Crunchy Oat Cookies

I love a good biscuit, and so do my kids. It’s easier to buy a pack when you’re busy but there are only a few around which are dairy, egg and nut free and they are starting to tire of the same old stuff. And to my dismay I only found out yesterday that Jammie Dodgers – which I’ve been merrily buying for years – now contain whey. Unfortunately we found out the hard way: my eldest said she had an itchy mouth after eating one I’d put in her school packed lunch, so I checked the ingredients and they now contain MILK (the b******s!). I am going to have to start reading every label in the supermarket again to avoid making that mistake again. Anyway, they are now off our list of safe foods.

So time to make my own again, and I need it to be quick and easy so Thank Goodness for Mary Berry, these definitely do the trick. Everything I have is in the cupboard so here goes….

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Makes approx. 28 cookies

Ingredients

175 g self-raising flour
75 g porridge oats
175 g granulated sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
175 g dairy free spread/margarine
2 tbsp golden syrup

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Put the flour, oats, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl.

3. Put the dairy free margarine and golden syrup into a pan, heat over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted and combined with the syrup. Pour into the mixing bowl and stir until combined. Use your hands to press the dough together.

4. Turn out of the bowl onto a work surface and divide into about 28 and shape into balls, about 2cm thick. Arrange on 2 baking trays and flatten slightly, leaving some space between them as they will spread a little during cooking.

5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and using a fish slice, transfer to a cooling rack to cool and firm up.

 

Easy Banana Bread

 

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This is one of the first dairy, egg and nut free bakes I made and whenever I have any overripe bananas hanging around, I rustle one of these up. It goes down a storm and people don’t even notice that it’s dairy and egg free – and it’s so easy the kids love helping to make it.

 

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I have to admit to having a couple of disasters with this even after making it for years, resulting in a loaf which was dense and doughy in the middle no matter how long I cooked it for… I couldn’t understand what was going wrong and thought I had lost my baking mojo – but I eventually figured out the reasons:
i) Too much liquid. I let my bananas hang around for a bit too long to the point that they were not only soft, but really, really quite squishy. They had turned into an almost purée-like consistency inside and the resulting cake mixture was too runny. This does not make a good cake.
ii) MASH your bananas but DO NOT blend! For a quick shortcut I decided to stick them into my blender for a few seconds, which resulted in a liquid purée and yet again too runny a cake mixture. Texture in your bananas are definitely required.
iii) Don’t use baking powder that has expired (duh). While I was scratching my head trying to figure out why my cake didn’t appear to rise very much, I decided to check the expiry date and lo and behold, it was nearly a year out of date! Binning it and using a new one fixed that.

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Ingredients

225g Plain Flour and
3 tsps Baking Powder
OR
225g Self Raising Flour and
2 tsps Baking Powder

100g Dark Brown Sugar
3 Medium Overripe Bananas (or 2 Large)
75g Vegetable Oil
50g Raisins
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Method

  1. Preheat Oven to 200C/190C Fan. Peel the bananas and mash.
  2. If using dark brown sugar, make sure to remove any lumps beforehand. Mix well with the bananas, oil and vanilla essence.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder, then fold into the wet mixture and stir in the raisins.
  4. Bake in a greased and lined 500g loaf tin for approximately 1 hour. Check if the loaf is browning too quickly halfway through cooking and cover with foil if it is.
  5. Once cooked allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

 

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Strawberry Cupcakes

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Recently it was Little Two’s birthday. My sister had already baked a lovely vanilla sponge cake the week before but on her actual birthday I decided I needed to come up with something different. Funnily enough she is not overly keen on the cake part itself so I’ve been experimenting to see if she’ll be satisfied by one of my creations.

This is a recipe I usually roll out all the time to make cupcakes, my kids really like it and the sugar content has been reduced so it’s not too sweet. I decided to use a 50:50 ratio of coconut milk/soya milk to give a different flavour to the sponge.

I’m still at the amateur stage of cupcake decorating so have been trialling with the piping bag, they do have a rustic look about them. If it was the summer I would have decorated with a fresh strawberry on each, but as it isn’t I let my 8 year old do the rest of the decorating and let loose with the sprinkles which kept her occupied for an evening!

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Ingredients (Makes 12 hefty cakes or 24 small ones)

200ml/7floz dairy free milk (I used 100ml of KoKo coconut milk and 100ml of unsweetened soya)
20ml (4tsp) cider vinegar
200g/8oz self raising flour
150g/6oz caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
80ml/3floz vegetable/sunflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Strawberry Buttercream:

180g/7oz icing sugar
25g/1oz dairy free margarine
25g/1oz Trex (hard white vegetable fat)
1 – 4 tsp dairy free milk
1/4 tsp strawberry flavouring
pink food colouring

Plus:
Various cake decorations, e.g. sprinkles, balls, edible glitter, glitter sugar
Piping bag plus icing nozzle (Star shape size 1M used for the ones in the picture)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Line a 12 hole bun tin with cupcake cases.
  • Measure the milk out into a jug, add the cider vinegar and give it a stir. After a few minutes it will appear to curdle which is a result of the milk proteins being broken down. This allows it to perform better as a substitute for dairy which normally reacts with the raising agents.
  • In the meantime place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and combine thoroughly. Pour in the curdled milk, oil and vanilla.
  • Using a metal spoon gently fold the dry into the wet mixture together until just combined. For best results do not overmix, a few flecks of flour are ok.
  • Spoon the batter into the cases; just over 1/2 or 2/3 full will give you a decent size cake. You will see the raising agent at work and small bubbles on the surface of the mixture.
  • Just before you put your cakes in the oven give the tin a gentle tap on the worktop to pop the bubbles, which will stop the raising agents from working too quickly. Bake in the oven for around 10-15 minutes for small cakes or 15-20 minutes for large until they are golden brown on top. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin then put on a wire rack.
  • To make the icing, this can be done by mixer or by hand:
    Place the fats into a bowl and beat together until smooth. Add half of the icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of milk and the strawberry flavouring. Mix until combined.
  • Add the rest of the icing sugar, another teaspoon of milk, a couple of drops of food colouring and mix again. You may need to add more liquid a little at a time to achieve a smooth and creamy consistency, but stiff enough to hold its shape. Food colourings differ so you may need to add more depending on how vibrant you like your icing.
  • Pipe the icing onto the cakes, then decorate with sprinkles or whatever you fancy!

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Dairy and Egg Free Scones

I love scones, especially when they are warm from the oven, a nice crust on the outside and warm and fluffy inside. They are a real weakness of mine if I go to a cafe and they’re on the menu, perfect with a cup of tea. My eldest really wanted to try them so I started from a basic recipe and made it into one which would be safe for her. My first attempt turned out a bit like rock cakes, but I carried on looking and found this recipe from BBC Good Food and the results are fantastic. A few tips I found out along the way: 1) Keep the fat cold and handle the dough as little as possible; 2) as mentioned in the recipe, the lemon juice adds acidity which gives the raising agents a boost resulting in more rise and a lighter texture; 3) keep the dough thick which will result in a lovely tall scone.

I usually make these using unsweetened soya milk, but lately my eldest has a penchant for oat milk and they’ve turned out just as nice. My girls love these fresh with some dairy free spread and a dollop of strawberry jam. Enjoy!

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Classic Dairy and Egg Free Scones (Adapted from BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g cold dairy free spread/margarine, cubed (Stork Block margarine gives me the best results)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml dairy free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • milk for brushing

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the spread/margarine, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
  3. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother – the dough should still be quite wet. Pat into a round about 4cm deep.
  4. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. Brush the tops with milk of choice, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat while warm!

Quick Dairy and Egg Free Apple Tart

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This is a quick dessert I rustled up for my kids, it took less time than I thought it would and so easy – my eldest arranged the apples on which was fun for her and less work for me! We used Jus Rol Puff Pastry which is egg and dairy free; afterwards I thought the addition of cinamon would have added a bit more flavour so I’ll try and remember to put it on next time. I try not to use too much sugar so have used a combination of sugar and honey so this is a treat which is not too bad for them.

Ingredients:
A box of Jus Rol Puff Pastry Sheet
2 or 3 apples depending on size (any variety but I find braeburn or cox work best)
Brown Sugar for sprinkling (Or any other sugar if you don’t have brown)
Honey for drizzling

Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas Mark 6. Cut each apple into quarters and remove the core. Cut into slices about 5 mm thick.
2) Unroll the puff pastry sheet and cut along to make a rectangle (about 15cm long or so). Place on a non stick baking sheet or sheet lined with baking parchment.
3) Arrange the slices on the pastry so they overlap each other in a domino effect. When done, sprinkle all over with brown sugar, and a light drizzle of honey.
4) Pop into the oven for 15 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown. All done and ready to enjoy!