baking

peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and sea salt

peanut-butter-choc-chip-sea-salt-cookies-philippa-moore

I don’t know what it is about the taste of peanut butter, but it has an almost Proustian effect on me.

As a child, I rejected every other sandwich filling for my school lunchbox. In fact, I rejected sandwiches most of the time - they were dull in taste and vomit-inducing in texture, the opposite of everything I wanted and believed food to be. So for most of primary school, my usual lunch was a bag of carrot sticks and peanut butter on crackers. Peanut butter became a familiar, quotidian taste and I found it far from exciting. Once I was old enough to make my own lunch for school, peanut butter was off the menu. I’d had enough to last a lifetime, or so I thought.

But as an adult, I’ve found tasting peanut butter again quite ambrosial. I love it on apple slices, on toast, in stir-fries, in smoothies or even by the spoonful.

Peanut butter also makes a divine and, with the addition of a sprinkle of sea salt, very adult biscuit. But the method is so simple a child could make them (with a little supervision). I find making biscuits such a faff that I was determined to make these in one bowl/pan. Success.

Be warned, these are incredibly addictive.

Peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and sea salt

150g smooth peanut butter (I like Bega Just Nuts or Pic)
125g unsalted butter
65g rice malt syrup
125g brown sugar
1 egg
Splash of vanilla extract
100g dessicated coconut
270g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
120g dark chocolate chips
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 C (fan-forced). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place the peanut butter, butter and rice malt syrup in a large saucepan (you will use this to make the whole mixture, so make sure it’s a big saucepan) over low heat. Stir occasionally until just melted. Turn off heat.

Add the brown sugar, egg and vanilla, and beat well until combined.

Add the coconut, flour and bicarb soda and stir to combine.

FInally, add the chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed through the mixture.

Using a teaspoon and your hands, roll into balls of a size to your liking (just be consistent!) and place evenly spaced on the trays. Once all the mixture is used, use a fork to flatten the dough balls slightly.

Sprinkle the tops with a little sea salt (only a little - we’re not going for a hundreds and thousands look! Just a flake will do. Be restrained and judicious here). You could also put a few more choc chips on top (as I did).

Bake in the oven for roughly 8 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. For goodness sake set a timer, otherwise you’ll pull a groin muscle running to the oven to rescue them.

Allow to cool slightly on the trays, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. You can eat them warm(ish) but I think they’re at their best cool. They are “crisp yet fluffy”, as Tom described them.

Perfect with a cup of tea or (I imagine) crumbled over some vanilla ice cream.

pumpkin, feta and silverbeet muffins

pumpkin-feta-silverbeet-muffins-philippa-moore

I’m a huge fan of the savoury muffin and while I have provided a receipt for one previously, I made them in a different way to use up some roast pumpkin and feta I had lying around and OH MY WORD they were good.

I always roast pumpkin with the skin on - with this batch of muffins, it was butternut but with other pumpkins such as Kent, with thicker grey skin, you might want to double check that it’s soft and not too tough.

You can use any combination of roast veg, cheese and herbs you have lying around. You can also sub a generous handful of flat-leaf parsley or spinach for the silverbeet leaves.

Be warned, these don’t last long. You will regret only making one batch.

Pumpkin, feta and silverbeet muffins

Makes 6 large or 12 small muffins

350g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of fresh or dried sage leaves, chopped
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, needles chopped
275ml almond milk
135ml Greek yoghurt
115ml olive oil (I used some of the chilli oil from a jar of yoghurt cheese I bought, it worked beautifully)
2 eggs
200g (roughly) chunks of roast pumpkin
150g feta (I used a combination of feta and soft goats cheese)
2-3 large leaves silverbeet, shredded (not the stalks, just the leaves)
Grated parmesan, to sprinkle on top
Hemp seeds, to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 200 C (180 C fan-forced). Line a muffin tray with cases.

Combine the flour, bicarb soda, salt, pepper, sage and rosemary in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the wet ingredients in a jug.

Add the roast pumpkin chunks and the feta to the flour, and make a well in the centre. Pour the wet ingredients into the centre, sprinkle the silverbeet leaves over the top. Stir gently to just combine - over-mixing will give you tough muffins, which no-one wants! A few lumps of flour are fine, don’t worry.

Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, ensuring each one has a good few chunks of pumpkin in. Sprinkle the tops with grated parmesan and hemp seeds - “drugs?!” asked my horrified mother when I told her what was on top of the muffin she was enjoying! - this is optional of course, but I find it adds greatly to the flavour. Hemp is full of protein too.

Bake in the oven until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean - in my temperamental gas oven, I found the large muffins needed about 35 minutes. If you’re making 12 smaller ones, you might only need 18-20 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and go from there!

Allow to cool briefly in the tin then turn out on to a wire rack.

You can eat these warm or cold. They are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup.


super moist apple cake

super-moist-apple-cake-philippa-moore

There is nothing like the smell of a cake baking in the oven to make you feel cosy, snug and homely. Over Easter I had some apples from my aunt’s tree to use up and this recipe made great use of them. I am not a fan of cake recipes that are too complicated or require too many bowls - one-bowl cake recipes are definitely more my thing. I get a bit grumpy having to mix dry and wet ingredients separately, and I very rarely make anything that requires you to separate and whisk egg yolks and whites separately either. Gah! Too much work. Just give me cake.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Super moist apple cake

Based on this recipe

150g butter, melted
420g stewed apple
1/2 cup brown sugar (or a different kind of sugar or sweetener, depending on your tastes/preferences)
2 eggs
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom or nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 160 C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Nice and easy - place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until combined and no lumps of flour or brown sugar remain, taking care not to over-mix. Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin before slicing and serving. It keeps well and can also be frozen in individual slices.

I like to serve it with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and, if they’re in season, slices of fresh fig.

inner mary berry bakewell slice

bakewell-slice-tea

With the baking hot weather (no pun intended) we've had in the UK this summer, I have barely turned my oven on. Meals have been mostly salads, breads, cheeses, dips, anything that involved minimal cooking. Vegetables picked from my garden which required blanching in boiling water at the most. 

But then came the most welcome cool change, and I found myself basically turning into Mary Berry last Sunday, baking a cake and a slice to use up the last of the butter, sugar and jam that had found their way into my kitchen after a wonderful visit from my parents. 

In fact, it was my mum who suggested a Bakewell slice to use up all the jam. I'm very partial to a Bakewell, so immediately thought this was a brilliant idea. But, as I say, had to wait for the all-pervading heat to dissipate slightly before I could even entertain the idea of turning the oven on.

I love almonds but I'm not overly fond of a strong, synthetic almond taste that you often find with marzipan and the like. So I used up a bag of ground almonds very happily but forwent the almond essence that was in the original recipe. By all means include it instead of vanilla if you're an almond lover! 

After Tom and I had enjoyed this fresh out of the oven, I knew the solution to avoiding temptation all week was to take the rest of the slice into my office on Monday to share with my colleagues. I don't often take my baking in, as I use a lot less sugar than most people are used to, as that's what I prefer. But to my surprise, the slice was hoovered up and I got so many compliments. So if you're looking to win some brownie points in your office, seriously, make this slice and take it in. I have already been asked to make it again! 

 

Bakewell slice

Adapted from this recipe

1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
Roughly 1 cup (a little less is fine) jam of your choice (I used a mixture of raspberry and strawberry)
200g organic unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
4 eggs
150g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
Dash of vanilla extract
Flaked almonds for the topping

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan). Unroll your pastry sheet, roll it out a little with a rolling pin and then place it, including the baking paper it comes with, into a baking tray of roughly 30 x 20 cm size. Spread the jam over the pastry.

Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Add the almonds, flour and vanilla and stir well. Spread this cake mixture evenly over the jam and pastry.

You can either scatter the top with flaked almonds now and just keep an eye on it and cover with foil once the almonds get brown, or you can add the almonds when the slice has about 10 minutes baking time left. If you choose the latter, they won't be embedded into the cake as much as the mixture won't be wet any more. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For me, I can't stand a burned nut so I'd rather go with the second option and err on the side of caution! 

Place the tin in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown and the cake has risen nicely. If you choose the second option with the flaked almonds, remove after 20 minutes and scatter the flaked almonds over the surface, then return to the oven for the rest of the cooking time.

Allow the slice to cool in the tin. You can ice it, as the original Delicious recipe suggests, but I was happy (and found it sweet enough) with just plain flaked almonds on top. 

bakewell-slice

Cut into slices, take it into your office and watch your popularity soar! It's absolutely perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee. 


 

 

 

leftover easter* chocolate brownies

chocolate brownies

I'm sure most of you are thinking..."leftover chocolate? Are you crazy?! When does that ever happen? Thank you Phil, rub in my lack of self control!"

Oh, dear reader, I meant nothing of the sort. But if you're anything like me, you might have found yourself over the holidays with chocolate that perhaps wasn't nice enough to eat on its own but could be transformed into something magical via the wonder of brownie batter!

If you're going to have it, make it worth your while. Nothing irritates me more than wasting calories/points/tastebuds/time/money on food that just doesn't satisfy or deliver. And I abhor waste as well. So if that's you too, here you go, you're in luck!

Leftover chocolate brownies

125g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
80g cacao powder
4 eggs
90g fine '00' flour (the kind you'd use to make pasta)
Pinch of salt
Approximately 100g chocolate-box chocolates 

Preheat your oven to 180 C (fan). 

Melt the butter, sugar and cacao in a bowl (not plastic!) over a saucepan of simmering water until combined and the butter has melted. It will look gritty, but fear not!

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then add the flour. Beat well (use an electric mixer if it all gets a bit much!). 

Pour into a 20cm square cake or brownie pan and dot the chopped chocolates evenly on top. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. You want a skewer to come out almost clean, but not quite, as you want to keep everything moist. A dry brownie is a miserable thing. You may need to bake for a little longer if your oven is a little cooler than mine.

brownies

Allow to cool and then devour, marvelling at your genius!  

* Full disclosure: I made these in January after the chocolate coma that is (usually) Christmas. Any chocolate you want to use up will work well!