Tropical flapjacks

Sunny days call for not just food for outdoors but also bright tropical flavours, hence the inspiration for these deliciously lush oaty bars.

Flapjacks are one of the best packable foods- they’re sweet and delicious and stand up to be lugged about in a hot backpack, and even in the worse case scenario of them getting squashed they still make a rather delicious crumble. Besides they’re energy giving qualities are legendary and not surprising once you see the quantity of sugar and syrup they contain!

The tropical flavours are provided by a good dose of desiccated coconut, a handful of dried mango and a smidgen of pineapple juice, all topped with a optional squiggle of pineapple icing. It may be optional but it certainly looks nice!

Another of the beauties of flapjacks is that they freeze brilliantly. I often make a batch, portion them up and then freeze most wrapped in parchment. When it comes to making picnics or packed lunches you simply pop a frozen flapjack into a lunchbox first thing in the morning and by lunchtime you have a delicious fresh homebred treat.

Tropical Flapjacks

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, can be gluten-free if use gluten-free oats, vegetarian and vegan)

200g dairy free margarine (I use Pure soya or sunflower)

200g demerara sugar

180g golden syrup

2 tbsp pineapple juice

400g oats (preferably not giant oats)

1/2 tsp salt

50g dried mango, chopped

50g dessicated coconut (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade
  2. Line a 30×20 cm (approx.) baking tray with parchment
  3. Melt together the dairy free margarine, sugar, syrup, pineapple juice and salt
  4. When the sugar has dissolved mix into the oats, coconut and dried mango
  5. Spread into the lined baking tray
  6. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden
  7. Cool well before cutting into bars/squares.
  8. Serve plain or top with a squiggle of pineapple icing (125g icing sugar mixed with 1 tbsp pineapple juice)

Easy Cinnamon Bun Twists

I love an easy pastry, one of those recipes that throw a few ingredients together and end up with a superb tasty sweet treat that everyone wows over. These easy cinnamon bun twists are just that, taking only a few minutes and little skill to end up with something that’s sure to get plenty of compliments. After all, who doesn’t love the sweet combination of spiced sugar with flaky crisp pastry?

These little puff pastry twists filled with a sugar and cinnamon mixture, akin to the filling of a cinnamon bun make a drool-worthy delicious pastry. Serve them as a quick homemade easy breakfast cinnamon roll, a perfect addition to coffee time or as a dessert with a pile of berries and some cream or ice cream.

The twisting may make these pastries look fancy but it’s terribly easy – just hold both ends and twist each away from each other until you have a loose ringlet of dough. Once baked they’ll puff up into a delightful twist of deliciousness. You don’t need to add the icing but i do think it makes them seem a bit more like a cinnamon bun, and who doesn’t love a little drizzle of icing?

Easy Cinnamon Bun Twists

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 8-10

1 pack ready make puff pastry (ready rolled is easiest as you already have the required rectangle)

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

3 tbsp caster sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp icing sugar to dust the pastries before baking

water icing (3tbsp icing sugar mixed with 1-2 tsp water)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment
  2. Roll out the puff pastry and spread half with the margarine, sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon
  3. Fold over and cut into 8-10 stops with the one end being held together where the join is (it’s easiest to use a pizza roller)
  4. Twist each strip into a pastry ringlet and place on the lined baking sheet. Dust with the 1tbsp icing sugar
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  6. Cool and then drizzle with the water icing.

Popcorn cereal bars

Next up in the recipes from cupboard odds and ends and these stunningly delicious popcorn cereal bars.

Big S and I have been on a mission to organise our larder. It’s quite an ongoing project but we’re going from a chaotic cupboard stuffed full to the seams to beautifully tidy pantry full of stacked glass jars and neat baskets of packages. It’s so rewarding! I keep going and opening the doors and admiring our work.

In organising we’ve come across so many odds and ends and multiple packs, they all had to be put to good use. The little bag of popcorn we came across made me think of those Pret popcorn bars. Do they still exist? By no means food allergy friendly, they were quite tasty. Then I found some oats and the dregs of a box of cornflakes. These seemed to make a coherent combination.

On testing it’s actually a stunning combo – toasty oats for a flapjack feel, cornflakes for the cereal taste and texture and popcorn for salty, sweet chewy hits. These bars have been declared delicious and already made twice! I urge you to make a batch for the week ahead – you’ll have a very happy family/friends 😀

Popcorn Cereal Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, peanut-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 8-10 big bars, 16-20 small bites

50g oats, toasted

50g cornflakes

17g popcorn

80g caster sugar

120g golden syrup

60g Biscoff spread

85g dairy-free dark chocolate

  1. Spread the oats onto a baking sheet and bake in a medium hot oven (180 degrees centigrade) for 15 minutes until toasty
  2. Melt together the sugar, syrup and Biscoff spread until you have a thick smooth mixture. Stir in 15g of the chocolate.
  3. Stir in the oats, cornflakes and popcorn mix until everything is coated in the rich caramel sauce
  4. Press into a loaf tin lined with parchment. I used a 2lb loaf tin which is perfect for the amount quoted about. If you want to make more, double the quantities and use a standard square baking tin.
  5. Place in the fridge or a cool place to set.
  6. Melt the remaining 70g chocolate and drizzle over, leave to set.
  7. Cut into bars or squares.

Triple chocolate hot cross buns

My it’s been a long hard Winter! But at last things are starting to look brighter and the first signs of spring are hitting at the same time as an early Easter. It’s such a joy to see the spring flowers burst through and the first real warm sunshine of the year. It seems like a hopeful time.

Easter means plenty of hot cross buns and chocolate so why not combine both to get the best of both worlds! I really enjoy making hot cross buns, they’re pretty simple but there’s something magical about the soft dough, sweet spice and gorgeous shine.

I have a lot of flavour varieties on my site (just put hot cross buns in the search bar!) but these are particularly rich and decadent so I would urge you to give them a go. Plus the white cross on the dark chocolate dough is particularly striking!

The big question is what variety next? I’m thinking a savoury version (inspired by those cheese and marmite/cheese and chilli ones from M&S), so what this space as I’ll hopefully be able to develop it before next weekend!

Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 9-12

460g strong bread flour

40g cocoa powder

1 tbsp dried yeast

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed spice

400ml warm dairy-free milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

100g dairy-free chocolate chips (I used a combination of milk, dark and white)

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa, yeast, sugar, salt and spice. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and dairy-free margarine, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
  5. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  6. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 15-20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  7. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  8. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  9. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

Ravishing Raspberry Flapjacks

I always like  to have a batch of flapjacks in the freezer. They’re such a great snack and a perfect addition for a packed lunch. Just grab one straight from the freezer in the morning, wrap in parchment and by lunchtime they’re be defrosted and ready to be munched on. I also like the way that a flapjack can fit many different occasions; it can be a substitute breakfast, an energy giving elevenses, a delicious sweet treat or even crumbled onto of yogurt or tweed fruit as an impromptu pudding!

I have many flapjack recipes on my site (just put flapjack into the search bar and you’ll find a whole variety of different flavours), but this one evolved from a few slightly sad looking raspberries left in the fridge. The fruit makes a lovely jammy addition to the flapjacks, the tart sweetness contrasting nicely with the syrupy oats, but i do recommend cooking for a few extra minutes to make up for the additional moisture in the mix.

Ravishing Raspberry Flapjacks

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

200g dairy free margarine (I use Pure soya or sunflower)

200g demerara sugar

200g golden syrup

400g oats (preferably not giant oats)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp freeze-dried raspberry pieces

50g raspberries

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a 30×20 cm (approx.) baking tray with foil
  2. Melt together the dairy free margarine, sugar, syrup, and salt. When the sugar has dissolved mix into the oats, stir in the fresh and freeze-dried raspberry pieces
  3. Spread into the lined baking tray
  4. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden
  5. remove from the oven and press down with a spatula for an even finish
  6. Cool well before cutting into bars/squares. Or freeze whole and cut when defrosted.
  7. Try not to eat too many!!
Caramel muffins

Caramel Muffins

When I last visited the supermarket (how is it that a simple trip to the supermarket is now the most exciting part of the week), I spied a sign for a delicious looking caramel muffin in the coffee shop window. Now a caramel muffin sounds like a great idea, why haven’t i thought of that before? It’s funny how I usually get inspiration from so many different places, now it’s either from a screen or a brief trip out of the house. I do hope that when this is all over we don’t take simple luxuries, like eating out, browsing the shops or just the signs of bustling life for granted.

Since we as family have become rather fond of the new caramel filled Nomo bars (simply the best free-from alternative to a Cadbury’s Caramel that you are likely to find), I had the idea of stuffing the muffins with a square to give a gooey caramel chocolatey centre. This results in a filling that remains gooey even once the muffins have cooled, and an oozy chocolatey caramel simply has to be a good idea. These muffins don’t need the icing, but it does add a bit of extravagance that is very welcome in the rather dismal winter of 2021.

Caramel Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 6 large muffins

20g caster sugar

25g soft brown sugar

1/2 tbsp baking powder

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

55g dairy-free margarine, melted

75ml dairy-free milk

75ml dairy-free yogurt

30ml golden or maple syrup

1/2 tsp caramel essence (optional)

6 squares of Nomo caramel filled chocolate 

for the icing:

40g dairy-free margarine

80g icing sugar

splash of dairy-free milk

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade. Fill a muffin tray with liners.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Pour in the wet ingredients and combine. You do not want any clumps of raw flour but do not over-mix, a little lumpy is good.
  3. 1/4 fill the liners and then place a square of the chocolate in the middle. Cover with the remaining muffin mix.
  4. I topped mine with some Demerara sugar, but it’s not necessary
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden and a knife comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. If icing, whisk together the icing ingredients and pipe rosettes on the top of each muffin, topped with another square of caramel chocolate if you wish.