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Budget Baking: Brownies, Flapjacks and Digestives

No pun intended, I have a lot on my plate right now. When I get stressed out about how endless my to-do list seems to be at the moment, I turn to cooking and baking as a way of switching off for an hour or so. It’s nice to have to focus on what’s in front of you to avoid chopping your fingers off, rather than thinking about everything you have to do over the next four weeks. It’s equally as nice knowing you’ve got a tub of designated comfort food for those super long library sessions, and you’ll become everyone’s favourite person when you start sharing those treats out. 

There’s a misconception that baking is hard, expensive, time-consuming and definitively unhealthy. It doesn’t have to be any of those things, so here are three cheap and easy recipes that are student-friendly and guilt-free. I’ve adapted the recipes from Davina McCall’s recipe book, “5 Weeks to Sugar-Free”, guilt-free because every recipe replaces refined sugars (the granulated type you’d buy in a packet) with unrefined ones, such as found in honey. They’re much better for you, and should still fulfil those mid-afternoon sugar cravings. 

1. Flapjacks 

Ingredients:

– 150g unsalted butter (approximately half of a block)

– 250ml honey

– 400g porridge oats 

Method: 

Preheat your oven, and then line a baking tin with either grease-proof paper or butter. Heat the butter and honey together in a pan, and then mix in all of the oats. Make sure the oats are sticking together well, then spread the mixture into your baking tin and pat it flat with the back of a spoon. Leave in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and remove the tin when the surface looks golden. Let it cool before you cut it into squares – I got 16 from my baking tin, but it will differ depending on the size – otherwise they’ll lose their shape. 

2. Brownies

Ingredients: 

– An entire bar of dark chocolate (preferably 75% or above)

– 125ml milk (both soya and dairy work fine)

– 100g unsalted butter 

– 150ml honey

– 150ml maple syrup 

– 3 eggs 

– 150g wholemeal flour (available in most supermarkets, but white flour equally works fine)

– 1 teaspoon baking powder 

Method:

Preheat your oven and then line the baking tin again. Melt the chocolate, butter, milk, honey and maple syrup in a pan until it’s all mixed together into a dark brown liquid. When it’s cooled down a bit, whisk in the eggs, and then add the flour and baking powder. If you’ve got leftover oats from the flapjacks, throw a handful of them in for added texture, or any other nuts and seeds you have in your cupboard. Pour it into the tin and leave to cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the surface feels solid. Again, don’t cut it into squares until it’s cooled down! 

3. Digestive Biscuits 

Ingredients:

– 200g oats

– 180g wholemeal flour (again, you can equally just use white)

– 175g unsalted butter

– 150ml maple syrup

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

Method:

This recipe is slightly more technical and will require you to own a hand blender or a food processor, as the first step is to blend the flour, oats and baking powder together so that your biscuits have a smoother finish. If you don’t have one, you’re biscuits will just come out a bit lumpier because of the texture of the oats. Next you’ll need to cut the butter into tiny cubes and add it to the flour/oats in a big bowl – if you’ve got a hand blender, use that to make sure the butter is mixed in properly, if not you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way and rub the mixture in between your hands for a while. When you can no longer see the cubes of butter, mix in the maple syrup and then leave the dough to sit for at least half an hour.

Resume your baking when you can pick up the dough and hold it together in a ball. Preheat the oven and line at least two baking trays with grease-proof paper – the recipe makes a lot of biscuits! If you have a rolling pin and cutters, then roll out the dough and cut your shapes. If not, cut the dough into around 24/26 sections and flatten them using your hands. Place them on the baking trays and leave to cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on how hard you want them to be. Leave to cool, and then bask in the smugness that naturally follows being able to resemble a fully functioning adult. Happy baking! 

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Kacey Gaylor

Exeter Cornwall '18

Hello, I'm Kacey and I'm your President for Her Campus Exeter-Cornwall! Also a third year English student at the University of Exeter's Penryn campus, so you'll find me in the back corner of the library behind a tower of books- just follow the scent of coffee... 
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