The sec­ond com­ing

The dishes are washed, the games packed away and all that re­mains is some bro­ken mince pies and a wedge of stil­ton. The time has come for some bakes – one sweet, the other savoury – that make heroes of your Christ­mas leftovers

The Guardian - Cook - - Baking - Claire Ptak

If you are any­thing like me, you live in hor­ror of run­ning out of food – es­pe­cially over the fes­tive pe­riod. When I have in­vited guests over, I buy and bake more than I will ever need, then rel­ish get­ting cre­ative with leftovers in the days that fol­low. If, once the halls have been un­decked and all the dishes washed, you find yourself with a few beaten-up mince pies and a lump of blue cheese, these are the recipes for you.

Blondies are among my favourite things to make be­cause they are a blank can­vas for what­ever bits and bobs you have in your sweet cup­board, much like choco­late chip cook­ies. My lat­est it­er­a­tion con­tains bro­ken bits of mince pies and sul­tanas plumped in brandy. The booze cuts through the sweet­ness; you could even re­place the but­ter in the recipe with left­over brandy but­ter. Re­mem­ber not to over­bake the blondies so they stay gooey and chewy, one of the last in­dul­gences of the sea­son.

This year, any blue cheese rem­nants will find a home in buns, or be rolled into spicy folds of pas­try and baked into cheesy scrolls. As with all my bak­ing, I rec­om­mend tast­ing as you go. You could try the recipe with any cheese you have left ly­ing around: ched­dar, lan­cashire, parme­san … And be bold with your spicing: if you fancy a lit­tle more bite, just add a pinch of cayenne pep­per. Mince pie blondies Serves 12 50ml brandy, cognac or rum 170g sul­tanas Juice and zest of an or­ange 250g un­salted but­ter 2 eggs 200g light brown sugar 1 ½ tsp vanilla 250g flour 1½ tsp bak­ing pow­der 1½ tsp fine salt About 210g left­over mince pies

1 Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. But­ter a 30x20cm bak­ing tin and line with grease­proof pa­per.

2 Put the brandy, sul­tanas, or­ange juice and zest in a small saucepan over a low heat un­til the fruit has plumped up. Re­move from the heat, cover and set aside.

3 Melt the but­ter in a small, heavy­bot­tomed saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.

4 In a large bowl, whisk to­gether the eggs and sugar un­til fluffy. Whisk in the vanilla.

5 In a sep­a­rate bowl, whisk to­gether the flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt. Add this to the egg mix­ture, and mix un­til just com­bined. Stir in the sul­tanas.

6 Pour the mix­ture into the pre­pared bak­ing tin and smooth the top with a pal­ette knife or spat­ula. Break up the mince pies with your fin­gers, then sprin­kle the chunks over the top. Bake the blondies for 30 min­utes. The cen­tre should be puffed and set but still a lit­tle gooey.

7 Leave to cool com­pletely in the tin, then cut into 12 thick but small­ish pieces. These will keep well for up to 3 days in an air­tight con­tainer. Blue cheese buns Makes 12 560g plain flour, plus more to roll 2 tsp bak­ing pow­der 2 tsp fine salt 2 tsp pa­prika 250g un­salted but­ter, cold and cut into cubes, plus 50g for melt­ing and ex­tra for greas­ing 300ml cold milk About 350g blue cheese 1 egg plus 1 tbsp milk, for brush­ing

1 Heat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. But­ter a 12-cup deep muf­fin tray.

2 To make the dough, com­bine the flour, bak­ing pow­der, salt and pa­prika with the diced but­ter in the bowl of a food mixer un­til you have a coarse meal. Slowly pour in the cold milk while the mixer is run­ning, un­til the dough forms into a ball and comes away from the edges of the bowl. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured sur­face and leave to rest for a few min­utes. Fold the dough gen­tly over it­self once or twice to pull it all to­gether. Let the dough rest a sec­ond time, for 10 min­utes.

3 Melt 50g but­ter in a small saucepan, then set aside to cool slightly.

4 Clear a large work sur­face, dust lightly with more flour and roll out the dough into a large rec­tan­gle about 5mm thick. Brush the sur­face of the dough with the melted but­ter and, be­fore the but­ter hard­ens, crum­ble over the blue cheese.

5 Now roll up the dough, start­ing at the long side, keep­ing it neat and tight. Gen­tly tug the dough to­wards you to keep it taut while rolling away from you. Once it’s all rolled up, gen­tly squeeze it to en­sure it’s the same thick­ness through­out. Us­ing a sharp knife, cut the roll cross­ways into 12 even slices. Take a slice of the blue cheese roll, peel back about 5cm of the loose end of the pas­try and tuck this flap un­der the roll to loosely cover the bot­tom. Place each slice in the muf­fin tray, flap-side down. Re­peat with the re­main­ing slices.

6 Beat the egg lightly with the milk, then brush this over the sur­face of the buns.

7 Bake for 25 min­utes. As soon as the buns are out of the oven, flip them out on to a wire cool­ing rack, so that they don’t stick to the tray.

When­ever I have in­vited guests over, I buy and bake more than I will ever need, then rel­ish get­ting cre­ative with the leftovers

Claire Ptak is a pas­try chef, au­thor and food stylist and owns Vi­o­let Bak­ery in London. She is the au­thor of the Vi­o­let Bak­ery Cook­book (Square Peg); @ vi­o­let­cakeslon­don

Cook’s tip Bake the buns right away or, al­ter­na­tively, store in the freezer. Do not keep in the fridge, how­ever, as this will de­ac­ti­vate the bak­ing pow­der

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