Frugal Fridays #21

Out of all possible meal scenarios of one day (elevenses, brunch, supper and midnight snack included), afternoon tea is my favourite. Not only is it an opportunity for cake-based delights and gallons of tea, it’s a chance to use all the delicate and beautiful china I’ve been hoarding collecting. It’s actually quite a thrifty meal, especially if you adhere to the following tips.

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Make your own sandwiches with whatever is in the fridge. Shop-bought sandwiches are never up to scratch. Plus, it seems counter-productive to specifically buy ingredients when you already have a selection in the house. The magic comes with how you cut them. I did fingers of cheese and pickle, triangles of raspberry jam and trimmed my cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches with a cutter. The two different breads I used were bought from the reduced section, not that my guest needs to know that!

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Make your own biscuits. Yes, my home made gingerbread does look quite rustic, but I was complimented on the flavour. I know scones are more traditional, but you can knock up biscuits with minimal ingredients, thus decreasing the cost. I also quite like the different texture biscuits bring to the table.

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If you do buy your cakes, try to get ones on offer. I ran out of time to bake my own, and I’m not entirely confident with gluten-free cake anyway. Luckily, these finger cakes were two packs for £3. Standard cakes are much cheap, and once you add a little garnish (like my raspberries), who would know the difference?!

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Afternoon tea is an indulgence, gosh yes, and by no means a necessity. But it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in the company of a good friend.

Let us eat cake

On Monday, when the rain was lashing down and the storm was in full swing, I baked. It started as an idea for cookies. I took my basic cookie recipe, “borrowed” some eggs from my housemate, added raisins instead of chocolate button, threw in a handful of oats and the zest of a lemon. The result? Well, as cookies, not so great.

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The mixture was thin, and the cookies spread too much. Plan B. I poured the remaining concoction into a square tin and baked until golden. This was spot on.

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I think I’m going to have another go at this recipe before posting it. The oats added a texture like desiccated coconut, which I personally don’t like so I might leave them out next time. The addition of bicarbonate of soda did wonderful things to my cookie/cake, my new favourite ingredient in the kitchen. I loved the lemon flavour too, which is strange, because citrus is not normally my thing. I was also surprised about the lovely texture of the cake, unusual for g-f baking. It rose quite splendidly.

The recipe used a hefty amount of rations so there won’t be any more baking for awhile. But the next chance I get, I’m going to perfect this recipe because it’s too good to miss.

I’m ready for Bake Off!

Not that I would be successful if I actually went on the show. This morning, I’ve been experiment and with all such endeavours, sometimes baking goes wrong.

I tried two recipes this morning; carrot cookies and a gluten-free sponge cake. Now, the cake was my fault. I was trying to be thrifty and use one egg instead of two, so it’s no surprise really that it came out a bit flat. I also didn’t have any vanilla extract so I had a bit of ginger instead. I’m sure this ginger sponge will be lovely with a glass of milk in the evenings. Nothing will be wasted during my experimental baking!

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The cookies were even more adventurous. I tried baking them with vegetable fat, to save on butter and see if it worked. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best idea. They taste good, but the texture is a bit strange and they’re a bit chewy. I’m hoping they will crisp up a bit as they cool, I’ll have to report back in a bit. But I’ll know for next time to stick with margarine.

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I think it’s good to try to new things and see what works and what doesn’t. And I don’t feel guilty about making/eating cakes because I’m not scoffing as many sweets as I once did! The ginger and honey cake I made last week rose considerably well, despite its gluten free ingredients. Maybe I shall return to that recipe on my baking day next week. It’s all about trial and error. Let’s hope I can pick up some tips this evening. Who else is eagerly anticipating the return of this fab show?

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