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Fast Food At Home…A Microwaved Syrup Sponge Recipe

This week has been really busy.

I started by sorting my three freezers out.  When we were moving our freezers, I must admit I just rammed everything in anyhow, so they really did need sorting as I hadn’t a clue what we had in them…which is not good for meal planning.

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So I took everything out and put it all back in a reasonable order:

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I did this with all three freezers and wrote a list of what was in each freezer

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I need to start meal planning now at the weekend to make sure I don’t over spend on my food budget.

One thing I did find in my freezer contents was a bag of left over vegetables.  Everytime I have left over cooked vegetables after a meal, I freeze them.  When I have enough, I make a ‘use it up curry’.   So this is what we had for tea on Thursday:

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I’ve also been preparing for my youngest daughters birthday yesterday.  I can’t quite believe she is now fourteen…where did time go to?  It only seems like yesterday that I was holding her in my arms when she was just a few hours old…and now she is growing into a beautiful young lady before my eyes.

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So on Wednesday I made a dairyfree cake for her birthday (as she is dairy intolerant).  She asked for a chocolate cake with jam in the middle which is what she always asks for, but I wanted to make it extra special.  I decided to make it two tiers and cover it with dairyfree butter icing.  I used my faithful ‘throw it all in’ cake recipe, which you can find here.  She loved it, so I was really pleased:

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It didn’t look quite as good as I had hoped, but it looked great when it was sliced:

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My daughter invited a few of her close friends for tea yesterday.  When my girls were growing up I really hated ‘party bags’ with plastic rubbish in them, that got tossed away within a few minutes of opening the bags.  I felt it was such a waste of money.  So over the years I have made or bought things in the sales that I thought would actually get used, or I have sometimes made individual decorated cakes and bagged them up separately so they looked really special.

This year I thought my daughter would like something a little bit more grown up, so I bought little boxes of Cadburys Roses (they cost me £1 each in the sale) and I ‘poshed’ them up with cellophane and ribbon and a little note which ‘thanked’ her friends for celebrating her birthday with her:

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 My daughter had a lovely time with her friends.

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Before I go, I thought I would share a recipe with you that I cooked on Wednesday night.  It was a cold night and it was one of those nights where I just fancied something hot, sweet and filling to eat.  So, I cooked a Microwave Syrup Sponge.  It is so quick and easy to make and far cheaper than nipping out to your local shop to buy something on the spur of the moment:

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Microwaved Syrup Sponge Recipe:

100g margarine or butter, plus some for greasing the bowl

100g granulated sugar

2 eggs

100g self-raising flour

2-3 tablespoons of milk

2 tablespoons of golden syrup

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Beat the margarine and sugar together.

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Add the eggs and beat together.

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Fold in the flour and add enough milk to achieve dropping consistency

 (so it drops off the spoon easily).

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Grease a microwave bowl with margarine.

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Drop the syrup in the bottom of the bowl and put the mixture on top.

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Cover the bowl with a small plate or Microwave Clingfilm, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape.

Microwave on ‘high’ for 8 minutes (based on an 700W microwave).

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Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before turning it out.

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Serve with custard or ice-cream.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.

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A Busy Weekend And A Luxury Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream

This is the post I had written for Monday, before I had the bad news about my friend, but I thought you would still like to read it.  I must admit I’m not up to writing a new post at the moment:

My weekend has been pretty hectic as usual.

I started the weekend by batch baking for the week ahead.  I made bread rolls. scones, chocolate brownies and some more breakfast muffins, all ready to freeze for packed lunches over the next week.

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I also laid some self-adesive tiles in our cupboard under our stairs.  After finishing my painting last week, this was the last job to do, as the floor was bare wooden floorboards.  It was the first time I had laid tiles and I am really pleased with the result, though I found cutting them around the pipes difficult.

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This weekend I also used my ice cream maker for the first time.

I have been paying over £6 for a small tub of dairy free choclate ice cream, as it’s such a treat for my daughter.

This weekend I found this recipe and altered it slightly to make the most delious, tastiest luxury chocolate ice cream I have ever tasted and the best bit is, it cost me just £3.92 to make.

  This is how I made it:

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Luxury Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream:

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250ml Alpro original Soya milk

170g dairy free chocolate

5 tablespoons sunflower oil

251g carton of Alpro single cream

1 teaspoon vanilla essence 

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Break the chocolate into a bowl and add the soya milk.  Microwave until the choclate has just melted

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Add the oil, soya cream and vanilla essence

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Blend until smooth

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Allow to cool and then pour into an ice cream maker (after the bowl has been frozen over night)

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Refer to your ice cream maker for timings and how much to fill the bowl.  I let mine beat the mixture for 30 minutes.

Transfer the ice cream to a suitable container and freeze for a few hours until completely solid and then enjoy.

(If you haven’t got an ice cream maker, just put the blended ingrediants into a container and freeze.  Remove from the freezer every 1-2 hours and mash vigourously with a fork to break up the ice crystals).

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I made ice cream sundaes with the ice cream.  I broke some of the homemade chocolate brownies into the bottom of a large glass and added some defrosted homegrown strawberries from my freezer and then the ice cream.  I topped it with gratings of dairy free chocolate and my homemade crab apple ice cream syrup….sheer bliss and my daughters loved it.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

It is half term for all the children in Leicester next week, so I have decided to take the week off.

I will be back on Monday 18th February.

A Lactose Free Sweetie Cake And A Fun Birthday Party

At the weekend my daughter invited seven of her friends round to celebrate her 13th birthday.

My daughter was diagnosed as lactose intolerant a year ago by the hospital.  Lactose free milk and cheese can now be bought from the supermarkets, but unfortunately my daughter can only stomach a small amount of these, so she has a mainly dairy free diet, except for the lactose free milk and cheese occaisionally, in small amounts.

So it is really difficult to take her out for a meal, as nowhere seems to cater for this type of intolerance.   Milk, whey, lactose, etc. is hidden in so many things it’s ridiculous, milk is even sometimes pumped into the skin of some frozen meat, as it’s said to give it a better browning effect.  My daughter is really poorly after eating something she shouldn’t, even in small amounts and sometimes the effect happens very quickly after eating.

So this is why we had her friends for tea, as I know I can prepare a meal that she can eat, which tastes no different to the dairy equivalent.

I cooked pizza for everyone (and a special one for my daughter), chips, corn on the cobs, sausage rolls, chicken drumsticks, samosa, crisps, cucumber sticks and tomatoes.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy the meal.

Dairy free birthday cakes are impossible to buy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one and even if I did I’m sure it would taste like cardboard (like the jam tarts we bought not so long ago).  Dairy free cakes are again so easy to make.  All you need to do is replace the margarine or butter with a dairy free margarine.  I use ‘Pure’ Margarine as it gives good results.  If milk is required, I also use  soya milk or for a lactose free cake, I use lactose free milk.

I wanted to make my daughter a really special cake as she always misses out when there is cake and sweets at school.  So I decided to make a cake using a ‘Baba Pan’.

A baba pan is a cake tin with a hole in the middle.  My mother very kindly gave me her pan as she never used it.  I made a marble cake (the recipe is below) and covered it with a chocolate frosting (you can find the recipe here) and covered the cake and filled the hole in the middle with sweets that she can actually eat.  I also put lollies and sweets around the base of the cake too.

It was a very easy birthday cake to make and it was lovely to see her eyes nearly pop out when she saw it, as she knew it was ok for her to eat.  Her friends all loved it too.

I also made some dairy free butterfly cakes and a good friend brought some homemade dairy free flapjacks for my daughter too.  I’m not sure if she realises it, but gestures like this mean the world to my daughter, so if you are reading this, thank you.

After they all ate, they played different games that my husband had sorted and when they left my daughter gave them all a gift which we had actually bought in the January sales ready for parties, so it does pay to think ahead.

All in all, the kids all had a great time and my daughter was very happy and we were happy because it had been achieved cheaply.

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Chocolate Marble Cake

185g Margarine, plus extra for greasing the pan (dairy free margarine such as pure)

265g Caster sugar

3 Eggs

225g plain flour, plus 1 tablespoon extra for dusting your pan.

85g self-raising flour

5 tablespoons of milk (lactose free milk or soya milk)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

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Preheat your oven Gas 3 / 325 / 170C

Grease a baba pan and then lightly dust with the 1 tablespoon of extra flour.

Cream the margarine and sugar together, until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs until combined.

Sift both the flours and the baking powder into a separate bowl and then mix half of it into the margarine/egg mix, together with 1 tablespoon of the milk.

When this is combined, mix in the remaining flour with another 1 tablespoon of milk.

In a separate bowl, blend the cocoa with the remaining 3 tablespoons of milk, until it is smooth.

Take 2 tablespoons of the cake mix and add it to the cocoa mix and stir until smooth.

Fold the cocoa mixture into the cake mixture. Do not over mix, it should just give a rippled effect.

Spoon into your pan and smooth the top lightly.

Cook in the oven for 40 minutes and then lay some foil over the top to stop it from burning and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.

The cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.

Dust with icing sugar to serve or cover with chocolate frosting.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

Dairy & Egg Free Jam Tarts and Leaf Mould

Today I collected the leaves from around my fruit trees and spread them over my new woodland area.

After this, I moved a whole pile of leaves from a house next to my allotment site, as the lady wanted to get rid of them and kindly offered them to me.  I also scattered these in my woodland area.

My new woodland area

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Later, I emptied two of my black dalek bins, that I keep my leaf mould in.  I find it rots down quicker in these types of bins rather than storing the leaves in a chicken wire cage and it keeps the leaves moist.

I mix my leaves three or four times during the year to help them to rot down.

Over the last year I have tried something new.  I read that if you mix your grass cuttings into the leaves, then they rot down quicker.  Below is the leaf mould I didn’t add grass cutting to:

And the next photograph is the leaf mould I did add grass cuttings to:

You can clearly see that it has sped things up, so I will do this again next year.

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I spent time spreading the leaf mould over two of the beds where my onions and roots will be planted in the spring.  I won’t fork it in for a few weeks though, as I noticed there are a lot of tiny grass seeds that have blown over to my plot and have germinated.  The leaf mould will kill these.

Leaf mould won’t add any nutrients to your soil, but it is a brilliant soil conditioner.  I can certainly tell where the leaf mould has been added a few months later.

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I found another shark fin melon today, that I had somehow managed to miss when I picked the others.  I must work out what I want to do with them.

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I had another look at the patch where I sowed grass seed just over three weeks ago.

Before I sowed the grass seed

I am so pleased as this is how it looks now:

How it looks today

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I also noticed my nasturtiums are still flowering lovely too.  These particular ones were self-seeded.

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This is the last day I’ll be writing about dairy and egg free treats, for the moment.

Today I decided to make Jam Tarts.

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Just as a reminder, I thought I’d show you again, the dairy and egg free jam tart that I bought from Tesco’s ‘Free from’ range:

We did feel they were a bit ‘stingy’ with the jam.

Below is a jam tart I made using the easy recipe below.  I know which one my daughter would choose out of the two:

My homemade dairy and egg free jam tart.

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Dairy Free Jam Tarts

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225 grams plain flour

100 grams of dairy free margarine

A little cold water to mix (approx. 2 tablespoons)

25 grams of caster sugar

An assortment of your favourite jams

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Preheat your oven Gas Mark 6 / 200 C / 400 F

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl and rub into the margarine, until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the cold water, a little bit at a time, mixing with a round bladed knife until it begins to come together.  Use your fingers to bring all the mix together and knead lightly.

At this stage it is best to put your pastry in a small plastic bag and leave in the fridge for an hour, as pastry rolls out better when it’s cold.

Roll the pastry out onto a floured board.

Use a cutter to cut out ‘rounds’ and put them in cake cases.

Put a teaspoon of your favourite jam in each case

 (Do not over fill with jam, If you like lots of jam, add it when they have finished cooking).

Bake for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for a while before taking them out of the tin.

Homemade dairy and egg free jam tarts

Please let me know if you have enjoyed my egg free / dairy free ‘goodies’ week, by leaving a comment.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

Dairy & Egg Free Flap Jacks and Over Wintering Garlic and Spinach

I am still harvesting crops from my allotment.

Even though things have slowed down considerably, I am still picking French beans, patty pans and courgettes, which I am very pleased with:

Today I planted garlic to overwinter.

I planted the garlic on small ridges to make sure it doesn’t stand in soggy soil over the winter, as it doesn’t like it when it’s too wet.

I had four bulbs of soft neck garlic called Marco, which I split up and I planted the cloves four inches apart and one inch deep.

Also today, I planted the overwintering perpetual spinach, that I grew from seed.  This will be ready to eat in spring time.

Spinach is my husband’s favourite so I like to make sure we have plenty to use.

Perpetual spinach is much easier to grow all year round than normal spinach, as it’s not prone to bolting and is virtually pest and disease free.

I like to give it some protection over winter, so I built a cloche to go round it, out of old panes of glass.  I left some gaps around the glass so there is some ventilation.

I weeded around my overwintering onions as well.

 

I am very pleased with them so far:

 

I also spent some time transplanting the wallflowers I grew from seed over the summer.  I have put them around the edge of my new woodland area.  I also transplanted some hardy geraniums in there too, which had out grown their beds.  I found a couple of plants called ‘Lady’s mantel’ or ‘Alchemilla mollis’, which had self-seeded on my plot, so I replanted them in this area too.

The woodland area is coming on well now.  I am waiting for the council to start dropping leaves at our allotment so I can use them as a weed suppressant around the tree.

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Today, I’m continuing with my dairy free / egg free ‘goodies’ theme.

Yesterday I received a comment from a lady, who said her daughter was lactose intolerant and she had liked the recipe for the biscuits.

Nearly every recipe I have written on my blog, I convert to be either dairy free or lactose free, so my daughter can eat the same as the rest of us.

For example, even toad in the hole and the parsley sauce are made using the lactose free milk. I use the soya yoghurt to make the hummus and anything I make with cheese, e.g. pizza, I use the lactose free cheese. I even make pastry, cakes and bread with these ingredients, and you really can’t tell the difference. I think it’s terrible that people (especially children) are expected to miss out and after experimenting, I’ve found that so many things that can easily be made at home, to taste the same, whether you use lactose free milk or soya milk.

Below I have written the recipe for Dairy Free / Egg free Flapjacks.  I actually doubled the recipe, as I freeze them for snacks over the coming weeks.

Again they taste delicious with normal margarine and just as nice with the dairy free ‘Pure’ margarine:

(I haven’t got shares in ‘Pure’ margarine, I just think it’s good for cooking)

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Dairy Free / Egg free Flapjacks

110 grams Margarine

4 tablespoons golden syrup

75 grams granulated sugar

225 grams porridge oats (I buy the cheapest)

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Preheat your oven Gas Mark 3 / 325 F / 170 C

Put the Margarine and syrup in a pan and heat gently until it has melted.

In a separate bowl mix the sugar and oats together.

Pour the margarine and syrup into the oats and sugar and mix until all the oats are covered.

Pour the mixture into a greased square shallow tin

(I lined my tin with greased ‘grease proof paper’)

Press down gently with the back of a spoon until it is flat on top.

Bake for 30 -40 minutes until it is golden brown.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then cut into squares.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Dairy Free, Egg Free Flapjacks

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

Hob Nob Biscuits and Forking in Manure

The Michaelmas Daisy’s at the allotment are still looking beautiful.  I am getting many people passing by and commenting on them.  It really is the best I’ve seen them flower, it must be due to the high level of rain we have had this year.

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My wild flowers are still flowering well.

I will certainly grow them again next year.

Everytime I look at them, there is something different to see and there is still loads of insect activity around them.

I spent the day forking manure into five of my beds.  I filled the wheelbarrow full of manure ten times, so I am aching now, but I’m very pleased with what I have done.

I will be growing brassica’s in this area next year, so I have done this job early, so the soil can settle well before I plant the brassicca’s in the spring.  Brassica’s like to grow in firm soil.

I fork manure into my brassica beds and where I plant my potatoes each year.  I don’t fork manure in my other rotational beds.  I find by adding manure to just half my allotment each year works well.

 

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Dairy Free, Egg free Hob Nobs

This week I’ve been trying to include some dairy free, egg free recipes for the gentleman that fixed our new fascia’s, as his daughter has been longing for some ‘normal’ goodies to eat as snacks.

Today, my youngest daughter, who is twelve years old, made some dairy free, egg free hob nobs.  I’ve got to say they are delicious made with normal margarine and they are equally as nice when you make them dairy free.  In fact I would go as far as to say, you just can’t tell the difference.

Once again, the dairy free margarine I’ve used is ‘Pure’:

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Hob Nobs Recipe:

8 oz. Self raising flour

8 oz. Granulated sugar

8 oz. Porridge oats (I use the cheapest ones I can find)

8 oz. Margarine

1 tablespoon Golden Syrup

1 tablespoon hot water

½ teaspoon Baking powder

Preheat the oven Gas Mark 4 / 350 F / 180 C

Mix the flour, oats, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.

Meanwhile, melt the margarine, syrup and water in a small pan.

When the margarine mix has melted, add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Use your hands to make smallish balls and put on a greased baking sheet.

Flatten the balls slightly with a fork.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until golden.

  

I really think my daughter did a good job.

I normally make approximately forty hob nobs with my recipe, however my daughter only made thirty two….because she said she likes them bigger!

As biscuits disappear very quickly in our house, I have frozen these biscuits.  They do freeze very well.  I will just take out a few biscuits each day, which stops my family eating them so quickly.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

 

 

 

Crab Apple Day and Dairy Free, Egg Free, Shortbread Biscuits

I spent all of the day dealing with the very large amount of Crab Apples that my wonderful friends gave me on Friday:

I have made jars of crab apple jelly and I saved some juice, ready for another recipe tomorrow.  I also washed, top and tailed and froze loads and loads of them, ready to use in the future.  My freezer is certainly bulging at the seams now!

Thank you again Tom and Arlene for the crab apples.  I will obviously be sending some crab apple jelly your way.

Tonight I nipped up to my allotment to pick up my shark fin melons.  I have three decent sized melons, so I’ve just got to figure out how to use them!

I put an apple in the photo so you can gauge the size of them.

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At the weekend, I made some shortcake biscuits, to take with me when I visited my mum and step dad.  These biscuits are my husband’s favourite.  They taste nice if you use normal margarine and equally as nice if you use the ‘Pure Dairy Free’ Margarine. My family didn’t realise I had made them dairy free so my daughter and my sister could eat them and they all enjoyed them.

So I thought I’d post the recipe as part of my dairy free / egg free week.

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Short Bread Biscuits:

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250 grams of plain flour (plus a little extra for rolling)

75 grams of caster sugar (plus some to shake over the biscuits when they are cooked)

175 grams of margarine

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Preheat your oven gas mark 3 / 160C / 325 F

Mix the flour and sugar into a bowl.

Rub the margarine into the flour and sugar.

Knead well and when it comes together to form a ball, put it on a floured board.

Roll the dough out, approximately ¼ inch thick.

Use a pastry cutter to make biscuit shapes.

Put the biscuits on a greased baking sheet and prick them gently with a fork.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Put the cooked biscuits on a cooling tray and shake caster sugar over them while they are still warm.

I made approximately 30 biscuits using the ‘Pure Dairy Free’ Margarine and they cost me just 91p to make.  They would be even cheaper if you use normal margarine.

I tried to find a dairy free / egg free shortbread biscuit to compare them to….but I couldn’t find one.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.