GOT a spare lockdown six minutes? That’s enough time to whip up a fantastic homemade sweet treat.
New book 6-Minute Showstoppers by Sarah Rainey is full of delicious bakes that will inspire you to get cooking without having to slave over a stove for hours.
Sarah says: “Sacrificing baking because it takes too long or feels like too much faff is a real shame.
“Six-minute showstoppers are my antidote.
"They are created for shortcut-loving home cooks, mums, dads, kids, students, busy people, impatient foodies and everyone in between who wants to conjure up something tasty and impressive without spending all day in the kitchen.”
Here, NATASHA HARDING chooses six favourites.
Butterscotch banoffee pie
- 120g dark chocolate
- 10 digestives (approx 150g)
- 150ml dulce de leche or caramel sauce
- 1 large or 2 small bananas peeled and sliced
- 300ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 pack of instant butterscotch whipped pudding (59g)
- Grease a large round pie or flan dish with a little butter.
- You’ll also need a Pyrex bowl, either a food processor or a rolling pin and ziplock bag for crushing the biscuits, a whisk and potato peeler or grater for making the chocolate curls.
- Start the clock
- Put 110g of the chocolate in the Pyrex bowl and melt it in the microwave on high in bursts of 20 seconds at a time (or you can melt it by suspending the bowl over a pan of boiling water if you prefer).
- While it melts, crush the digestives to crumbs by blitzing them in a food processor – or you can put them in a ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin.
- Mix the melted chocolate and biscuit crumbs together and transfer the mixture to the greased dish, using the back of a spoon to press it down firmly into the base and up against the sides.
- Spread the caramel over the base and arrange the slices of banana on top.
- Whisk the milk into the butterscotch powder for a minute or so until it thickens, then spread this over the top of the banoffee mixture.
- Take the remaining 10g of chocolate and, using your potato peeler or grater, sprinkle chocolate curls over the top of the pudding.
- Put it in the fridge to set for at least half an hour before serving. Keep it chilled and it will last 2 or 3 days.
Red velvet mug cake
- 40g self-raising flour
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp red gel food colouring
For the icing:
- 25g icing sugar
- 2 tsp cream cheese
- Grease the inside of a chunky, microwave-proof mug (approx 300ml) with a little butter or flavourless oil. You’ll also need a whisk to mix the wet ingredients.
- Start the clock
- Mix all the dry ingredients together until combined.
- Add the oil, milk and egg and whisk well. Finally, add the food colouring, stirring as you do so you can get the colour just right.
- You’re looking for a vivid red – remember, it will fade slightly as it cooks and the cocoa colouring comes through.
- Microwave on high for 60 to 90 seconds. Check it as it bakes – it may not need the full amount of time, but you’ll know it’s done when the sponge rises to the top of the mug.
- While the cake cooks, make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar over the cream cheese and mix well – it should be smooth but not too runny.
- Once the cake is done, spoon or pipe the icing to top. Tuck in immediately, straight from the mug.
Frozen Nutella loaf
(Serves 8 – 10)
- 1 x 400g tub Nutella
- 50g unsalted butter
- 200g Hobnobs (13-14 biscuits)
- 400g cream cheese
- 80g icing sugar, sifted
- 50g chopped roasted hazelnuts
- Line a standard loaf tin with clingfilm, completely covering the base and sides and making sure there’s plenty of excess overlapping the edges. I use three strips, one for each long side and one for the middle.
- Place a medium saucepan on the hob and turn the heat up high. You’ll also need a food processor (or a ziplock bag and a rolling pin) for crushing the biscuits, and a whisk.
- Start the clock
- Put 150g Nutella and the butter in the pan and melt, stirring often so they don’t burn.
Meanwhile, blitz the biscuits in the food processor until they turn to crumbs or put them in a ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin.
- When the mixture in the pan has melted to a smooth chocolate paste, tip the biscuit crumbs into the pan and stir until combined.
- Pour this into the lined loaf tin and use the back of a spoon to press it down.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining Nutella with the cream cheese and sifted icing sugar until smooth. Tip this into the loaf tin and spread on top of the biscuit base.
- Finish with the chopped hazelnuts, covering the surface right to the edges.
- Wrap the excess clingfilm over the top of the loaf to cover it and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours to set.
- Remove from the freezer around 20 minutes before serving and slice with a sharp knife dipped in boiling water.
- If you don’t eat it all in one go, keep the rest of the loaf, well covered, in the freezer. It should last for 2 to 3 months.
Peanut biscuit squares
(Makes 36 small squares)
- 120g salted butter
- 250g crunchy peanut butter
- 220 digestive biscuits (around 13-14)
- 180g soft dark brown sugar
- 200g dark chocolate
- Sprinkle of sea salt
- Line a small, rectangular baking tray (approx 20cm x 25cm) with foil. Place a small saucepan on the hob and turn the heat up high. You’ll also need a food processor, a Pyrex bowl and a palette knife.
- Start the clock
- Put the salted butter and peanut butter in the saucepan, stir roughly to combine and leave them for a few minutes to melt.
- Meanwhile, put the biscuits in the food processor and blitz until they turn to crumbs.
- If you don’t have a food processor, seal them in a ziplock bag and bash them with a rolling pin.
- Add the sugar and whizz for another minute, before tipping the mixture into a bowl.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it in the Pyrex bowl – either in 20-second bursts in the microwave, stirring between each burst so it doesn’t burn, or suspended over a pan of boiling water.
- Set it aside to cool slightly. Then pour the melted butters over the biscuit crumbs and mix together until fully combined.
- Tip this mixture into the lined tray and press it down into the edges and corners using the back of a spoon.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the top and use the palette knife, dipped in boiling water, to smooth the surface. Finish with a liberal sprinkle of sea salt.
- Place it in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to set (or, if you’re really in a hurry, half an
hour in the freezer will do the same job).
- Using a sharp knife, slice it into 36 pieces. They’ll keep for 3 to 4 days in a tin.
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 60ml ready-made Pimm’s
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 150g self-raising flour, sifted
For the icing/decorations:
- 30g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g icing sugar
- 25ml ready-mixed Pimm’s
- 6 strawberries, halved
- 12 sprigs of fresh mint
- You will need 12 silicone cupcake moulds (better than paper as they hold their shape when cooking) and a flat, microwaveable plate to bake them on.
- An electric whisk is good, if you have one, and a piping bag or sandwich bag with a small hole (approx 1cm) snipped in one corner is needed for icing the cupcakes.
- Start the clock
- Beat the butter and sugar together, using the whisk.
- In a separate bowl, loosely beat the eggs with the Pimm’s and citrus zest. Add half the egg mixture along with half the flour to the butter and sugar and combine fully before adding the other half.
- Divide half the batter between six cupcake cases, spaced out on the microwave-proof plate.
- Don’t fill them too much – heaped tablespoon in each is enough or they’ll overflow as they bake.
- Bake for 2 minutes on high, then repeat with the other six. The cakes should rise in domes to the tops of the cases and turn golden when they are done.
- While the cupcakes bake, make the icing. Whisk the butter, icing sugar and Pimm’s together to make a light, fluffy buttercream.
- Allow the cakes to cool slightly before piping mounds of buttercream on top of each and finishing with half a strawberry and a sprig of mint.
- Serve immediately – with a tall glass of Pimm’s (you don’t want any going to waste, after all). They’ll keep for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.
Chocolate crackle cookies
- 100g caster sugar
- 30g dark chocolate, melted
- 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 65g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 30g icing sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 250C and line a large baking sheet with grease-proof paper.
- Start the clock
- In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, chocolate, oil, egg and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt together in another bowl. Stir to combine and then fold this into the liquid mixture.
- Put the icing sugar into a separate bowl, ready for rolling the cookies.
- Using a dessert spoon, drop heaped spoonfuls of the cookie dough (it will be very wet; don’t worry – just prepare for messy hands) into the bowl of icing sugar, one by one.
- Roll them around until they’re completely coated, then use a clean spoon to transfer them to the baking sheet.
- Space them out as much as possible – they’ll spread as they bake, so unless you want one giant crackle cookie (which isn’t a bad idea), leave plenty of gaps.
- Sprinkle any leftover icing sugar on top of the cookies, before putting them on the top shelf of the oven to bake for 4 minutes.
- When they’re done, switch the oven off and open the door slightly.
- Leave the cookies inside for 15 to 20 minutes to cool. They’ll start to firm up, but you want to tuck in while they’re still warm and fudgey inside, so don’t leave them too long.
- The cookies will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight tin.
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