What I've been cooking #3: Rachel Allen's Home Baking

I seem to have rediscovered my love for baking since I moved out from my parents. One of my favourite things to on a Sunday is to spend all day in kitchen, trying my hand at new recipes. The last few weeks I have been working my way through Rachel Allen's Home Baking cookbook - I was sent her book through work as I look after the food page so featured some of the recipes online. I'd read a few reviews that her recipes are foolproof so I was looking forward to great things. It turns out her recipes - no matter how difficult they sound - really are simple. The book is full of detailed recipes that cover everything and exciting bakes. I tried my hand at some out of my comfort zone and they turned out perfectly. It's definitely a book I'll be coming back time to time again. I haven't had a bake requested so much from friends than when I made her chocolate orange brownies for a few house gatherings!

Banana and date loaf
A classic banana loaf is one of my favourite things to make. So I was keen to see if the addition of dates could improve a bake that I already think is tasty. Turns out they do! The dates helped to add a delicious richness to the loaf. It's so simple and the perfect cake to have on a weekend afternoon when you have guests round. Such a crowd pleaser!

Chocolate orange brownies
I don't have a very good track record with making brownies. But I was determined to finally make an edible batch.  I did cook these for a touch too long as they came out more cake-like rather than fudgey. But they were absolutely delicious! The orange zest really gave them something special. I took them to a baby shower and they went down a treat. The second time I cooked them I think they could have done with a couple more minutes. But the gooey inside was delicious! Third time lucky and I'm sure I'll get them right.

Lemon and poppy seed loaf
The original recipe called for muffins but I don't have a muffin tin in my house yet so I turned it into a loaf. I added a simple glaze of lemon juice and sugar as you can never have enough lemon right? It took around 50 minutes for it to cook as a loaf apposed to the 25 minutes predicted for muffins. It's quite a dense cake but utterly delicious. It's a good loaf to have in a tin for when people come round for a cuppa. I'll definitely be making it again.

Baked doughnuts
I'm a bit of a safe baker. I stick to classic cakes that I know I can do rather than try my hand at different things. So in an attempt to try and get out of my comfort zone I tried my hand at making some doughnuts. I promised myself this year would be the year I tried to use yeast - and be successful. Now these doughnuts are basically a whole day's job. They're not quick and certainly not simple so a lazy Sunday would be the time to try them. I think waiting for the dough to rise, cooking and decorating, it took around four hours. They came out tasting quite bready which I think is because they were baked rather than fried. Despite being a bit of a time suck, they were pretty simple to make. It's just a lot of waiting around. They were really tasty but I'm not sure I'll make them again.

Spiced ginger cakes
Instead of making 16 individual cakes, I made one large round one. This was absolutely delicious and so simple to make. Just a shame some of the top came off when I peeled off the tinfoil halfway through cooking. I usually make a Levi Roots recipe but the added ingredients of black treacle and golden syrup gave this one the edge for me. It has such a great punchy flavour thanks to the ground ginger and crystallised ginger. Definitely one I'll be making time and time again.

Chocolate and coconut flapjacks
This was my first time baking flapjacks so I was little nervous. It turns out I didn't pat them down hard enough so they came out a bit too soft for my liking. Luckily they hardened up a fair bit as they cooled down. So my tip is to be very sure they are really compact. I couldn't really taste the coconut so I'd add a bit extra next time I make them. As there will be a next time! The would be great if you dipped half in melted chocolate for a little something extra.

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