bang for buck

With a large family in tow and working full-time, filling the cupboards and lunchboxes in a hurry can sometimes take away the magic and joy from baking and replace those warm fuzzies with urgency, turning it into a chore rather than a pleasure. For us, we have three categories of baked goodies: educational baking, “Mum, I’m hungry!” baking and pleasure baking. Each has its pros and cons.

Educational baking is where one throws away one’s need to follow recipes and use correct technique and protocol, providing an opportunity to engage with one’s offspring and practice the highly revered skill of pushing down one’s OCD into the depths of self control. Pro: you get to spend some quality time with your child, bathing in their joy and triumph of creating something scrummy for afternoon tea while you wipe the walls for the third time. Con: usually requires some form of alcoholic beverage to ease the overwhelming desire to speed up a process that normally takes 30 minutes – not ideal if its 11:00am….

“Mum, I’m hungry!” baking is usually takes place whilst on holiday or during the weekend. Lunchboxes will need to be filled for the coming week and the pantry needs to be stocked. It’s quick and requires a reasonable level of time and project management to ensure that the baking is done during lulls in the chaos of the day. Ideally completed without the help of little hands.

Pleasure baking is strictly adults only and is usually in response to an invitation to a friends BBQ dinner or other family event. Pleasure baking brings out your cleverness and pinache that you just don’t get whilst making a batch of biscuits. Flash ingredients and fancy names like bavavois and cocao nibs come out to play once the children are tucked up and fast asleep. Baking for pleasure is food for the soul and the table and laughs in the face of one’s grocery budget…$40 cheesecake styles…

Apart from baking for pleasure, baking in this household brings out ones frugal side: getting the most out of your pantry without it creating a strain on your budget, the end result being a stocked pantry with hearty, tasty and homely baked goodies. Well thumbed recipe books are pulled out with the tried and true recipes called into action again and again. You know they work and they work well.

Here are a couple of my fav ‘bang for buck’ recipes that create an abundance of yummyness for stuff-all.

anzac biscuits

1 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
175g butter
2 Tbsp gold syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 1-2 trays with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl sift flour and stir in salt, sugar, rolled oats, and coconut. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

3. Melt the butter, golden syrup and vanilla together, either on the stove or in the microwave.

4. Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water and mix into the melted butter. Quickly mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place on the prepared baking trays. Flatten slightly with a fork.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until the biscuits have flattened and they have become a reddish-brown colour.

6. Transfer to a cooling rack. The biscuits will crispen up as they cool. Once cold store in an airtight container.

Makes about 40 biscuits.


chocolate chippies

2 1/4 cups plan flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

2. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat the butter, both sugars and the vanilla until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well mixed. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Roll pieces of dough into a ball, and place on a lined baking tray. Press out with the tines of a fork.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 60 biscuits (I KNOW!)




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