[box]Words: Laura Stockwell
Photos: Dasha Miller[/box]
Baking at home isn’t normally associated with students. Maybe those quirky, cool ones who make apron and oven gloves look hot can pull off that domestic deity persona. For most of us though, home baking seems like too much effort for far too little gain. Especially when Greggs is just round the corner.
This is wrong! Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Jamie Oliver on you and try and reform your diets through detailing the ins and outs of the grim chemistry that goes into Greggs food production, but I am going to try and show you why home baking is so much cooler (and tastier, and cheaper, the list goes on….) than a packet of supermarket brownies. As good as they are, so much better can come out of your kitchen. Time to whack out the flour, sugar and eggs – and create a culinary delight.
The excuse, “I can’t cook”, doesn’t really sit well with bakers. Baking a cake is one of the simplest and most rewarding tasks. It is so much more fun than revision, and the result is 100 times better than any grade. For a start it is edible. Here are my top 3 reasons as to why home-baking is the way to go….
It will help save the pennies for more fun adventures. If we added up all the money we spent on buying ready-made cake junk at our local shops, I guarantee there would be far more money in the boozing fund. With the key ingredients of eggs, flour, sugar, margarine (cost amounting to a few pounds) your cupboard will be stocked for endless baking delights, instead of an all-gone-in-one ready-made cake which, if it was me, would last no more than a few hours.
The baking process itself is by far the best bit. Basically, you get to make a huge mess, but in a productive way! I have never made a cake that hasn’t turned the kitchen white with flour, it’s just too much fun. Either by yourself, or with friends, baking is a way to politely make a mess. THE best bit, however, has to be the ‘licking the bowl’ stage of cake making. Spoons, pans, bowls, whatever utensils you use will be covered in left over chocolate, cake mixture and butter-cream, and well, it would be rude to throw it away …
It makes you look cool. Everybody wants to be friends with the one who can bake. It’s standard. No matter what the occasion, there is always room for a cake. Trust me, if you can make a cake, you will have more friends. Fact.
Home-baking doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Here is a really simple and easy recipe for white chocolate and raspberry muffins. It is cheap, quick and easy, AND they taste and look much more impressive than anything from a shop. Make sure you have a sealed tin and a place to hide them, they will be hunted down by every one of your friends.
Right, here goes:
Check after 10 minutes. To check if the muffins are cooked, insert a fork into the centre. If it is clean when removed, the cakes are ready. If you want to make the muffins look even more impressive, drizzle a little melted white chocolate across the top of them, but only once the muffins are completely cool!
Don’t worry if you don’t have some of the technical equipment like sieves and scales, improvisation can be the funnest part of baking. Instead of scales you can use cups/mugs – so long as the proportions are correct you will be fine. None of the ingredients have to be expensive – cheap chocolate often works better than the posh Cadbury stuff.
You don’t have to stop here with these muffins. You can add pretty much anything to create a variation of your own – looks very impressive to all the mates. One method, with many end results! Here are just a few ideas:
For a chocolate extravaganza add some cocoa powder to the mixture (50g of cocoa powder with 250g of self raising flour at stage 3), and replace the white chocolate and raspberry additions with other chocolate treats, (so long as you add 240g of treats overall the recipe will work perfectly. Perhaps try 80g white chocolate, 80g dark chocolate, and 80g milk chocolate. Or if you are feeling daring replace one of them with 80g of nutella or caramel drops!)
If you like a bit of the exotic try adding a couple of mashed bananas instead of the raspberries, and 80g of walnuts.
For some toffee-apple fun, add a pinch of cinnamon at stage 3, 4 apples (skinned and chopped into fine pieces) and 80g of toffee pieces.
You can add whatever you like really, just experiment and see what works! Whatever happens, so long as you add something you like, it will taste good. Enjoy!