traybakes & more

retro recipes for the modern baker

Mallow Squares

Chocolate! Marshmallow! Weetabix?! Yes, you did read that correctly. These Mallow Squares have Weetabix in the base. Mixed with some sugar and coconut, of course, I’m not going to try to pretend that these are some sort of breakfast food!

I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising that there are traybakes out there with Weetabix in them, I have used Cornflakes (here) and Rice Krispies (here) before and I’m sure I’ve got a few recipes somewhere that use All-Bran. Breakfast cereals are a staple ingredient in the traditional traybake world!

If you’re in the US (or elsewhere) and haven’t heard of Weetabix, I’ve had no problems finding it at Trader Joe’s or even at my local Wegmans. It’s a bit of a classic breakfast food back home and is somewhat like Shredded Wheat. Although not quite the same. But, like I said, I’ve never had a problem buying it here.

So, the base for these does taste a little like sugary, coconutty Weetabix. Then you add a layer of squishy, sticky marshmallow and top it all with chocolate. And Mr Traybakes remarked that the mallow layer tasted like the filling in a Wagon Wheel. Only it’s a lot, lot thicker. What’s not to like!?

Making the marshmallow layer isn’t all that complicated. It does require quite a lot of whisking, so a free-standing mixer would be best here, but a hand-held electric mixer would also do the job. I did wonder if it would all work out in the end as the instructions are just to ‘boil for 3 minutes’ with no mention of temperatures or sugar thermometers. And it all came together beautifully!

Ingredients

Base

3 Weetabix, crushed

4oz/110g/1 cup desiccated coconut

5oz/150g/¾ cup brown sugar

4oz/110g/1 stick butter, melted

4oz/110g/¾ cup plain flour (all-purpose flour)

Marshmallow

8oz/225g/1 cup sugar

6 fl oz/180ml/¾ cup water

1 sachet gelatine (this is a ¼ oz/7g packet)

1 tsp vanilla extract

7-8 oz/200g chocolate, for topping

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 325F/160C.

2.  Mix all the base ingredients together and spread into a well-lined tin (the mallow is very sticky!) I used a 9″/23cm square tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes and set aside to cool.

3.  Dissolve the gelatine in the water in a saucepan, then add the sugar.

4. Bring this mixture to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.  Let the mixture cool and then whisk at high speed until thick, white and glossy.  This took me about 10-15 minutes. Add the vanilla at the end, then whisk briefly to incorporate.

5. Spread the mallow mixture over the base and let it firm up.  Then top with the melted chocolate.

6. Cut into squares when set. The mallow will be pretty squishy but it all springs back into place nicely after you’ve cut the slices. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Orange Slice

Chocolate Orange Slice.  Another one of those classic combinations. Often found together in cakes and biscuits (I’m not going to start a debate on whether a Jaffa Cake is a cake or a biscuit, so let’s just leave it there…) and also in that traditional Christmas treat – the Chocolate Orange!

This no-bake traybake brings together a classic chocolate fridge cake or tiffin (or whatever you choose to call it) with a smooth orange buttercream. Using cocoa powder makes the biscuit layer dark and chocolatey, but then the orange buttercream balances it out nicely. And then you’re left with, well…a few crumbs, considering the speed at which these disappeared in our house!

This is such a straightforward recipe. You measure, zest, juice, crush, melt and mix and then layer the resulting mixes into a loaf tin. You could probably even do all the melting work in a microwave, so you didn’t need to dirty a saucepan, but due to the lack of microwave in my kitchen, I can’t test this out for you. I know, no microwave! I have space for one after our kitchen renovation two years ago, but still haven’t got around to buying one. And, you know what? I don’t miss it. Until I start to wonder if this traybake would be easy to make in a microwave and don’t have the equipment to test my theory!

Anyway, to get back to the traybake, I used two mini loaf tins for my Chocolate Orange Slice. The recipe says to use a 1lb loaf tin, but I wanted to make the slices a little smaller. Use whatever tin you have, but for purely aesthetic reasons, I prefer a tin that will give you three biscuit layers and two buttercream!

Ingredients

Orange Buttercream Layer

2oz/55g/4 tbsp butter

1 orange, for zest and 2 tbsp juice

10oz/300g/2½ cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Biscuit Layer

4oz/110g/1 stick butter

6 tbsp cocoa powder

6 tbsp golden syrup

1 packet (7oz/200g) plain biscuits/cookies

Method

1.  Line the base and sides of a 1lb loaf tin (or two mini loaf tins).

2.  Zest and juice the orange and place the zest, 2 tbsp juice and the butter in a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted then remove from heat.

And try not to spill the icing sugar everywhere like I did!

3.  Sieve the icing sugar and stir into the orange butter mixture until smooth.

4.  Then place the syrup, cocoa powder and butter into a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Syrup, butter and cocoa powder. Yum!

5.  Crush the biscuits/cookies lightly. I used Goya Maria cookies, but Rich Tea or even Digestives/Graham Crackers would work well here. You want to have a good mix of fine crumbs and chunkier pieces. Stir the biscuits into the chocolate mixture until evenly coated.

6.  Press one third of the chocolate mixture firmly into the base of the loaf tin. Then spread half the buttercream over the biscuit base. Repeat with another layer of biscuits and remaining buttercream. Finally top with the last third of the biscuit mixture and press down firmly.

7.  Cover the tin with some foil. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

8. Remove from tin, slice and enjoy!

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Neapolitan Squares

Although not exactly the same as Neapolitan ice cream, the three layers on this Neapolitan Squares traybake look similar enough to earn the name!

It turns out that Neapolitan ice cream was originally available in a variety of flavours and then the chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry combination took over as these were most popular in the USA at the time.

While there isn’t chocolate or vanilla in this Neapolitan Squares traybake, it has a digestive/graham cracker base, a sticky coconut middle and a pink-hued strawberry buttercream topping!

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No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake Bars

No-bake lemon cheesecake bars. This is a proper, old-school, retro recipe, made with cream cheese, evaporated milk and lemon jelly (or jello, for my US readers). See, I told you it was properly retro!

But, you know what, it still tastes good. And it’s quick and easy to make. So it’s perfect for a simple summer dessert.

When I was younger (back through the mists of time), this was what I considered to be cheesecake. I’m not even sure at what stage I discovered baked cheesecake. Nevertheless, even if this is not the most modern recipe, sometimes a classic can still be a winner!

You may spot that there aren’t any ‘before’ or ‘during’ photographs in the recipe this time, but, to be honest, they weren’t that exciting, so I left them out.  Digestive biscuit crumbs and lemon cheesecake mix don’t make the most interesting pictures! Finished lemon cheesecake bars…well, that’s a little more useful!

These bars are tangy and smooth and set nicely to enable you to cut them into neat slices. And they get the all-important seal of approval from Little Miss Traybakes!

Ingredients

8oz/225g/2 cups digestive biscuits/graham crackers, crushed

4oz/110g/1 stick butter

1 packet lemon jelly/jello (I used a 3oz/85g packet)

1 pack cream cheese (8oz/225g)

1 small tin evaporated milk (I used a 5oz can)

1 tbsp juice + zest of 1 lemon

3oz/85g/⅓ cup sugar

Method

1.  Before you start, make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature as this will make it a lot easier to work with.

2.  Melt the butter. Add to the crushed digestives and mix well. Press firmly into a traybake tin and place in the fridge for an hour or two to set.

3.  Dissolve the jelly in ½ cup (4 fl oz/120ml) hot water and set aside to cool a little.

4.  Beat the cream cheese until smooth then add the sugar, lemon juice + zest and evaporated milk and mix well.  Next, slowly add the lemon jelly mixture and beat until it’s all incorporated.

5.  Spread over the biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge.

6.  Slice and enjoy!

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Flakemeal Biscuits

Flakemeal Biscuits, Oatmeal Cookies – whatever you choose to call these – they are a simple, crunchy, tasty biscuit.

While their traditional name in Northern Ireland is Flakemeal Biscuits, I ended up calling them Oatmeal Cookies when Little Miss Traybakes asked what they were, as she looked at me blankly when I said flakemeal. I guess I had better get used to the language differences that will spring up over the years, but I will still try to keep her educated on the ‘proper’ words!  My little US citizen shall be a bilingual baker!

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Alice Cakes

I have multiple recipes for Alice Cakes, but I don’t remember eating these growing up. But there are many recipes I have encountered that are unfamiliar to me, that’s one of the pleasures of baking for this blog, I get to discover all sorts of new treats.

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Date and Ginger Crunchies

I already posted one of my favorite childhood traybake recipes using Rice Krispies here (other puffed rice cereals are available!) and, of course, there is always the Mars Bar Traybake. And now this Date and Ginger Crunchies recipe is another option for the ‘Baking with Breakfast Cereal’ series. Or should that be serial?!

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Fruit Soda Bread

Soda bread is remarkably quick and easy to make. There is no yeast involved, no proving or kneading, you just mix everything together, shape it and bake it!  All the rising comes from the reaction of the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and buttermilk.

This Fruit Soda Bread is a firm favorite in the Traybakes’ household. While best eaten on the day it’s made (especially with a generous slathering of butter) it’s also good toasted, if you have any left after a day or two!

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Chocolate Custard Slices

Chocolate Custard Slices. These were a big hit in the Traybakes’ household. They are no-bake. They are easy to make. They freeze well. And they are really rather yummy.

In my exploration of all things baking, I discovered that these Chocolate Custard Slices are incredibly similar to a Canadian traybake called Nanaimo Bars.  The main difference seems to be the inclusion of almonds in the base of the Canadian version.  Although, just like with many Northern Irish traybakes, there do appear to be multiple recipe variations.  But I’m going to stick with calling them Chocolate Custard Slices.

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Tea Loaf

I drink a lot of tea. I consider it to be a normal amount, but it’s probably well above average for my little corner of suburban Massachusetts.  Perfectly normal for Northern Ireland though.  And tea features in my baking this week.  This is a recipe for Tea Loaf.  A simple, straightforward bake that requires very little hands-on time.

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