Crumble: fruit or rhubarb

rhubarb crumbleFruit crumble is a wonderfully frugal dish. You can use virtually any fruit (perhaps not banana!) and it’s a good way to use up items that might be passing their best. Summer brings luscious pink rhubarb, perfect for crumble. Autumn delivers apples and blackberries/brambles, also delicious. Here is a basic recipe for a combination of rhubarb and apples, adjust as you require:

Filling:
2 or 3 apples, peeled and chopped (if you use eating apples you could reduce the sugar slightly)
4 or 5 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into chunks
4 tablespoons of sugar
Surprisingly, rose petals combine with rhubarb to give a beautiful flavour.

filling

Topping:
100g. flour (for a gluten-free version use Doves Farm gluten-free flour)
25g. sugar
75g. vegetable margarine
optional additions: grated lemon rind, sunflower seeds, rolled oats.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish and top with the sugar. For the topping: rub the flour into the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and any other additions and place evenly over the filling. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until everything is bubbling: crispy on top, soft below. Lovely with custard or ice cream.

If you like this, you may also like our recipe for Apple Pie



Gluten Free Cake – Apple, Banana & Raisin

gluten free cake

This gluten free cake contains no gluten and no refined sugar, but is sweet and even sort of juicy! It fitted a seven inch round cake tin.

Ingredients:
200g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
2 apples, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 bananas, mashed
1 cupful of raisins
half a cupful of sunflower oil
soya milk, or other milk of your choice to mix, about a cup and a half

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in your oil and some of the soya milk. Add the mashed banana and the apples and raisins and mix, mix, mix, with a wooden spoon, adding milk as you go for a good consistency (thick but not dry, pourable but not runny). Pour into a greased cake tin and bake at 200C/400F for about half an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

The juiciness of the fruit means this gluten free cake does not dry out like some and is good for two or three days. Best kept in the fridge.

If you liked this gluten free cake, try some of our other delicious frugal recipes.

Brambling Free!

Underground, overground, brambling free! The brambles of Wimbledon Common are we…

I don’t know if Wimbledon Common is a good source of brambles (blackberries) but many hedgerows are this time of year, and that means: fruity purple cakes. With chocolate chips. Just because.

Bramble Chocolate Chip Cakes
Ingredients:
300g Doves Farm Gluten free Self Raising flour
100g caster sugar
a couple of handfuls of freshly picked brambles
about a third of a cup of soya milk
about a third of a cup of sunflower oil
100g of chocolate chips (we used Moo Free)
water to mix to a good thick batter – though you don’t want it too runny

Mix the flour, chocolate chips and sugar together (keep some chips back for sprinkling on top). Blend up the brambles with the soya milk and mix this in along with the oil, adding some water if the batter is too thick. It should be purple!

Divide between 12 cake or muffin cases. Place in a muffin tin if using paper ones; silicone reusable cases are better in many ways, not least of which is that the cakes will not stick to them like glue as gluten-free mixes are prone to do. Top with the remaining chips. Bake at 200C/400F for 15 to 20 minutes until well risen and browning. And slightly purpling!



3 ingredient raw chocolate bites

 

Submitted by Scottish author Ailish Sinclair

So simple. So delicious. Very like little Nakd bars. Made on a day when there were no treats, no chocolate, and only really boring biscuits left in the house. There was an old, but still in date, bag of currants in the cupboard and some almonds… so here we go!

Ingredients:
100g currants (raisins would be great too)
100g of almonds (substitute any nut you want)
1 teaspoon of cocoa powder (not actually raw, you could use the more expensive cacao if you prefer)

Food process or blend these ingredients up till they make a soft dough. If using a blender you may have to stop the machine to squash down/stir a bit now and again.

Squeeze the dough into little shapes and eat. You could press them into chocolate moulds or form them into bars to give them a more beautiful appearance. We didn’t do that and they did ever so slightly resemble those novelty Christmas chocolates that get marketed as Reindeer Droppings!

Totally scrumptious though. Totally.

Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.

The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

 

basic sponge cake recipe, frugal baking

basic sponge cake recipe

This basic sponge cake recipe fitted well in an 8″ square tin but any shape will be fine – this same mixture can be used to make small fairy cakes – you could fill 12 paper cases (bake in the oven in a patty or muffin tin for about 15 minutes) and then use the rest for the main cake – puddings and treats!

Ingredients

  • 300g/12oz/2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g/4oz/half a cup of sugar
  • 1 cup/8 fl.oz/200ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 cup of soya milk (or possibly a little more to get a good mixture)
  • 2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract (optional)

Method

Oil your cake tin and preheat oven to 180C/360F. Mix together your dry ingredients of flour, sugar and bicarbonate. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil, soya milk and vanilla – mix well. Pour into cake tin. Bake for about half an hour or until cooked in middle (insert a knife or skewer into the centre of cake and if cooked it will come out clean).

Variations: Top with chocolate chips prior to baking. Add dried fruit or chopped nuts (50-100g) to the mixture. Once cool ice with melted chocolate or water icing (50g. of icing sugar mixed with 1 or 2 teaspoons of hot water) Add a mashed banana or two while mixing for banana cake. Add the juice and zest of a lemon – you can also make lemon icing in the same way as water icing using lemon juice instead of water.

If you liked this basic sponge cake recipe, do try our other frugal fare!

apple layer cake, gluten free

This gluten free apple layer cake is low-fat and moist, using soya and rice flours. Nice served as a pudding with custard or yogurt.

apple layer cake recipe

Ingredients:
6oz/200g./1 and a half cups of rice flour
2oz./50g/scant cup soya flour
4oz./125g./half cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon wheat free raising agent
2 large eating apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
1 cup water
1/4 cup of apple juice
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
a few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
brown granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

Mix the dry ingredients together then add the water, juice, oil, vanilla and mix well. Pour half the cake batter into a greased square cake tin (9×9 inches or 20×20 cm approx. works well). Spread the apple slices evenly over the batter and then top with the remaining mixture and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180c/360F for about 40 minutes or until firm.

If you liked this gluten free apple layer cake, do try some of our other frugal recipes.

Other gluten fee cakes elsewhere on the web: gluten free chocolate cake and banana raisin teabread

Basic chocolate cake recipe, frugal baking

basic chocolate cake recipe

This basic chocolate cake recipe is easy to make and so so delicious!

Ingredients

  • 250g/8oz/1 and a half cups of flour
  • 50g/2oz/1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 200/g/6oz/1 cup sugar
  • 75g/2oz/half a cup of mixed, chopped nuts (optional)
  • 150g/5oz/1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 120ml/4 fl oz/half a cup cold water or soy milk
  • 120ml/4 fl oz/half a cup of orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into 8″ square or 9″ round baking pan. Mix liquids (except vinegar) and whisk into dry. When batter is smooth, add vinegar and stir quickly, until it is evenly distributed. Put it in the oven, don’t let it stand around (that has something to do with the vinegar) Bake for 25-30 minutes…or longer until done.

A gorgeous ‘steamed pudding with chocolate sauce’ variation of this cake was sent in to us by Bracken: put broken up chocolate bar pieces in the bottom of a microwavable basin and put the chocolate cake mixture on top. Microwave for 2-4 minutes depending on machine. It is something similar to the M&S (and several other companies) steamed chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce. Its also very quick and you don’t need to use the oven (so saving electric).

If you liked this basic chocolate cake, try some of our other frugal recipes!

Fruit Cake for Christmas or anytime

fruit cake for Christmas

This fruit cake is great for Christmas or just about anytime at all!

Fruit Cake Ingredients

  • 8oz/250g/2 cups of cooking dates with the stones removed
  • 10 fl.oz/300ml/1 and a quarter cups of water (you could substitute a quarter cup of brandy or sherry for a quarter cup of the water if you like)
  • 6oz/175g/1 and a quarter cups of wholemeal flour
  • 1 lb/450g/3 cups of mixed dried fruit of your choice – including lots of dried apricots works very well
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 4 tablespoons of orange juice

For decoration: You can either do a traditional marzipan and white icing topping or use rows of different nuts such as walnuts, pecans, brazils and almonds.

Method

Heat the dates and water until the dates are soft. Remove from heat and mash with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a greased 2lb/900g cake tin and level top. If using the nut topping place rows of different nuts on top of the cake prior to cooking. Bake at 170C/340F for about an hour and a half until cooked. Once cooled the nut topping can be glazed with a little syrup (melt some sugar into hot water) or you can ice traditionally.

If you liked this Fruit Cake for Christmas, why not try some of our other recipes?

back to Frugal Christmas

homemade festive sweets (candy)

Making homemade festive sweets is actually quite fun – children have a great time with this too. They are also nice gifts if placed in petit four cases in a pretty box or packet. You can intersperse bought sweets such as sugared almonds between for more variety.

Mixed Chocolates

homemade fetive sweets

Ingredients:
Plain Chocolate
Any or all of the following:
Nuts of your choice (hazel, walnut, pecan, almond, brazil)
Marzipan
Dates
Dessicated coconut
Cocoa
Icing sugar
Crystalised angelica
Glace cherries
Flaked almonds

It’s very simple! Melt the chocolate and then dip things in it – nuts, marzipan balls, dates – and then place them on a sheet of grease-proof paper to set. Decorate with angelica, glace cherries (can be made to look like holly) and flaked almonds before the chocolate sets and then you can sprinkle with cocoa, coconut or icing sugar.

Dates can be destoned and stuffed with marzipan for a non-chocolate treat.

Place in petit four cases and enjoy!

Chocolate Rum Truffles

homemade festive sweets

Ingredients:
Some left over cake, crumbled – about 2 cups
2 tablespoons of Apricot jam
2 tablespoons of rum (or rum flavouring)
1 teaspoon of cocoa
50g./2oz (half a large bar) of plain chocolate, melted
Coating of choice – cocoa, chopped nuts, coconut etc.

Mix everything together and then squeeze into balls (about 5 cm. diameter) and roll in the coating. Place in petit four cases.

Little Chocolate logs

homemade festive sweets

1 chocolate cake prepared in a large square tin so it will not be too deep (see our recipe)
marzipan
plain chocolate
icing sugar for dusting
glace cherries and crystallised angelica for decoration or children might prefer chocolate beans or other sweets (pictured logs have pecan nut topping).

Cut the cake into small rectangles ( 10 cm. X 4 cm. and 2 or 3 cm. deep). Cut thin pieces of marzipan and place on top of the cakes. Pour melted chocolate over the top of each log, decorate to your hearts content and then dust with the icing sugar (snow!).

Sweet treats and gifts elsewhere on the web: Solstice Chocolate Refrigerator Christmas Cake from the Among the Trees blog. Homemade chocolate tree decorations from the Modern Housewife blog.

If you liked these homemade festive sweets, try some of our other frugal recipes!

Back to Frugal Christmas

the mermaid and the bear

“The first time the sea killed me, my brother brought me back to life.”

So begins THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Set in a castle, this historical novel features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.

homemade apple pie, simple and delicious

homemade apple pie

This homemade apple pie is especially frugal if you should happen to have apple trees in your garden, but thrifty even if you have to buy them. These quantities make two pies – one for eating now and one for freezing – adjust quantities for your own needs.

Ingredients

  • 600g/18oz/2 and a quarter cups of plain flour
  • 300g/9oz. vegetable margarine
  • about half a cup of cold water
  • 200/g/6oz/1 cup sugar
  • about ten medium sized cooking apples (Brambley are good) – peeled and sliced

Method

Preheat oven to 190C/380F degrees. Grease 2 pie dishes (9 inch rounds do well but any shape will do). For the pastry: rub the margarine into flour until you have a breadcrumb like consistency. Add the cold water and mix to a dough (by hand is best) – add gradually as flours do vary and you may need slightly more or slightly less water than stated. Divide your dough into four (two bases and two tops) and roll out the two bases (on a floured board or surface) and place in the pie dishes.

Place the apple slices into them, cover with the sugar and roll out tops – place on top and seal with water. Cut an X in the centre of each pie and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake in oven for about half an hour or until pastry is cooked and apple/sugar mixture is bubbling (peek into the X!). Delicious hot with ice cream or cold on its own.

kid tip

If you have some left over pastry let your kids (or yourself!) make some little pies of their own – pastry shapes topped with jam, chocolate, sweets or marmite go down well especially if made by one’s own fair hand!! They take about 10-15 minutes to cook, being much smaller.

Variations

This basic piecrust can be filled with anything you like – blackcurrant and apple is good in the summer, brambles/blackberries grow wild in the woods in autumn and can be used in place of apples, as can rhubarb. The same pastry can be used for savoury pies too – try mince or a grated carrot, cabbage and onion filling is tasty with gravy. Mixed roasted vegetable with herbs – let your imagination go (or use up the left-overs in your fridge!)

Alternative

An alternative, sugar free version has been sent to us by Peter:

Ingredients

  • 1 apple pie flan
  • 9oz Tescos value eating apples
  • 90g dried stoned dates
  • 125g raisins
  • 12oz wholewheat flour (as so cheap, could afford to use own brand organic wholewheat flour)
  • 12oz flour
  • 6oz veg margarine
  • Half pint water.

Method

Mix up flour and marg, rest/chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Bring the half pint to boil, turn down to simmer then add the dates, stir around, break up with a fork. If doing more than one flan filling to put in freezer, don’t do loads of water, the reason of the water is to break up the dates. Chop up apples in processor then add apples and raisins to dates, mix all up, that is filling done. Get a standard flan case, (I use the one that bottom comes off, easy to remove flan).

Smear the flan case with marg. Weigh out the dough, rollout 2 thirds of the dough, pop in flan case, tip- roll rolling pin around edge to remove excess over edge, pop the filling in. Wet inside edge of flan with water and rollout the other third of dough. Place on top, pinch around edge with thumbs. I use a teaspoon handle to make a little hole in center of top of flan. Pop into the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 180 degrees C. Take out after 30 minutes and you have one lovely flan, very filling.

If you liked this homemade apple pie, try some of our other recipes.