Cakes & Bakes: Fruit and nut flapjack

Slice of home-made fruit and nut flapjack | H is for Home

I made one of my regular batches of fruit and nut flapjack this week. Not only is it the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea, it also has some distinct health benefits.

Justin and I were both born in the 1960s, which means we’re getting on a bit! It’s perhaps time to start considering our health and brain function into old age.

It seems like diet could be a very important factor. Oily fish is often cited as great ‘brain food’, but nuts are also a fantastic source of cerebral nourishment.

Here’s a selection of commonly found (and tasty!) nuts and some of their recognised health benefits.

Chopped mixed nuts | H is for Home

  • Almonds are very high in vitamin E (good for glowing skin). They’re also a good source of omega-6 and 9 (poly)unsaturated fatty acids
  • Un-roasted walnuts contain twice as many antioxidants as other nuts or seeds
  • Brazil nuts are perhaps the richest dietary source of selenium (a mineral important for cognitive function and a maintaining a healthy immune system). Eating just 2 give you 100% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Cashew nuts contain a high concentration of essential minerals including magnesium (thought to counter age-related memory loss), phosphorus and zinc
  • Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Flaxseeds have one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Useful in maintaining healthy brain and visual functions). Especially important if you’re vegetarian or vegan as it is most commonly found in oily fish
  • Whole sesame seeds are a very good source of iron (again, important for vegetarians and vegans)

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack before going into the oven | H is for Home

This flapjack is quick and easy to make – and is so delicious, that the health benefits are an additional bonus… and we didn’t even get started on the goodness of dried fruit!

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Click here to pin our recipe for future reference!

Fruit and nut flapjack
Yields 9
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 200g butter
  2. 125g honey
  3. 350g rolled oats
  4. 50g dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, blueberries, dates, figs, apricots or a mix of any/all of these)
  5. 50g seeds and/or nuts, roughly chopped (linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or a mix of any/all of these)Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2
  2. Put the butter into a large saucepan on a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the honey and stir to combine
  3. Turn off the heat, add the oats, dried fruit and nuts/seeds and mix well
  4. Put the mixture into a 23cm/9-inch shallow square cake tin and flatten down firmly with the back of a serving spoon
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned
  6. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares or finger-shaped portions
Notes
  1. You can store the flapjacks for up to 3 days in an airtight greaseproof paper-lined tin or plastic container
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Earl Grey tea and lemon cake

Slices of Earl Grey tea and lemon cake with cups of tea | H is for Home

Never have I baked a cake that is more perfect for tea-time! As its name suggests, this Earl Grey tea and lemon cake is infused with oil of bergamot and drizzled with a lemon icing.

Earl Grey tea steeped in a saucepan hot milk | H is for Home

You begin by steeping Earl Grey tea in hot milk. We used a lovely loose leaf tea from Fortnum & Mason however Earl Grey teabags will suffice.

Mixing Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients | H is for Home

The recipe I used was by ex-Bake Off contestant, Urvashi Roe and it was originally for mini loaf cakes. I don’t have any mini loaf tins (yet!), so I used a single 500g/1lb loaf tin and upped the cook time to an hour.

Earl Grey tea and lemon cake batter in a loaf tin | H is for Home Baked Earl Grey tea and lemon cake | H is for Home

I know that ‘lemony’ cakes often top the charts when it comes to people’s favourites (Justin included), but personally I’m not the biggest fan of lemon flavour – however, a little drizzle of the icing I could handle! I suppose I could supplement the lemon juice and zest with a little of my home-made elderflower cordial.

Slice of lemon, juicer, zester and icing sugar | H is for Home

Teaming this cake with a cup of Earl Grey or full-bodied Darjeeling or Assam is tea-time heaven!

Drizzling lemon icing over Earl Grey tea cake | H is for Home

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Earl Grey tea and lemon cake
Serves 8
For the cake
  1. 125ml/4½fl oz milk
  2. 4 tsp loose Earl Grey tea (or 4 tea bags)
  3. 115g/4oz butter, softened
  4. 225g/8oz caster sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
  7. 125g/4½oz plain flour
For the icing
  1. ½ lemon, juice & zest
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar
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For the cake
  1. Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and immerse the Earl Grey tea in the hot milk. Cover the pan and set aside for 40 minutes to allow the tea to steep
  2. Strain the liquid from the leaves (or squeeze the liquid out of the teabags) and set the liquid aside to cool some more
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/355ºF/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or free standing mixer with a paddle attachment. It takes a while - about 10 minutes and you'll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time
  5. Once the mixture is light & fluffy, add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add half the flour and half of the tea-infused milk and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and milk and mix until there are no traces of flour in the bowl
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  8. Allow to cool in its tin on a wire rack
For the icing
  1. Mix the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar together into a smooth paste. It should be quite gloopy so it doesn't dribble too much down the sides (though a little dribble is okay)
  2. Pour over the loaf and leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes
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Adapted from Great British Chefs
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Halloumi herb bread

Home-made halloumi herb bread | H is for Home

We’re making an unusual real bread recipe this time, for our weekly Cakes & Bakes feature; Halloumi herb bread.

Cubed halloumi and extra virgin olive oil | H is for Home Halloumi mixed with chopped basil and extra virgin olive oil | H is for Home

Classic Halloumi is made with mint, and the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint leaves and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves. I bought a pack of Halloumi from Lidl which was made with basil, so I tweaked the recipe accordingly.

Rolling the halloumi herb bread dough | H is for Home

Bakery Bits baked their Halloumi herb bread in a Pullman loaf pan, a bit of kit which I don’t own, so I just used a common or garden loaf tin.

Rolled Halloumi herb loaf proving in its tin | H is for Home

A delicious, hearty, intense flavoured loaf was the result. A suitable accompaniment for an endless number of dishes… meat, fish or vegetable based – rice, pasta, couscous or salad.

Baked Halloumi herb bread loaf on bread board | H is for Home

I had it again the following day, toasted on both sides under the grill – very satisfactory leftovers.

Click here to save the recipe for later!

Halloumi herb bread
Yields 1
Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 5g/0.2oz dry yeast
  2. 175ml/6 fl oz warm water
  3. ¼tsp caster sugar
  4. 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  5. 25g/1oz strong wholemeal bread flour
  6. 4g/0.15oz salt
  7. 250g/9oz Halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm chunks
  8. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  9. 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  10. 3 spring onions, peeled and sliced fairly finely
  11. pinch of sea salt
  12. pinch of freshly ground black pepperHalloumi herb bread ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 15ml/½ fl oz of the water at 30°C/86ºF and the caster sugar
  2. Allow to stand for about 15 minutes, until it has developed a slight froth on the surface
  3. Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
  4. Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water and use your hand or a dough whisk to mix everything together until there's no dry flour left and you have a shaggy dough
  5. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and knead for 10 minutes. By this stage the dough should be smooth and elastic
  6. Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave at room temperature for 1-1½ hours
  7. While the dough is rising, put the Halloumi into a medium bowl with the olive oil, basil leaves and spring onions
  8. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir, then cover and leave for at least 30 minutes
  9. Prepare a 500g/1lb loaf tin by lightly greasing the sides and base with butter and dusting lightly with flour
  10. When the dough has almost doubled in size, gently tip it onto the work surface and press it out to form a rectangle three times the length and slightly wider than your loaf tin
  11. Spread the Halloumi and herb mixture evenly over the top of the dough
  12. Working from one of the long sides, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll. Press gently on the seam with your fingers to seal
  13. Place the roll of dough in the prepared loaf tin, cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes
  14. Preheat the oven to 190°C /375°F /Gas mark 5
  15. Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the loaf develops a golden brown crust and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped
  16. Remove the loaf from the tin and place on a cooling rack
Notes
  1. Serve with tomato salad
Print
Adapted from Bakery Bits
Adapted from Bakery Bits
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Apple and sultana crumble

Home-made apple and sultana crumble | H is for Home

When I was buying ingredients for last week’s apple and raisin puff pastry tart I needed two cooking apples. However, the Bramley apples in the supermarket were being sold in packs of four. I’m making an apple and sultana crumble this week to use up the two that were left over.

Chopped apples, demerara sugar and sultanas in a saucepan | H is for Home

I may have mentioned before that fruit crumble isn’t one of Justin’s favoured puddings – he thinks the crumble topping is too often soggy, floury and not very nice – especially if too thick or a bit undercooked.

Crumble ingredients | H is for Home Crumble ingredients combined | H is for Home

I think my crumble topping recipe is none of those things; it forms large, crunchy, nutty morsels.

Home-made apple and sultana crumble prior to going into the oven | H is for Home

Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of it just before it goes into the oven for extra sweetness and crunch. You can serve it with thick, cold cream, hot creamy custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream – they’re all good!

Home-made apple and sultana crumble with little bottle of pouring cream | H is for Home

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Apple and sultana crumble
Serves 4
Cook Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
For the fruit filling
  1. 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples, peeled, cored & roughly chopped
  2. 25g/¾oz butter
  3. 100g/3½oz sultanas
  4. 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
For the crumble topping
  1. 50g/1¾oz plain flour
  2. 50g/1¾oz porridge oats
  3. 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds
  4. 50g/1¾oz Demerara sugar
  5. 75g/2⅔oz cold butter, cubedHome-made apple and sultana crumble ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, melt the 25g of butter
  3. Add the chopped apples, sultanas and Demerara sugar and stir until the apples are just beginning to soften (about 5-10 minutes)
  4. Put the mixture into a greased baking/pie dish
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, oats, almonds and Demerara sugar
  6. Add the cold, cubed butter and rub into the dry ingredients - but not to much - you want the mixture to have quite large lumps
  7. Spoon the crumble evenly over the apple and sultana mixture so that it's completely covered
  8. Sprinkle a little golden granulated sugar over the top for added crunch (optional)
  9. Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crumble topping turns a lovely golden brown
Notes
  1. Serve with custard, thick pouring cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Apple and raisin puff pastry tart

Slice of apple and raisin puff pastry tart with vanilla ice cream | H is for Home

We are ‘pudding’ rather than ‘starter’ people and always have a sweet ending to our daily evening meal.

Soaking raisins in tea | H is for Home

Sometimes, I’ve got to the day and haven’t had the time to make a dessert. At times like this, there are a few quick sweet dishes that can be rustled up in about half an hour. One such is jam and coconut slice which is one of Justin’s favourites from his childhood – and also great for using up pastry scraps.

Putting apple and raisin filling on to ready-made puff pastry | H is for Home

Another is an apple and raisin puff pastry tart – using a sheet of ready-made puff pastry, of course.

Putting ready-made puff pastry lid on apple and raisin tart and brushing with melted butter | H is for Home

All it takes is a couple of cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped; a handful of raisins (pre-soaking them for an hour makes them more juicy and adds another layer of flavour – strong tea, brandy or armagnac perhaps – so recommended but not a necessity if your in a rush); a pinch of ground spice and aforementioned packet of puff pastry.

Home-made apple and raisin puff pastry tart | H is for Home

Delicious served with cream, creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Apple and raisin puff pastry tart
Serves 4
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 75g/2⅔oz raisins
  2. 2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples
  3. 20g/¾oz butter
  4. 50g/1¾oz demerara sugar
  5. ¼tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1 packet of ready-made, ready-rolled puff pastryHome-made apple and raisin puff pastry tart ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Soak the raisins in a cup of hot, strong black tea for at least an hour
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  3. Peel, core and rough chop the apples
  4. In a large saucepan, melt the butter
  5. Add the chopped apples, soaked raisins, sugar and ground cinnamon
  6. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the apple just begins to soften
  7. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into two equal lengths
  8. Grease a 20cm/8-inch round or square baking tin and lay one of the lengths of pastry evenly into the tin allowing some overlap over the edge
  9. Spoon the apple and raisin mixture evenly on to the puff pastry
  10. Lay the other length of pastry over the top and brush with a little melted butter
  11. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of golden granulated sugar over the top if desired
  12. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the puff pastry is a lovely golden brown
Notes
  1. Serve with vanilla ice cream or thick pouring cream
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Prune and almond fruitcake

Slice of home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

The first bag of Agen prunes I bought didn’t last me very long at all. I ate three a day, every day, from the day they arrived. I also used a handful or so of them in a prune and Armagnac tart. I’ve reordered the prunes from Amazon and this week and have made a prune and almond fruitcake; something a bit different to the traditional ones made using raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel.

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake mixture | H is for Home

Justin, once again, requested an afternoon fruitcake to accompany a cup of tea. He likes to stop work for a short break about 3pm before charging back into his daily chores!

Prune and almond fruit cake mixture in cake tin | H is for Home Prune and almond fruit cake in cake tin | H is for Home

I had about 100 grams of marzipan leftover from my recent batch of simnel cupcakes so I sliced it into little cubes and spooned it through the cake mixture; a deliciously successful addition!

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

As with most fruitcakes, if you can resist the temptation of slicing and eating it straight-away, the texture and flavour improves if left for a day or two.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Prune and almond fruit cake
Serves 8
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 115g butter, softened
  2. 115g soft brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs, whisked slightly
  4. 175g self-raising flour
  5. ¼tsp almond extract
  6. 200g pitted prunes
  7. 1tbsp flaked almondsHome-made prune and almond fruit cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  4. Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
  5. Mix in the almond extract
  6. Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
  7. Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
  9. Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
  10. Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  11. Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/