Lily’s Apricot Blondies (or the Flour Chronicles : 4)

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The genius behind this suprisingly scrumptious rendition of Bakarella’s recipe is a pint-sized chef with fair skin and hair to match her creation. My baking partner on Monday, Lily, was keen to have a go at making ‘Blondies’ – the sweet but cocoa-less version of Brownies. With her brother ‘off chocolate’ for a year, we had the double challenge of removing both cocoa and chocolate pieces our baking. We decided that we would keep nuts in the recipe – but because, as Lily rightly pointed out, cashews go with everything, we thought we would use them instead of pecans. We figured that perhaps frozen berries might be a pretty change from chocolate chips but, on our way to the frozen section, the dried fruit caught our eyes. After some deliberation Lily made the call; apricots. And so we concocted this sweet, tangy and chewily moorish slice. It was, hands down, a winner. Everyone wanted another slice and, oh yum, another! We thought you might like to try it too! (PS. I also had a go at using up some of my interesting ‘flours’ from earlier in the year, the barley flour made an entrance here and seemed to work well!).

Ingredients:
1 cup barley flour
1 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g butter, softened
450g dark brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
200g dried apricots
1 1/4 cups chopped cashews

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 175oC.
2. Line a deepish rectangular cake tin (9 x 13 inches or 22 x 29 cm approx.).
3. Chop butter into small pieces and then cream with brown sugar. Once combined, add the eggs in too, one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added – a silky smooth batter should be the result.
4. Add in the vanilla essence and beat again to blend.
5. Sift in the flours, baking powder and salt. Mix gently till incorporated into the butter, sugar and egg.
6. Chop the apricots and cashews roughly and add to the mixture. Use the electric mixer to distribute them evenly through the batter.
7. Move batter to the cake tin, it is very thick so you may need to wet your fingers to smooth in into the corners of the tin so that it is evenly distributed.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till golden and just done when tested with a skewer. It is a brownie style slice so it is best moist rather than overcooked.
9. Allow to cool and then slice into 5 x 6 squares.
10. Try not to eat them all at once!

The romance of cold pork pies

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Sometimes it takes a long time to learn something. I am a baker. You could woo me with the pretty pastels of a patisserie window any day. My husband is a savoury person. He will try anything I made (especially warm out of the oven) and loves a good chocolate chip cookie – but in his heart of hearts, it is the cheese and olives, crackers and dips that win him over every time. I may be a slow learner but I am getting there. This year, his birthday treat was my attempt at recreating Donna Hay’s cold pork pies from her Autumn Issue 8 magazine. With the help of a kind and knowledgable butcher, they worked! Here is a little taste!

Tiny Teddy Joy

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These are just a cute little thing mum found ages go. We celebrated Toby’s third birthday with him a few weekends ago – they seemed an appropriate addition to the party food!

Ingredients:
small Milky way bars
chocolate Tiny Teddies
Smarties
icing sugar
Water

Method:
1. Make up some quite thick icing.
2. Stick the Smartie ‘wheels’ to the Milky way as per photo
3. Push a Tiny Teddie ‘driver’ into the Milky way
4. Enjoy food fun for young and old!