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3 September 2014

 Life has gotten a little crazy of late. After a sunny and serene August full of weekends away and long warm evenings, real life seems to have landed with a bang. What with work, an impending flat move and hundreds of birthdays, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to achieve anything more than the bare necessities. If anyone knows where you can buy Bernard's watch or a time-turner in South London, I'm all ears.

Working in an industry where the phrase 'time is money' is used with full sincerity, I'm loathe to complain about being busy - after all, isn't everyone? The ritual of baking is indisputably soothing, but sometimes there just isn't time to spend all morning in the kitchen. My mother taught me that cheating doesn't pay, but it'll certainly buy you a few hours of your life back.

This cheats dulce de leche is devilishly simple and, as your oven does all the heavy lifting, it's the perfect way to impress on the sly. Our little secret?

I can eat this stuff with a spoon, but I'll be sharing a few recipe suggestions in case your tastes are more refined than this writer's.
x2 tins condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp flakey sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 220C. Pour the tins of condenser milk into a shallow oven-proof dish, then stir in the vanilla and salt. Set the dish into a roasting tin, and fill the tin with water to create a bain marie. You should fill the water to 3/4 of the way up the oven-proof dish. 

Cover the oven-proof dish tightly with foil, then carefully lift the roasting tin into the oven. Bake for 1.50-2 hours, checking the colour every 30 minutes. You may need to top up the water. The dulche de leche is ready when it takes on a deep golden, caramel tone. Remove from the oven and the water bath, and whisk to smoothness. Allow it to cool, then decant into a jar and chill before using. The dulce de leche will thicken to its characteristic glossy, thick consistency in the fridge.

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