Make Some Muffins

When it comes to easy bake recipes, making muffins is perhaps one of the simplest recipes you can follow and not mess up (unless you get the ingredient measurements COMPLETELY wrong!) And best of all, there's a wide variety of recipes for you to try, depending on flavours you prefer. But to start you off with an easy option, we found this simple yet tasty basic muffin recipe by Charlotte Hilsdon on BBC Good Food.

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line 2 muffin trays with paper muffin cases. In a large bowl, beat 2 medium eggs lightly with a handheld electric mixer for 1 min.
  2. Add 125ml vegetable oil and 250ml semi-skimmed milk and beat until just combined, then add 250g golden caster sugar and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Sift in 400g self-raising flour and 1 tsp salt (or 400g plain flour and 3 tsp baking powder if using) then mix until just smooth. Be careful not to over-mix the batter as this will make the muffins tough.
  4. Stir in 100g chocolate chips or dried fruit if using.
  5. Fill muffin cases two-thirds full and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the trays will not fit on 1 shelf, swap the shelves around after 15 minutes of cooking.
  6. Leave the muffins in the tin to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: www.bbcgoodfood.com

basic muffin recipe

Source: BBC Good Food

Treat Yourself To Cupcakes

The best thing about a basic cupcake recipe is the fact that you can get creative! And to make this recipe even better, these vanilla cupcakes are super easy and quick to bake. These little cups of sweetness are perfect for that tea party you're planning on having with your kids in the garden a little later or to just enjoy with a cup of tea. To get you started, here's a cupcake recipe from BBC Good Food, shared by Sophie Godwin:

Ingredients: 

For cupcakes: 

For the icing:

Method: 

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and fill a 12 cupcake tray with cases.
  2. Using an electric whisk, beat 110g softened butter and 110g golden caster sugar together until pale and fluffy then whisk in 2 large eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  3. Add ½ tsp vanilla extract, 110g self-raising flour and a pinch of salt, whisk until just combined then spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. To make the buttercream, whisk 150g softened butter until super soft then add 300g icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
  6. Whisk together until smooth (start off slowly to avoid an icing sugar cloud) then beat in 3 tbsp milk.
  7. If wanting to colour, stir in the food colouring now. Spoon or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Source: www.bbcgoodfood.com

cupcakes with pastel yellow, pink and blue icing

Sourced from BBC Good Food

Baking A Simple Cake

Just like cupcakes, baking a simple cake is also as easy as pie. Also, one tip we learnt while learning how to bake during the lockdown: DO NOT open the oven door to check on the cake before two thirds of the baking time has passed! Unless you want a flop. For a foolproof recipe that you and even the kids can bake, try this simple white cake recipe from allrecipes.com, shared from Scottosman:

Ingredients: 

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally, stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Source: www.allrecipes.com

vanilla cake with confetti sprinkles on top of the vanilla icing

Easy-To-Bake Sugar Cookies

Perfect to dunk in your coffee, to gift during Christmas or to have stocked in your cupboard for when the sweet tooth hits – sugar cookies are another easy bake treat for you to make at home. And a tried, tested and loved recipe we use is this one by Alton Brown on the Food Network.

Ingredients: 

Method: 

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 190C.
  3. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
  4. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill.
  6. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.
  7. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Source: www.foodnetwork.com

sugar cookies on a baking tray with sprinkles

Classic Cheese Scones For Tea Time

Looking to bake a savoury treat to enjoy with your afternoon tea? Then why not try your hand at making scones? And not just any scones – cheese scones! They're easy to make and also delicious. A recipe we suggest is this one from BBC Good Food. All you need is 15 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake and voilá, you'll have five cheese scones ready to be eaten.

Ingredients: 

Method: 

Source: www.bbcgoodfood.com

cheese scones being buttered from an aerial view

Sourced from BBC Good Food

Indulgent Fudge

And last but certainly not least, who can resist a block or three of indulgent fudge? Just don't have too many, or you might be on a sugar rush for the next 24 hours. And for this recipe, we're using a local one! Shared on Food.com, try out NESTLE'S Fudge recipe which was in the Fair Lady May 1986 edition.

Ingredients: 

Method: 

homemade fudge blocks stacked onto each other

Sourced from Food.com

Where To Eat

Clarens Brewery

Hanging out with great company, sipping on ice-cold draughts and tucking into some delicious grub – what more do you need to make a great outing with your loved ones? And if this is just the thing you’re looking for after a long day hiking and being adventurous in and around Clarens, then Clarens Brewery is just the place to refuel, refresh and simply have a good time. This is one of the country’s first brew-pubs, cideries and distilleries, so you can expect to sample and enjoy great beers, ciders and distillate (request for the tasting board to sample a few options before placing your drink order), all while being part of the fantastic craft revolution that is sweeping our country. It is an absolute must-visit when you’re in the area.

Clementine’s

We all love a fabulous meal, which is why you need to visit one of the best dining options Clarens has to offer. Clementine’s is one of the most exclusive restaurants in Clarens, where you can expect excellent food, a great atmosphere and friendly service. The pork belly, oxtail and steaks are all highly recommended. With such great food, you can expect this place to be busy and packed over the weekends and holiday season. To avoid disappointment on your next visit to Clarens (and Clementine’s), make sure you book your table at this popular gem well in advance.

Sugar & Cinnamon

Whether you’re after a delightful breakfast or something to satisfy your sweet tooth, Sugar & Cinnamon offers all things delicious from pancakes and glorious chocolate cake to home-style meals and good coffee, all with a stunning view of the mountains in the distance. Just a short distance away from Clarens, this is a hidden gem that gives travellers and even locals a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh air out on the countryside. Talk about a great way to start the day.

Where To Shop

The Purple Onion Deli

The Purple Onion Deli is hard to miss – it’s situated around the town square (in the Clarens Windmill Centre) with a little windmill spinning away right next to it and the majestic mountains in the background. This quaint shop gives guests an exceptional country deli experience, unlike anything you’d find in the city. They source unique, handmade and special products that are made with yesteryear’s recipe, including jams, fudge, coffee, marmalades, cherry items (seasonal), chocolates, pasta, preserves, biltong and much more. And best of all, it’s all absolutely delicious.

The Cherry Company

Love everything that smells, tastes and even looks like cherries? Then The Cherry Company will be your cherry heaven! From the moment you walk into the shop, you smell cherries, as the shelves are stocked with all things cherry. And to delight your taste buds (one of my absolute favourites): the cherry liquor. Trust me, if you’re nuts about cherries, this is one spot you cannot miss while visiting Clarens.

The Ugly Duckling

Who doesn’t love quirky and interesting gifts? If you’re looking to shop for something unique for family and friends or want to take something home with you to remind you of your visit to Clarens, then make sure you check out The Ugly Duckling. As their slogan says, it’s “the shop that’s worth a stop”. This store will have everything from unusual gifts and furniture to carpets, mirrors, one-off items, toys, indigenous instruments and souvenirs.

Tobias Art

If you have a flair for all things artistic and creative, then Tobias Art is a must-visit. This spot is a landmark destination for discerning shoppers who are looking for that something ‘out of the box’. They have everything from paintings, pottery and pillows to T-shirts, handbags, handmade soap, incense and jewellery. They even have interesting vintage toys in store.

Where To Play

Ficksburg Cherry Festival

If you are frequent visitors to Clarens, then you know all about the Ficksburg Cherry Festival. But if not, then you’re in for a treat. Ficksburg is the cherry capital of the world and every year in November, they host the Ficksburg Cherry Festival that attracts many travellers and cherry lovers from across the country. A must during this festival is the Constantia Cherry Farm tour with a picnic and the McKinley Chocolate Tour. This year the festival will take place from 16 to 18 November 2017.

Plenty of hiking trails

Love the outdoors and spending time trekking along trails and exploring? Then Clarens is just the place for you, as it has plenty of hiking trails no matter your level of experience. If you want something quick and easy, then take the Spruit Walking Trail, but if you’re looking to up the tempo and the time, then why not take the Kloof Hike that’s about 2.5 to 3 hours long!

Outdoor Adventures

If it’s adventure you want, Claren Destinations has it. There are plenty of extreme adventures you can experience in Clarens, all you have to do is book and enjoy. They offer a variety of experiences to get your adrenaline pumping, including river rafting, abseiling, paintball, hiking, rock climbing, enduro trails, zip- lining, quad biking, archery, fly fishing, a variety of day tours and even skiing and snowboarding in the colder months.

Where To Sleep

Kiara Lodge

There’s a little bit of everything at Kiara Lodge. It makes for the perfect family getaway home as it has plenty of facilities to keep the little ones busy. These chalets are all complete with balconies that offer stunning views and are within walking distance to the dam, playground, swimming pool and restaurant. Also, you won’t be too far away from the main street in town, as it’s just down the road.

Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens

This luxurious four-star retreat is nestled close to the Golden Gate National Park and the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens exudes sheer style, luxury and design that blends in with the natural beauty of the stunning little town of Clarens. It boasts 70 luxurious rooms perfect for any occasion, whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, team-building endeavor, a business conference or an adventurous weekend escape with the family.

Lake Clarens Guest House 

Apparently, this guest house has even hosted Brad Pitt… If you want 4-star luxury at its finest along, stunning country views and quick and easy access to town, then book a stay at Lake Clarens Guest House. Their luxurious rooms are furnished to make your stay as comfy as possible with queen-sized beds, TVs, fridges, snack basket and a safe, and are all tastefully decorated. And best of all, all bedrooms have an exquisite view of the lake and mountains.