Muesli Bars

I am always keen for ideas of something healthy to put in the boys lunch boxes or to give them for afternoon tea that is home made. I refuse to buy commercial muesli bars or give the boys those snack packs of savoury biscuits or cheese and biscuit mini packs and so on because they are full of sugar, high in salt and often fat and don’t even get me started on the role of thickeners, preservatives, colours and the list goes on.

Muffins are a great one but you need to be able to freeze them or they just turn into paper weights the day after baking. And well, our tiny freezer has been known to be the straw capable of breaking this camel’s back. Biscuits are also great but in our house they don’t last long and while I would love to think I could just whip up a batch each day let’s get real. And then beautiful Krista posted this on her flikr page. I’ve slightly changed it as I am want to do – no sugar in the stewed apricots, no added salt, sultanas instead of dried cranberries as I suspect in Canada you have quite a selection of dried cranberries to choose from as opposed to here where you get craisins and I hate craisins. But I have thrown in a handful of choc chips as she suggests. You know, country to country.

Muesli Bars

  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/4 cup choc chips
  1. Chop apricots* and combine with water in a saucepan. Bring to boil, cover and turn down to simmer for 20 minutes adding some extra water if necessary
  2. Combine brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla in a large bowl
  3. Mix in the oats, wheat germ, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sultanas and choc chips
  4. Stir in apricots
  5. Pour into a lined 8×8 cake pan (I used a rectangular one that I think is 7×11 or so, bake for 35 minutes at 350 F (170C)
  6. Turn out when cool and cut into 16 squares.

* I completely forgot to chop them, infact, hadn’t read this bit and was wondering if I should chop them, but folded them in as they were (halved) and they sort of mushed in. I thought it was really clever but now realise I should probably have chopped them.

1234 cake!

Baking is my absolute joy. It’s strange I haven’t posted that many sweet recipes on this new venture, but I put that down to Boombalardy being in full swing. This is a wonderfully simple buttercake. I am prone to calling it a lunchbox loaf cake as it holds is form well, freezes beautifully and is well, a great lunchbox treat.

1234 cake!

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 170C and grease and line 24cm cake tin (I made two mini loaves as you can see in the pic above)
  2. Beat all the ingredients together in a KitchenAid for 3-4 minutes
  3. Pour into tin and bake for 45-50 minutes
  4. Cool in tin for ten minutes then turn out onto wire rack
  5. Ice when cool

This cake is extremely versatile. Add some frozen berries or the finely grated rind of a lemon or orange or some chocolate buttons to shooz it up.

Icing

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbs butter, softened
  • lemon juice or water to loosen
  1. Mix the icing sugar and butter by hand, adding juice in small amounts until you get a thick but workable icing
  2. Ice cake
  3. Eat!

ro

even it’s name is enticing no?
I have always wondered what a jam roly poly was and in my impressive laziness resulting in a lack of research had simply presumed it was a rectangular sponge covered with jam and then rolled up.
How wrong I was.
Just as this curiosity was sitting there, along with my curiosity about a whole lotta things, out comes the latest Gourmet Traveller and the weekly edition of Good Living, both featuring a jam roly poly.
Get this.
It’s more of a scone wrapped around jam than a sponge.
I know. Move over Wikepedia.

Anyway,
that is the pic of the Jam Roly Poly in the latest GT – I mean, if that doesn’t make y0u want to make it, what will I say.
And yes, I even made the jam. I’m not a huge marmalade fan, but this – which I slightly modified – was very moreish indeed.
Also – mine looked nothing like this – my jam was not as dark and syrupy (similar to my insecurities about my kneading ability, I have similar angst about making jam. that said, this one set without me using Jamsetta and is delicious, it just wasn’t thick and syrupy enough to hold that much shape in the roll).

The jam

  • 4 oranges (I used 3 oranges, 1 tangelo)
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 mandarins
  • 220g white sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon or orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
  1. – Peel and segment the oranges, lemons and two of the mandarins. Do this over a bowl to catch juices.
  2. – Remove pips and set aside.
  3. – Using your hands, push down on the segments to release juices into a measuring cup.
  4. – Squeeze the remaining four mandarins and add to to the juice from the segments – you need 1 cup of juice.
  5. – Tie the seeds up in a muslin cloth
  6. – Combine the juices and sugar in a heavy based saucepan, bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar
  7. – Add the fruit, pips and liqueur and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until syrupy. Cool completely before use

The cake*

  • 2 1/3 cups SR flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 120g butter, chopped
  • Finely grated rind of 2 oranges and 1 lemon (Use the rind off some of the fruit used in the jam. Grate the rinds before peeling and segmenting fruit.)
  • 175ml buttermilk
  1. – Preheat oven to 180C
  2. – Combine the flour, sugar and rinds
  3. – Rub through the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs
  4. – Cut through the buttermilk (treat it like a scone batter, so work lightly and quickly)
  5. – Turn onto a lightly floured piece of grease-proof paper and form into a 25cm log
  6. – Roll out to a rectangle that’s 27cmx30cm
  7. – Spread over 2/3 of the jam, leaving a 3cm border
  8. – Roll lengthways, pressing the edges together as you go
  9. – Brush surface with some buttermilk
  10. – Now, the recipe says to wrap the roll in the grease-proof paper and tie the ends. I’m not sure why you do this, maybe to keep it in a tight roll as otherwise it might just spread outways… or something?
  11. – Place on a baking tray and cook for 35 minutes.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream (or both) and some of the leftover jam if desired.

The recipe in Good Living used a jar of apricot jam, which may be what I do next time. I’ll keep the rinds in the batter though as it gave lovely flavour.

*This is basically like a scone dough. In fact, with the rinds adding an extra depth of flavour I may use this recipe for my next batch of scones.

Carrot cake, banana cake

Well another weekend is done and dusted. My weekends of late have been far less suckful than usual. I have no idea why, although I think something called Zoloft may be playing a significant part.

Yesterday featured two matches of soccer that I didn’t have to attend – YIPPEE! Then tennis, with a Doctor’s appt in there somewhere for the New Recruit who has (another) cough from the kennel, this one with phlegm, so much phlegm.

Then we headed out to Dural to have afternoon tea with some other Lifestart families. There is some shit going down (yes, after everything we’ve been through – See Glamorouse and posts around April/May for more) at Lifestart, but can I just say, sitting in the eating ‘nook’ of what was probably a house and ‘estate’ worth in excess of $3 million made it all a little easier. The place had a lake. And a little bridge out to a little island in the middle of the lake. Then there was another pond, and a pool, and then the stables, and paddocks. And one of ‘those’ houses with its French Provincial kitchen and a formal sitting room. Seriously people, it was kinda like my dream existence. Anyway, delightful people and a great afternoon. I’ll go into the Lifestart palaver when I’m a little less emotional about it and a lot less vitriolic.

Today we just hung out and went to Woolwich Pier Hotel for dinner for my Dad’s birthday. I have to seriously stop going to all these places of serious money because if I see one more stunning house I’m going to scream. (Let’s just say that our half a house, sans cleaner, is feeling very unglamorous at this stage. You know it’s bad when the goal of the day is simply to clear everything off (and away) the dining table.)

I made him a carrot cake. Carrot cake is one of those cakes which you can get anywhere but is often pretty average – too sweet, too cakey, etc. This one rocks.

Carrot Cake

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 4 eggs
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 300 ml vegetable oil
  • 60g walnuts
  • 60g (or so) crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 150g sultanas
  • 3 large carrots, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 180C, grease and line a 24cm cake tin
  2. Sift the flour and spices together
  3. Add the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla – mix lightly
  4. Then add the walnuts, pineapple, sultanas and carrots
  5. Bake for an hour, or until skewer comes out clean.
  6. Cool in tin for 15 minutes then on a wire rack.
  7. Ice with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 125 caster sugar
  • 3 tblsp lemon juice
  1. Put all in a food processor and blend until smooth.

If that wasn’t enough, I also made a banana cake. Sure, it seems decadent when bananas are still around $11/kilo, but is again the indication that this house runs very hot and cold on bananas, that is of course, unless they appear in cake form. This is fail-proof.

Banana Cake

  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tblsp milk
  1. Preheat oven to 190C and grease a ring tin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl, by hand and then add the egg
  3. Stir in the banana and add the dry ingredients, then mix through the milk
  4. Pour into tin and bake for 35-40 minutes
  5. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then on a wire rack

You can ice it, but it isn’t really necessary.

Easy chocolate cake and icing

I LOVE this cake because it’s chocolatey but doesn’t have that whole palaver of having to melt chocolate. I believe this is the perfect kids recipe for a young ‘un having their first go at baking something. It’s a Royal Easter Show Award winning recipe that I got out of Delicious magazine many years ago (as in late90s, early00s). I can’t remember it’s owner, but I do know it was a bloke. It is an absolute snap and actually gets better with age – if it lives that long.

You can make it any which way – cupcakes (it will make 30 cupcakes, 20 or so muffin-size), two 20cm round cakes then wedged together with icing, one 26cm round or square cake or a slab cake.

See, it is a go-to recipe in this house.

 

The easiest one bowl chocolate cake in the world

  • 2 cups SR flour
  • 2/3 cocoa powder
  • 1tsp instant coffee powder
  • 185g butter – v soft but not melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C and grease your chosen tin
  2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth and pale – about 6 minutes in my kitchen-aid
  3. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked through
  4. Cool for 5 minutes or so in the tin and then turn out to cool before icing.

Ice with chocolate butter icing or lemon icing.

Chocolate icing
(quadruple for the cake if you do two rounds and sandwich them together)

  • 1 1/2 tblsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tblsp milk
  • 75g soft butter
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixer and beat until pale, light and fluffy and ice the cake accordingly.

Lemon Icing

  • About 2 cups of icing sugar
  • a knob of butter (a tablespoon would be a good bet), melted
  • juice of a lemon
  1. Mix together and add some more lemon juice or boiling water to get a nice consistency. You know, dollopy – not too runny, not too stiff.