In this page you will find the recipes for the foods I like to munch on whilst reading. It’s mostly cake.
Chocolate Easter nests
- 200g plain or milk cooking chocolate*
- shredded wheat – x3 or 4 of the large biscuits
- Mini eggs
This is probably the easiest recipe to make with a little one. The list of ingredients and measurements is a guide only – you can substitute shredded wheat with rice krispies, cornflakes etc… whatever’s in the cupboard.
As these do only have 3 ingredients and require no cooking time, just a short spell in the fridge, Easter nests are a quick make. And an ideal last minute Easter present.
Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of just boiling water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally. While you are doing this (and of course you should never leave a child unattended when cooking on the hob), pop a few shredded wheat biscuits in a large bowl and let your little one loose scrunching and crunching. Messy play but with something tasty and edible at the end of it!
Once the chocolate has melted, pour it into the shredded wheat and mix. Spoon tablespoons of your nest mix into paper casings and dent a hole into the middle to add your chocolate eggs. Pop in the fridge until the nests are hard.
You can then arrange these in a little box tied with ribbon or just eat them straight away!
*I’ve always found that cooking with Milo (and myself to be fair), you should always account for a little extra chocolate being needed for the impromptu tasting session that might happen!
Just loving Fiona Cairns’ Bake and Decorate
I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll probably mention it again, but I’m just loving Fiona Cairns Bake and Decorate from Quadrille publishing. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book full of beautiful cakes and ideas. I think I have made the lemon crunch cake about five times this year already, but we never tire of serving it up or eating it. Milo especially. Here’s my latest effort with crystalised violas and pansies from the garden.
Notice the excess of purple and lilac. Milo’s absolute favourite colour – I think our garden will be very purply this year!
The lemon cake itself is exactly as described, lemony with a lovely crunchy topping – granulated sugar and lemon juice. And it’s light too so a second slice doesn’t feel too cheeky.
You don’t need to ice it, it tastes just as good without but if you want to add some crystalised flowers then it’s nicer to cover first. Fiona Cairns recommends a lilac coloured icing (just like the one on the cover of her book) but I can never find the food colouring locally so I go with white. I did try a lemon colour once, but it kind of looked like I’d poured custard over the cake. I don’t know how she gets her crystalised flowers so beautifully neat and tidy – I think our pansies are just too big, the smaller violas work a lot better (or you can go out and buy some crystalised flowers ready made, probably a bit less hassle!).
If you are thinking you need a new baking recipe book for your collection don’t hesitate to just head straight out and buy this one.
A special treat, but so worth it. Fiona Cairns’ website is also worth spending a little time drooling over too, if only for the sumptuous display of (I presume) VV Rouleaux ribbon in the background of some of the pages. Yum.
Battle of the Battenburg
Aha… a new Recipe for Reading. It’s been a little while hasn’t it?
I’ve always liked Battenburg for its retro look and quite honestly the marzipan. Who doesn’t love marzipan (apart from my grandma, but I find that odd)? Marzipan is lovely. And Battenburg definitely feels like a tea time kind of a cake and something to eat alongside a good read.
I thought I’d try Mary Berry’s recipe from her Baking Bible book, which I am using more and more at the moment. The cake came out well, the sponge was springy, not at all dry and all in all it looks like a perfectly acceptable Battenburg. But I was a little disappointed with the grainy texture of the sponge. I think this must be down to the ground rice in the mixture. It made sense to me when I was baking the cake, but doesn’t now. I’m wondering how it would fair if the ground rice were replaced with ground almonds… whether some of the grainyness would go? I was also a little disappointed with the flavour. Mary Berry suggests you add a few drops of almond essence. I added six. I really like almond flavoured baked goods! It still didn’t seem to come through for me.
So, there are things I might have done wrong. I might not have mixed for long enough – though it was a nice, smooth mixture going into the pan. There’s a possibility that I overcooked the sponge slightly, but I think this would have resulted in dryness as opposed to a grainy texture. Either way I wasn’t satisfied.
Battenburg take 2. Fiona Cairns this time with her delightful book Bake and Decorate which I want to fall into and be swallowed up by the pages. Her recipe calls for three eggs as opposed to the two in Mary Berry’s recipe and I am a big fan of the three egg cake. This sounds daft. It isn’t meant to – I just don’t think you can make a Victoria Sponge successfully without three eggs.
A little trickier to prepare to bake in the sense that you need to place a divider in your tin so your pink half doesn’t run into your plain half, if you catch my drift. I also found it need about 10-15 minutes longer in the oven than the recipe suggested, but this could be down to my rather old, useless oven.
Either way, it made for a very tasty, not grainy at all, vanilla sponge. A little more flimsy to work with when move about to cover with marzipan (so be careful), but otherwise very tasty. I think this comes out tops for me, and was especially good two days after I baked it. Improving with age – that’s what I like!
Both were consumed (not in one go of course), while reading The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson which I very, very much enjoyed.
Victoria sponge cake
This is pretty much the same recipe as the fairy cakes but with a few changes (and I use good old Delia for this one!) You will need:
For an 8 inch cake:
6 oz self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 oz very soft butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (if you are using flavouring increase this to a teaspoon)
a little icing sugar for dusting
Take your biggest mixing bowl and put all the ingredients into it (except the icing sugar) – whisk away until smooth and well-combined! Pour out into your tins (grease and line with baking parchment) and then bake in the oven on 170 for 30 -35 minutes. Tip out onto a wire rack to let cool before adding your filling.
Now, Delia makes this with a raspberry and mascarpone cream. But I don’t like mascarpone cream so I normally just get a good raspberry or strawberry jam for the filing and add a good, hearty amount of fresh, whipped double cream. I don’t know how much cream I use – I just guess the right amount, and if there’s a little left over, all the better! A quick spoonful with a dollop of jam – lovely!
From Delia’s Vegetarian Collection
These are so simple to make, literally just pop all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk away adding the milk slowly. Put in the oven on 200 and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown on top.
125 g self-raising flour
125 g caster sugar
125 g butter
2 medium eggs
2-3 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring
For the buttercream icing:
100g icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring
Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, then add the icing sugar until you have the consistency you want. Have fun decorating!
This is a pretty standard fairy cake recipe, but I followed Nigella Lawson’s guide to remind myself and because I couldn’t find my childhood cookbook. Think it is at mums still!
Chocolate chip oat cookies
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I often use a little more)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips – any kind you like. I always use a mixture
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a few baking sheets. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt – set aside. Cream with an electric mixer the butter and the sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat slowly until everything is thoroughly bended. The dough should be crumbly.
Drop teaspoons on to the baking sheets, spacing the dough about 1 – 2 inches apart. I misread this the first time I made these and thought it meant a tablespoon. I had some very large cookies. Bake for about 15 minutes until just firm around the edges, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
From Cookies by Hilaire Walden
2 oz butter or margarine
1 rounded tablespoon golden syrup
2 oz soft brown sugar
4 oz rolled oats
pinch of salt
(I always double up on the mixture to make chunkier flapjacks, but that just might be me being a bit greedy!)
You’ll need a 7″ sponge cake tin (greased well and preferably lined also). Just heat up all the ingredients in a saucepan, holding the oats back until everything else is well combined. Mix the oats in well. Spoon the mixture into the greased tin and pop into the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or 25- 30 mins if you’ve doubled -up on the recipe.
I sometimes like to vary the recipe by adding chocolate chunks or cinnamon and raisins.
From the Pooh Cook Book – recipes by Katie Stewart