Saturday, 30 August 2014

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

I've found my happy place - it's on the settee, listening to George Ezra, browsing tumblr and eating these. Perfection. These cookie bars are a remake of the ones I made at Christmas time, with a couple of changes. The chocolate is bigger, chunkier, and much better. The butter, rather than being melted, is creamed with the sugar to create a nicer texture - less oily than the previous version.

These are the best thing - more substantial than cookies, yet with a similar taste and a sufficient amount of chocolate. A wonderful A Level result celebration food! On the morning of my results I could really have done with one of these to settle my nerves, but sadly I had to settle with baking afterwards and lining my stomach with them before a big night of forgetting we even did A Levels by downing all the vodka. In the morning, however, it all came back to me... Including the fact that I will be moving to Camden in September, in order to start a shiny new life as a History undergraduate! Luckily, my accommodation is amazing and has photograph-worthy kitchens in which I can bake to my heart's content (until my loan runs out)! 

If you've never made cookie bars, I strongly recommend making these right now. Even if you're reading this at 3am mid-air on a flight to Tokyo, make these right now. Or, if you've made some before, make these now! Why would you want to live in a world without cookie bars?!

Recipe (makes 24-ish squares):

  • 170g butter, melted
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150g chocolate, chopped into chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 165oC and line a 9"x12" baking tray.
  2. Cream the sugars and the butter together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into the mixture and gently fold it in.
  5. Stir in the chocolate until just combined.
  6. Press the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer/knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Homer Simpson Style Funfetti Vanilla Glazed Baked Doughnuts

**I got an instagram account for baking! Please follow it here for updates and lots of food pics!**

Two batches of baked doughnuts in two days. I don't even care, these are my new obsession. They're just so easy and quick to make, it's addicting. You can make these without the sprinkles inside to get that proper Simpson-esque feel, but I love sprinkles so the more the merrier! 

Yesterday's chocolate baked doughnuts were adapted from Joy the Baker, whereas today's come from my hero Sally's Baking Addiction. The differences in the recipes are subtle, but clear - Joy uses buttermilk, where Sally uses yoghurt and milk. I didn't have any normal greek yoghurt, so I used coconut greek yoghurt - a difference you don't even notice (but I will probably be making some coconut baked doughnuts soon, why not?). Joy also uses browned butter, but Sally's recipe calls just for melted butter (and less of it). At the end of the day, both recipes are amazing, and the doughnuts turn out perfectly! 

I realised that I wanted to do a Homer Simpson inspired doughnut when I was making the glaze, partly because the sprinkles I had used weren't the most beautiful (I blame Jane for not buying any rainbow sprinkles), and partly because I've always wanted to eat a doughnut with Homer  - they look so good! This is my first attempt, but boy are they good. The initial, white glaze provides a base for the thicker, pink glaze to stick to - it dries at super speed so I had to employ a water-dipping technique to glue the 100s&1000s on!

Recipe (makes 10 large or 16 small - estimations, I made 6 large and 8 small):

The recipe is found here at Sally's Baking Addiction, but I'll list the substitutes/changes I made below:
  • In place of plain yoghurt, I used coconut greek yoghurt
  • Instead of granulated sugar, I used caster sugar
For the glaze, mix 240g icing sugar with 60ml milk and 1 tsp vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat until smooth and glossy (I would advise sifting the icing sugar). Remove from the heat and dip the doughnuts, one by one, into the glaze, ensuring the whole doughnut is covered. Leave to cool. Mix any leftover glaze with a lot more icing sugar and less milk, and some food colouring (I didn't measure mine, oops), until it is thick and sets almost immediately upon stopping whisking. It needs to be thick enough to prevent any water getting through, into the doughnut. Remove from the heat, and dip one side of the glazed doughnuts into the glaze. When that is set, quickly dip the top of the doughnut into a small bowl of water, and sprinkle with decorations.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Baked Chocolate Doughnuts

Baked doughnuts. Undoubtedly the best way to forget any results-day-induced anxiety (no matter how many recurring dreams I have, I'm sure my results will not be given to me on a post-it note, dammit subconscious). These are so simple and quick to make - mine were cooked and decorated and eaten within an hour of deciding I wanted to bake them.

The sponge is light and fluffy, while also being moist and damp. It tastes like a brownie-cake hybrid, but 10 times better. The glaze is runny and adds an extra chocolate hit, and allows for a mega-ton of sprinkles to be added to the doughnuts - perfect.

I made both large and small doughnuts, mainly because we had one big pan and one small pan and I'm impatient and wanted to get them all cooked in one go, but it also allows for a taste comparison - to be honest, both sizes are equally good, but I'll always pick a big one because you get more food...

Another plus side to these doughnuts is that they can be decorated with pretty much anything - I went for a range of sprinkles, chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, and glitter. They look great plain as well, the options are endless (but I wouldn't advise decorating them with onions or something weird that wouldn't taste too good).

I used this recipe from Joy the Baker, but I changed the measurements into grams below, and made a couple of changes.

Recipe (makes 6 large and 7 small doughnuts, or around 9 large/15 small):
  • 60g butter
  • 125g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 120ml buttermilk (I used a substitute as I didn't have any - mix 120ml milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice, leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before using)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 160oC, and make sure the rack is in the top 3rd of the oven. Grease doughnut pans.
  2. Melt the butter on a low heat, and keep heating it until it is just browned. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt together.
  4. Whisk the butter, buttermilk, egg and vanilla together until well combined.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, ensuring all the flour is well incorporated.
  6. Fill the doughnut circles in the pan up to around 2/3rds of the way up. I found the easiest way to do this was by putting the mixture in a ziploc bag, cutting a corner off, and piping it in. Alternatively, use a teaspoon.
  7. Bake small doughnuts for 10 minutes, and larger ones for 12 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool, turning out onto a wire rack after 10 minutes or so.
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3-4 tbsp milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Press the doughnuts into the glaze, being careful not to submerge/break them in half.
  3. Decorate with sprinkles galore!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bad Feminism

Personally, I object to the label 'bad feminist'. I've noticed an increasing number of women in magazines and on the internet proclaiming themselves 'bad feminists' because they want a husband to take care of them, or a man to hold a door open for them, or they hate opening jars of jam etc etc. In my opinion, a feminist is someone who wants equality for the sexes, better treatment of and respect for women worldwide, and an end to gender-based violence and sexism. A feminist is not, necessarily, a person who has to take care of themselves the whole time, or to open every single jar of jam (my biceps can't take that, I really like jam).

Therefore, surely the concept of 'bad feminism' is redundant. As long as you believe in the aforementioned basics of feminism (which I expanded on in this post), it should not be anyone's place to criticise you for wanting to be supported and cared for and looked after, because that's pretty much a fundamental part of human nature.

It becomes clear, then, that there is still a barrier between feminism and the wider world. Many people find it hard to identify with feminism because they believe it to be for 'perfect' women who are militant in ensuring they need no help from men, in life or otherwise. This barrier needs to be broken down. No person should ever feel like they cannot be included in the 'feminist' category because they want things which the most extreme of feminists do no consider necessary. No woman is a 'bad feminist' because she has hairless legs, just as no woman is a 'perfect feminist' because she can plait her leg hair. 

'Bad feminism' is saying you're a feminist, but then saying the pay gap is a myth and women make terrible bosses anyway. 'Bad feminism' is tearing down other women for their body shape, their clothing, their appearance, their choices, their lifestyle or otherwise. 'Bad feminism' is parading as a feminist whilst attacking the movement from the inside, by actually disagreeing with its core concepts. 'Bad feminism' is not occasionally letting men do things for you or wanting to sit at home and bake all day (otherwise I really am the worst feminist around).

I believe it is time for women, and men, around the world to start declaring themselves to be the best damn feminists ever created, because there is no such thing as a 'perfect' feminist, and anyone who claims to be one is clearly just a little bit deluded. Perfection is impossible, whereas confidence and conviction in your own beliefs can take humanity to brilliant new extremes, extremes where people understand what feminism is, why it is necessary, and potentially to the extreme of gender equality. Anything is possible once the first barrier is breached.

**Disclaimer: none of this is meant to be an attack on Roxane Gay's new book 'Bad Feminist' because she is absolutely awesome and incredible and I love her**