Zero Waste Baking Archives - Sustainable(ish)

Category Archives for Zero Waste Baking

MINCEMEAT CUPCAKES WITH MARZIPAN BUTTERCREAM

I'm a big mince pie fan, especially with a disc of marzipan in the bottom before the mincemeat is dolloped on top (I LOVE marzipan. I could sit and eat a block of it.), but I needed to do some festive baking for someone else and thought that mince pies might be a bit old hat. So I came up with these, and they are a pretty good substitute if you fancy ringing the changes.

This is what you need:

  • 175g butter at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour 
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • A jar (approx 300g) mincemeat

For the icing:

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 100g marzipan (I use the white marzipan rather than the golden, but the choice is yours)
  • 100g room temperature butter
  • Almond essence to taste (I love the taste, so went with about 1.5tsp)
  • A couple of teaspoons of milk
  • Festive sprinkles (optional)

This is what you do:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Pop 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tin
  • Combine the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and baking powder and mix together until smooth
  • Fold in the mincemeat
  • Portion out between the 12 cupcake cases and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes until risen (they don't rise massively, I suspect because of the mincemeat) and golden brown
  • Leave to cool

    To make the icing:
  • Chop the butter roughly into cubes into your mixing bowl
  • Grate the marzipan using the large hole grater side on a box grater and add to the bowl
  • Add the almond essence and then whiz these together until light and fluffy
  • Add the icing sugar and whiz again, scraping down the sides if necessary
  • Add a little milk if it's a very stiff mixture and mix again
  • Scoop into a piping bag - use a star shaped nozzle if you want to make 'trees'
  • Add sprinkles according to taste!

Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • Flour, caster sugar and icing sugar can be found in paper/cardboard easily at the supermarket
  • Some makes of butter wrapper will separate after soaking so you can recycle the foil and paper
  • I ordered baking powder from the Plastic Free Pantry and re-fill the plastic pot I got from the supermarket
  • I use silicone reusable cupcake cases for cakes we will have at home. If I'm gifting them to people, I use these ones here which are compostable and unbleached.
  • I've not found a source of plastic-free sprinkles or marzipan (I know you can make your own) - if anyone knows of any, please do let me know!
  • I bought a roll of 'disposable' piping bags about 6 years ago before I knew any better and have been re-using each one until it falls apart. I'm on my last couple now so will invest in a proper re-usable one.

What do you reckon? Will you give these a try?
Let me know!

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HOMEMADE WRAPS

My boys LOVE having wraps for lunch.
And while they are quick and easy, and make for a painless lunch that I know will be eaten, there is something about shop bought wraps that just makes me feel a bit bleurgh. They don’t really taste of anything much, and just seem to act as a conduit for the filling. And they just look so kind of plastic-y. I’m sure they are probably full of all kinds of preservatives and chemicals to prolong their shelf life (although I will confess I haven’t actually checked).
And then there’s the plastic bags that they come in (although I have to say that we keep hold of them and use them again and again for chucking stuff like rolls and biscuits into and freezing).

Suffice it to say that I am not the biggest fan of them, and have been on the look-out for a reliable homemade version for quite a while.
I tried out Hugh F-W’s flatbread recipe from one of his books, and while they are delicious eaten warm with hummus, they don’t keep well and turn very stiff once they cool down.
But then someone recommended a recipe online and I thought I would give it a go.
And it’s BRILLIANT!

It does take a while to make (it’s the actual cooking of them that takes the time) but then you have a batch of 16, which you can freeze, or they do keep well for a few days.
We’ve been testing them out extensively over the Summer – they work well for lunches at home, but also survive outings in lunch boxes for picnics too. We’ve had them with cheese, carrot hummus, ham, and prawns for lunch. The kids have had them with chocolate spread for snacks, and when they’ve gone a bit stale I’ve toasted them and turned them into min pizzas.
All in all, we are big fans.

This is an 'anglicised' version of the original recipe for fellow Brits/those who don’t have cup measures.
The most important thing seems to be putting them into some kind of sealed container as soon as they are cooked. I dug out a metal tin with a plastic lid and cram them all into this, ramming the lid back on in between each addition. I am sure a normal tupperware box would also suffice.
If you freeze them (we haven’t tried this yet, we have always scoffed them too quickly) then I would suggest laying them out individually on baking sheets and freezing in batches. Once they are frozen, you can pop them all in a bag together to save on freezer space and then just take out as many as you need.

This is what you need:

  • 450g plain flour (or you can use bread flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 80ml vegetable oil (or whatever oil you have kicking around)
  • 240ml warm water

This is what you do:

I use my Kitchen Aid mixer which makes life easier, but you could totally do this by hand if you wanted/needed (kneaded?) to.

  • Mix together the dry ingredients
  • With the dough hook attached and the mixer on low speed, gradually add the water and oil
  • Knead on low speed for 1-2 mins until it all comes together in a nice ball
  • Divide the mix into 16 roughly equal pieces and roll each piece into a ballwraps-balls
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes
  • After 15 mins, place a large frying pan over the heat, and while it’s heating up you can start rolling out your first couple of pieces of dough
  • Flour your work surface well, and then begin the roll out and cook sequence: roll out a piece of dough until it’s really thin (less than 1mm), it should be about side plate sized once it’s rolled out
  • Pop it into the frying pan (no need to add any oil etc) and cook for a minute or two, before turning over and cooking the other side.
    I don’t know if it’s just me, or why it happens, but the first one never cooks as well as the subsequent ones (it’s the same with pancakes). Once you get going, you should find that they balloon up in places (which is kind of mesmerising to watch) and you start to get an idea of when to turn them – you want some patches of colour on each side.
  • Once each wrap is cooked, place it straight into a container that has a tightly sealable lid (or a plastic bag) and make sure you put the lid on.
    I managed to get into a rhythm where I could roll out the next one whilst one was cooking and it seemed to work pretty well.
  • Continue until all 16 wraps are cooked.
  • You can either leave them to cool in the container and then eat later, or eat them warm with hummus etc.

Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • We buy a big can of local rapeseed oil and re-fill smaller bottles from that - it might be worth looking to see if you have any local rapeseed producers or similar where you might be able to do the same.
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    I've just ordered some baking powder from The Plastic Free Pantry (UK only) which has arrived packaged in 'nature flex' which is home compostable, so hopefully this will be another addition to my zero waste baking repertoire!

Have you ever made homemade wraps?
Let me know how you get on if you try this recipe!

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PLASTIC FREE AND ZERO WASTE SNACKS – THE MOST DELICIOUS SHORTBREAD EVER

That’s a pretty brave claim, but seriously, this shortbread is to die for.
It's also pretty easy to make and makes a perfect plastic free or zero waste gift - yays!
I make mini biscuits to pop into jam jars for teacher thank you gifts, or do mini numbers as birthday presents, so 7's for the kiddy winks, or 4s and 0s etc for friends celebrating special birthdays.

This is what you need:

  • 200g soft butter (I use salted)
  • 100g caster sugar (I use vanilla sugar), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 100g rice flour (this adds a delicious crunch!)

This is what you do:

  • Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and verging on fluffy
  • Add in the flour and continue to mix until it clumps together into a dough
  • Remove from the mixer bowl and shape into a disc. Wrap in a freezer bag, and place in the fridge to chill for 10-20 minutes
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C(fan), and line 2 baking sheets (I use re-usable silicon liners)
  • Lightly dust your work surface with flour, and roll out the dough. It can be a bit crumbly-I just keep squidging any holes/cracks back together, or re-rolling if necessary-it does all work out in the end!
  • Use your cutters to cut out your cookies - as I say I have done hearts, circles, stars, and also numbers, anything goes! 
  • Carefully transfer your cut out shapes to the baking tray and bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cutters, and how crisp you like your shortbread. I like mine really crisp, so I baked them until they were golden brown. If you prefer yours a bit softer, take them out when they are pale golden
  • Sprinkle the biscuits with sugar whilst still on the baking trays, and after about 10 minutes transfer them to a cooling rack to cool off completely
  • If you're gifting them, pop them into a clean, empty jam jar, add a tag and you're done!
  • NB. You can make batches of these and freeze them, so if you're super organised and all the children in your kid's class will turning 8 for example, make a stack of 8's and freeze them, ready to pull out and whack in a jar on the morning of the party.
    You're welcome.

Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • Buy butter in foil packs - you can soak the wrapper and the foil usually separates from the greaseproof liner, meaning you can then recycle both
  • Freeze in tupperware or ziplock plastic bags that you wash and re-use again and again! 
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    Use re-usable silicon baking tray liners rather than greaseproof for lining
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    You should be able to find rice flour in paper bags - Doves Farm do one, and it's usually in the 'free from' section

Have a go and let me know if they live up to my claim at the top of the blog post...!

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PLASTIC FREE AND ZERO WASTE SNACKS – EASY BISCUITS!

Biscuits. 
I love them. Anytime of day, a cup of tea (plastic free, obvs) and a biscuit is pretty much guaranteed to put a smile back on my face.
But the wrappers from packets of biscuits are generally easily recycled, which can mean that our daily sugar fix can be adding lbs to our landfill waste, as well as possibly our hips 😉

My solution to this is a spot of light baking, and this is such a great recipe.
It's adapted from Nigella's Christmas Chocolate Shortbread Cookies in her Christmas book and I love it because a) it is super easy - bung it all the mixer and done, no rolling, no chilling, just scoop and bake; b) I can normally be guaranteed to have all the ingredients in the house; c) they taste delicious; d) they freeze really well; and e) as I am about to show you, they are infinitely adaptable.
What’s not to love?!

This is what you need:

For the basic chocolate version (ala Nigella)

  • 250g butter at room temperature (try to ignore the fact that this is a whole packet of butter…)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp baking powder

This is what you do:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170C
  • Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or re-usable liners
  • Put all the ingredients into a Magimix type food processor and whiz until it forms a dough
  • Place tablespoons of the dough onto the trays, and roll them into balls. I get 20-30 from this mix. I flatten them down a bit with a fork as I like the ridges that it leaves
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing to cool completely on a cooling rack

Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • Buy butter in foil packs - you can soak the wrapper and the foil usually separates from the greaseproof liner, meaning you can then recycle both
  • Freeze in tupperware or ziplock plastic bags that you wash and re-use again and again! 
  • globe
    Use re-usable silicon baking tray liners rather than greaseproof for lining
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    If you don't have a zero waste shop near you, you can order plastic free cocoa online from The Plastic Free Pantry (UK only)
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    If you're adding chunks of chocolate, look out for bars wrapped in paper and foil, rather than plastic

Variations:

  • Add white chocolate chips or chunks to the recipe above
  • Add fruit and nut chocolate chunks to the recipe above
  • Use a little less cocoa powder, and add in some espresso coffee powder, for mochachino biscuits
  • Omit the cocoa and add:
    - milk or dark chocolate chunks/chips
    - raisins
    - raisins and chocolate!
    - white chocolate and cranberry
    - white chocolate and apricot
    - orange zest or lemon zest
    - chunks of crystallised ginger
    - chunks of ginger with dark chocolate chunks
    - a tsp of mixed spice for a festive version-with or without cranberries etc
    - a tsp of almond essence
    - a tsp of coconut essence and a 25g of desiccated coconut

Have you​ tried this recipe?
What's your favourite flavour...?!
Do share below in the comments!

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PLASTIC FREE SNACKS – CHEESY FEET!

Finding plastic free snacks for grown-ups and kids alike is a challenge, I'm not going to lie.
There are those times in the day when you're feeling peckish, and fruit just isn't going to cut it. I'm a bit of a sugar fiend, so my go-to is usually homemade biscuits, or maybe flapjack, but I do try (I really try!) to steer the kids away from too much sugar.
This recipe ticks lots of my boxes - it's savoury, easy to make, freeze-able (I make a big batch and then freeze them once cooked), the kids actually like them, and it's plastic-free (ish)!

The recipe is from the marvellous Nigella's “Feast” book.
You don't have to make them feet shaped - use whatever cookie cutters you have, (or turn a glass upside down and use that!) but the feet make me giggle (I'm quite easily amused..

This is what you need:

I usually double this recipe and then freeze some.

  • 100g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated-I use mature cheddar, but we do like strong cheese in our house!
  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g soft butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Cookie cutter-preferably in the shape of a foot...
  • Baking sheet

This is what you do:

  • Put all the ingredients in a magi-mix type processor and whiz
  • Keep whizzing. Don’t lose the faith, it WILL come together
  • When it all starts to whiz around in a big ball, stop, take it out, and roll it into a ball. Then flatten it into more of a disc shape, and wrap it in cling film, or put into a sandwich bag (which you can then re-use!) and place in the fridge for at least an hour (I have been known to leave it overnight or even longer if I run out of time to roll them out-if you do this, then it is worth getting them out half an hour before you want to roll, otherwise it will be hard work!)
  • When you are ‘ready to roll’, pre-heat your oven to 170C and line 2 baking trays-I use reusable silicon type liners, or you could of course use greaseproof (which I think can be composted?)
  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it’s about 0.5 thick
  • Use your cookie cutter to cut out your biscuits-I get about 10 from this amount of mix, but obviously it depends on the size of your cutter
  • Bake for 8-10mins. I do mine for about 8mins-keep an eye on them, they can go from ‘golden’ to ‘brown’ in an instant!

Plastic free tips:

  • Take your tupperware to the deli counter of your supermarket or to your local deli, and ask them to pop your cheese straight into there
  • Buy butter in foil packs - you can soak the wrapper and the foil usually separates from the greaseproof liner, meaning you can then recycle both
  • Freeze in tupperware
  • globe
    Wrap in beeswax wraps or pop into a small tupperware pot when you're out and about

Have you got any favourite savoury plastic free snacks?
Do share below in the comments!

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HOMEMADE BOURBON BISCUITS

Not only are these are a packaging free of one of the most popular biscuits, they have the added bonus of using up any egg yolks you might have going spare total win win if you ask me..!

This is what you need:

For the biscuits

  • 170g plain flour
  • 140g butter at room temperature
  • 60g caster sugar (+ extra for sprinkling)
  • 4 tsp custard powder
  • 4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 85g softened butter
  • 4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

This is what you do:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan 160C)
  • Add all the ingredients and mix until a stiff dough is formed (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, but I think a food processor type mixer would work too)
  • Flour your work surface and roll out thinly (about £1 coin thickness) in as rectangular a shape as you can make it
  • Trim the edges to straighten them (save the trimmings to roll out again), and then use a ruler to cut rectangular biscuits of whatever size you lie. Mine were a ruler’s width (for ease!) and about 7cm long. Re-roll the remnants until you’ve used up all the dough
  • Sprinkle the biscuits with sugar and then prick them with a fork
  • Transfer carefully to a lined baking sheet (or two if you need 2) and bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. I checked mine after 10, and took them out after about 12mins
  • Combine all the icing ingredients using a mixer (confession: I didn’t bother washing mine up having used it for the dough *shocked face emoticon*)
  • This makes quite a stiff icing, which did actually remind me of the filling in ‘actual’ bourbons. You can add a tsp of hot water if it’s too thick
  • Once your biscuits are cooled, fill and sandwich!

    NB. The icing is quite stiff and the biscuits are very ‘short’. I managed to break quite a few whilst icing them, and was forced to eat them before anyone noticed (in the spirit of zero waste, you understand...)

Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • Buy butter in foil packs - you can soak the wrapper and the foil usually separates from the greaseproof liner, meaning you can then recycle both
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    Use re-usable silicon baking tray liners rather than greaseproof for lining
  • globe
    Buy icing sugar in paper bags rather than the plastic tubs they have recently introduced
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    If you don't live near a zero waste store, you can buy plastic free cocoa online from The Plastic Free Pantry (UK only)

The big question...
Do you dunk?!
Comment "yes" or "no" and let's see who wins!

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HOMEMADE CUSTARD CREAMS

Not only are these packaging free, they are a million times tastier than their shop bought counterparts!
Recently I made teeny tiny versions of these using my smallest cookie cutter, and packaged them up in jam jars for gifts - they went down a storm..!
This recipe is adapted from  “Let’s Bake” by Cathryn Dresser

This is what you need:

For the biscuits

  • 200g plain flour
  • 75g custard powder (I have yet to find a plastic free version of custard powder, but I reckon the payoff of one tub for about a bazillion biscuits, vs a LOT of wrappers works out in my favour?) 
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 175g butter (I always use salted, but all the recipe books specify unsalted. Take your pick..!)
  • +/- 1 tbsp milk (you might need this to get it to all come together into a dough)

For the icing

  • 50g soft butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1tbsp custard powder
  • 1 tbsp milk

This is what you do:

  • Put the flour, custard powder, and icing sugar into a food processor, and blitz to get rid of any lumps
  • Add the butter and whiz again until if comes together into a dough. If it’s not looking very dough like, add tsps of milk and keep whizzing until it does
  • Tip out the dough, and shape it into a disc. Place the disc of dough in a freezer bag, and then in the fridge for about 20 minutes
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan, and line two baking sheets (I use the re-usable silicon liners)
  • Take your dough out of the fridge and divide it into two equal-ish pieces (this just makes it easier to roll out)
  • Lightly dust your work surface with flour, and then roll out the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin
  • Cut out your biscuits-I used a plain circle cutter that was about 6cm diameter, but you can use any shape you like-Nigella does custard cream hearts in one of her books!
  • Place them on the baking tray, and then bake for 8-10 minutes (adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your biscuits) until they are a ‘pale golden colour’
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack to cool completely
  • To make the icing, combine the icing sugar, butter and custard powder, and mix (I use our kitchen aid). Add the milk, and mix well again until light and fluffy
  • When the biscuits are completely cool, sandwich them together with the icing

Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • Buy butter in foil packs - you can soak the wrapper and the foil usually separates from the greaseproof liner, meaning you can then recycle both
  • globe
    Use re-usable silicon baking tray liners rather than greaseproof for lining
  • globe
    Buy icing sugar in paper bags rather than the plastic tubs they have recently introduced
  • globe
    See if you can source your milk plastic free

What's your favourite shop bought biscuit?

Have you been able to find a recipe for a homemade version?

Do share in the comments!

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HOMEMADE MALT LOAF

This is a great bake and since I discovered the recipe I’ve been making a couple of these pretty much every week, (or double the recipe and stash a couple in the freezer).
It is great for an after school snack, or as a plastic free addition to lunchboxes and is delicious spread with butter. It’s also one of those bakes that just keeps getting better as it gets squishier and squishier if you can wait a day or two before tucking in.

The recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks The Five O’Clock Apron by Claire Thomson, and the only thing I’ve added to it is a handful of raisins.

This is what you need:

  • 175g malt extract (I couldn’t find any in the supermarket, but did manage to track some down in Holland and Barratt)
  • 85g dark muscovado/dark brown soft sugar
  • 300g pitted dates
  • 150ml hot black tea
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • A good handful of raisins or sultanas
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

NB. I normally double this recipe and make four loaves at a time, as it's not really any extra work and then I can pop three loaves in the freezer for busy weeks when I don't have time for baking.

This is what you do:

  • Grease 2 (or 4)  450g loaf tins with a little sunflower or vegetable oil
  • Pre-heat the oven to 150C
  • Put the malt extract, sugar and dates into a bowl (I use the bowl of my food processor) and cover with the tea. Leave for 5 minutes to allow the dates to soften, and then whiz the whole lot up in a blender or food processor.
  • Tip the whole lot into a bowl, add the eggs and stir well.
  • Add the flour, baking powder and bicarb and stir again. I chuck in a good handful of raisins at this point.
  • Divide the mix between the two loaf tins, and bake for 50 mins until firm and well risen. Double check by inserting a skewer into each loaf and seeing if it comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool, before running a palate knife around the edge and tipping the loaves out onto a cooling rack.
  • If you can bear it, wait a day before slicing and serving buttered


Plastic free/zero waste tips:

  • Dates and raisins should both be available plastic free from zero waste shops if you have one near you, otherwise you can order them plastic free online from The Plastic Free Pantry (UK only)
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    You can make your own plastic free version of dark brown soft sugar by mixing caster sugar with molasses - about 85g of molasses for every 225g sugar.
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    Do your teabags contain plastic..?! Check out this post here for more on plastic free tea.

What are your 'go to's' for plastic free and zero waste

snacks or lunchbox additions?

Do share in the comments!

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