Tag Archives: easy recipe

Saucy Chocolate Pudding

17 Jan

Among the recipes my mum gave me when I started university was one she’d been given by a friend many years ago. Billed as “Julia’s Perfect Chocolate Pudding”, I decided to made it once during the first term for a group of friends.

It was a total disaster. It cooked only on one side, tasted bitter, and looked like a swamp. I had to throw it away and give people Wagon Wheels instead. “Perfect recipe” my arse. Thanks for nothing Julia. Let’s hope this is better.

This recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking

Ingredients:

60g butter

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 cup self-raising flour

1 tbsp cocoa powder

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder, extra

2 cups boiling water

Method (serves 6):

1. Preheat oven to 180 oC. Grease 1.5 litre oven dish.

2. Melt butter with milk in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in extract and caster sugar then sifted flour and cocoa. Spread the mixture into dish.

3. Sift brown sugar and extra cocoa over mixture; gently pour boiling water over mixture. Bake about 40 minutes or until centre is firm. Stand 5 minutes before serving.

Adjustments:

It was only when I started typing up this recipe that I realised I was supposed to grease the pan. I didn’t. And it didn’t seem to make any difference.

I replaced the brown sugar with demerara sugar. I wouldn’t advise this. More details to follow.

Cocoa powder. You’d think no recipe could go wrong once you start with this.

Demerara sugar. See how dense the crystals are?*

Flour. Like the drifted snow at Piz Palü in springtime.

My mise en place, (technically, it’s only a demi-mise, but c’est la vie ma petit pois!)

Melted butter. I wonder if this is what my arteries look like.

Mix it all together, and transfer to (ungreased) dish…

… Then sift sugar onto the chocolate mix.

Yeah, about that. Does the sugar look a little chunky to you?

Sifting the sugar was taking a really long time. *Checks recipe again* Aha, it’s supposed to be brown sugar, rather than demerara. I imagine this is because brown sugar is finer.

* I’ve realised the problem. The crystals are too large to fit through the sieve. Despite my best efforts to shake and scratch it through, it’s a laborious process. I give up and tip half of the sugar back into the packet. Life’s too short.

The sugar layer is covered over with a layer of cocoa powder.

Now this is the bit I find odd. You just pour boiling water over the top of the mixture. The best thing about this recipe is that the pudding makes its own sauce – I guess that’s what this water is all about.

That really doesn’t look right to me.

Delicious swamp. Let’s hope 40 minutes in the oven will transform this bad boy…

Voila. Okay, it doesn’t look like much, but it does look just like the picture, so that’s encouraging. Swampville has been transformed into Lava Land. Chocolate ooze is bubbling through the craters on the surface.

It’s certainly saucy.

VERDICT:

Taste:

Holy goodness – it’s fantastic! What it lacks in presentation, it makes up for in noms. The cake part is bouncy and chewy, while the sauce is thick, sticky and really chocolatey.

Recipe cons:

None particularly. I didn’t miss the demerara sugar that I didn’t use – so I wonder if it’s a totally necessary part of the recipe.

Recipe pros:

It. Tastes. So. Good. And it’s pretty easy to do. Just bung it all in a dish and stick it in the oven. Jamie Oliver would be proud.

More importantly, the curse of Julia and her falsely-advertised “perfect pudding” has been removed once and for all. All hail the new self-saucing pudding.

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Sultana and Lemon Scones

6 Jan

It was bound to go wrong sometime. Emboldened by my previous successes, I realised I already had all the ingredients to make scones. Who doesn’t love a good scone? Sweet, filling, and a conversation-starter (How do you pronounce it? /skoʊn/? /skɒn/?) The Americans call it a biscuit, but we won’t get into that here.

This recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking.

Ingredients

4 cups self-raising flour

2 tbsp icing sugar

60g butter

1/2 cup sultanas

2 tsp lemon zest

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup water

Method (makes 20)

1. Preheat oven to 220 oC. Grease a baking tin, or cover with greaseproof paper.

2. Sift flour and sugar into a large bowl; rub in butter with fingertips

3. Add sultanas and lemon zest.

4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix; add milk and water. Use knife to “cut” the milk and water through the flour, mixing to a soft, sticky dough. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth.

5. Press dough out to 2cm thickness. Dip 4.5cm round cutter in flour; cut as many rounds as you can from the dough, Place scones side by side in baking tin. Re-knead dough and repeat.

6. Brush tops with milk; bake for around 15 minutes or until scones are browned and sound hollow when tapped on the top with fingers.

Adjustments:

I halved the recipe to make fewer scones.

This is my Mason Cash bowl. I love it. I picked it up in Sainsbury’s while on a bread-making-related supermarket-sweep, and it’s the perfect thing. The Lakeland website tells me it’s a classic. I saw the exact same one on the BBC adaptation of Nigel Slater’s autobiography, “Toast”. If it’s good enough for Nige…

I started this recipe before realising I didn’t have a biscuit cutter. But I was already too full of beans to stop. A cutter? Who needs it? I just pulled out my jigger. “A jigger?” you say. Yes, I reply with a knowing look. It’s a bartending tool used to measure spirits.

And look! As if the cake/cocktail (caketail?) gods were smiling down on me, the jigger was exactly the right size.

Sieving. And making the most of my camera’s delay-shot button. I’m going to pretend this worked on the first attempt, instead of the fifth or sixth. A word of warning when sieving icing sugar – powder goes everywhere. I looked like Lindsay Lohan by the time I’d finished.

Scone-dough.

Baldy lemon. After I tried to zest it. Using a cheese grater. For some reason, it reminds me of a partially-shaved cat.

The disaster-zone. Do not try this at home.

Having a ruler in the kitchen is proving invaluable today.

The jigger in action. It is a slightly flawed (and sticky) system. Besides, I thought this recipe was only supposed to make ten scones. There are hundreds coming out of this. I run out of space after using up two baking trays.

Hmm, they don’t look like much do they? So tiny. This can’t be right.

The recipe says to brush the tops of the scones with milk before putting them into the oven. This is my cooking paintbrush. Actually, it’s a regular paintbrush from a pound shop. Iit was part of a set I bought when Pete and I needed to varnish a table. I’m almost certain this isn’t dangerous to use as a cooking implement.

For some inexplicable reason, despite halving the recipe, and making over 20 teeny tiny scones, I’m left with this fist-sized amount of dough. For an equally inexplicable reason, I’ve chosen a pair of scissors to give you some idea of the scale. But what to do with this useless dough-fist?

Ahoy! Skull and bones… or Bull and Scones? That can’t just be a coincidence.

Fresh from the oven. They’re small but perfectly formed. Like cakes for children. Or cats.

VERDICT

Taste:

Lovely. Crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. The lemon zest adds a certain lightness which counteracts the dough. They taste good even without butter and jam.

Recipe pros:

Easy to follow. I already had all the ingredients, and I like the idea of being able to make breakfast/an afternoon nibble in under 30 minutes.

Recipe cons:

I’m still confused about the vast number of scones I managed to make using half the ingredients. And why are they so small? On the plus It’s the recipe that keeps on giving.

Chocolate Brownie Muffins

4 Jan

Mmm, chocolate. Actually, I originally glossed over this page when I first flicked through the recipe book. It didn’t look particularly “wow”. But then I got a craving for a good solid gobful of chocolate, and this seemed to fit the bill.

This recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking.

Ingredients

2 cups* self-raising flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup caster sugar

60g butter, melted

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped coarsely

1/2 chocolate hazelnut spread

1 egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup soured cream

*Measuring Cups


My recipe book is Australian, so they use cup measurements, as do American recipes. Happily, I found these American-style measuring cups in Sainsbury’s for about £4. Sorry Delia – cups are definitely the way forward. For me it’s so much quicker and cleaner than measuring everything out onto a scale.

Method (makes 12):

1. Preheat oven to 200 oC. Fill 12-hole muffin pan with cases, or grease the pan.

2. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl; stir in remaining ingredients.

3. Divide mixture among holes of prepared pan.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes. Dust with sifted extra cocoa if desired.

Adjustments:

I didn’t use pistachios because they were too expensive.

I can’t be bothered to grease the tin, so I’m using cases instead. I like how they look like little upside-down debutantes in tutus. No? Just me then.

Sifting it all together. Is there anything more satisfying?

Mixing in the other ingredients. My silicone spatula-thingy means none of the mixture sticks to the side of the bowl.

See how scraping the bowl had made little cartoon emphasis lines around the chocolate mix? It’s like it’s saying “ta-da!” Or even “ahhhh!” (*phonetic for the angelic song of a holy choir – like that bit at the beginning of The Simpsons).

The mixture is gooey and looks like chocolate mousse.

In you go my pretties.

Anyone know how to bake without making a horrible mess? (Pete would say this is my favourite bit of the process.)

Fresh (literally ten seconds) out of the oven. I did a happy little jig when I saw how they’d risen.

Yes, they looked cracked on top, but so do the ones in the book. Is that a muffin’s defining characteristic?

Voila.

VERDICT:

Taste

After 20 minutes, the kitchen smelled like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. When I get the muffins out of the oven, it’s all I can do not to stick my face in them immediately. And when I do? Lovely – especially with a nice cup of tea.

Recipe cons:

Um, none? Really simple and quick to make. Nothing fiddly. I would say that it is most definitely a muffin and not a brownie – they are light and spongey, rather than having the heaviness/chewiness I’d associate with a brownie. They are, however, brown – so I’ll give it a pass.

Recipe pros:

These are possibly the best things I’ve ever made.

The cakes are moist and bouncy and very chocolatey. The chocolate chips have retained most of their shape and ooze chocolate when you bite into the muffin.