4 Minute Ad Bakes with British Gas!

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I am often impatient when it comes to cooking, and love bakes that can be created quickly and easily. When I crave a flavour or a particular bake, I try to have a few shortcuts up my sleeve to achieve them more quickly than usual. Crave is a book all about this phenomenon, containing some ‘instant’ recipes that can be made in less than 20 minutes, ranging to recipes that are worth waiting for.

I’ve gone one step further, simplifying my recipes even more so that when you get a little peckish in the advert breaks, you can nip into your kitchen and whip up some treats!

I’ve joined forces with British Gas to create bakes that are not only super fast, but use so much less energy than regular bakes too, shown by my smart energy monitor connected to my smart meter. I care deeply about the environment and changing climates and the effect this has on people across the globe, which is why I work with Tearfund, so this is a small step in the right direction. Ready in just a few minutes, these recipes also use energy-efficient methods to encourage smarter baking, such as using the microwave rather than the oven, only filling the kettle with the exact amount of water needed, and using a bit of elbow grease instead of the food processor.

Here are 4 of my favourite quick-fix recipes that you can knock up instead of watching the ad breaks. Try them for yourself in the next ad break and share photos of your creations with me on social using #adbakes!

 

Peanut butter truffles

Adapted from Twist

Ingredients:

Makes 10 tasty truffles

     1 tbsp (15g) butter

   50g smooth peanut butter

   1 tbsp soft light brown sugar

   50g icing sugar

   75g chocolate

Method:

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1.     Pulse together the butter and peanut butter in a food processor until they are well combined.

2.     Add in both of the sugars and pulse again until the mix starts to clump together - it will be quite crumbly.

3.     Roll the mixture between your hands into small evenly shaped balls and place onto a baking tray. You can shape all the mixture now, or make a few truffles and save the rest to shape later.

4.     Put the chocolate in a heatproof piping bag and melt in the microwave, then drizzle the truffles with the melted chocolate.

5.     Eat immediately or chill and enjoy later – they’re great for giving as gifts!

 

Energy saving top tip: Use the microwave to melt the chocolate, rather than a saucepan on the hob – it’s quicker and uses less energy.

 

 

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 Lemon and pistachio cheesecake pots

Adapted from Crave

Ingredients for the base:

     4 digestive biscuits

    40g pistachio nuts + extra to decorate

25g butter

Ingredients for the cheesecake:

200g full-fat cream cheese

 ½ lemon, juice and zest

 2 tbsp icing sugar

2 tbsp lemon curd

Method:

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1.     Melt the butter in the microwave for around ten seconds.

2.     Crush the biscuits in a sealed baguntil they are finely ground, then add the pistachios and roughly crush.

3.     Add the butter and stir through the crushed biscuits, then divide the mixture into two small glasses, pressing it down to create an even layer.

4.     Beat the cream cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar together in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth.

5.     Stir through half the lemon zest, saving the rest for decoration.

6.     Add a layer of the cream cheese mixture and then lemon curd alternately on top of the biscuit base, finishing with a spoonful of cheesecake.

7.     Top with the remaining lemon zest and a few chopped pistachio nuts – and enjoy!

 

Energy saving top tip: Melt the butter in the microwave instead of on the hob for half the energy use. For even more energy saving, crush the biscuits and pistachios by hand using a handy rolling pin rather than the food processor – you’ll burn some calories too!

 

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  Martha’s microwave brownie

Adapted from Twist

Ingredients:

 50g butter

1 egg

 2 tbsp light brown sugar

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp chocolate chips

 Whipped cream and chocolate shavings, to decorate

Method:

1.     In a small bowl, mix together the butter and both types of sugar.

2.     Microwave for one minute, stirring halfway through – the sugar and butter will start to melt together.

3.     Leave the sugar to cool for a minute, then beat in the cocoa powder followed by the egg.

4.     Fold in the flour gently - you want to avoid developing too much gluten, which would make it rise too much and take on a tougher texture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

5.     Divide the mixture between two ramekins – you can refrigerate this and microwave later on for a midnight snack.

6.     Microwave for a further 30-45 seconds - it will rise and fall a little while cooking and it should still be slightly gooey when done.

7.     Serve with a big dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and then get stuck in with a spoon!

Energy saving top tip: Make sure to only use the microwave for a short time to keep your brownie nice and gooey – you’ll save energy and avoid over-baking.

 

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  Coconut and lime teacup pudding

Adapted from Crave

Ingredients:

 50g butter at room temperature

50g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar

 1 egg

25ml coconut milk

½ lime, zest and juice

 25g granulated sugar

Method:

1.     Grease two porcelain teacups or ramekins with plenty of butter and set to one side.

2.     In a small bowl, beat together the butter, flour, caster sugar and egg until they resemble a smooth, thick batter.

3.     Fold through the lime zest and divide the mixture between two teacups.

4.     Mix together the coconut milk, lime juice and granulated sugar in a small jug.

5.     Pour this mixture over the top of the two puddings so the top is covered in liquid.

6.     Save the cost of heating up your oven and cook in the microwave on full power for two minutes until the cake is risen and the top is springy – it’s quicker and far more energy efficient.

7.     Allow to cool for a minute or two before turning out onto a plate or enjoying straight from the cup.

 

Energy saving top tip: Forget the ten-minute technical, pop your brownie mix in the microwave instead of the oven for a fraction of the time and energy.

 

 

To find out more about energy efficiency in the kitchen, take a look at British Gas’ tips here

 

 

 

Post-Easter Smash Cookies

We’ve reached that post-Easter lull, where the food, festivities and bank holidays are over and normal life has resumed. I get so excited about collecting all the chocolate, but I am TERRIBLE at eating Easter Eggs! There is a stash in the corner of my kitchen of half eaten chocolate shells, and even a few unopened eggs still in their shiny foil wrapping. I’m lucky to receive so many from generous friends and family, but I struggle to have more than a nibble without getting a bit bored of the overwhelming sweetness.

For years I have been using up my leftover Easter chocolate in the form I love most – baking. My grandma actually got wise to the fact that I melt most chocolate I’m given into bakes years ago, so has resorted to giving me bars of cooking chocolate at Easter instead of an egg. I find having a few clever recipes up your sleeve that can use up odds and ends really useful. These cookies are a recipe I turn to week after week, adding handfuls of whatever I’ve got leftover to create deliciously different biscuits every time.

This recipe is a twist on my cookie recipe from my recipe book, Twist. I spent months trying and testing all manner of cookie recipes, combining ideas and methods until I’d settled on what I think is the perfect cookie (and I’m picky, so I don’t use this term lightly!). I use a combination of caster sugar and soft light brown sugar so the dough takes on a caramel-like sweetness from the molasses in the brown sugar but also holds together well. I also use both plain and strong plain flour, finding that the extra gluten in the strong plain gives the cookies another level of chewiness.

Chilling the dough is a really important step, as it allows the butter to solidify which means your cookies will spread more slowly when baked, which is what creates that gooey melt-in-the-mouth softness that we crave from a good cookie. I often freeze a few shaped balls of cookie dough too, as they always taste best fresh and you can bake them from frozen (15-17 minutes at 160oC fan). Use an ice-cream scoop to get perfectly circular cookies every time!


Post-Easter Smash Cookies

Adapted from Twist: Creative Ideas to Reinvent Your Baking

Makes 15 large cookies

Ingredients:

150g plain flour

100g strong plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

140g butter, softened

120g light brown sugar

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

100g-150g broken Easter chocolate (I used a mixture of mini eggs and chocolate eggs)

1. In a large bowl, beat together the soft butter with both the sugars using a wooden spoon. Beat the mixture until they are well combined, but there is no need for it to be light and fluffy.

2. Add the vanilla extract and egg to the butter mixture and beat again until all the ingredients are smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. You need the raising agents to be evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough so they all get the same rise, so make sure they are well mixed.

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and fold using a spatula until a stiff dough forms. Mix in the easter chocolate last, until well combined. 

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes (up to 72 hours for optimum flavour and texture). Preheat the oven to 170oC. Grease and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper or a silicon baking sheet.

6. Use a small or large ice-cream scoop (a teaspoon or tablespoon will work too, but won’t be as regularly shaped) to form balls of dough and place onto the trays, leaving enough space for each to spread out. Try not to roll the balls of dough, as the ragged top created by the scoop will give the cookies the traditional cracked surface.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the mixture has spread out and browned around the edges. Remove from the oven - they should look undercooked in the middle - and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

 

St Patrick's Day - Irish Potato Farls

Happy St. Patricks Day! I hope you're all celebrating with hearty Irish food, Shamrocks and pints of Guinness.

I visited Northern Ireland a couple of months ago in the bitterly cold November months and had a fabulous time learning about the culture and doing a few cake themed events with the charity Tearfund who I work closely with. We did events in different churches across NI in both Holywood and Portglenone, where I had the pleasure of meeting Ireland's-own bake off star Andrew Smyth's family. We raised a phenomenal amount of money (enough to provide 30,000 meals for hungry people!) and it was a privilege to be able to spread the message of Tearfund's amazing work and what needs to be done to make life better for those experiencing drought and famine. We have a few more Cakes, Bakes and Faith tour dates booked for this summer across the UK - follow me on Twitter for more information. Our next event is Kingston on the 22nd March, tickets are available here.

I ended my trip with a tourist day up to the northern coast and visited Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-A-Rede Rope bridge - both absolutely breathtaking places. I'd thoroughly recommend spending time there and hope to go back (maybe in the summer when it is a little warmer!).

Martha NI

The food in NI is divine and the people I met were so passionate about letting me experience the very best. I tried cinnamon scones (fresh and warm, dripping with butter!), Hot Toddy, Potato Farls and Wheaten bread - all so interesting and different.

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My favourite was potato farls. Incredible, soft potato dough triangles fried in butter; what's not to like? I've created my own recipe for Waitrose, served up with a green herb butter. They are super easy to make and go perfectly with a full-english or a bowl of soup.

Recipe below or in the Waitrose Weekend paper this week (18th-25th March).

Ingredients

FOR THE HERB BUTTER
100g butter, at room temperature
½ x 25g pack parsley, finely chopped
½ x 25g pack chives, finely chopped

FOR THE POTATO FARLS
400g floury potatoes, such as King Edward
50g butter
50g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Butter, for frying
 

Method

1. First make the herb butter. Beat the soft butter with the chopped herbs in a small bowl. Season, then roll up tightly into a sausage shape in a sheet of clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.

2. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and chop them into small chunks. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender – this should take around 10-15 minutes.

3. When the potatoes are soft, drain and allow them to air-dry in a colander for a couple of minutes. When dry to the touch, tip into a large bowl and mash the potatoes until no lumps remain. Add the butter to the mashed potatoes and mix until melted and combined.

4. Add the flour and baking powder to the potato mix, and stir until the mixture comes together as a dough. Season generously and stir again. Tip out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft. Divide into 3 equal-sized pieces.

5. Roll each portion of dough out into a circle around 1cm thick and then cut into quarters. Melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then fry the farls, 4 at a time, for 3 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp on the outside. Repeat with the remaining farls. Serve hot with the herb butter spread liberally over the top.
 

 

Bollywood Bars

I first tasted this delicious version of rocky road in my favourite bakery in Southwold. It’s not where you might expect to encounter Bollywood-themed bakes, but it was a happy surprise discovery for me. This is my attempt to do justice to the avours of India which that Two Magpies managed so well. I've incorporated ground cardamom and chilli powder into the white chocolate base to give it a kick that, whilst unexpected, works wonderfully with the creamy white chocolate.

Bollywood Bar

This is a recipe from my first recipe book, Twist. Buy a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twist-Creative-Ideas-Reinvent-Baking/dp/0008168261


Bollywood Bars

Makes 14 bars


Source: http://www.foyles.co.uk/Blog-Martha-Collis...