There is a huge amount of interest in home baking at the moment, mainly due to the TV programme The Great British Bake Off. It is great to see so many people being inspired to bake and it is a lovely thing to do with children as they can help with the mixing and then enjoy eating something that they have made for themselves.
To make the most of the oven, fill it to capacity when baking which will reduce fuel costs and mean that there are plenty of “extras” which can be frozen for another day.
Batch baking in a fan assisted oven when the temperature is even throughout means that 2 or 3 trays of cakes can be cooked at once with perfect results. It is important to remember to reduce the oven temperature by 10-20 degrees if using a recipe designed for a conventional oven. Timings should be reduced too, look at the booklet provided with your cooker for guidelines.
I have featured a classic Chocolate Brownie recipe this month which incorporates walnuts. For a gruesome Halloween treat try leaving out the nuts and dot jam on top of the mixture before baking to resemble blood. Ideal for a Bonfire night treat too.
Classic soft chocolate brownies
175g Plain chocolate, broken up
175g unsalted butter, diced
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
75g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
2 Tbsp strawberry jam or 50g chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180°C, 160°C (fan assisted). Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the pan and cool slightly.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer until thick and creamy, pour over the chocolate mixture and fold in.
- Sift the flour and cocoa and fold in with the nuts (if using). Pour into the prepared tin and if using jam dot teaspoons over the surface.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes (20-25 for fan oven), the top should be crusty with a slight wobble underneath.
- Cool completely in the tin (putting in the fridge overnight helps the cutting) and then cut into squares.
- If batch baking, simply prepare double the mixture and split between two tins.
Wendy Strang has been working as a consultant Home Economist/Food Stylist for over 20 years for a variety of food and appliance manufacturers, writing recipes, styling food for stills photography and film for advertising and editorial purposes. Wendy also gets involved with cookery demonstrations for appliance and houseware companies. Prior to working on a freelance basis She was Head office Home Economist for Iceland Frozen Foods and before that for Kraft Foods. Wendy has recently been on the judging panel for The Grocer Own label Food and Drink Awards.