Recently I met Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two, and passionate baker behind BakeClub – a baking school that’s about so much more than whisking together some flour, eggs and sugar and making a knock-out cake. It’s about sharing the magic of baking and how it’s a way of connecting and nuturing.
Anneka has such an incredible energy. Every time we speak or catch up (over food of course!) I leave buzzing. So, each month Anneka is going to pop over to Checks and Spots and share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience.
First up – Anneka has five fabulous tips for baking when you don’t have time. Plus, she has a very yummy Quick-Mix Citrus Shortbread recipe which takes just 10 minutes to throw together!
How often do you bake? Once a month, once a week, or maybe even every couple of days? In truth, most of us wish we baked more often. So, today I’m giving you five fabulous ways to help make your time in the kitchen more efficient and hopefully go some way in removing the ‘no time’ excuse.
- Don’t make it hard for yourself – Whatever you do, don’t choose a ‘fancy’ recipe. Yes, I know, we all want to impress, but this doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated, difficult and time-consuming. Choose recipes that are short on preparation but big in the yum department.
- Look for recipes that make use of time-saving appliances – My electronic scales and food processor are two of my favourite time-saving appliances. Electronic scales have the ability to ‘zero’ the reading (the tare weight) so you can efficiently measure a number of ingredients, one after another, into the same bowl – brilliant for one-bowl recipes while also saving you a bunch of washing up. And once you have weighed all your ingredients, a food processor means you can combine them all quickly and efficiently in the fraction of the time that other mixing methods would take.
- Get a little organised before you start– Take a few minutes to first read through you recipe, get out all the ingredients and tools you need and turn on the oven. Doing this means that you won’t have anything slowing you down once you start.
- Take your butter and eggs from the fridge the night before – Baking recipes will quite often ask for butter and eggs to be used at ‘room temperature’ or, in the case of butter, ‘softened’. Pulling them out of the fridge and leaving them on your kitchen bench the night before (or a couple of hours before you intend to bake) will mean they will be at the right temperature and consistency when you want to bake.
- Get to know a recipe well and make it again, and again, and again – Like anything in life, the more you make a recipe the more efficient you will become. Look for ways of putting your own spin on it to give you another recipe – swapping orange zest for lemon or lime, replacing cater sugar with brown sugar, using hazelnut meal instead of almond meal.
Want to start your time-saving baking now? This Quick-Mix Citrus Shortbread is low-stress, high-impress recipe that makes good use of all the things I havementioned above. But best of all, they will be devoured as quickly as you made them!
Quick-Mix Citrus Shortbread
This shortbread is simple and super quick to make. Even though you need to chill the dough before slicing into the biscuit shapes it is perfect to make ahead of time and keep it in the fridge or freezer for when you need it.
Makes: about 30
Preparation Time: 10 minutes (+ 1 hour chilling time)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
What You Need:
- 150g chilled butter, diced, at room temperature
- 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
- 150g (1 cup) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 30g (1/3 cup) cornflour
- 70g (2/3 cup) almond meal
- 1 orange or lemon, zest finely grated
- 50g candied orange peel strips (optional), finely chopped, to sprinkle
What You Need To Do:
- Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 1 minute or until the mixture starts to form a dough – be careful not to over-mix
- Turn the mixture onto a lightly floured bench top, bring together with your hands and then knead gently until smooth. Divide into two equal portions and roll each into thick sausages about 4cm in diameter and 15cm long. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until ready to bake.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Unwrap the biscuit dough, slice into 1cm-thick rounds and place on the baking trays about 2cm apart to allow for spreading. Sprinkle each biscuit with a little of the chopped candied orange peel if using.
- Bake for 20 minutes, swapping the trays half way through baking, or until pale golden and cooked through.
- Remove from the oven and cool on the trays.
- If you don’t have a food processor, leave the butter at room temperature for about 30 minutes for it to soften slightly and then just use your fingertips torub the butter through the dry ingredients and then your hands to bring it together into a dough.
- Keep in an airtight container or jar for up to 1 week.
- The uncooked dough, rolled into logs and wrapped well in plastic wrap, can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week. It can also be kept in the freezer, sealed in freezer bags or an airtight container, for up to 1 month. Thaw therolls in the fridge before slicing and baking.