Thursday, 2 October 2014

Whisky Christmas Mincemeat - Suet Free

Yes, you read right. Please don't hate me - I've started on the Christmas recipes. I had to. I couldn't hold it off any longer. Despite thoroughly disagreeing with the shops being full of Christmas things in September I've been wanting to bake everyhting to do with Christmas. It's October now anyway and the Christmas round ups start next month anyway so if you think about it I'm not that early. 
Suet Free Christmas Mincemeat with Whisky and your favourite fruits.
In my defence, this stuff is delicious. Like, pack it into the jars then stand there eating it right back out of the jars delicious. Who cares if you get drunk off the fumes? (I didn't by the way, I got the lids on quick and didn't eat as much as I wanted to.) 
Suet Free Christmas Mincemeat with Whisky and your favourite fruits.
I've never liked mincemeat because of the suet before so have always had to eschew Mum's mince pies come Christmas time which made me sad. Then I saw Mary Berry make a suet-free version and I was hooked. That was the one for me and this year it got made. I've got a host of recipes lined up to use it in if I don't eat it neat first though if I can hold off, the three months I've given it to mature will make it all the better.
Suet Free Christmas Mincemeat with Whisky and your favourite fruits.
Glowing whisky infuses every gem of fruit present making them glisten and shine in radiant glory. The individual flavours bursting from each of each jewel twist and meld together into something unmistakeably more - something unmistakeably fruity and spiced with everything sweet about the season. Then the internal warmth of the full bodied whisky hits, lighting a little fire inside you chasing away to chills of winter.
Suet Free Christmas Mincemeat with Whisky and your favourite fruits.
It has been a revelation mixing up this batch of Christmas mincemeat. So easy. The most difficult bit is weighing out all the ingredients and even this allows you to choose your favourites to go into the mix. I added glace cherries instead of mixed peel and orange zest instead of lemon. Extra ginger got thrown in for a touch more warmth and although Mary's choice of rum was tempting I went with whisky because it just seemed right. Add what you will - just make sure you have a pan large enough to hold everything!

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Whisky Christmas Mincemeat - Suet Free
A seasonal mincemeat loaded with a menagerie of fruits and doused in a good helping of whisky. The difference with this one is that butter replaces the suet. Perfect for all manner of festive bakes.
  • 175g currants
  • 175g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g dried cranberries
  • 175g apricots, chopped
  • 100g glace cherries, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 large bramley apple, cored and grated
  • 125g butter
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 200g dark soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 200ml whisky
1. Place all the the ingredients except the whisky in a large saucepan over a low heat. Stir to mix until the butter has melted then cook for 10 mins over the low heat, stirring occasionally.2. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 3. Set the oven to 150 C/130 C fan. Wash some glass jars in hot soapy water, rinse then leave in the oven upside down for about 15 minutes.4. Remove the jars from the oven. Stir the whisky into the fruit mixture then pack into the jars trying to minimise the number of air pockets. Put lids on the jars and seal well. Leave in a cool place until needed.

I'm hoping Lucy will accept my suet free fruity mincemeat for her CookBlogShare event at Supergolden Bakes even thought it is a bit early to be talking of seasonal foods. I really wanted to make it! Janine from Cake of the Week has set her Baking with Spirit challenge theme as Something Autumnal and even though mincemeat is usually used in winter goodies, I still think of it as autumnal because you need to make it now if you want the flavours to mature. Well, that's my excuse.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Biscuit Barrel Challenge - October 14

I'm trying hard not to start another Biscuit Barrel post by talking about the weather but I can't help myself. I will blame it on being British if need be. 
Anyway, the nights are drawing in, it's cold throughout the day (or is that just my house?) and the mornings are slower to brighten. Final year is under way so coupled with the darkness, after the birthday celebrations of last month I for one am wanting cosy. What does that mean for you? For me it's slow cooker meals waiting for me when I get back to the house, soup and crusty bread, jacket potatoes with lots of toppings, cake for afters and of course, LOTS of tea. Tea needs biscuits so with that in mind the theme for October is...


Go crazy and show me whatever treats you enjoy that bring you a bit of comfort. As long as it can fit into a biscuit container of some description then it's in. There's lots of options with this one so I can't wait to see what you enjoy and no doubt I'll find some new comforts from them too!

The Biscuit Barrel Challenge rules:
  1. Blog about your recipe that fits in with the theme of the month, linking back to I'd Much Rather Bake Than... Include the logo in your post and add 'The Biscuit Barrel' as a label.
  2. Follow I'd Much Rather Bake Than... using the Google Friend Connect Button.
  3. Add the link to your post to the linky tool at the bottom of the post of the month. The link up closes on the 26th.
  4. The recipe can be your own or someone else, just give credit where it is due. You can also add old posts as long as they have been updated to include the logo/link/label.
  5. You can submit as many recipes as you like and enter your recipe into as many other challenges as you wish.
  6. Don't be concerned about joining in every month. When you have time or when you feel like it is fine.
  7. If you are on Twitter tweet your link to be @MustBakeCakes and use #biscuitbarrel and I'll try to retweet those I see. I'll also pin entries onto the Biscuit Barrel board on Pinterest.
  8. Any questions feel free to ask in a comment or email at

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Biscuit Barrel September 14 Round Up

Ah September is over and we are firmly into autumn. I've also survived my first few weeks back at uni and my final year project research is under way but the baking hasn't let up.
I set the theme this month as Birthday Celebrations because I know of a few birthdays in Spetember, including that of the Biscuit Barrel itself. With all these fine entries, it would certainly be a very handsome birthday spread. Here they are for your perusal. 
First up is Corina at Searching for Spice with these Raspberry Blondies she made for her husband's birthday. Corina and her husband rarely agree on cake matters and she thought she had finallly found a common delight for them only for her husband to say there was enough raspberry flavour when Corina wanted more. Never mind though because these are soft and moist with caramelised bits of white chocolate and a treat I suspect Corina's husband wouldn't mind eating again even if he did prefer the original blondie recipe

Have you ever had the 'Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits or cake?' discussion'? Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist asks this question in her post for Gluten Free Mixed Berry Jaffa Cakes. I'm firmly in the cakes camp but who cares when you are talking about something so creative? Kate tells you how to make jelly from fruity jam as well as providing a perfect gluten free base using glutinous rice flour. Even her white Jaffa Cakes look incredibly addictive.

Cupcakes are always a good idea for birthdays and Caroline from Caroline Makes has created some Kinder Bueno Cupcakes which would be very welcome at any birthday spread where I was present, not least because Caroline has combined chocolate upon chocolate. There is a hazelnut sponge filled with white chocolate spread and a topping comprising of a heap of chocolate buttercream, a chocolate drizzle and a piece of the Kinder Bueno itself. The sound just as heavenly as the chocolate bar.

My own entry now which are these Sprinkle Dipped Viennese Fingers. Everybody knows how yummy the classic buttery, crumbly, melting biscuit is but have you ever thought of loading them with sprinkles? It really is very fun to bit into the chocolate covered end made crunchy by a thick layer of rainbow sprinkles and of course, sprinkles are a heavy feature of birthdays in one form or another. Plus, they're still perfect to dunck in your cup of tea. 

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has shared these Orange and Beetroot Cupcakes and filled them with a delicious homemade plum jam surprise before baking then finishedd them off with a shocking pink icing which is bound to brighten up any birthday party or even a simple gathering of friends for afternoon tea. They certainly set me off smiling when I saw the pictures. With that golden and spiced crumb I wouldn't need the 'eat me' instruction - I'd be too busy peeling away the cake case.

These Blackcurrant Macarons come via Janine from Cake of the Week. Filled with a blackcurrant jam and white chocolate ganache, the combination of creamy sweet and fruity tang goes so well with the almond shells and finished off with a bit of glitter these would shine amongst a birthday spread. Best keep the plate away from me!

That's it for this month and thank to all those who have helped to celebrate the Biscuit Barrel birthday. It has been a truly indulgent month and it's probably a good job it was only pictures and wods that I had to look at with all these delcious goodies! Pop back on October 1st for the new Biscuit Barrel challenge - I think you'll enjoy it.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Almond Apple Traybake

I know it is the cardinal sin of blogging to republish an old recipe but I feel wholly justified in this instance because I first talked about these apple and almond cake squares in the very early days of I'd Much Rather Bake Than... when I didn't even know food photography and styling was a thing let alone that I had an interest in it. Even if that doesn't justify fleecing you off with a recipe I've given before, well, the success of the second time round batch does. They were divine.
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
This is actually the first post I'm writing back in Huddersfield because I've now started my final year of Chemisy. On the day I was due to travel back Mum didn't feel like baking so she said I should do it as my one final cake. Except she said it like it was the last supper and she would be saying goodbye to me forever. Can you imagine the raised eyebrows from me?
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
This was a good cake to go out on I reckon. I thought it was perfect the first time (please, for Gods sake ignore that picture of the original) but this time, somehow, it was more so. I should bake this more often.
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
It somehow manages to be buttery and creamy simultaneously without containing either. The interior crumb is fluffy and openly moist, encouraged by the healthy oils from the ground almonds and the juicy apple chunks. The fruit pieces, available in each and every bite, begin to meld with their surroundings, lending an almost fudge like quality to the cake while maintaining enough tang to cut through the caramel toned cake.
Apple and almond traybake cake (aka cake bars or slices)
The best part is that it is an all in one mixture - simply dump the ingredients in a bowl, give them a wick blast with the mixer to just combine and fold through the apples. Even the decoration is added pre-baking so it is the oven which does the hard work, toasting and caramelising the flaked almonds to crunchy perfection. Add a little cinnamon or enjoy with custard if you wish - I wanted to stick with the pure apple and almond flavours but either way this traybake cake is the perfect comforter for autumn. Now, why haven't I baked this cake more often? The kitchen awaits me.

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Apple and Almond Traybake
A deliciously moist and richly flavourful autumn traybake style cake shot through with chunks of apple and caramel hints. The whole thing is made easy by using the all in one method.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g tub margarine, softened
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 1 large bramley apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds, to sprinkle
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar, to sprinkled
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a 9" square cake tin.2. Place all the cake ingredients in a bowl except the apple chunks and mix with an electric mixer until just well combined. Toss the apple chunks in a little flour then fold into the cake mixture,3. Transfer to the cake tin, level and sprinkle over the flaked almonds then the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.4. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for at least half an hour then turn out to cool completely. Don't remove from the tin until it has firmed up a bit because this cake is quite fragile until cold.

I'm sharing this recipe with Lucy's CookBlogShare event at Supergolden Bakes and Helen's Bake of the Week at Casa Costello in the hope that other people will enjoy it as much as we did. The ease of which the cake is made using the all in one method makes it fitting for Ren's Simple and in Season, hosted this month by Nazima from Franglais Kitchen. Also, the apples make it perfect for Four Seasons Food, this month hosted by Louisa from Eat Your Veg alternatively with Anneli from Delicieux.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Kentish Cake

Hands up, who loves adventures? I LOVE adventures and I'm pretty lucky to have had a few in the last six weeks since I finished placement and came home to wait for the start of my final year. This cake came out of one of those trips so it's that little bit extra special to me. 
Trains will always signify adventures to me. I don't know why - maybe it is a little bit of the child still in me. Mum is the same. It's with my wonderful mum that I've had several of my adventures lately. We've been off exploring different market towns and what they have to offer, being attracted mainly by the antiques stalls because we both have a bit of a thing for old crockery. I blame this blogging thing. Vintage plates and tea cups look so pretty in pictures and I do so like pretty things. I'm all for the functional aspect but what is wrong with wanting something to look good while it does it's job? This is a regular discussion I have with one of my friends in connection to lab coats funnily enough.
This cake is one which came out of one of those adventures with Mum. We were wandering around Chesterfield antiques market when I came across a stall selling old recipe books. Some of them were really old and the one which caught my eye turned out to be published in 1921 when I researched it later that day. It's called The Pot-Luck Cookery Book and after a detailed perusal of the cakes section, naturally, it was this Kentish Cake which demanded that I make it ASAP.
Kentish Cake - a truly vintage recipe perfect for afternoon tea. Flavoured with ground almonds, coconut and chocolate.
It's a very interesting cake and I mean that in an honest way, not a I'm-trying-to-put-a-positive-light-on-it kind of way. The crumb is soft and close, like your favourite cosy cushion but not dense in the slightest. Vanilla undertones pair with butter highlights amongst the almond infused sponge, speckled with coconut and a subtle sweetness from slivers of chocolate. The topping is rustic yet charming, a simple melted chocolate and icing sugar concoction that you simply have to trust - no bitterness or toothache sweetness exists as each component tempers the other.
Kentish Cake - a truly vintage recipe perfect for afternoon tea. Flavoured with ground almonds, coconut and chocolate.
 Determined to do this true vintage recipe justice I stuck to the recipe as much as I could. The ingredients are all the same although I will admit I changed the method slightly, using updated knowledge to keep as much air in the cake as possible instead of knocking it out like the book suggests. This  cake is the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea - a wedge of this and a golden hot drink will really set off your afternoon. Experience allows me to highly recommend it. And yes, I suspect there will be more vintage baking adventures soon. 

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Kentish Cake
A true vintage recipe yielding a soft cake flavoured with ground almonds, coconut and chocolate. The speckles of chocolate creat a pretty pattern throughout. (Note the quantities are in ounces to keep true to the recipe source - The Pot-Luck Cookery Book.)
For the cake:
  • 4oz softened butter
  • 4oz granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1oz ground almonds
  • 1oz dessicated coconut
  • 1oz dark chocolate, grated
For the icing:
  • 4oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp water
  • 2-4oz icing sugar
  • Dessicated coconut, to finish, if you wish
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease/line a 7" round, deep loose bottomed tin.2. Beat the butter until creamy then add the suagr and cream together until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla and mix into the butter and sugar a spoonful at a time. If the mixture threatens to curdle, mix in a spoonful of the measured flour.3. Sift together the flour and baking powder then fold into the creamed mixture in batches along with the ground almonds, coconut and grated chocolate. Transfer to the tin, level the top then make a shallow dip in the centre with the back of a spoon to help minimise peaking.4. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.5. For the icing, put the chocolate and water into a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir until melted and smooth then quickly mix in the icing sugar. It will become very thick very quickly so you may not manage to mix in all the icing sugar. I only managed about half and it tasted delicious! Spread over the cake before it sets completely. Finish with a sprinkle of coconut if you wish.

The name of this Kentish Cake makes it ideal for AlphaBakes this month where the random letter is K. Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker hosts this month, alternatively with Caroline from Caroline Makes.
I'm also sharing this recipe with Love Cake, run by Ness from JibberJabberUK. Her September theme is Back to School - Something New. It might be from a very old book recipe book but it is new to me!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Tunnel of Jam Chocolate Bundt Cake

I've been bitten by the bundt bug. I would like to blame Rachel from Dollybakes for introducing me to them but that would indicate that I don't want to fall in love with bundts and all the new recipes I can collect now. First it was this chocolate whisky bundt, then my favourite Madeira recipe and in between there was a marmalade bundt that never mad it to the blog because the photos were disappointing. Now it's this blackberry jam filled bundt cake.
 I love that you can produce such an attractive cake so quickly. The tin does all the hard work for you, cradling a quickly mixed cake batter in all it moldings and grooves. It's an ideal partnership. Minimum input, quick result, enough cake to share amongst a crowd.
 The result is always magnificent. I've already got my eye on about three other bundt tins, one of which is Christmas themed. There's no holding me back now. I want to bake all of the Christmas recipes.
 This cake is an ode to autumn though and the last dregs of summer. First off I wanted to make a blackberry jam filled chocolate Victoria sponge. That was before Mum bought me this cake tin from Lakeland for my birthday. It's a beauty isn't it? The tin demanded to be christened and thankfully so. It was a pleasure to turn out a devilishly dark chocolate cake, the flavour intensified by a touch of coffee. The richness of flavour hides well the airy, open sponge beneath the surface, a wealth of lightness where every pore shines with the moisture trapped within. Bite into the jam layer and a smooth fruity tang hits you. A nod to its sweet surrounds.
With any luck you will recognise the chocolate cake mixture. It's the same one which I used to make this blogiversary cookie dough frosted traybake and the already mentioned whisky bundt. Mum's ultimate chocolate cake recipe. Time served and easily adaptable. The proof is in the jam. A tunnel of jam sitting right below the surface waiting to ooze out of the fragile crust.

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Tunnel of Jam Bundt Cake
A moist, light sponge, deeply flavoured with chocolate and hiding a tunnel of extra fruity jam just below the surface. It needs no accompaniment besides a cup of tea.
  • Melted butter, for greasing
  •  Cocoa powder, to dust
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 7 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120 ml milk + 1 dsp vinegar + 2 tsp coffee granules
  • 155g self-raising flour
  • 0.75 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.75 tsp baking powder
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 4-5 tsp scoops jam, your favourite flavour
  • Icing sugar, to finish
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan. Brush the melted butter all over the inside of a bundt tin making sure it goes right into every crevice. Dust with cocoa powder or flour.2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, except the jam and icing sugar, sieving the flour, raising agents and cocoa powder. Mix together until smooth but no longer.3. Fill the bundt tin with the mixture and level off. Mix the jam in a cup to loosen then carefully spoon it on top of the cake mixture in a ring. Even more carefully lift a tiny bit of the cake mixture from the side of the jam ring over the top so the jam is covered.4. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 mins or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out wihout cake mixture on it - some jam is to be expected.5. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 mins then turn out of the tin onto the rack to finish cooling. Dust with icing sugar to serve if you wish.

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has chosen Jam to be paired with chocolate in some way this month for her We Should Cocoa challenge so I'm entering my jam filled bundt there.
Also, I'm entering Love Cake, run by Ness from JobberJabberUK, for the second time this month because it was the first time I had used this bundt tin and the theme is Back to School - Something New.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

Three Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties

I must be one of the most easily influenced people in the world. Maybe it comes with the lack of willpower. If I see a poster on my way into uni I'll want whatever new ice cream KFC have to offer. A wrapper on the pavement will have me wanting that new KitKat Chunky. This weekend I saw a folded up paper wrapper that one of my nephews left which reminded me of Starburst and I craved them for two days. Wednesday night the GBBO bakers had to make pasties. I wanted to make pasties. Well, for once, craving satisfied.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
 I could have happily eaten any or all of the pasties that the final six bakers were offering yesterday. I would have been doing a Sue, stuffing a sample of each one into my pockets. When it comes to making them myself though I go for easy. Simple done good. In this case very good. The name of my blog should realy be I'd Much Rather Bake Quickly and Eat Than.... but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
I also had to use up what was in the fridge. I've said it many times before that restrictions in ingredients can force creativity in recipe development and so into the mixture went mustard powder, nutmeg, chives, caramelised onion, a mixture of cheeses and grated potato. I said it was going to be simple and easy. I didn't say it was going to be boring.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
The combination of cheeses was perfect. You can of course use whatever you want but if you can't decide which of your favourites to use then smoked Cheddar, Red Leicester and Wensleydale are a good combination. You get the creamy nuttiness with a hint of tang from the Leicester and a milder crumbliness with a touch of saltiness from the Wensleydale all rounded off by the depth of maturity from the smoked cheddar. Mustard and nutmeg brings out the individual flavours of the cheeses allowing them to twist and meld together. The sweetness of caramelised onions sits snuggly within each parcel, boosted by a generous helping of homegrown chives while everything is lovingly encased in melt in the mouth shortcrust pastry.
3 Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties. Cheddar, Wensleydale and Red Leicester encased in shortcrust pastry. Inspired by the Great British Bake Off.
Mum and Dad loved them. I got a big thumbs up when Dad had scraped up the last morsel and a 'they were nice' from Mum which equates to a profession of love and permission for me to make them again. It's always nice to make something a little bit different to mince and mash and have my plain-eating picky mother (who I love dearly) enjoy what I've made. I was the lucky one, getting the chance to eat one for lunch as well as one for dinner so I could take some photos. And to think I was considering not posting the recipe.

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Three Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pasties
A range of cheeses combines with sweet caramelised onions and a crumbly shortcrust pastry. Perfect for lunch or dinner. Choose your favourite cheeses to make it even better.
For the pastry:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp mustard powder
  • 115g cold block Stork or butter, cubed
  • Spalsh of cold water
For the filling:
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • Approx 150g potato, washed, scabs removed and grated
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • Approx 150g cheese of your choice e.g. smoked Cheddar, Red Leicester & Wensleydale, grated
  • Milk, to glaze
1. First make the pastry. Sift the flour and mustard powder together then rub in the butter unil it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in enough water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Bring together in a ball, flatten to a thick disc, cover and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.2. Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown in colour and sweet tasting. This will take a while. Once ready, place in a bowl to cool.3. Squeeze the excess water from the potato and combine with the remaining filling ingredients except the milk. Stir in the onions, squeezing everything by hand to combine well. 4. Set the oven to 200 C/180 C and place a baking tray inside to heat up - this helps to cook the pasties from the bottom. Remove the pasttry from the fridge, roll out to a few mm and cut around a side plate, re-rolling the trimmings as necessary. I managed 4 discs.5. Dampen the edges of the discs with water and divide the filling between them. Bring the pastry edges together and press, then crimp to seal. Brush the pasties with milk to glaze.6. Place the pasties on the hot baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Enjoy hot or leave to cool on a wire rack.

Seeing as it was the Great British Bake Off that made me bake these cheese and onion pasties, I'm linking the recipe up with  the GBBO Bake Along which Lucy from Supergolden Bakes is hosting until the series finishes.Lucy isn't very well at the moment so get well soon!