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

Click here to pin this recipe for later!

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/

Robert Carrier cook box

Vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box with apples | H is for Home

We mentioned these Robert Carrier recipe cards in a blog post just the other day – then lo & behold, we come across a set. Isn’t the Op Art tin box great? There’s something very Mary Quant about it.

Vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box with apples | H is for Home

We’d guess that this particular set dates from the early 1970s. Inside the tin are held a large number of cards divided into the various categories. Robert Carrier was a big name in cooking at this time with TV shows and accompanying merchandise. His style was quite theatrical and camp. American by birth, his wealthy parents went bankrupt in the 1930s Depression. They had to dispense with their servants, but maintained their social life by preparing their own elaborate dinner parties. This was no doubt an influence on young Robert – as was his French grandmother who also taught him to cook.

Initially, he trained and toured as an actor, but also began submitting cookery articles to magazines. He got a big break when given a weekly column for the Sunday Times colour supplement. This brought him fame and celebrity which then led to the books, TV shows and restaurants.

Recipe cards from a vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box | H is for Home

These particular recipe cards are very much of their time – the actual dishes, presentation, serving suggestions and so on. They pack a punch on the colour front, that’s for sure. There’s certainly something of the ‘fancy’ 70s dinner party about them. Abigail’s Party springs to mind – sardine stuffed lemons to accompany the Demis Roussos perhaps!

'Sardine stuffed lemons' recipe card from a vintage metal Robert Carrier cook box | H is for Home

We’ll be putting them into our webshop soon, but drop us a line if you want first dibs – £22 for the tin and recipe cards.

Price Points: Bucket barbecues

Bucket barbecues | H is for Home

What glorious weather we’ve been having – day after day of brilliant sunshine! It’s a bank holiday weekend, there’s only one thing for it BARBECUE!

If, like us, you only have a small garden or patio, bucket barbecues are a much more practical option than one of those super-duper barbecue grills. Much as we’d love one kitted out with quadruple gas burners, rotisserie, warming cupboard and instant ignition – we’d have no room for table and chairs… or us!

The Hema bucket barbecue (#1) is so affordable, we could buy two and have one each. One for Justin’s steak / burger / rack of ribs and the other for my vegetable skewers and veggie sausages. I’m not best keen on them being cooked side-by-side.

My favourite is the Fortnum & Mason eau de nil number. It’s not dissimilar to the budget Hema example and is almost 3 times the price. By way of justification, I really like the detailing of this one and the fact that you can lift the grill off by the handle – vital when my kebabs need rescuing quickly from certain cremation! Oh, and call me shallow… but I do love the classic F&M logo too.

What’s your favourite barbecue food?

  1. Bucket barbecue: £15, Hema
  2. Gentleman’s Hardware barbecue bucket – black: £26.91, Amazon
  3. BBQ bucket in Eau de Nil: £40, Fortnum & Mason

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/

Price Points: Silicone cake moulds

Silicone cake moulds | H is for Home

I’m a fairly recent convert to silicone cake moulds. I picked up a six-hole silicone muffin ‘tin’ in a charity shop a few years ago and was really impressed with its ease of use and cleaning.

The hemisphere moulds (#1) allow you to make fun and unusual cakes. Edible tennis or  footballs? Sweet hamburgers? Pretend Christmas puddings!

What I like about the cupcake cases (#2) is that you can reuse them again and again – no need for paper cases… and they’re heart-shaped!

I recently discovered this jigsaw-like silicone mould (#3) whose 8 pieces slot together to form all sorts of shapes. It doesn’t even need a bottom, so makes traditional loose-bottomed and spring-form tins redundant. And not to mention requires a lot less space to store!

  1. Hemisphere silicone cake mould: £4.49, Betterware
  2. Silicone heart cupcake cases (set of 6): £7.50, Divertimenti
  3. 8-piece silicone cake baking mould: £8.99, Amazon