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APPLE & FIG FLAPJACKS

Ingredients:

450g apples, peeled and cored

25g golden caster sugar

Zest of 1 small lemon

100g dried figs, chopped

140g butter, cut into pieces

50g light muscovado sugar

140g golden syrup

250g porridge oats

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

25g walnuts, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 190 oC. Slice the apples into a small pan and stir in the caster sugar.

  • Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until apple is soft, stirring occasionally.

  • Stir in the zest and the figs and cook for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Stir mixture often.

  • When the figs are softened and the mixture is quite dry, remove from heat and cool slightly.

  • Whizz the cooked apple and fig mixture into a smooth puree in a food processor, set aside.

  • Melt butter, muscovado sugar and syrup into a heavy based, medium saucepan over low heat.

  • Do not let it boil. Stir in the oats and cinnamon and mix well to form a loose, sticky mixture.

  • Press half of the mixture into a shallow 18 x 18cm square baking pan. Spread puree on top.

  • Cover the puree with the remaining oat mixture and sprinkle the chopped walnuts all over.

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it is golden. Remove from oven, cut into squares and serve.

Apple & Fig Flapjacks from BBC GoodFood

This classic French ‘petit four’ derives its name from its cute, rectangular shape which looks like mini gold bars. Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding the Paris stock exchange. No matter what the origin of the name, the financier smells [and tastes] just as sweet!

Though you might find the ingredient list rather basic, the secret that goes in the making of a good financier lies in the combination of browned butter and lightly toasted almond flour, two key ingredients that account for its rich, buttery flavor. The batter owes its delicate texture to beaten egg whites and can be stored in the refrigerator, making it a good bake-ahead project on weekends or anytime you have extra egg whites waiting to be put to good use.

I was quite excited at the idea of using my new silicon pan for these mini cakes from Baking at Tiffany’s, who adapted the recipe from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. While the plain financier with its browned edges and golden crumb is a treat on its own, you can always go one step ahead with fresh blueberries or raspberries to add a dash of colour to your little almond bars. I have a good mind to try them with pistachios next.

FINANCIERS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons (120 g) sugar

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoons (40 g) unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons (60 g) almond meal

100 g egg whites or egg whites from about 3 large eggs

1/2 cup (100 g) unsalted butter, browned

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 425 oF and butter 12 financier molds or a mini-muffin tin. Refrigerate buttered tin.

  • Sift together sugar, flour and almond meal into a bowl. Create a well in the center of dry ingredients.

  • Add in the egg whites and whisk together by hand until all the ingredients have been well combined.

  • To brown the butter, melt butter in a sauce pan over low to medium heat until bits begin browning.

  • While still hot, slowly pour browned butter into batter, simultaneously whisking batter till combined.

  • Evenly distribute batter among molds or mini-muffin tin wells, leaving about 1/8″ space from the rim.

  • Lower oven temperature to 350 oF. Bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or till golden brown.

Happy Women’s Day, my dear bloggers!

Today we celebrate the achievements of women all over the world and from all walks of life – from the dedicated homemaker to the independent career woman – who deserve to be honored for their significant contribution in shaping our present and future. As a spouse, daughter, sister, mother, co-worker or friend, a woman has an influential role in society, which is still unfortunately not acknowledged by many. While issues of gender bias and abuse persist at large, we still hesitate to take steps to raise awareness and empower women to recognize and stand up for their rights.

This year’s campaign theme, Be Bold for Change, aims at bringing the contribution of male and female to equal value and closing the gender gap but is it an impossible dream? We are always under constant pressure to comply with the norms society imposes on us that we fail to express our true selves. I deem myself lucky to have escaped this coercion, having always been free to speak my mind and do what I feel right. Today, I choose to be bold and take some time out for myself. To recover from my horrible period cramps and post viral symptoms and to bake a simple chocolate cake from Nigella Lawson, one of my baking inspirations and a remarkably gifted woman.

CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE

Ingredients:

50g cocoa powder, sifted

125 ml boiling water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

150g ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch kitchen salt

150 ml regular olive oil

200g white caster sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C/325ºF. Grease a 23 cm/9-inch spring form cake tin with a little oil.

  • Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder in a bowl.

  • Whisk the boiling water into the cocoa till you have a smooth and chocolatey but runny paste.

  • Whisk in vanilla extract, set aside to cool. Combine ground almonds with baking soda and salt.

  • Put sugar, olive oil and eggs in a mixer with paddle attachment, beat vigorously for 3 minutes.

  • You should have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little.

  • Pour in cocoa mixture. When all is scraped in, slowly tip in the ground almonds and scrape it.

  • Stir it a little with a spatula. Pour batter into the prepared tin. Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes.

  • Bake until the sides are set and the centre on top still looks slightly damp. Cool for 10 minutes.

  • Serve the chocolate cake cut into thin slices with vanilla ice cream, like a pudding. Serves 8-10.

Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

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