The MoneyAware retro treats and desserts challenge!

Whether it’s cake at Nan’s or custard-topped desserts in the school canteen, pretty much everyone has a favourite treat that makes them all nostalgic.

It’s normal to get a hankering for something sweet every now and then. So, with this in mind, the MoneyAware team wanted to find out what retro treats and desserts were easy and cheap to make. There’s bound to be something below that takes your fancy!

Rachel’s Shortbread Biscuits



      125g butter – (£1 a packet)

55g caster sugar (plus more to sprinkle on top) – (70p a packet)

180g plain flour – (54p a packet)

Here’s what you do…

Your butter must be soft before starting. If it’s hard, leave it somewhere warm for an hour. If you don’t have a fancy electronic mixer (like me!) this recipe also serves as a free workout.

Creaming the butter and sugar together meant going crazy at them with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl until they formed a fine paste.

I then sieved in the flour and gently rubbed everything together with my thumbs and forefingers. The mixture felt a bit like breadcrumbs but I then kneaded it into a big doughy ball.

I flattened the mixture out on a lightly floured surface to about a 1.5cm thickness. I then sliced up 18 fingers (from the dough, I mean!), popped them onto a baking tray, sprinkled caster sugar over them, and let them set in the fridge for an hour.

Heating the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5, I put the baking tray on the middle oven shelf for 15 minutes. Once done, I carefully transferred them to a cooling rack. After my other half and I had some sample biccies, I brought the rest to work for the team – they went down a treat!

Would I do it again? Probably not. The biscuits were lovely but not mind-blowingly better than supermarket ones. Never hurts to have this recipe in the back pocket though, in case of a biscuit emergency!

Rory’s Butterscotch Tart



175g unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
110ml semi skimmed milk
Pinch of salt
Butterscotch essence (optional)

Butterscotch tart is a tasty, simple to make dessert with a gooey filling and a sweet shortcrust pastry.

Not only was it a total bargain to make, it took me right back to my school dinner days!

For my tart I bought a pre-made pastry case to save time. To make your own pastry, you’ll need a 20cm (8”) tart tin and this sweet shortcrust pastry recipe from the BBC.

Here’s what you do…

Melt the butter and sugar together in a large saucepan over a low heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved.

Sieve your flower into the mix, and beat the mix with a wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes. It should resemble a mash potato consistency.

Tip the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the milk and a pinch of salt. If you want to add butterscotch essence, add a teaspoon now.

Beat the mixture until smooth and thick. It might seem like it won’t ever mix together but it will eventually.

And finally, pour your butterscotch filling into your pastry case, and allow it to set at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. I left mine in the fridge overnight and it tasted great the next day.

The ingredients for this recipe cost me under £4 which including two pastry cases – leaving me another spare!

Jen’s Tottenham Cake


170g butter £1.02
170g caster sugar £1
3 eggs £1
225g plain flour 77p
1 tsp baking powder £1
1 tsp vanilla essence £1
Milk (already had)
100g icing sugar £1
Pink food colouring (skipped)
Desiccated coconut (optional) £1.12

Here’s what you do…

Cream the sugar and butter together
Next, mix the baking powder and flour in a different bowl
Then, mix 1/3 of the flour with the sugar mix and add an egg
Repeat until all the flour and eggs are used
Now add a bit of milk until the mixture drips from a spoon
Put into a lined rectangular baking tray
Bake for 50 minutes at 150 degrees.
Mix a small amount of water with icing sugar to ice the cake
Sprinkle with coconut

Tottenham cake is cheap to make. But I had to buy almost everything on the list because I never, ever bake. I skipped the food colouring because it was £1, and when will I ever use it again?

jencakeWhen my cake came out of the oven it looked rather…flat. Was it my terrible oven that never really heats up? Or was it the baking powder to flour ratio? These are the great mysteries of life, I guess!

I left the ‘cake’ to cool until it was icing time. Icing sugar is my nemesis. I somehow used the entire box.

I added water to the icing sugar and made a nice, thick icing. But it wasn’t enough, and the next batch was so runny that it went all over the hob. It was also riddled with lumps. To cover it up, I sprinkled the coconut over the top.

Maybe it was the white, lumpy icing. Maybe it was the flat cake. But the result wasn’t good.

It tasted and looked okay once I’d cut it up but it wasn’t worth the stress.

Don’t let my catastrophe put you off. This cake is simple and tasty. I’ve actually used the same recipe before and had a much more successful result. Besides, baking’s all about trial and error (mostly error in this case). If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!

James’s Bread and Butter Pudding


Bread: 20p

Butter: 7p

Raisins: 20p

Sugar: 10p

Milk: 13p

Eggs: 34p

Total: £1.04




Here’s what you do:

Lay five slices of buttered bread in an oven dish. Sprinkle two small boxes of raisins over the top, cover it with a coating of sugar and then pour over a mixture of half a pint of milk and two eggs.

Once that’s done, stick the whole lot in the oven at 190C for just over half an hour.

I love how easy the ingredients for bread and butter pudding are to get hold of. Rather than splurging on expensive ingredients, this is a clever way to use up stuff you already have in the house.

I try to avoid throwing out food if I can avoid it, so I’ll use this recipe if I’ve got bread or milk that are at risk of going off.

My bread and butter pudding tasted a bit like very sweet eggy bread but it’s a lovely comforting type of food that brings back memories of childhood. I possibly left mine in the oven a bit too long, but I think the crispy edges add a bit of character!

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