Day 10 of the virus lock-down and I think I’m settling into this quite nicely now! I’ve got my new routine, which is basically get up at about 6.15am, enjoy the sounds of the birds singing in the garden while I make my morning coffee, then sit and talk to Mr Cakes on the phone for a bit. The everything gets cleaned to within an inch of its life (no kidding, I’m starting to clean the metal off the door knobs and the paint off my kitchen cupboards!) and then it’s time for shower, clean the bathroom, washing in the machine and out on the line, and so on and so forth.
Around lunchtimes are when I try to do worky stuff, admin and catching up with enquiries (few and far between at the minute!) for an hour or two. In the late afternoons is when my sweet tooth comes knocking! Last week we made a cheap and cheerful swiss roll, today I think brownies, two lots, one to put in the freezer for Mr Cakes to take to work next week, and one to enjoy over the next few days. Also made this week – fresh bread using plain flour rather than bread flour, and tomorrow, hopefully, will be homemade pizzas!
I’m trying to gear my recipes towards easy-to-follow ones in case you have children helping out or even if you’re new to baking, or just a bit rusty and fancy a bit of something sweet using cheap and common ingredients that you are most likely to have in stock. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, please DON’T just “nip to the shop” if you’re under lock-down conditions, or self-isolating. Making brownies isn’t essential, so just wait until you can buy the ingredients in a proper weekly/monthly shop, or wait until the restrictions are lifted.
Okay! Ready? Off we go!
400g/14oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g/8oz plain flour
60g/2oz cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C/350F and line a fairly deep rectangular tin with baking paper.
Put your sugar and margarine into a microwaveable bowl and blast for 30 seconds at a time until the margarine has just melted. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, and stir between each addition.
Add in the rest of your ingredients – the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed together with no white bits of flour. At this stage you should have a slightly lumpy, chocolatey, gloopy, fudgy mixture in your bowl.
Pour the brownie mix into the prepared tin and level it into the corners. Now you can have fun adding your toppings! This bit totally depends on what you’ve got to hand, but here’s some ideas:
– Stir in some blobs of peanut butter, chocolate and hazelnut spread or caramel sauce and swirl
– Chop up some crème eggs, caramel eggs or break up some Easter eggs and sprinkle over the top
– Sprinkle with chopped up mars bars, or your favourite snack bar
– Roughly crush up some oreo or other biscuits and scatter over the top
The sky’s the limit, so use your imagination! Now pop your brownie into the pre-heated oven for 25-30 mins. You need the middle to be still a little bit wobbly for that fudgy brownie bit in the middle! (Yup, I left mine in too long!) The wobbly bit will set as it cools, so put the hot tray on a cooling rack until it’s nicely cooled down, then you can remove it from the tin and slice into portions. This will make 12 large or 20 small pieces.
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