tilly makes & bakes

Always striving to achieve a state of domestic bliss!


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Best flapjacks

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I have made a fair few flapjack recipes over the years. Although I love shop-bought ones, I could just never get them right at home. They were either too crumbly or too crunchy. I have tried making them less sugary and less fatty- to no avail. I finally came across a very simple recipe  on a lovely blog called Tales from a happy house. I made the recipe and added chocolate chips and they really are delicious! Buttery, sugary and almost cakey, nom nom nom.


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Virgin Victoria Sponge cake

“Virgin” because it was the first Victoria Sponge I ever baked. I didn’t grow up in this country so I don’t tend to bake typically British cakes and find myself sticking to the ones I remember from my childhood. However, as hubby prefers traditional fare, I decided to start practising some basic recipes that are loved throughout the British Isles. Oh, and I had eggs and strawberries to use up. That as well.

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I had little helping hands.

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Can you see how much cream I managed to fit into the center of the cake? Yep, that happened because my sponges sunk quite a bit. But we don’t mind a bit of a fudgey center and I was still very pleased with my first attempt. We polished the whole lot off within days. I was able to keep the cake fresh in the fridge for about 3 days because I added some vanilla dessert powder to the cream while whipping it. It ensures the cream stays nicely thick and aerated. Everyone enjoyed it. But let’s face it, what’s not to love about fluffy cake piled high with cream and strawberries!? Exactly.

Victoria Sponge

Ingredients

225g soft butter

225g self-raising flour

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs

a punnet of fresh strawberries

a tub of double cream

2 tbsp of a sachet of instant vanilla dessert powder (angel delight or similar)

icing sugar to dust

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease and line two 21cm sandwich tins.

2. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time.

4. Sift and fold in the flour.

5. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

6. Once cooled, whip the cream with 2 tbsp of the dessert powder until it is the right consistency. Slightly under-whipping is best, as the dessert powder will thicken it even more after you have stopped whipping.

7.  Assemble and dust in icing sugar. Devour.


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Rachel Allen’s soda bread

If you have some buttermilk in your fridge and you don’t know what to do with it, make this soda bread! It is so simple: you sift the dry ingredients together and then mix the buttermilk in. Done. No waiting around for dough to rise, no kneading, no worrying. It bakes in 45 minutes.  I have made it several times already and it comes out nice and crispy on the outside and perfectly done on the inside each time. I like the dense, cakey texture of soda bread. We have eaten it as sandwiches all week. Oh, and it’s amazing with Nutella (shhhhh).

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Muffins two ways: lemon curd and chocolate chips

I had a jar of lemon curd to use up so I was on the hunt for a basic cake recipe that I could jazz up with a  bit of the lemony goo. I came across this recipe for a basic muffin batter and it turned out to be just perfect for adding bits and pieces. You basically mix up all the dry ingredients and stir up the wet ingredients in separate bowls before combining wet with dry.

In addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe, I added 75g of chocolate chips to half the batter and about 6 tablespoons of lemon curd to the other ( 1 tbsp per muffin). Once the muffins were baked, I also brushed a little extra curd on top of the still hot lemon cakes. Finished of with some lemony sugar crystals (I used Askeys ice cream topping sprinkles), they looked so delicious. And they certainly tasted delicious. A big hit with both the girlies, hubby and ME!

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Tomato and pepper puff pastry tart

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I made this beautiful tart on a sunny but still chilly spring evening when I was just in the mood for summery cooking. It was so easy to make and you simply must try this, the flavours are amazing. I know I’m not reinventing the wheel, these kinds of family puff pastry “pizzas” or tarts have been made in different variations by loads of different people. I just always think it’s good to be reminded of simple dinner ideas and flavour combos.

Simply mix 1 garlic and herb boursin soft cheese with half a packet of Philadelphia with peppers (one of their flavoured varieties). Thin with a dash of milk to smooth the mixture and make it spreadable. Pour and spread the cheese mix onto your puff pastry rectangle. Score along each side of the pastry rectangle to allow the crust to rise along the edges. Tear up a handful of basil leaves and sprinkle onto the cheese mixture. Top with sliced tomatoes and a cup full of frozen sliced peppers from a bag. I like to blitz the peppers in to microwave before adding to the tart. A quick twist of black pepper will season your veg nicely. Now drizzle the tart with some balsamic vinegar glaze and pop in the oven at about 200ºC for about 20-25 minutes. Do check the instructions on the pack and use this as a guide as each brand of ready made pastry might vary. Serve with a green salad and enjoy!


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Easter almond and chocolate cups

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I have made these chocolate cups in the peanut butter version before. I am glad to say they also work with almond butter! Just substitute the peanut butter with equal amounts of almond butter and top with mini eggs. I wrapped them in cellophane bags with pretty ribbon and cannot wait to give them out on Easter Sunday!

 


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Peanut butter chocolate cups

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I found a recipe for these in a magazine just before last Christmas and made a batch as little gifts for those unannounced visitors or to bring along when we were invited around people’s houses around that time of year. They looked really lovely in cellophane bags adorned with Christmassy ribbons and needless to say I was in everyones good books wherever I turned up with these yummy treats in my bag.

The reason why I have dug these out is because I want to make an Easter/Springtime version, topped with mini eggs this year. I am thinking I might go all white chocolate for that and maybe try almond butter instead of peanut. The beauty with this kind of recipe, where you just melt some chocolate and stir everything together, is that you really can go wild and add any extra bits and bobs you like. I will keep you posted on how the Easter version turns out but in the meantime here are the quantities I used for the choc cups in the photos.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups

Ingredients

50g chopped white chocolate

100g crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

25g salted cashew nuts (or could use honey salted peanuts)

1. Melt the white chocolate and stir together with the peanut butter and vanilla until it forms a paste.

2. Melt the milk and dark chocolates in separate bowls.

3. Pour 1tsp of melted milk chocolate into your paper cases. Add 1 tsp of peanut paste and top off with enough dark chocolate to cover and “seal” the chocolate cup.  Sprinkle with the cashews or peanuts (or your choice of topping). Leave to set outside of the fridge (you can cover them with a piece of greaseproof baking paper, although this is not essential).