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When you’ve got a craving for something sweet, there’s nothing worse than opening your kitchen cupboard to find there’s not a single treat in there.
Most people would be put off baking something because, let’s face it, it’s a lot of effort. But it turns out there are quick and easy creations you can make in a flash. All you need is a handful of ingredients – most of which will be in your cupboard – and, crucially, a microwave.
Here are three recipes from Sarah Rainey, the culinary queen who brought us Three Ingredient Bakes. She has a new book out that’s perfectly suited to our renewed penchant for baking during lockdown.
Behold, three mouth-watering – and no-fuss – recipes from her new book, Six-Minute Showstoppers.
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Rainey says: “I’ve never been a hardened coffee drinker, so a mocha – that moreish combination of coffee and chocolate – is my go-to hot drink. This recipe combines these two favourite ﬂavours in a moist, fudgey cake, topped with a super-speedy coffee icing that you can drizzle on while it’s still hot.”
For the cake:
30g cocoa powder 3 heaped tsp instant coffee 175g self-raising ﬂour, sifted 175g caster sugar 60ml semi-skimmed milk 60ml sunﬂower oil 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing:
1 heaped tsp instant coffee 130g icing sugar, sifted Method
1. Grease a 20cm-round, microwave-proof cake dish with a little butter and line the base with greaseproof paper.
2. Mix the cocoa powder and 3 teaspoons of coffee together in a small bowl and add approximately 100ml boiling water. Stir vigorously until dissolved.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the ﬂour and sugar. Add the coffee mixture, followed by the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish and microwave on high for 4.5 to 5 minutes, checking throughout. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s risen and spongey (not wet) on top.
5. While the cake bakes, make the icing. In a small bowl, add a splash of water to the remaining teaspoon of instant coffee and mix to make a paste.
6. Mix in the icing sugar, a little at a time, adding more water if you need to, until you have a smooth paste, roughly the texture of thick cream.
7. When the cake is done, carefully tip it out on to a cooling rack and immediately spread the icing over the top (or drizzle, if you’re more artistic than me). You may want to put a plate or chopping board underneath the rack as this bit can get messy.
8. If you like, sprinkle chopped walnuts, pecans or coffee beans around the edge of the cake for a pretty ﬁnish – do this before the icing sets so they stick.
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Rainey says: “For a special occasion, weekend brunch or to brighten up a drab Monday, these tasty morsels are just the ticket. They’re called ‘drop scones’ rather than pancakes because they’re thicker, fluffier and you can ‘drop’ them into the pan without worrying that the batter will spread.”
Ingredients 170g self-raising ﬂour 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground cinnamon 50g soft light brown sugar 1 egg 200ml semi-skimmed milk A handful of golden raisins (or chocolate chips, nuts or blueberries if you prefer)
60g salted butter, well softened 2 tsp maple syrup Method
1. Put a small knob of butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. As it melts, swirl it around so it covers the base of the pan. Prepare a large sheet of tin foil over a plate to keep the drop scones hot between batches. You’ll also need a whisk – electric is best, if you have one – a ladle and a fish slice.
2. Sieve the ﬂour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.
3. Whisk in the egg followed by the milk, a few glugs at a time, until you have a smooth batter, roughly the consistency of thick double cream.
4. By now the butter in the pan should be starting to bubble. Use the ladle to transfer large spoonfuls of the batter into the pan, spaced slightly apart. Depending on the size of your pan, there should be enough room for three or four large circles – and this should use up half the batter.
5. Use the underside of the ladle to neaten them up, and then drop a few raisins (or whatever you’re using) on top. Adding them at this stage stops them collecting at the bottom of the bowl or burning on the base of the pan.
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Rainey says: “PB and J is a classic combination... good on toast, delicious in a bagel, but absolutely incredible when you combine it with a chocolate brownie. These chocolatey treats are oh so rich and are topped with pretty swirls of peanut butter and your favourite fruit jam.”
Ingredients 200g caster sugar 70g cocoa powder 60g plain ﬂour 150g unsalted butter, melted 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 75g peanut butter 75g jam Method
1. Grease a small square Pyrex or silicone dish (approx. 20cm x 20cm) around the sides and base with a little butter. You’ll also need a palette knife.
2. Mix the dry brownie ingredients together before stirring in the melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.
3. Transfer the batter to the prepared dish and use the palette knife to spread it to the edges and even out the top.
4. Dot teaspoonfuls of peanut butter and jam over the top of the brownies and use a knife to swirl them around a little.
5. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, checking halfway and rotating the dish if you need to (sometimes square dishes are too big to rotate inside the microwave, so this will ensure they cook evenly).
6. Let the brownies cool completely before slicing into squares and tucking in. They’ll keep for 5 to 6 days in an airtight tin.
Recipes taken from Six-Minute Showstoppers by Sarah Rainey, published by Michael Joseph (May 14th), £14.99. Photography by Clare Winfield.
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