Quick and easy does it

Today I’ve been at home with just my youngest son, Oliver, who is 3.  We took the two older ones at school and kindergarten then walked home.  When we got home, Oli decided he wanted me to make biscuits.  If left to his own devices, Oli would live quite happily only eating biscuits, Vegemite toast and breakfast cereal, maybe a banana or two.  He’s a carbs lover, likes potato, chips or boiled but not mashed.  He especially likes biscuits, sweet or savoury it doesn’t matter to him.

Because I’m in the process of setting up the kitchen in the shop, I have few ingredients or cake tins left at home.  This means that at the moment, when Oli says lets make biscuits, the options are fairly limited.  “What kind of biscuits do you want” I ask.  “Let’s look in the biscuit book” he says.  Yes I’m a passionate, some might say obsessive, baker but I have few books dedicated solely to biscuits.  I find one book with biscuits, but most of the recipes required ingredients I don’t have to hand.  Whilst the shop is only two minutes walk around the corner from where we live, the journey becomes longer and more difficult with a three year old, so I choose to use what’s in the pantry – not much.

I manage to find a bag of rolled oats, I know I have some butter, flour, sugar, eggs, spices and a couple of bits of dried fruit.  After trawling the interweb, I find this recipe on the Martha Stewart website that looks appealing.  “10 mins preparation time” it says at the top of the recipe, just my kind of thing.  Melted butter, another of my favourite ingredients.  I love to cook, but sometimes I’m lazy.  After all day in the kitchen at school making “L’Exotique Gateau” yesterday, I really can’t be bothered.  Minimum effort for maximum effect is what I’m all about today.  I don’t have any brown sugar in the pantry but I have close to a cup of organic raw sugar and a jar of molasses.  Perfect, that’ll do the trick.  No raisins, just a small amount of cranberries and currants.

When it comes to baking, people tend to get all hung up on following the recipe exactly.  Yes, I agree, that it’s important when it comes to things like sponge cakes or pavlova to get a good finished product.  However, as my experience at college has taught me, in a class of 10-12 people, all given the same ingredients, the same recipe, the same instructions and cooked in the same oven, everyone produces something slightly different.

I’m learning to relax, trust my instincts and just go for it.  So when I didn’t have all the ingredients the recipe called for, I made it up as I went along.  This is the result –

Cranberry Oats Squares

  • 170g butter, melted
  • ¾ cup organic raw sugar
  • ¼ cup organic molasses
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup dried currants
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).  Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add the molasses and vanilla to the melted butter.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add the egg and combine.  Put into paper lined square tin and bake for about 30 minutes.  Cool in the tin for 15 minutes.  Remove from tin and cut into squares while still warm.

It’s smelling fantastic as it sits on the top of the stove cooling.  Just the thing for hungry kids after a day at school/kindergarten and hopefully some leftover for lunch-boxes tomorrow.

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