I’m not brilliant at it. I am not conventional either. I have a stack of cookery books and I don’t want to think about what I’ve spent on food magazines over the years, especially as I don’t think I have ever followed a single recipe to the letter.
When I want to or need to cook, I usually start from a different place to most conventional cooks – I think. I rarely look at a book first, select a recipe and then buy the ingredients. I usually start in the fridge, look at what needs using up, think about what I can make and then check the books to see if there’s a recipe that matches and solves my problem.
Today my problem was fruit. I usually shop online with Ocado. Zac loves strawberries and in my last order they ‘swapped’ two punnets of strawberries for two punnets of mixed berries. Some strawberries, a handful of raspberries and a lot of blueberries. I accepted the swap because Zac was desperate for some strawberries and I just couldn’t be bothered to go to the supermarket.
So here we are several days later and I still have a lot of blueberries and quite a few raspberries. Zac likes raspberries, but these were unusually tart. He doesn’t like blueberries at all. Neither do I. They are ok baked into stuff but I find them dry and boring and lacking any real flavour otherwise. So I decided to make a cake.
The only problem is that since we moved I still haven’t unpacked all of my baking equipment. I have found my measuring jugs but not my measuring spoons. I go by eye and taste in ‘savoury’ cooking but I don’t think anyone can get away with that in baking, so I hit my first bump. I needed to know how many teaspoons make a tablespoon.
Then I remembered I have a useful poster that my sister-in-law bought me from Phoenix Cards. It’s great. I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s wipe clean too, which is particularly useful if you’re as messy and clumsy as me.
The next thing I needed was a recipe. Again, with ‘savoury’ cooking, I totally wing it but I don’t have that confidence in baking so I went searching through all my books. I got lots of new books for Christmas. I have the Deliciously Ella book, Hemsley + Hemsley, the new Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and a stack of Free From cookery magazines and until today I hadn’t cooked a single thing from any of them. And as of this moment, I still haven’t. I couldn’t find anything that matched the ingredients I have in the house. Lots of them called for coconut flour, or rice flour or almond flour. I didn’t even have caster sugar!
So I ended up making fairy cakes and I got the recipe from the back of the one pack of flour I did have – Doves Farm Gluten Free Self-Raising blend. The recipe was for Chocolate Chip Fairy Cakes. I only just had enough flour but I definitely had chocolate chips – Doves Farm Plain Chocolate Chips, free from dairy and gluten. I had the ‘butter’ (Pure), I had ‘milk’ (decided to try Almond milk this time), I had eggs but I didn’t have any sugar. So I decided to use golden syrup. There’s a useful measure guide on the side that says 4 tablespoons is equal to 100g sugar, so in it went.
I decided to make some with the chocolate chips, some with the blueberries, some with the raspberries and some with all three together. I’ve never baked with fresh fruit before so had no idea how it would turn out.
I managed to find some muffin cases and a tray that I’d borrowed from my sister and have been meaning to return – sorry Charlotte. The mix made exactly enough for 12 little fairy cakes and this is how they looked when they were done.
They tasted ok too. They were very light. The chocolate helped and so did the golden syrup – both contributed to the lovely colour and smell. The blueberries were very ‘jammy’ and tasted way better cooked. The raspberries were still very tart and were best with the chocolate chips. The cakes cooked very quickly and were super simple – so I will definitely make them again. Probably tomorrow – as I still have some blueberries left…
Here’s the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 200 or 180 for fan, Gas 6.
100g butter – or whatever dairy free substitute you prefer
100g sugar – I used 4 tablespoons of golden syrup
3 tablespoons of milk – I used Almond Breeze
100g self raising flour – Doves Farm gluten free blend
75g chocolate chips – I used Doves Farm plain chocolate chips bought online at Ocado
Beat the butter and sugar together – the syrup blended quite well with the butter. Looked a bit weird at first but I kept going.
Mix in the eggs – again it looked a bit ‘separated’ but I kept going.
Beat in the milk.
Sieve in the flour and mix well. I whisked and whisked and eventually it did start to look like normal cake batter.
The recipe on the flour pack said to mix in the chocolate chips next but I didn’t.
I half filled all of the fairy cake cases with mix. Then I got creative and started adding bits of fruit and chocolate. I topped them with what was left of the mix.
They were ready after about 20 minutes. The chocolate had started to melt and the berries had all ‘cooked’. An interesting way to use up some unwanted fruit and to kill a bit of time on a boring Thursday afternoon. Can’t wait to find out if the children like them.