Condensed milk Tahini Flapjacks

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The past weekend was one of the best that could’ve possibly been. The late Saturday afternoon welcomed a trip to Borough Market, undoubtedly one of my favourite places in one of my favourite cities. It’s here that I came across ‘flaxjacks’ by Flax Farm, a specialty flapjack store that uses cold-pressed linseed (flax) and linseed oil to add more bang for your buck. As I savoured their bestseller (apricot, orange and pumpkin seed), I realised not once have I tried making this classic, stereotypically English treat. With a new stock of ingredients haphazardly put together, the task had to be completed.

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Just a week into school has gifted the worth of baking once more; each bout of newness allowing ingress of a more meditative mode. All very complementary. Though I’m not used to making or eating flapjacks, I adore its solemn simplicity, both in character and assembly. It’s all just a matter of mixing together the traditional group of ingredients: rolled oats, golden syrup, butter and brown sugar. I changed the ingredients and proportion of this make-up, replacing most of the glucose bits with condensed milk, tahini, and, yes, golden syrup for good measure. Jam is then blobbed on top, which melts a little into the jacks and prove a firm, jammy consistency after baking.

Gooey tops slathered in the familiar milky sweetness of condensed milk, hard, well-cooked bottoms. I like the crunch of an edge and a little bit of snap when it comes to anything oat bar-y, and this recipe really did the trick with that. If you’re into less hard bars, simply bake them for a little while less.

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Condensed milk Tahini Flapjacks (makes 16 rectangular bars)

Ingredients

200g butter

pinch of salt

90g condensed milk

20g golden syrup

5 tbsp brown sugar

200g porridge/rolled oats

120g cereal of choice (I used cornflakes, crushed briefly before addition)

4 tbsp tahini

7-9 tbsp raspberry jam

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180c and briefly butter a 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan. Line your pan with some parchment, if you wish. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the salt, sugar, condensed milk and stir over the heat for a couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the oats, cereal and tahini with a wooden spoon. Press this mix into your pan to form an even layer. Dollop the jam however which way you want on your flapjacks; I did it in a 3×3 fashion. Bake the bars in your preheated oven for 35 minutes. Check them at the half-hour mark– if they are golden-brown on top, take them out. The bars may be soft to touch, but will harden as you let them cool on the counter. After letting them cool for 10 minutes, drizzle with more condensed milk and tahini, add some sliced almonds (optional, I added them for textural variety), and cut into bars. These are best eaten the same day, but can be stored at room temperature or the fridge for up to a week.

 

Pineapple Condensed Milk Loaf Cake

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If there’s one thing you make this week, make it this.

A fluffy pineapple condensed milk loaf cake, studded with fine bits of pineapple, topped with fresh pineapple slices and a lemon-pineapple glaze. 

Sometimes my ideas are like branches with dead ends and no coherence. Since this blog is all about delicious, easy bakes, I didn’t want to throw random curveballs, but I didn’t want to overestimate the charms of conformity either. Basic, but not too basic. A degree of subtle complexity, and certainly no plain jane taste.

Scavenging the kitchen left me with some leftover pineapple from last night’s dessert and, well, not much else. Pineapple loaf cake has been done before, upside-down variations galore, and my finding of condensed milk in the fridge led to this mild twist. I must say it was fun to play around with the ratios; it turned out to be the perfect balance of sweet from the condensed milk and tangy from the use of both fresh pineapple and pineapple juice. Here, there’s not much flamboyance, and hardly any finesse. Funnily enough, it’s exactly this lack of properness that provides the right amount of charm.

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{Above: served warm with lemon curd, a drizzle of condensed milk, and coconut chips}

It’s messy, sticky, glorious. A little of the juice from the fresh pineapple layered on top mixes with the lemon-pineapple glaze, and together with the fresh pineapple both on and inside the cake, forms the perfect topping to the fluffy cake base. And goodness is this fluffy. Fork work is no work. The condensed milk, other than its more unorthodox flavour in the cake, provides a satiating density without weighing anything down. Tender is the night crumb.

Ingredients

For the cake:

175g cake flour (or substitute with the same amount of all-purpose and add 2 extra tablespoons, and be sure to whisk the dry mix all the more thoroughly later)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

large pinch fine salt

115g white sugar

110g (around a stick) soft, unsalted butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g fresh pineapple, cut into even chunks, around 1cm thick

60ml (1/4 cup) condensed milk

60ml (1/4 cup) pineapple juice (freshly squeezed, or you can buy those cans which state ‘100% pineapple juice’), or substitute with 30ml lemon juice and 30ml water

freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

For the lemon-pineapple glaze:

75g icing sugar

juice of half a lemon (the remaining lemon juice)

1 tsp pineapple juice, or substitute with more lemon juice

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C (350F) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf tin. Separate your pineapple chunks into two clumps– one that’s 100g (to place at the bottom of your pan) and another that’s 50g. Finely chop this latter clump into small pieces. Sprinkle some white sugar on the bottom of your greased loaf tin, then place the chunks (100g in total; refer to picture above) of pineapple at the bottom. Set aside your loaf tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar for at least 30 seconds. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and condensed milk. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. To the butter-sugar mix, add half of the flour mix, then half of the pineapple juice. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything in briefly (streaks of flour are fine), then add the rest of the flour, remaining pineapple juice, half of the lemon juice, and the finely chopped pineapple. Mix everything together until just combined. The mixture should be yellow-ivory with a thick dropping consistency.

Tip batter into the loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes; mine took 42. Insert a wooden skewer into the middle of your loaf at the 40-minute mark– leave it for another couple of minutes if the skewer emerges wet and sticky, but take it out if it comes out dry. A few moist crumbs at the tip are fine, for the pineapple chunks at the bottom make it stickier and wetter than the other parts of the cake. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. In a bowl and with a fork or spoon, mix together the lemon juice, pineapple juice (or more lemon juice) and icing sugar. Play around here; you should have an opaque, white glaze. It should easily run when you hold the spoon at a height, but the stream would become reluctant once it starts thinning.

After removing the tin from the oven, leave the cake to cool on a cooling rack for an hour or so before removing. To remove, wear heatproof gloves and tip out your loaf cake, setting it down on your counter the way you put it in the oven (pineapple side down). Using a serrated knife, cut off the top of the cake, so both the top and bottom are flat (tip: the bits you cut off are wonderful, crusty and perfect with marmalade and tea). Flip the loaf cake so the pineapple side is on the top this time. Drizzle with the lemon-pineapple glaze.

Serve warm with lemon curd and more condensed milk. Store the rest in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to a week.