Thursday, July 22, 2010

Millie's Cookies!!

Due to popular demand...

First I need to explain something...not that anyone actually needs to explain cravings for Millie's Cookies, but I feel like I'm a special case here.  During my pre-married youth, there were certain things I used to do regularly.  I used to walk from our house in Langley into Slough High Street (even when I could drive) to do a little shopping.  I would also travel by train from Slough (again, walking to the train station, how I miss that!) into London Paddington occasionally too, when I had to go to Senate House Library (no, really, I would only go to the library, I would never, ever detour to Liberty's beauty department, or Hamleys, or Oxford St, or Convent Garden...I was an excellent student).  With all of that walking, I would deem it completely fair that I should reward myself with some Millie's cookies, which, conveniently, was (and I believe, still is) located en route to Slough High Street central in the Observatory Shopping Centre, and there was also a nice little stand in Paddington Station.

It was a treat that I didn't indulge in too often, and when I did, I always felt a little guilty, since the chocolate chunks in there were huge, the cookies were wonderfully buttery and squidgy and it always made me think that whatever's making them taste so good can't be weight-conscious friendly.

And now I've found a recipe for them, I realise that I was absolutely right.

I've been looking for something like Millies here in South Africa for ever, but I haven't come across it yet!  Most recipes for choc-chip cookies are of the hard, crunchy variety (like Maryland cookies).  Nice all the same, but not what I was looking for.

My advice is to exercise some serious will power so as not to eat the whole lot of these once you're done baking them.  These are particularly yummy with a glass of cold milk, and I don't even like drinking milk straight up but you see, Millie's Cookies make you do things!!

The recipe is very simple, but the rule of thumb is, don't bake these cookies till golden brown.  At the most, bake them till the edges are tinged light brown but that's all.  You can even take them out a little earlier - remember Millie's Cookies' trademark is that the cookies are squidgy, not crunchy like other biscuits.

Note:  I tried this recipe with demerara sugar and muscavado, and although they turned out good both times, I preferred it with muscavado.

Another note:  When you're portioning off your biscuits, if you prefer to roll the dough into a sausage shape and cut into slices for perfect rounds, put the dough in the fridge first for about 30 mins.  It will make it easier to roll.

This recipe was taken from Lauren's Recipe Book.  Check her out, she's got more great recipes.

Millie's Cookies
Makes approx. 40 biscuits (depending on size)


225g self raising flour
125g softened butter
100g soft brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
half tsp salt
200g choc chips (or chocolate, cut into chunks, milk or white, or even 200g smarties)

Nearly done!

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Cream butter and sugars well.  Combine with egg and vanilla.
- Sift flour and salt into butter/sugar/egg mixture.
- Add choc chips/chunks or smarties.
- Either shape peices of dough into walnut sized balls, or roll the dough into a thick sausage shape and slice. (see note on rolling and slicing above)
- Bake for 10 mins (see above note on baking)
- Don't burn your hands as you reach to sample one right out of the oven.

These can be stored in an airtight container.  You can even freeze the dough and use it later.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday morning scones and tea (roses)

Happy Monday, readers!

It's been a long time since I posted anything, apologies for that.  Life has caught up with me and I've found myself snapping pictures of baked goodies, planning blog posts in my scrambled brain but never actually getting a chance to sit and type.  Finally, on a chilly Monday morning while the little one still dreams on, I can load up some pictures, do a little Picasa magic with them and post them up.

I originally wanted to post up the long-awaited Peppermint Tart recipe (still to come!) and a wonderful Family Chocolate Cake recipe (you'll just have to wait) but I had such a lovely morning yesterday, involving scones, strawberries, tea and roses, I decided to blog about it while it was still fresh in my mind.

When my husband and I lived in Canada, he used to come home with bunches of roses for me fairly often - about once a week.  When we moved into our house in Cape Town, South Africa a few years ago, he told me that he could no longer afford to buy roses regularly, but promised to plant me my own rose garden.  Well, my husband is not the impulsive type like me, and took time to research tea hybrid roses, and scented ones at that.  My garden still needs a lot of work and TLC, but today we're the proud owners of our own Mr. Lincoln, Casanova, Double Delight, Bushveld Sunrise, Just Joey, and other roses I've forgotten the names of!

Roses from my garden. Top: Double Delight.  Middle: Bushveld Sunrise.  Bottom: Casanova.

Anyway, my dear husband decided to surprise me with an impromptu show of love by presenting me with a beautiful Duftwolke rose.  'Duftwolke' apparently means 'fragrant cloud', which is a very apt description for the velvety tomato red rose which emanates a strong sweet fragrance.  Touched as I was, I decided to reciprocate by making my husband scones, which he loves so much but rarely gets to enjoy them.

I served the scones and tea on fine china, to add to the special sentiment.

A little note about scones:

You may have seen scones sold in packets at your local supermarket.  They're perfect in their regularity, soft, even, smooth-topped.  This recipe will NOT produce those kind of scones.  To be, the shop bought variety is very much like shop bought bread - it looks lovely but when you eat it, it has that irritating habit of sticking to the roof of your mouth.  It tastes 'mass produced'.  Home made scones may look irregular, even a little misshapen here and there, but you can really taste the love that goes into making it, as with anything home made.  It has a little crust so you're left with the delightful sensation of biting into a thin crust before getting to the warm, soft inner scone.

When my brothers and sister and I were younger, we would love waking up to the smell of baking scones on a Sunday morning.  We knew that it meant Mum was baking up a treat for us, and that when we trudged downstairs in our pyjamas we'd be welcomed with a batch of freshly baked scones, tea, and a big smile.  My Mum always worked, but still had the time to be a full time housewife as well, I don't know how she did it.  Anyway, here's the recipe.  Make them with tender loving care.

That's a real Duftwolke rose in the background, not a fake!  Isn't it stunning?

All-butter scones
adapted from a recipe from Joy of Baking


2 cups (500ml) self raising flour
50g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
75g butter, cold, and cut into cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 3 tsp vanilla essence)
1/2 cup cold milk

- Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking poeder, sugar).
- Add the butter, and work it through by crumbling it with your fingers, working lightly and gently until the   mixture resemble breadcrumbs.  Don't let the butter melt and try to keep your hands cold (run them under a cold tap before working with the mixture, taking care that you dry them well.)
- Add the liquid ingredients together.  Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter mixture and pour the egg, milk and vanilla mixture in.  The vanilla neutralises the soapy taste of the baking powder.
- Combining all ingredients with your hands, form a ball of dough, adding a little more flour if necessary.  DO NOT KNEAD.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Press it down lightly to about a 2cm thickness.  Do not use a rolling pin.  Cut out rounds with a cutter, measuring about 7cm in diameter.  Use all of the dough.
- Arrange onto a lined baking tray, and brush with beaten egg.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, turn the tray if necessary to bake scones evenly (I had to do this with my gas oven).  Try brushing a little melted butter over the scones about 2 minutes before you take them out of the oven.
- Once cooled, slice in half and fill as you please.

I served my scones with butter (not margarine), strawberry jam, whipped cream with a strawberry on top.  If you make home made jam, this is the time to get it out.  Alas, I have not yet made jam myself.  Someone once took the liberty to tell me, after I hosted a breakfast at my house, that they get 'angry' with people that buy jam from the shop - needless to say, this was said with a very pointed look at me.  I guess there's no pleasing some people!

If you can get your hands on Devonshire clotted cream, go the extra mile and buy it for this purpose.  It is the perfect accompaniment to these scones.  For South Africans, some branches of Woolworths do sell it, but check if they have stock as my local Woolies was sold out.

And yes. Tea really does taste better in fine bone china.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Perfect fairy cakes | Life and style | The Guardian

Sent to me by a dedicated blog reader, thanks!! Interesting little article discussing some definitions I was actually never aware of. American readers: apologies for the slight about American-style cupcakes. I didn't write the article and I actually love the American contribution to the cupcake/fairy cake world!

Perfect fairy cakes | Life and style | The Guardian

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thank you!

Thank You

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Happy Monday morning all!!

I'm absolutely thrilled to see that I have reached 21 followers already, even though Cake Mama is scarcely a month old! Thank you to all readers and followers for your lovely comments (keep them coming) your endless support and the inspiration you have provided from your own wonderful blogs.

Keep telling your friends and family, or anyone who may be interested, about Cake Mama.  I've decided to do my first giveaway when I've hit the '100 followers' mark.  I don't know what it will be yet, but rest assured it will be something wonderful and fabulous - Cake Mama doesn't do giveaways by halves!

And hey!!! Don't forget that you can submit your own amazing recipes here too!  Just email Cake Mama and it'll be tested out and put up, accredited to the owner so you'll even get a little publicity for your blog too (if you have one).  I only ask that all recipes submitted should be true to the nature of this blog, that is, they should be bakes or desserts, and alcohol and pork free, thanks!

Look out for the Peppermint Tart recipe that I'll be posting shortly.  Happy baking, and peace to you all x