The Mama-Measure

My greatest annoyance when being taught to cook/bake by my mother was her blatant disregard for standardised measurements. “Just add some of this” or “keep pouring until it looks like that”; it was a first-timer’s nightmare! To make matters worse, she just could not comprehend my frustration. In her eyes this was a completely normal and rational system. Move over metric, on your bike imperial, there’s a new unit of measurement in town!

It is only now, as I’ve slowly increased my knowledge base, that I am starting to appreciate the now-dubbed mama-measure. Scales can be slightly off, eggs can come in different sizes, and that extra couple of drops of cooking oil can easily throw off the consistency of your mixture. Knowing the anticipated consistency of your mixture is key. Actually knowing how to fix the consistency of your mixture is even better. Too wet – add some more flour, too dry – add some milk, the solution will vary dependent on the recipe.

Developing the ability to go off-piste and deviate from the recipe can be tricky. You know at the back of your head that the recipe is tried and tested, it is intended to be executed verbatim. And yet, you know your little tweak will help improve the overall outcome of your bake. I would urge you to take that chance, add that extra dollop of cocoa powder, splash in that extra drop of milk; this is your opportunity to break the rules.

Many of my bakes don’t go according to plan. This is the real world. They don’t look poised and put-together, ready to be photographed for the front cover of a magazine. Instead, they’d require some heavy airbrushing and a good bikini wax before they’d even make it to page 56. However, I like for my baking to look home-made. A wonky muffin or an odd shaped cookie won’t make them taste any less delicious. In my eyes, these beautiful imperfections are what make a bake. (And what distinguish them from their supermarket preservative-laden counterparts!) No one expects you to attain the standard of a Michelin chef. I like to try new recipes, substitute ingredients with alternatives which meet my guest’s dietary requirements, or simply adapt an old recipe to use up whatever is sitting in the back of the cupboard! Therefore, it may take several dodgy attempts to uncover the perfect dairy-free substitute for that cake mixture, or determine the missing spice for those biscuits. I try not to get precious over using precise measurements. A gram or two either way on the scales is “close enough”. To be fair, “adding a bit of this, and some of that” might just be the right method after all.

Experiment. Have a go. It’s very rare that a bake goes so awry that it is no longer edible!

#mamameasure #realworld #learning #consistency #closeenough #blog #baking #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy

Colossal Cookie

What’s better than cookies?….. uh, COLOSSAL cookies!

These cookies are fudgey and gooey, like a warm brownie. They would make an ideal desert for a casual kid-friendly dinner party.

This recipe takes around 8mins to prep and 25mins to bake.

Ingredients (Makes 1 very large cookie)

  • Baking margarine (200g)
  • Dark Brown sugar (230g)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Plain flour (275g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g sultanas
  • 2 large handfuls of mini marshmallows!

Making the cookie batter

  1. Measure out your sugar and butter into a large mixing bowl
  2. Combine the butter and the sugar by creaming and beating them together using the back of a spoon. They should be fully blended with no signs of unmixed sugar or lumps of butter.
  3. Separate the yolks from the eggs.
  4. Add in the two yolks and vanilla to the mixture, then stir.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder into the bowl.
  6. Stir until it forms a stiff mixture.
  7. Add the sultanas and mix once more.
  8. Add in marshmallows and then stir for a final time!

Baking

  1. Next, prep your frying pan (make sure it is oven safe first!) by adding some margarine to a paper towel or section of grease-proof paper and rubbing evenly across the surface of the frying pan.
  2. Set your oven to 160degC (temp may vary for each oven)
  3. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how gooey you would like your cookie.
  4. Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes, ideally 10, before serving

This bake is my version of a BBC good food recipe. The original can be found here; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/giantcookie

#puddings #colossalcookie #baking #stepbystep #bakingmadeeasy #comfort #kidfriendly #blog #recipe #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy

Butternut squash muffin-cakes

img_0448This is one of my favourite experiments. They’re a bit of a cross between a cake and muffin – with the butternut squash keeping everything moist. Preparing the butternut squash is a bit labour intensive – stick with it though, I promise it’ll come good!

This recipe takes around 20mins to prep and 25mins to bake.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • Sunflower oil (175ml)
  • Muscovado sugar (175g)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Butternut squash (1 small, or 1/2 a large squash)
  • Sultanas (100g)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Self raising flour (200g)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Prep the butternut squash

  1. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper cases.
  2. Peel the outer skin away with a vegetable peeler and then grate the butternut squash (this may feel like it’s taking forever, but is totally worth it).

Combine the mixture & bake

  1. Set your oven to 180degC (temp may vary for each oven)
  2. Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Next, add the sugar, eggs and vanilla.,
  4. Beat together (I like to use a metal spoon)
  5. Add the grated butternut squash and sultanas.
  6. Beat together (again, still using a metal spoon).
  7. Stir in the mixed spice, cinnamon, flour and bicarbonate of soda.
  8. Spoon into the paper cases using a teaspoon and then tap the tray to settle the mixture.
  9. Bake for 25mins until firm and springy!
  10. Transfer the muffin-cakes onto a wire rack to cool before eating.

These cakes are moreish. You have been warned.

Remember, baking doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be Easydoughsy.

#butternutsquash #muffincake #blog #baking #recipe #bakingmadeeasy #stepbystep #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy

Soul Food

I’m a big believer that the making, baking and sharing of food is good for both the mind and soul.

When I need to relax, I bake. The mindless (or perhaps mindfulness!) act of following a familiar recipe provides me with space to park my emotions and focus on creating something beautiful… or, if not wholly beautiful, at least tasty! It’s a soothing and reassuring process, much like re-reading a favourite book, or visiting your Grandmother’s house.

Therefore, it is conceivably not surprising that the act of eating these favourite bakes with loved ones is an uplifting process also. All of our major life events incorporate food and baked goods at the heart of their traditions; weddings with their many tiered cakes, hot cross buns and chocolate eggs at Easter time, mince pies and steamed puddings to celebrate Christmas, birthday cakes, christening cakes – the list goes on and on. There’s something comforting about knowing which baked good is to be anticipated at each event. It delivers a warm combination of order and clarity, tradition and nostalgia.

The passing down of family recipes can be a bonding process. Knowing that your mum’s mum’s mum used to add 5 egg whites instead of 4 in her version of meringue, which then went on to win first prize at the village fete in 1963, might just nudge you into giving her method a go. Recipes can also remind you of a person, and give you that warm and fuzzy glow. Scottish tablet (fudge), for example, reminds me of my Grandfather who used to regularly make large quantities of the stuff after he retired. He would fill several large rectangular ice cream tubs with each batch, which would take numerous months to eat, and have to be handed out to various family members and friends in order to “use it up”. But we loved it.

Food, to me, is also a way of offering a token of gratitude, support or condolence. It’s often easier to express that you’re there for someone in edible form, rather than fumbling over your words or offering uncomfortable hugs. (This may be particularly pertinent for us British folk!) However, others may just class me as “a feeder”! So to the lady who I awkwardly gave a cheese and salad sandwich when she crashed her car on my street, to my sister who I presented with lopsided blue cupcakes after the birth of her first son (I had waited until after the birth to find out if I should pipe pink or blue icing), and to the friend whose fridge I filled with lasagne and sweet treats in time for their return from hospital; apologies if it was a bit much, I just wanted to show you I cared.

 

#sharing #warmandfuzzy #feeder #cake #baking #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy

What’s the fastest cake?

img_0359-1SCONE!

In all seriousness, scones are actually one of the best super-quick, low-effort bakes.

This recipe is the same one I’ve been using since I was around 8 years old. However, I do like to mix it up now and again by adding sultanas, cherries, or by substituting the dairy ingredients for non dairy alternatives – creating tasty vegan scones.

It takes around 10mins to prep and 12-15mins to bake.

Ingredients (Makes 6 medium scones)

  • Flour (225g)
  • Caster Sugar (25g)
  • Baking margarine (55g)
  • Milk (150ml) (this recipe works equally well with coconut milk as a vegan alternative – and it gives a lovely coconut undertone to the scones)
  • A pinch of salt

 Making the dough

(No wooden spoon required!)

  1. Measure out your flour and baking margarine into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Get your hands in and rub the butter and flour between your finger tips and thumb until it looks as though you have a bowl of breadcrumbs.
  4. Next, stick your bowl back onto the scales and measure out your sugar. It’s worthwhile measuring out your milk in a measuring jug at this point too!
  5. Give the sugar a mix (still using your hands!) and then add the milk, a little at a time, until you have a slightly sticky mix.
  6. At this point you can add sultanas, glace cherries etc if you wish.
  7. Throw some extra flour down on a (clean) work-surface.
  8. Transfer your dough onto the floured surface and give it quick roll about. The dough will pick up some of the flour, removing its stickiness. Note: only roll it until the ball of dough looks combined!

Prep and Baking

  1. Next, prep your baking tray – add some margarine to a paper towel or section of grease-proof paper and rub this evenly across your tray.
  2. Set your oven to 220degC (temp may vary for each oven)
  3. Using a rolling pin, roll your dough gently until it is around an inch thick.
  4. Next, use a circular serrated cutter (or the top of a glass if you don’t have a cutter) to cut out your scones.
  5. Place your cut out scones evenly on your pre-greased baking tray.
  6. Using a pastry brush (or a clean finger!), spread a little milk on top of each of your scones. This will give them a lovely deep-coloured crown when they bake.
  7. Pop your tray in the oven for 12-15mins until your scones have risen & the tops are golden brown in colour.
  8. Transfer the cooked scones onto a wire rack to cool before eating.

Let me know how you get on! It may take a couple of tries to get your oven temperature and consistencies correct. Once you’ve got your technique nailed though, you can scale up the quantities to make larger batches.

Remember, baking doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be Easydoughsy.

#scone #blog #baking #firstbake #recipe #veganoption #bakingmadeeasy #stepbystep #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy

Fancy a slice?

Cake is an ice breaker. It’s a little piece of comfort. You could be having ‘one of those days’; you’ve been caught in a sudden downpour of rain whilst running late for the bus and now have frizzy hair and a see-through shirt, plus your boss has just asked you to give a presentation in 20mins on a topic you’re not really sure you totally understand, and you’ve just seen that your ex has posted a photo on Instagram of his super-hot new girlfriend who looks like she’s not eaten a square meal in months, aaand then you’ve unexpectedly started your period and have no tampons in your handbag, so you’ve had to stuff a pile of toilet roll into your pants to get you through ‘till you can go to the shop at lunch time – all the really Earth-shattering stuff which isn’t important, but actually, really is… then someone offers you a slice of cake. And it’s like a big hug on a plate. I mean, I’m aware the answer to the meaning of life may not necessarily be as straightforward as 42, but a slice of cake can provide a moment of solace like nothing else when you hit those little lows.

Comfort isn’t shouted about enough. In fact, it’s almost referred to in a derogatory way; “I’ll go stick on my comfy (read: most-unflattering) pants”, “she’s gotten a bit comfy (read: fat) in her relationship”. But comfort doesn’t have to mean boring, stagnant or lacklustre. It’s about celebrating security and a few moments of joyful wellbeing. I like to feel comfortable in the clothes I wear, but I also want to look good. I want to be healthy, but I also really enjoy having that biscuit or cake. Everything in moderation is my mantra.

I grant that in certain cases we do need to push our own boundaries, face the fear and all of those other go-getting clichés. Without lifting self-imposed limitations or restrictions we would never move forward, for fear of failure. I certainly need pushing out of my comfort zone more than most. I seek comfort and reassurance through the tiniest of rituals and routines which I feel help me get through the day unscathed. Yet, new challenges allow us to grow and develop both our confidence and skills. This is something I am excited to explore. It is still reassuring to me, however, to keep some of those old comforts in the proverbial horizon, just visible out of the corner of our mind’s eye, you know – as back up.

Baking can be a vessel to challenging ourselves. It’s relaxing, sometimes perplexing, often frustrating and allows us to fail in a non-threatening environment. Anyone can bake; any age, any ability, it’s not just a mystical black art for those with too much time on their hands. Like anything, having a go is the key to success. I like to use visual representations to explain my processes and recipes, without the usual accompanying jargon. It’s baking made easy. I hope it’ll inspire you to get in the kitchen and expand your skillset too. Once you’re eating that first homemade cupcake you’ll wonder why you didn’t begin sooner.

So, here on Easydoughsy, I hope to step outside of my own customary boundaries and share with you some of my most favourite recipes, fashion quests, lifestyle and wellbeing discoveries. Whatever the topic, we’ll always keep that comforting slice of cake there in the background. Make sure you follow the Easydoughsy Instagram account and blog here at Easydoughsy.com for regular updates.

Baking doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be Easydoughsy.

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#comfort #comfortzone #challenge #cake #baking #bakingmadeeasy #stepbystep #Scotland #Aberdeenshire #Easydoughsy #blog #firstpost