Recalling my previous article, I included a quote from C. JoyBell C., which goes as follows:
“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
For me, that quote is abundantly true – few things bring me more joy than seeing the beaming smile on someone’s face when I’ve baked them something. I guess it’s because they know it’s from the heart, and that baking requires some sort of finely-honed skill or epic commitment, which must certainly mean you have a deep-seated love for this person to create this thing of beauty just for them.
Baking can be incredibly complicated and intricate, or it can also be wonderfully easy and quick – it just depends on the recipe you choose. If you want to blow someone away with a home-baked item, but you don’t have eons of time, or a backyard full of money trees, here are the quickest, easiest and cheapest bakes you can make (all of which have been tried and tested by yours truly – I would never teach you something I haven’t tried first!):
1. Lemonade Scones
Gone is the need for cutting butter into flour, and squishing it relentlessly between your fingers until you form a dough…
- 4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 300 ml cream
- 300 ml lemonade or soda water
- Preheat oven to 220°C and line a baking tray with wax paper.
- Sift flour and salt into a bowl and make a well. Pour the cream and lemonade or soda water into the dry ingredients and mix together to form a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured bench, dust lightly with flour and gently roll out into a rectangle. Cut into approximately 12 pieces and place each onto the baking tray.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve with butter or your favourite jam and whipped cream.
2. Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, completely thawed
- 4 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar
- Preheat oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with wax paper.
- Lay the puff pastry sheet out on a piece of parchment paper or a clean surface. Gently roll the puff pastry to flatten the folds (but not too much – you do still want it to ‘puff’.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the entire surface of the puff pastry.
- Fold two opposite ends of the pastry sheet toward the middle, 1/4 of the way in. Fold each side in again so the folded edges touch.
- Fold the puff pastry over one more time, so that you end up with a rolled stack, 6 layers high.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into thin slices.
- Gently lay the rolled pieces flat on the parchment paper, 3 inches apart (see the picture above).
- Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve!
3. Ice-cream Bread
- 2 cups melted ice-cream (note: low fat or dairy-free ice-creams apparently don’t work well)
- 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
- Preheat your oven to 175˚C. Butter and flour a loaf tin (or whatever moulded shape tin you prefer).
- Combine melted ice cream and self-rising flour. Mix until well combined.
- Add any additional sprinkles, chocolate chips, or goodies to the batter.
- Pour batter into a loaf pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
- Allow to cool fully before cutting.
4. Macaroon Cookies
- 4½ cups unsweetened flaked coconut
- 385g tin of sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 180˚C.
- Combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk until all the coconut is covered in the condensed milk.
- Shape two table spoons worth of the coconut mixture into balls (preferably with your hands) and place on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 12-15 mins, or until the tops of the macaroons are lightly toasted.
- Allow the macaroons to cool completely then serve, or, drizzle some melted chocolate on it allow to the chocolate to set, then serve.
5. Chocolate Mug Cake
Sometimes you feel like cake, but you can’t be bothered to make an entire cake. Here’s where the Mug Cake comes in (which I think of as the three-tablespoons-of-everything cake) – suitable just for one (or to share, if you’re feeling generous and romantic…).
- 3 tablespoons self-raising flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar (I used golden brown, for that extra caramel flavour)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt, optional
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Splash vanilla extract, optional
- Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into the largest microwave-safe mug you have; blend thoroughly with a fork.
- Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla, and blend until smooth. Stir in any additional items; suggest chocolate chips and almond slivers.
- Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Do not overcook or the cake will be dry.
- Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before eating.