Saturday, 11 September 2010

Oat cookies and cranberry bread

I've been watching the Great British Bake-Off, and am feeling inspired to do something a bit more than the same old breakfast bars (although I still love them!). Might have to try some classics this week!

Spiced syrup oat cookies from Hannah Miles' Big Book of Cakes and Cookies. It's a pretty easy to remember:

  • 115g each of butter, caster sugar, plain flour and oats
  • 1 tsp each of baking powder, mixed spice and cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsb golden syrup

Cream the butter and sugar, and beat in the egg and syrup. Sift in the dry ingredients and add the oats. Fold in, mixing well.

Divide into 18-25 balls, spread between 2 baking trays, leaving spreading room. Press down a little if you want - my mixture was quite soft and didn't need this.

Bake 12-15 mins at 180C/350F. Larger cookies will be domed and more cakey in the middle, smaller ones will be flatter and crispier.

These are tasty cookies but I'm not sure I would identify them as having syrup in if I didn't know. I wonder whether melting the butter would allow you to use more syrup and less sugar (maybe with a touch more baking powder to compensate for the lack of air from creaming).

Update 18th Sept: A different method:
Melt the butter with 60g of sugar and 6tbsp syrup. Allow to cool. Sift dry ingredients (except oats) together, pour in cooled butter/sugar/syrup and mix well. Add oats and egg and mix again. Cool further in fridge to firm up. Dollop onto baking sheets (I used silicon liners so no greasing) and bake. After 12 minutes mine were a bit too brown on the edges, and they had spread more than the other method, but taste more syrupy. I suppose they are flapjack biscuits!

On to the cranberries...

I've had bargain fresh cranberries in my freezer since the new year. Time to do something with them. I went for cranberry bread from Jared Folkmann - I think I have made it before, but I didn't blog it (tut tut!). I've converted the amounts into metric (cups of butter - not useful!).

  • 360g (3 cups) plain wholemeal flour
  • 300g (1.5 cups) sugar ( ised half golden caster, half light muscovado)
  • 2.25 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 0.75 teaspoon baking soda
  • 170g (0.75 cup) butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1.5 teaspoons orange peel, grated
  • 270ml (1.125) cups orange juice
  • 300g (3 cups) fresh cranberries, chopped

I deviated from the original recipe because I wasn't sure about "cutting" the butter/sugar together. I creamed the butter and sugar as best I could (as with a lot of North American recipes, there is quite a lot of sugar), adding the eggs to loosen it and beating well. I sifted in a cup of the flour with the other dry ingredients, mixed it, then added in the other 2 cups alternating with the orange juice to keep the mixture workable. When it was mixed I stirred in the cranberries, and added some candied mixed peel I had lurking in the pantry. The cranberries were frozen and made the mixture really stiffen up, but it actually made it easier to portion out - I was able to get 15 muffins and a loaf out of the mixture.

The recipe says to bake for 1 hour (or so) at 180C/350F. I had an idiot moment and set my oven to grill... (duh) but the muffins were on the shelf below and they had 25 mins on grill and another 20 in the oven "proper". The cake had the 25 mins of grilling, got a bit toasted on top, and was then covered in foil and ovened for another 45 minutes - It's OK, a bit dense, but tasty enough and I'd do it again with the oven set properly :)

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