including the butter incorporates enough yield into the final set surface that you can achieve those insta-worthy cut pieces and decedent mouthfuls without covering yourself in chocolate splinters.

If you do venture to make these you’ll see (and taste) just why they have proven so popular again and again, and indeed traveled the world over. Just remember to share!

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Ingredients

Shortbread Base

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks salted butter, melted

Caramel Filling

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup golden corn syrup
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Topping

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

Method

Shortbread Base

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 325°F. Grease and line a 13×9″ baking pan with parchment paper leaving some hanging over edges of pan to lift out after baking
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and kosher salt. Add melted butter and stir until flour is mixed and dough is crumbly
  3. Transfer to your prepared baking pan and press evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Using fork, pierce dough at regular intervals all over. Bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and firm to touch
  4. Remove from oven. While still warm, use a the back of a measuring cup and press surface of shortbread slightly to compress. Although this part is optional it helps when cutting later. Set aside until needed later

Caramel Filling

  1. Combine the caramel ingredients together in large saucepan. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring frequently to avoid any scorching on bottom for 20 minutes, or until mixture reaches 240°F (Soft Ball stage on candy thermometer)
  2. Carefully pour over shortbread while hot and spread to even thickness. Let cool completely for 1 1/2 hours, or until caramel is firm to the touch

Chocolate Topping

  1. In a small microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate and butter in microwave for 30 second intervals on high, stirring in between until melted. Stir to incorporate the butter until smooth. I find that 2 blasts in the microwave is usually enough
  2. Pour the chocolate over the cooled caramel layer and tilt pan to cover to edges and look smooth or use a spatula or knife and spread back and forth across the surface. Refrigerate the finished shortbread for a couple of hours or until the chocolate topping is set
  3. Lift out of pan using parchment overhang onto a cutting board. Slice into bars*. For the size of tin I use here, I cut so I have 3 by 8 rectangular “bars” (2 cuts x 7)

*I’ve found the best way to slice the shortbread so that you get neat, clean bars is as so- Remove the fully cooled shortbread traybake from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you want to slice. Fill a tall heat-proof jug full of boiling water so that it covers the blade of a sharp knife. Let the knife stand in the jug for 2 minutes. CAREFULLY wipe the knife off of any water and make your cut into your shortbread. Slice once- quickly and smoothly, then stand the knife back in the jug of boiling again. You don’t need to leave it for long this time, a simple full plunge of the blade will do. Again CAREFULLY wipe the blade clean of any water or chocolate residue. Carry on cutting, plunging and wiping until all the traybake is cut to your required size. Leave for a few minutes so the cur bar edges firm up then serve.

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Coconut & Fruit Flapjacks

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First of all let’s clear up the looming misunderstanding. In this recipe my use of the term “Flapjack” is as used in the UK and Ireland, as opposed to it’s North American connotation. So if you were expecting another pancake recipe you may want to move along.

I must stress the “may” part though. If you find yourself unfamiliar with Flapjacks as they appear here well then you’re in for a treat. Defined as “a sweet, tray-baked oat bar, most commonly made from rolled oats, butter, brown sugar and golden syrup“- growing up they were the stuff of school-time treats. Like so many other bakes with a traditional heritage, a love of these oaty morsels falls into two distinct camps- soft & chewy or crunchy & crumbly. Both however offer comforting butteriness and sweetness with each rustic bite. At the end of the day it’s all a matter of time and taste.

The easiest way to describe a flapjack is to think of it as a granola bar. Like it’s pseudo-healthy breakfast cousin it’s basis is in the “slick ‘ em and stick ’em” method of ingredients. Here it’s the butter providing the “slick ’em” element with the “stick ’em” being provided by the amalgamation of sugar, corn & maple syrups, and molasses. The aforementioned ingredients and oats are the basic building blocks, carrying any number of preferred add-ins. Dried fruit, chocolate chips, caramel are all fair game here.

Having mentioned the flapjacks featured ingredient, the humble rolled oat, I feel it fair to offer a sliver of insight here. Flapjacks can be made using just the one type of oats- Rolled Oats (sometimes known as Jumbo Oats). I have found, however, that by using a mix of rolled oats and quick oats a sturdier, less crumbly flapjack is the end result, the latter oats providing a finer grain to act as an infill to the voids between the larger oat flakes.

Above all the flapjack is a bake that is easily tweaked to personal preference for taste and texture proving a lasting favorite that has stood the test of time. Once you have the essential slick ’em, stick ’em and oats in place the Flapjack World is your oyster!

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Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 sticks salted butter
  • 3/8 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon golden corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons fancy molasses
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups jumbo rolled oats
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 1/4 cup dried fruit slices, chopped (I’ve used a mix of apple, pear, apricot and mango)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (350 degrees F for a crunchier flapjack). Line and grease a 9′ X 12′ baking tin with baking parchment
  2. In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut and dried fruit. Stir well to mix and break up any fruit clumps. Set aside for now
  3. In a medium pan melt the butter with the sugar, syrup, vanilla extract and salt. Stir well to combine until sugar has dissolved.
  4. Pout the butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir well to ensure all the dry ingredients are coated
  5. Tip the flapjack mixture into your prepared tin and press evenly for a flat surface
  6. Bake in your preheated oven, middle shelf,  for 25 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crunchy, until set and golden
  7. Remove from the oven and gently score the flapjacks, not going the full way through. For the size of tin I use here, I cut so I have 3 by 4 “square” pieces (2 cuts x 3)
  8. Allow to cool completely in the tin. When fully cooled re-score where you’ve previously cut this time going the full way through
  9. If you want to lend an extra decadent touch, drizzle over some melted chocolate

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