Oat and Raisin Cookies: Naughty but Nice!

Oat and Raisin Cookies

I had the baking bug this morning and whilst clearing away the breakfast things I got a sudden craving for these sweet but wholesome, soft-in-the-centre-but-crunchy-around-the-edges cookies! I owe the inspiration for these to one Mark Lambert, a member of the Harlequins Rugby Club, whose offering was part of a feature in the Easter ‘special baking’ issue of Delicious Magazine (April 2013). It’s one I flick through often (for obvious reasons) and these caught my eye as they are super-quick and easy to make – and they turned out beautifully.

My recipe is for double quantities and I have exchanged the light brown sugar for the more toffee-y dark soft brown, which adds to their caramel flavour. I like to freeze half the dough, then I can rustle up freshly baked cookies in a flash whenever I fancy them!

 

Ingredients:

  • 230g Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 250g Dark Soft Brown Sugar
  • 2 Free-Range Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 190g Plain Flour
  • 1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 Tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 240g Rolled Oats
  • 240g Raisins

To make the cookies:

  1. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract together in a large bowl, until well combined.
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate, mixed spice, salt, oats and raisins together, again until well combined.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and mix thoroughly until there are no traces of dry flour in the mixture and the oats and raisins are evenly distributed.
  4. Tip onto a large piece of cling film, wrap tightly and place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  6. Once the dough has firmed up in the fridge, dollop small balls of cookie dough roughly 5cm apart onto the prepared trays. I use my tablespoon measure for this as it makes them all of a similar size, which means they cook evenly. I fill it generously (so each cookie is a heaped tablespoon) and then ease each one out with my finger onto the tray.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges have turned golden but the tops still look slightly under-baked. They will firm up as they cool and become wonderfully soft and chewy!

 

…And there you have it! These are a fantastic lunchbox treat, great with a cup of tea or coffee, or as an anytime snack! Enjoy x

Sweet Oat Bran Flatbreads with Currants

Sweet Oat Bran Crisp breads

These light, crisp flatbreads are very quick and easy to make and are a healthy accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee, or as a mid-morning snack. They are glazed with sugar, which you roll them out with, which gives them a nice sheen when they’re baked.

Ingredients:

  • 400g Plain Wholemeal Flour
  • 50g Oat Bran
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 2 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
  • 140 g Currants
  • 200-225 g Milk
  • 150 g Caster Sugar

To make the flatbreads:

  1. Put the flour, oat bran, salt, mixed spice and currants into a large bowl and mix roughly with one hand.
  2. Gradually add the milk to the dry ingredients, bringing everything together with your hand. Only add enough milk to combine the ingredients – stop as soon as they start to resemble dough. Too much milk can make the mixture too sticky to work with.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until the ingredients are well incorporated and it is smooth and even.
  4. Divide into four pieces (I used a Scottish scraper for this), and flatten each one into a disc, roughly 10cm in diameter.
  5. Wrap each disc in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for around 45 minutes. If you are in a rush, you could put them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes instead.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with parchment (these will be baked in two batches).
  7. Once chilled, take a piece of greaseproof paper from one of the trays. In the centre, place a small mound of around a quarter of the sugar and place your disc of dough on top. Roll out evenly, turning a quarter turn after each roll, until the dough is about 2mm thick (the thinner you roll your flatbreads, the more crisp they will be!).
  8. Pierce the dough with a fork at roughly centimetre intervals all over. This prevents areas of the dough bubbling up, which can lead to an uneven bake.
  9. Once you have rolled out two discs (the other two can remain in the fridge/freezer until needed), carefully lift the greaseproof paper containing the prepared dough back onto the trays and bake for 8-9 minutes, swapping the two trays around mid-way through baking.
  10. Cut into slices whilst still warm and then cool the pieces on a wire-rack.
  11. If the flatbreads are slightly pale in colour, or if they aren’t as crisp as you would like, you can place them (once cooled) back into the oven on their racks at 130 degrees for a further 15-20 minutes. This way they will be super crisp!

Enjoy! Don’t forget to let me know how you go making these!

Tastes of Sicilia

photosiciliy

I have just returned from beautiful Sicily, where I spent a wondrous week with my other half and our little man, sampling many a foodie treat and tanning ourselves shamelessly on the local beach! We even squeezed in a few days worth of sightseeing – Sicily has so much to offer both in terms of its spectacular landscape and its rich history and culture. You can look forward to some Sicilian treats, or at least some Sicily-inspired experimentation, coming soon.

Amongst the traditional fare we tasted were ‘Cannoli’, crispy sweet pastry shells wrapped around lightly sweetened, creamy ricotta; wonderfully crisp pizzas baked in a ‘forno a legna’, meaning wood-burning oven (these can be found all over Italy, but the Sicilians have their own particular flavour combinations – aubergine and seafood feature heavily on most Pizzeria menus) and ‘Cassata’, a moist sponge cake filled again with sweetened ricotta and moistened with fruit juice or liqueur.

Almonds or ‘mandorla’ are everywhere in Sicily! Almond wine, almond milk, almond granita, almost nougat, you name it, an almond has been involved in it! I happen to adore everything almond, though my better half prefers to steer well clear; so¬† this was excellent gorging territory for me. As well as sampling almond wine, I tasted some devine ‘paste di mandorla’ directly translated as ‘almond paste’. These were similar to amaretti biscuits but with a soft, crumbly and almost moist texture – beautiful!

I have come back feeling truly inspired by, as well as sorry to leave, this special island. More about Sicily’s baked goodies to come…