Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Double Chocolate Aero Bubbles Cookies

It's April. My exams start on May 11th. The ones which decide what degree classification I get after four years of battling chemistry. This means I should be revising. But hey, I made cookies instead!
Soft baked Double Chocolate Aero Bubbles Cookies with a fudge like centre.
Of course I made cookies. I'm an excellent procrastibaker and I needed to at least try and relax. I also needed something really chocolatey that I could keep reaching for. Over and over. Anything to get me through the next couple of months. May 29th is when it is all over people. Watch this space!
Soft baked Double Chocolate Aero Bubbles Cookies with a fudge like centre.
These cookies were the result of finding some sharing bags of Aero bubble reduced. Not the usual mint ones but the rare milk and white chocolate Asro bubbles. Of course, I had to buy a couple of bags to add to my stash. I had intended to use them as decoration for some marble cupcakes but then I got upset so ate one bag. I can't remember what over but at a guess it was probably over my dissertation. The relief I felt when I clicked submit was immense. 
Soft baked Double Chocolate Aero Bubbles Cookies with a fudge like centre.
So these cookies. I've been here before with a mint Aero bubbles version. These though are something else. Each bite is met with the slightest resistance from the outer shell of crunchiness that is wished for in the best cookies. On reaching the sumptuously chewy core you are met with an intense chocolate hit with just enough sweetness to balance the sweet and creamy white chocolate, the Aero bubbles adding a layer of fun pleasure to a grown up chocolate cookie.
Soft baked Double Chocolate Aero Bubbles Cookies with a fudge like centre.
I know an office of scientists that would have enjoyed these. Trouble is, they never made it that far.

Double Chocolate Aero Bubbles Cookies
Makes 18 ish cookies
Crisp on the outside with a soft and chewy fudge like interior these cookies are deeply chocolatey and packed full of the rare milk and white chocolate Aero bubbles.

For the cupcakes:
  • 115g butter
  • 190g sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp molasses
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.75 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g plain flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 230g Aero bubbles (2 sharing bags)
1. Melt the butter with the sugar and molasses in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.
2.Mix in the egg, then egg yolk, then vanilla. Sift in the bicarbonate of soda, plain flour and cocoa and stir together until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated.
3. Crush the Aero bubbles so some are in small pieces and some are still whole. Mix into the cookie dough, reserving a few to go on top of each cookie if you wish.
4. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place balls of cookie dough on the tray, making them reasonably tall. Don't have more than 12 cookies on each tray.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 mins, depending on how soft you prefer your cookies - tey will look underdone. Mine weighed about 35g each and I baked them for 10 mins. Leave on the baking tray for a few mins then carefully remove to a wire rack. Divide the rest of the dough into balls and repeat. If you've saved some Aero bubbles pieces, gently press them into the warm cookies now.

I'm sharing these cookies with CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes and Bake of the Week run by Helen from Casa Costello. Also, Tea Time Treats where the theme is chocolate this month. Karen from Lavender and Lovage alternates as host with Janie from The Hedgecombers. My use of Aero bubbles makes them suitable for the candy themed Biscuit Barrel too. Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron is hosting for me while I finish of my degree and I couldn't be more grateful.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Mini Galaxy Caramel Egg Brownies

What would you do to celebrate something you have been hoping for and working towards finally coming off? An evening at the pub? A meal out? If you're anything like me then you will get in the kitchen and bake. And hence the reason for these ultra gooey, massively chocolately brownies, topped of course with Easter chocolate. Because why not. It's a celebration after all. 
Ultra gooey brownies with a Mini Galaxy Caramel Egg in each piece
So the big announcement. Most of you know I'm in the final year of a MChem degree and so I should be frantically looking for jobs in between trying to cram as much information into my head as possible. Well I don't need to look for jobs because in September I'll be starting a PhD!!!!! I'll be working on organic total product synthesis in the same research group that I did my final year project with. The PhD project I've got is really interesting (and even more confusing) and I'm so pleased I was offered it. Quite why I want to go through the stress again that I experience while writing my dissertation, only a thousand times worse, I don't know. But there will be cake involved - I know that for certain.
Ultra gooey brownies with a Mini Galaxy Caramel Egg in each piece
These brownies are an adaptation of my favourite ever brownie recipe which I also based these Overloaded Brownies on as well as these Mini Creme Egg Brownies. I've also made brownies with and mayonnaise, some with courgettes and a Nutella surprise, and I'll never forget the gluten free five ingredient brownies I made last year. These brownies though, these may just be my new favourites.
Ultra gooey brownies with a Mini Galaxy Caramel Egg in each piece
Wickedly indulgent and packed full of dark chocolate, a mini Galaxy caramel nestles on top of each square amongst a smattering of chopped white chocolate. Sweet yet not sickly, just sinfully good. The most gooey brownie you will experience and highly appreciated by all. Here's to the next three years of Chemistry.

Mini Galaxy Caramel Egg Brownies

Makes 16 small brownies
Incredibly gooey and deliciously rich, each brownie is finished off with a Galaxy caramel egg. A good way to use up Easter chocolate!

  • 16 mini Galaxy caramel eggs, unwrapped and put in the freezer at least a few hours before baking
  • 125g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 85g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 50g white chocolate chopped
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line an 8" square tin with baking paper.  
2. Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined and foamy then whisk in the vanilla. Stir in the cooled chocolate/butter mixture then sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Stir together until only just combined.
4. Pour into the tin and level off. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins then remove from the oven and quickly place a caramel egg where each piece will be, avoiding where you will cut. Press down slightly. Scatter over the white chocolate and return to the oven for 15 to 20 mins. A cake tester inserted into the centre should come out with gooey crumbs on it. 
5. Cool on a wire rack completely before removing from the tin and slicing.

Of course, I want to share these brownies with as many people as possible. First, CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. The AlphaBakes challenge is welcoming B bakes this month, currently hosted with Caroline from Caroline Makes alternating with Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker. Treat Petite for April is hosted by Kat, The Baking Explorer who shares duties with Cakeyboi Stuart. The these is spring so these brownies, a perfect way to use up Easter chocolate, should fit the bill. Karen from Lavender and Lovage has chosen the theme for Tea Time Treats as chocolate so this entry goes without saying. Her co-host is Janie from The Hedgecombers. And of course, The Biscuit Barrel, which is currently being hosted by Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron while I finish off my degree. Alexandra is doing a fantastic job at hosting for me so please, please go over and say hi and scour her inventive recipes.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

What happens when you have to sit staring at a melting point apparatus for half an hour in the lab? Well if you're me you fill the back few pages of your nearest notebook with a list of ideas you want to bake and then proceed to write out the recipes for them. And then feel hugely disappointed when your compound actually starts to melt so you have to pay attention. Everyone else in the lab is used to this sort of behaviour from me by now. During times of particular stress I've even had it thrown at me 'why haven't you brought cake in today?!'. Even half the lecturers know about my baking obsession and this little blog of mine.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chocolate Cupcakes all in one method
Recently Taylor and Colledge very kindly offered to send me some of their new extract pastes to try out. After hearing good things about their range of vanilla products I jumped at the chance and when my package arrived, I very excitedly opened it up to find I had received extracts of vanilla, lemon, peppermint, lavender, almond and coconut. Such a lovely array of flavours don't you think? The pastes are all from either organic or natural sources and their is a little bit of information as to the origin on the box of each one. (I love little geeky facts like these!) The real beauty about the pastes though is that they are concentrated so you only need a little to make a big impact.
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chocolate Cupcakes all in one method
I've been fancying mint flavoured things for a while now so it was the peppermint paste I broke into first. The smell was divine as I broke the seal and squuezed out a little into my mixing bowl. The consistency was beautifully smooth and not too thick so it mixed into the other ingredients like a dream. It was only my first try of these new concentrated extract pastes but already I was impressed by the quality. Next came the taste test.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chocolate Cupcakes all in one method
I actually made mint chocolate chip cookies with the peppermint paste first but that post is waiting for another time. The cookies were wonderful and chewy, the indulgence lifted with a refreshing breath of cooling mint but these cupcakes are really where it is at. My time is very limited at the moment because I'm writing my final year dissertation, and then I head straight into exam revision, so I went straight for an all in one sponge mixture. It was the right choice. Super soft and and achingly tender, the amount of cocoa gives a powerful chocolate hit while maintaining a level of sweetness that showcases the flavour to its best.  I toyed around with a couple of icing ideas before settling on a minty version of the cookie dough icing (frosting if you prefer) I used on this traybake. The same one that disappeared to rave reviews. Super creamy and whipped to a light, delicious finish the mini chocolate chips mixed right in remind you instantly of mint chocolate chip ice cream - one of my favourite flavours.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chocolate Cupcakes all in one method
The feedback? 'AMAZING!' Caps lock and all. So yes, Taylor and Colledge's concentrated extract pastes passed the taste test. As for the other flavours, I'm planning on making lavender and white chocolate cupcakes, remaking these muffins with the coconut one and making almond and chocolate cookies. The lemon extract would be perfect in this traybake and the vanilla paste would be a dream in my favourite Very Vanilla Cupcakes. For now, why not make these minty chocolate cupcakes? I couldn't resist adding the green food colouring. Right in time for a St Patrick's day bake too.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Makes 10-12 cupcakes
Soft chocolate cupcakes made using the super quick all in one method topped with fresh and minty mint chocolate chip coookie dough icing. It looks just like ice cream!

For the cupcakes:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 115g margarine or softened butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 80g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tso vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
For the coookie dough icing (frosting):
  • 50g softened butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract paste
  • Green gel food colouring (optional)
  • 65g plain flour
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 35g mini chocolate chips
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
2. Put all the ingredients for the cupcakes into a bowl and use an electric mixer to mix until just combined. Divide between the cupcakes cases and bake for 20-25 mins until well risen and a cake tester inserted into themiddle of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
3.Remove the cupcakes from the oven and carefully transfer them from the muffin tray to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat the butter until creamy then beat in the caster sugar, peppermint extract and enough green food gel to get the shade you want, until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour and enough milk to get a soft consistency that isn't sloppy. Mix in the chocolate chips.
5. When cooled, spread the icing on top of the cupcakes and enjoy.

I'd like to enter these into CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. Also, into the Mum theme Treat Petite, this month hosted by Cakeyboi Stuart who alternates hosting duties with Kat The Baking Explorer. I know my mum would have loved these if I had made them at home and I was thinking of her as I baked them, especially as I'm missing her a lot right now, having not visited home from uni for so long.

Disclaimer: I was sent the extract pastes by Taylor and Colledge for review purposes and I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts expressed are unprompted.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Muffins - Gluten Free

Have you ever wanted to bake with a particular ingredient, try out your own ideas, after being inspired by things you've seen floating around the internet? That's exactly where these muffins originated from. I'd been wanting to bake with buckwheat flour for ages so when the people at myprotein.com got in touch, I jumped at the chance. Buckwheat flour went straight onto my list of goodies to request.
Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Muffins - Gluten free and good for you
It might seem like a strange brand for a sugar laden blog to work with but myprotein.com sell all sorts of products. They have the typical protein powders, shakes and snacks for those who work out at the gym and want to help build muscle but they also stock sports clothing, nut butters, a range of flours and grains that have health benefits beyond your typical wheat flour, dried fruits, nuts and other baking ingredients like coconut oil. In addition to my buckwheat oil I was tempted by the coconut oil and the 1kg tub of almond butter. I had ideas swimming in front of my eyes straight away. Not least grabbing a spoon and digging right into that tub of almond butter. Have I ever mentioned how much of a peanut butter addict I am? It's perfect revision comfort food. 
Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Muffins - Gluten free and good for you
I couldn't wait to get started so I was particularly pleased when my goodies arrived quickly. I had heard good things about myprotein.com from my brother and one of the PhDs at uni so I'm pleased to say now that I can back them up. That almond butter is going towards some cookies which I will hopefully get to make soon (probably when I'm throwing a tantrum over not being able to find the right words for my dissertation) but it's the coconut oil and the buckwheat flour which are the stars of these muffins. I took my favourite muffin recipe adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction which I've used so many times before. It's super adaptable whether it be for spicy gingerbread, autumnal bonfire toffee apple or  creamy iced latte crumble muffins. These though are something else. A complete success. Sweet and nutty with earthen undertones from the buckwheat flour, the chunks of extra dark chocolate hidden throughout and generously sprinkled on top provide little kicks of cocoa delight. Coconut oil and exract add their own enticing flavours, complementary to the honey replacing the processed sugars. If you want a quick fix to your desire to treat yourself with something delicious, but without being excessively indulgent, then these are the muffins to go for.
Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Muffins - Gluten free and good for you

Ok, so I've tagged this recipe as healthy which isn't strictly true but I did choose a combination of ingredients which do bring their own health benefits to your plate along with tasting lovely. Buckwheat flour, despite its name isn't actually a flour so is suitable for gluten intolerant people. My housemate got to try some of my baking which she hasn't done in a long time! It works really well as a gluten free alternative to plain flour in lots of baked goods. Coconut oil, despite being high in saturated fat has so many more points to recommend itself - Google it and you'll see. I used honey instead of processed sugars so you can be rest assured there and by using 74% dark chocolate there is less fat and sugar, and more iron in these muffins. The perfect dessert. Healthy(ish) and delicious. And now I'm going to ruin all my efforts by pairing one with ice cream. Mmmmmmmm.

Dark Chocolate Buckwheat Muffins
Makes 6 normal sized muffins or 9 cupcake sized muffins
A muffin which oofers benefits for the body, soul AND taste buds using coconut oil, gluten free buckwheat flour and dark chocolate.

  • 190g buckwheat flour e.g. this one
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp nutmeg
  • 100g dark chocolate. chopped (ideally 70% solids at least)
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 75g honey
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 120ml buttermilk (or milk or coconut milk + 1dsp vinegar)
1. Set the oven to 220 C/2000 C fan and line a muffin tray with paper cases.
2. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir in the chopped chocolate, reserving some for the tops of the muffins if you wish. In a separate bowl or jug whisk together the oil, egg, honey, coconut extract and buttermilk. 
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined - a bit lumpy is ok. Sprinkle on the reserved chocolate.
4. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes if making 6 normal sized muffins or 13 minutes of making 9 smaller muffins. For both sizes, reduce the oven to 180 C/160 C fan after the first five minutes. When baked, remove from the oven and remove the muffins from the tray to cool on a wire rack.

I'd like to send these off to CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. Also to Simply Eggcellent - a new challenge run by Dom from Belleau Kitchen. I haven't entered for a while due to uni stuff but it's nice to join in again with Bake of the Week run by Helen at Casa Costello.

Disclaimer: I was sent products from myprotein.com to review and use in my recipes. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Jaffa Loaf Cake

So what do you enjoy with your film when you go to the cinema? Popcorn? Nachos> Pic & mix? Cake? Oh, so that's just my group of friends then. Ok, but just so you know cake = the best cinema treat EVER!
Jaffa Loaf Cake - soft vanilla sponge with Seville marmalade and dark chocolate
It's actually the second time I've taken cake to the cinema for myself and my friends to enjoy - complete with paper plates and forks I might add! The first time was a chocolate Coca Cola cake with milk ganache icing (recipe coming at some point, promise) and when we were planning the second time, one friend apparently said to the other, 'I wonder if Laura is bringing cake' and the response was  'she had better'. Thankfully this cake was rather more than satisfactory.
Jaffa Loaf Cake - soft vanilla sponge with Seville marmalade and dark chocolate
Soft, springy and light, the moist vanilla sponge made quick and easy by the all in one method, hides beneath a layer of Seville orange marmalade. Slather this on when the cake is fresh out of the oven and the bittersweet fragrant flavour seeps down into the cake to boost the moisture levels held therein. Let the cake cool and then smoother the marmalade with a dark chocolate topping. Let it set before you get your reward and cut slice after slice, breaking the chocolate shell so the sweet orange preserve oozes out in a sticky layer, melding with the dark chocolate.
Jaffa Loaf Cake - soft vanilla sponge with Seville marmalade and dark chocolate
This version is far better than the little cake discs you buy from the shops. When I wanted the same flavours of this classic treat from McVities, only better and in a bigger portion, I went hunting. Inspired by this cake from Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes, I made my changes and was mighty pleased with the result. So were my friends. They have eaten a lot of my cakes but when a particular cake is mentioned for days afterwards, you know it was a success.

Jaffa Loaf Cake
Cuts into about 10 slices
An all in one soft vanilla sponge topped with lovely marmalade and a thick layer of dark chocolate.

  • 100g margarine, softened
  • 170g plain flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 75ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A generous scoop of marmalade, sieved to remove any peel
  • 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp milk
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
2. Place the margarine, flour, baking powder, sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla into a large bowl and mix together until just combined. 
3. Pour into the loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven fpr 40-50 mins until a cake tetster inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Set on a wire rack.
4. Warm the marmalade and pour onto the top of the cake, spreading it out evenly while the cake is still warm.
5. Let the cake cool compltely then melt the chocolate and milk together in the microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.
6. Let the chocolate cool so it thickens but is still molten, then pour over the top of the cake and spread out evenly. When the chocolate has set enough, remove the cake from the tin and cut into slices to serve.

I'm sending this off to CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes, squeezing in before the deadline. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk Roasted Banana Bread

That's it. I can't go any longer. I know I have a million and one things to do and not enough time but I need to write a blog post. There are only so many times I can turn the conversation in the lab to cake but here on my blog I can talk about cake all day. Specifically this cake.
Wholemeal (Whole wheat) Chocolate Chunk Roasted Banana Bread
I've never roasted a banana before baking this cake but now, now I may never go back to standard bananas over-ripened by time. I had been umming and ahhing over which cake I wanted to bake, flitting from one idea to the next, when Sally from Sally's Baking Addication posted this banana bread recipe. That was it. Decision made. Except of course I had to do my usual meddling and use what I had in the cupboards. And my bananas were still yellow. So I decided to roast the living day lights out of them.
Wholemeal (Whole wheat) Chocolate Chunk Roasted Banana Bread
What a good decision that was. Squidgy and moist but not heavy in the least, this loaf cake (or quick bread, your choice) had a satisfying nutty background edge provided by the wholemeal flour I used, sweetened merrily by the slight caramelisation of the banana pulp induced by the roasting action of the oven. The creamy cocoa hit from the milk chocolate chunks dispersed throughout were a pleasant complement in each bit, providing a touch of naughty luxury in a cake which you can feel good about eating because of both the wonderful taste and the nutritional goodness for the whole grains and fruit therein.
Wholemeal (Whole wheat) Chocolate Chunk Roasted Banana Bread
You could of course use whatever chocolate you like. Dark or white would be just as good and I reckon the deep cocoa hit of 70% bit chocolate would be a pretty good contrast to the sweet crumb too. The use of wholemeal flour is of course optional too but it works so incredibly well that I highly recommend using it in banana bread - I certainly will be again. Although of course I now want to try variations on this cake I'll be sticking to using wholemeal flour because the taste and texture was so good. Plus I got to see for myself just how good melting chocolate into hot, roasted banana was. Try it yourself. Hearsay isn't the same.

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk Roasted Banana Bread
Cuts into about 10 slices
Roast bananas to bring out a wonderful caramelised sweetness then combine with the earthy nuttiness of wholemeal flour and sweet creamy chocolate chunks.

  • 90ml oil
  • 70g honey
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium, roasted bananas*
  • 215g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.5tsp cinnamon
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line a 2lb loaf tin.
2. Whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, milk and eggs. Mash the roasted banana pulp (snip off one end and squeeze the pulp out into a bowl is easiest) until smooth then mix into the wet ingredients.
3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into the wet ingredients and stir in until almost combined. Add the chocolate and stir again until just combined - don't overmix or the cake will be heavy.
4. Bake for 50-60 mins or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean - oven times can vary widely depending on your own oven. When baked, cool on a wire rack. Drizzle over more chocolate if you wish.

*To roast bananas - set the oven to about 180C and put the bananas in the oven sat on a bbaking sheet. Let them cook, turning over every 10 mins or so (only if you remember) until the skins are completely black. Remove from the oven and let cool until cool enough to handle.

I'm sharing this banana bread with Bookmarked Recipes run by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes because I wanted to make it as soon as I saw Sally's version. I also think it is suitable for this months Love Cake run by Ness at JibberJabberUK. The theme is For the Love of Cake - I LOVE cake and I love banana bread and the many, many variations that can be made. Lastly, CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. I don't get to enter much now that I've had to cut back on blogging to finish my final year but this week I can. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

My Mum's Simple Lasagne

I want to start a revolution. A pressure cooking revolution. The slow cooker has had its day and now it's the turn of the pressure cooker. The slightly scary sounding vessel which acts like it is about to explode (and indeed will if you try taking to lid off before you have let it release all its pent up frustration steam) needs some attention. Who is with me? Ok, so half of that was a lie. Slow cookers have nowhere near had their time but I'm telling the truth when I imply that pressure cookers need a lot of credit too. They speed up meals drastically, keep lots of nutrients in which would be lost via steaming or boiling and cut down on washing up. What is there not to appeal? All you have to do is get over the scary sound that it makes when the sealed unit reaches its pressure and starts screaming its head off.
Pressure cooker lasagne. Pasta sheets layered with creamy, gooey cheese sauce and a rich tomatoey meat sauce cooked in the pressure cooker
My mum has always used a pressure cooker. It took me a good number of years to stop being frightened of the noise it makes as the pressure inside builds but as soon as I did, I joined her in singing its praises. Mum uses her pressure cooker for all sorts of things - to cook several types of veg at once with the potatoes for mashing underneath the trivet, to start off a baked ham so it doesn't take all day, to give braising steak a boost before it gets cosy with the gravy and other trappings, soups, stews, chilli.....and lasagne. Yes, lasagne in a pressure cooker. Well, the meat sauce at least. And boy is it good. 
Pressure cooker lasagne. Pasta sheets layered with creamy, gooey cheese sauce and a rich tomatoey meat sauce cooked in the pressure cooker
Mum has always made her lasagne really simple. Minced beed, onion, garlic, herbs, seasoning and tomatoes. No extra vegetables or different types of meat. The cheese sauce is always made with Red Leicester and a little bit of mustard. For me it is perfect. I've had different lasagnes in restaurants and have always enjoyed them (apart from one tasteless mistake in Gloucester but let's ignore that) but Mum's extra saucy, tomatoey recipe is y favourite. So this is the one I present to you now. And why not when it is everything a lasagne should be.
Pressure cooker lasagne. Pasta sheets layered with creamy, gooey cheese sauce and a rich tomatoey meat sauce cooked in the pressure cooker
A rich, herby minced beef sauce swimming in a tomato pool sit flush with a buttery, slightly sweet, slightly tangy yet still creamy cheese boosted by a little bit of English mustard. Interleaved between the two are sheets of lasagne pasta which bake in the oven, absorbing the liquids of both to meld the two contrasting sauces together in a cerremony of delights. A final layer of gooey baked cheese adds a final flourish. It is no wonder it is my favourite dinner of all time. So much so that I am willing to risk horrendous pictures taken with glaring overhead lighting to bring you the virtues of my mum's lasagne.
Pressure cooker lasagne. Pasta sheets layered with creamy, gooey cheese sauce and a rich tomatoey meat sauce cooked in the pressure cooker
The best part is that the pressure cooker speeds up the process so you needn't spend all afternoon making it. While the meat sauce is pressure cooking you can be making that sinful but wonderful silken cheese dressing then it's a simple job of layering up in dishes and giving the dish a final bake to bring to whole thing to bubbling joy. You won't want to waste a drop so make sure you serve with crusty bread to mop up every molecule of goodness. Maybe not the best thing for a January diet but who cares when something is this good.

Simple Lasagne
Serves approx 4
Use a pressure cooker to speed up the process of making this wonderful dish. Layers of flavourful tomato mea sauce meld with gooey cheese and baked to perfection lasgane pasta sheets.

For the meat layer:
  • 1lb minced beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • Pepper to taste
  • 0.5 tsp each basil and oregano
  • 1 beef or veg stock cube dissolved in half pint boiling water
  • 1 large tin of chopped tomatoes + a good squeeze tomato puree (or 500g passata)
For the cheese sauce:
  • 1oz flour
  • 0.75 pint milk
  • 1oz butter
  • 4oz cheese, grated (Red Laicester is good, as is mature cheddar or even a mixture. I often add a scoop of Philadelphia too)
  • 1 tsp mustard
To finish:
  • Dried lasagne sheets
  • Grated cheese
1. First make the meat sauce. Add all the ingredients to the pressure cooker and seal the lid on. Over a high heat bring to high pressure. When high pressure is reached, reduce the heat by half and time ten minutes then release the pressure by running the vessel under cold water before removing the lid. If you want a thicker sauce, stir in a paste of cornflour and a little water and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the cheese sauce using the traditional method or this cheats method. In a saucepan, stir a splash of milk into the flour to makie a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the rest of the milk then add the butter. Over a medium/high heat melt stir the sauce until the butter melts and the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. If it begins to go lumpy either sieve out the lumps or whisk like mad to make them disappear. Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard until melted.
3. Set the oven to 200 C/180 C fan. In a large baking dish or individual ovenproof dishes lay out sheets of lasagne so the base is covered. Add a layer of the meat sauce then a layer of cheese sauce. Repeat until the dish is full or the components are used up, making sure to end with a layer of lasagne followed by cheese sauce. Don't worry if it isn't neat.
4. Sprinkle on the extra grated cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until everything is bubbling. Serve straight away or let stand in the oven with it turned off for a little while to let the pasta absorb more of the juices.

I'm sharing this recipe with Jacqueline's Bookmarked Recipes at Tinned Tomatoes because I always have this bookmarked from my mum as it is my all time favourite meal. Pressure cooking saves on money so is perfect for Credit Crunch Munch, this month hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, alternatively hosted by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All. Also, Lucy from Supergolden Bakes hosts CookBlogShare and Emily from A Mummy Too hosts Recipe of the Week for all sorts of recipes.