Blackberry & Apple Compote

The blackberries are out, so if you haven’t already, go get picking! Bonus point if you don’t buy the apples either.

I had this lovely idea of filling some jars with blackberry and apple compote, but then it was so good, we ending up eating it all instead… oops. I served mine with American style fluffy pancakes (NB I used to use this recipe here, but now use a fluffier and thriftier alternative here).

Compote

The compote recipe is based on one from River Cottage, but I stopped simmering before it had set completely as I prefer mine that way. I also went right back to basics, leaving out the more expensive/awkward ingredients; it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t have cinnamon sticks or star anise to hand!

Ingredients

500g Cooking Apples – peeled, cored and sliced

250g Blackberries

250g Caster Sugar

550ml Water

Method

1. Place the water and sugar in a non-stick saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.

2. Reduce to a simmer and add the apples. Cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the blackberries and cook until the compote reaches a smooth and thick consistency.

Blackberry Apple Compote

Turbocharge Pizza

Last night we made ‘Turbocharge’ pizzas using a recipe from Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook (very high brow). I loved the idea of home made dough, but without having to wait for it to rise and cooked quickly in the griddle pan. It was a good way to use up some leftovers we had in the fridge – mushrooms, the end of a block of cheese and tomatoes from the garden.

Tubrocharge Pizza

It’s pretty simple, you start off by making regular pizza dough, cook it on a griddle pan for a couple of minutes, add the toppings and then finish off under the grill.

Ingredients:

450g Strong White Bread Flour

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Caster Sugar

2 x 7g sachets of Fast Action Dried Yeast

300ml/1/2 pint warm water

2 tbsps Olive Oil

Griddle Pizza

Method:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, then add sugar, yeast, water and oil. Work into a soft ball.

2. Place the ball on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.

3. Pull off a small ball of dough and roll out to a thin base that will fit in your griddle pan.

4. Brush griddle pan with oil and heat until hot. Put the dough in the pan and cook for 1 minute, pricking with a knife if it puffs up. Turn over and cook for another minute.

5. Spread with passata and toppings and then cook under a pre-heated grill for 1-2 minutes until slightly charred.

6. Enjoy, preferably whilst pretending you are still a student.

Sam Stern PizzasSam Stern Pizzas

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

As today is the men’s Wimbledon final, it seems only right to post about strawberries (even though the last post was strawberry-themed – I’m obsessed!) For a bit of a treat, I tried coating them in chocolate. This would make a fun desert for a BBQ or is a great snack for watching the tennis.

It was fun, if a little messy, rolling them in the melted dark chocolate (I used Aldi dark chocolate, 30p for 100g):

Chocolate strawberries

And then hard to be patient and wait for them to set (I left mine overnight), but it was well worth it for crisp chocolate on the outside and soft strawberries on the inside, delicious:

Cho strawberries

Strawberries for Wimbledon

Happy munching!

PS Did you know that 7 strawberries provides your recommended daily amount of vitamin C?

Strawberry Cake

It’s officially summer and for me, summer = strawberries. This cake is easy to throw together – no icing, no layers, no fuss. It’s based on a Martha Stewart recipe (converted into grams below). It’s not the prettiest cake to look at, but it sure tastes good.

Strawberry Pie Dish

Strawberry Cake (approx 8 servings)

Ingredients

6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing180g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
125ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 punnet (500g) strawberries, hulled and halved

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4. Grease a pie dish and set aside.

2. Sift flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter and caster sugar using an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium low and mix in the egg, milk and vanilla extract.

3. Reduce the speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture.

4. Pour the batter into the pie plate and push the strawberries (cut side down) into the batter. NB I pushed my strawberries too far and they all ended up at the bottom, but it still tasted delicious!

5. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top and then put in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170℃/325℉/Gas Mark 3 and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch.

7. Serve once cooled, preferably with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry cake slice

Strawberry Cake

PS I have my eye on this very indulgent strawberry recipe – yum!

 

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins are great when you need something sweet and you need it quick! No whisking, no icing, no fuss and a great way to use up the chocolate chips found in the reduced aisle of the supermarket (but chop up a bar of chocolate as a thriftier alternative).

Easy Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)

225g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
135g Caster Sugar
125g Chocolate Chips
160ml Semi-skimmed Milk
115g Melted Butter
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Choc Chip Muffins

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 cake cases

2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients

3. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract

4. Add the wet ingredients to the original bowl and mix together

5. Scoop into the cases until 2/3 full

6. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden

Chocolate Chip Muffins Easy Recipe

What a lovely weekend treat and all for just £1.10 for a batch of 12. This was the first recipe I’ve made since I tried out shopping at Aldi – more on that to come, but there’s definitely a noticeable difference in the cost of milk, butter and eggs, which is helping to make baking thriftier!

PS More muffin recipes

What is Better (and Thriftier) Than an Easter Egg?

What is Better (and Thriftier) Than an Easter Egg? Easter Egg Brownies, of course!

Lindt Brownie

Instead of buying loved ones an Easter egg this year, why not whip up a large batch of these delicious brownies to share out? These work out at around £1.25 for 6 brownies* (which is far more cost effective than most Easter Eggs) and are my favourite kind – rich, dense and fudgy. The addition of mini Easter eggs makes them more seasonal, but they’d be delicious on their own too!

Recipe (makes 12)

Ingredients:

90g Unsalted Butter
30g Dark Chocolate
150g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
40g Plain Flour
12 Lindt Lindor Eggs (or whatever chocolate you may have on hand!)

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4

2. Line a baking tray (mine is 25cm x 20cm, which worked nicely) with greaseproof paper

3. In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter and then add the chocolate, stirring over a low heat until melted

4. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and vanilla extract until combined

5. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth

6. Stir in the flour

7. Transfer the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Unwrap and add the eggs, evenly spaced

8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is slightly firm. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting

9. Taste test one brownie (preferably with ice cream) for quality assurance purposes, before wrapping the remainder as Easter gifts

Easter Egg Brownie

Easter Brownies Lindt Eggs

* Prices based on: Tesco Value Unsalted Butter 250g, Tesco Value Dark Chocolate 100g, Silver Spoon Caster Sugar 2kg, Tesco Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs x 15, Tesco Value Plain Flour 1.5kg, Lindt Lindor Assorted Mini Eggs 100g

Using Up Stale Bread – French Toast Breakfast

What to do when you have the last few slices of a loaf left and they’ve gone a bit stale? Make French Toast for a delicious and indulgent breakfast (and celebrate Breakfast Week, apparently!)

This recipe couldn’t be easier and will make 4 small slices of French Toast (I’d eaten the one that has disappeared from the photo!).

French toast

Ingredients:

1 egg
100ml milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp butter to fry

1. Whisk all of the above ingredients, aside from the butter, together in a large bowl.

2. Heat the butter in a large pan (I used my griddle pan, but a regular frying pan would be fine too).

3. Dip the bread into the batter mix, ensuring each slice is thoroughly dunked.

4. Fry the bread in the pan for a few minutes on each side until golden.

Enjoy with fresh fruit and coffee, yum!

PS Bread & butter pudding recipe

Nigella’s Molten Chocolate Babycakes

Nigella Chocolate Babycakes

There’s no way these little beauties are thrifty in terms of cost per serving (if you want thrifty chocolate baking, try these instead) but if you need a really impressive, delicious desert that’s cheaper than anything store-bought for a special occasion, then look no further.

From Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess

Ingredients for 6 chocolate pots

50g softened, unsalted butter
350g good quality dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g plain flour

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/Gas Mark 6 and pop a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Grease or line 6 ramekins

2. Melt the chocolate (either in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water) and set aside to cool slightly

3. Cream the butter and sugar together and then gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla

4. Mix the flour in and, once combined, add the cooled chocolate and mix until smooth

5. Divide the batter between the ramekins

6. Take the hot baking sheet from the oven and quickly transfer the ramekins on to it

7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes and then serve immediately (preferably with cream or ice cream!)

 

Black Bottom Cupcakes

These Humming Bird Bakery cupcakes are tasty and look great (as long as you’re down with rustic looking cakes), even better they don’t contain any butter or chocolate*, making them a super frugal alternative to traditional chocolate cakes.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Ingredients

Chocolate Sponge

190g plain flour
120g caster sugar
40g cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40ml sunflower oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling

140g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
*Humming Bird calls for chocolate chips in the cheesecake filling, but I actually prefer mine without

Chocolate sponge:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170℃/325℉/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases

2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and mix with an electric whisk on slow speed until all of the dry ingredients are combined (my £10 Tesco electric mixer is not sophisticated enough for this, so I combined using a wooden spoon)

3. Mix together the oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and 125ml water in a jug and set aside

4. Gradually pour the contents of the jug into the bowl, gradually increasing the speed of the electric whisk until the mixture is thick and all of the ingredients are incorporated

5. Spoon into paper cases until 2/3 full and set aside

Cheesecake filling:

1. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract with an electric whisk on medium speed until smooth and fluffy; be careful not to over mix or the mixture will split

2. Spoon over the chocolate sponge in the muffin cases

3. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch (but don’t leave them too long or the cheesecake will begin to crumble)

Humming Bird Cupcakes

 

PS Humming Bird Bakery suggests topping with cream cheese frosting, but I personally like them without, they’re not the sweetest but that makes them just a little bit more virtuous, right?

A Box of Birthday Brownies

Birthday cakes don’t always need to be pretty round sponge cakes. Why not make a box of Birthday brownies?

Brownies can be really pricey as they use a lot of expensive ingredients. This recipe (based on this BBC Good Food recipe) uses Tesco Value chocolate (at just 30p for 100g) as a cheaper alternative to cooking chocolate, as well as Tesco Value better and flour. Although still not the thriftiest cakes to make, they make a lovely gift and will definitely be appreciated by the lucky recipient!

Ingredients:

185g unsalted butter, in small cubes

185g dark chocolate

85g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

100g milk chocolate

3 large eggs

275g golden caster sugar

Method:

1. Gently melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a non-stick saucepan. Once melted, set aside to cool

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4 and line the base of a 20cm square tin

3. Chop the milk chocolate into small chunks

4. Break the eggs into a large bowl, then add the caster sugar and whisk using a handheld mixer on max speed, until thick and creamy and double the original volume. Be patient as this can take upwards of 5 minutes

5. Gently fold the cooled chocolate and butter mix into the bowl with the eggs and sugar, using a rubber spatula

6. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and fold in very carefully, making sure you don’t knock the air out

7. Stir in the chopped milk chocolate

8. Gently pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, or until the cake no longer wobbles in the centre

9. Leave to cool completely, before cutting into squares

10. Pack in a pretty box with candles and give to the lucky Birthday boy or girl!