traybakes & more

retro recipes for the modern baker

Sydney Specials

Sydney Specials (or possibly Sidney Specials, there are some discrepancies in the spelling) tick a lot of the classic traybake boxes. Coconut? Check! Cornflakes? Check! Chocolate? Check!

This traybake is very simple and quick to make. Just mix the dry ingredients and add melted butter. Then bake and top with chocolate icing. It would only be simpler if it were no-bake. But there’s flour in this and as my flour packet keeps telling me, you shouldn’t eat raw flour (hasn’t stopped me licking the bowl when I bake a cake though…)

These Sydney Specials can be a little crumbly, but they are crunchy and delicious and, I think, the only reason these lasted more than one day in our house is because Little Miss Traybakes stood guard at the cookie tin and wouldn’t let us eat too many at once!

Ingredients

4oz/110g plain flour (all-purpose flour)

3oz/85g desiccated coconut

2oz/55g cornflakes, crushed

3oz/85g sugar

6oz/175g butter

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and mix with the dry ingredients.
  3. Spread into a lined tin (I used an 8″/20cm square tin) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Top with chocolate glacé icing or melted chocolate. For the glacé icing, mix 6oz/175g icing sugar with 1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder, then gradually add a little hot water until you have a thick, spreadable topping.
  5. Spread topping over base while still slightly warm. Leave to cool, then slice into squares and enjoy!

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Homemade Custard Creams

Why would you want to make Custard Creams at home, I hear you ask? Well, not all of live somewhere you can buy them easily at the grocery store and also, it turns out that they are very easy to make and really tasty.

It’s a shortbread recipe with added custard powder and buttercream filling. And as custard powder is essentially flavored cornflour, it helps give the cookies a nice snap and light texture.

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Marshmallow Fudge Traybake

Warning: this Marshmallow Fridge Traybake is very sweet, very gooey and very delicious! It’s got a digestive and coconut biscuit base that is topped with caramel and marshmallow and delivers a serious sugar rush.

It’s another no-bake traybake and although it takes a bit of time to cook the caramel layer, it’s pretty easy to put together. And very quick to disappear in our house. It’s also a useful recipe to have as it uses up the remainder of a tin of condensed milk that you may have opened for another recipe.

Second warning: this is really sticky to work with, especially when you get to the marshmallow swirl, so my advice is to work quickly and be prepared to get melted marshmallow stuck to places other than the caramel layer.

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Chocolate Ginger Traybake

It was time for another no-bake traybake and this Chocolate Ginger Traybake is an easy one. And it doesn’t need flour or eggs! It’s a double-ginger, chocolatey slice, topped with yet more chocolate.

The base has both ginger snap biscuits and crystallized ginger in it for an additional spicy, sugary kick. And the condensed milk makes the base gooey and squidgy. The base is a little on the soft side if you leave it sitting out, so these might be best kept in the fridge, especially if your kitchen is particularly warm.

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Salted Peanut Fudge Squares

Another successful traybake from my stash of retro recipe books, Salted Peanut Fudge Squares are a sugary, crunchy, salty treat.

The base is essentially shortbread with the addition of peanut butter. The top is a sugary, fudgey layer, filled with salted peanuts.

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Brown Sugar Shortbread

I typically make shortbread with white sugar, but in the midst of our time at home, I have thrown caution to the wind and went with this recipe for Brown Sugar Shortbread.

And, it turns out, brown sugar adds a treacle-y, molasses-y flavor to the shortbread that works well.

Such a simple recipe – just flour, butter and sugar. Brown, obviously.

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Queen Cakes

Queen Cakes are a simple, straightforward bake, essentially a fairy cake/wee bun with raisins. If you don’t have raisins, then any dried fruit will do. Or even chocolate chips, which was the addition of choice for Little Miss Traybakes.

Now, as you can see from the photographs, my bun cases are a little larger than I needed for these Queen Cakes. I guess they are US cupcake sized. The recipe makes 12 traditional sized cakes and my bun cases were about half-full before they went into the oven. You probably want to aim for three-quarters full if you have larger cases and want the buns to fill them completely. But, hey, no one complained in our house!

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Yogurt Cake

I have fond memories of making this Yogurt Cake as a child. In fact, the old recipe I found for this in the kitchen cabinet at Mummy Traybakes’ house was handwritten (very carefully) in my writing. It’s a great cake to bake with children and they can easily help with the measuring and mixing.

I used to make this in a 2lb loaf tin and tried that again with Little Miss Traybakes when we made it together. Now, either my loaf tin is smaller than the one I used to use, or yogurt pots have grown. Personally, I think that the yogurts in my fridge are probably larger than what we had when I was younger, so I decided to remake the cake in a round 8″ cake tin and that worked perfectly. If your yogurt pot is on the smaller size (4oz or thereabouts) then the loaf tin will work. For anything larger, like the 5.3oz/150g pots we had in our fridge, then a larger tin is the way forward.

You can use plain yogurt or flavored yogurt, it really doesn’t matter. And some of those ‘fruit on the bottom’ yogurts will add a nice bit of interest to the finished cake. However, I’m quite partial to a plain yogurt cake. It has a subtle tang, moist texture and it keeps really well.

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Wheaten Bread

My Wheaten Bead recipe has evolved over the years. There was a time when I couldn’t get coarse wholemeal flour and I had to improvise by adding wheat bran. There have been times when I’ve wanted to bake and discover I have no buttermilk in the house, so I’ve used yogurt or milk+lemon juice. And after moving to the US, I started to add maple syrup and molasses to my recipe to get a darker, denser loaf. So what it has become today, is some sort of Ulster-American Wheaten Bread.

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Crunch & Crumble Bars

It’s definitely Fall here in New England. The leaves are turning a beautiful range of autumnal colors, we’ve continued our family tradition of going apple picking at a local orchard and we’ve been baking appropriate treats like these Crunch & Crumble Bars.

A rich, buttery shortbread base, topped with your choice of jam and then sprinkled with a nutty, crunchy, crumble topping.

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