Archive for the ‘Muffins’ Category

h1

Investment

August 11, 2011

More is needed. In this blog obviously, my neglect is shameful. I have been baking but not with the same regularity, or joy, as previously. The reasons are many and varied but my old foe apathy has set in. However, recently I’ve been in the kitchen a little more and the more I do, the more I enjoy being there. It might feel wrong to force myself to bake when the mojo is missing, but it seems a little more discipline will allow me to rediscover that joy and the rewards it brings.

That bit of effort invested into my kitchen should then provide rewards; both in terms of my enjoyment and the lift to the spirits an hour or so spent zesting oranges, chopping nuts or standing perplexed over an ice-cream maker can bring; but also for those that I share those proceeds with.

My family, my friends, my neighbours, my community.

Recent events have shown that more investment is desperately needed in the relationships with those around us. I’m not talking about financial investment, or here to debate the budgetary cuts – there are those far more knowledgeable than I who are able to provide arguments on that subject. But the investment of time and care. Last weekend a group of neighbours and friends hosted a BBQ for the rest of the Avenue, a truly collaborative event attended by every house, and more, from those who had lived here for decades to those who had yet to move into their new home.

It was a great evening, there was good food, great company, and plenty of laughter. Most importantly connections, relationships and friendships with those around us have been initiated or strengthened. A couple of hours of planning, a few more of preparation and several more enjoying ourselves can only serve to reward us all. Sadly, at the same time as we were extending these friendships and sharing food the riots and looting were starting in north London and we could never have imagined that in just 48 hours it would extend to our city centre a few miles away.

I have no idea how I/we go about extending this feeling of connection to the wider community in order to prevent the chaos of recent days recurring, I’m not naive enough to believe that an offering of dips, muffins or bowls of salad is going to make much difference, but we must try, even if it starts in a small way with those next to us – a little investment in these relationships would be a wise and beneficial one for us all.

Advertisements
h1

Crammed with Cranberries

November 29, 2010

For my birthday, which fell on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, I decided to honour the theme and the season with two cranberry laden cakes to take into work. As a great deal of my baking inspiration comes from the blogs I read, most of which are American, there was no shortage of potential recipes to be found in the weeks leading up to the 25th. I always have frozen and dried cranberries in the house but bought two bags of fresh that have appeared in the shops recently to use in the recipes below. I would imagine frozen would work just as well with b recipes, you might just need to extend the baking time by a couple of minutes and give them a quick toss in flour to help with the additional moisture.

I had to bake a bundt as they’re my favourite type of cake and I’m glad did as on the morning of my birthday I received my ‘I Like Big Bundts’ badge from Mary the Food Librarian  which I earned by baking on National Bundt Day on the 15th of this month you can see the round up of all those bundts baked in honour of the day, including mine, over at her site. Thank you Mary for taking the time to post one of these all the way over to the UK, I actually squealed with delight when I opened the envelope, along with my birthday cards, on the morning of the 25th.

Both recipes are courtesy of Joy the Baker, chosen for their main ingredient of cranberries, and also because I thought the two together offered a nice contrast of flavours and choice for my colleagues; the richness of a cake laden with fruit, spices and bourbon offset by the zing of lime zest in a light muffin. The original muffin recipe states whole milk, but I had buttermilk to be used. I worried initially that it might be a little too sharp a flavour on top of the cranberries and  lime zest, which is why I kept in the sugar topping, a step I often leave out. I really don’t think it was too sharp, these muffins were light and tasty and possibly my favourite thing for a long time. However,I have a confession, I didn’t manage to brown my butter. It’s not something I’ve done before and it just didn’t seem to be happening.  I’ve no idea how long it actually takes to brown butter but I seemed to be standing over the pan for ages. I had my iPhone and googled hints and tips but my impatience won out and I just used un-browned melted butter. On a positive note, this means I will have to make them again once I’ve established what I was doing wrong.

For the bundt, the apples and bourbon go together nicely, but I think I would perhaps try using a brandy next time, I even have some orange flavoured rum that I need to experiment with. I just used apples I had in the fruit bowl which were British coxes

Browned Butter, Cranberry and Lime Muffins

Joy the Baker

for 12 Muffins:

100g melted butter

1/3 cup of buttermilk or whole milk

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Grated zest of a lime

225g plain flour

140g caster sugar

3.4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups / 162g fresh or frozen cranberries

40g muscavado sugar for topping

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with cases.

Brown the butter by melting over a low heat until brown bits appear, once the cracking has subsided it will brown quickly so remove from the heat (or just stand stirring for a while then remove melted, un-browned butter from the heat)

Whisk together the milk or buttermilk, whole egg and additional yolk, vanilla and lime zest in a large jug. Add the browned butter and whisk in.

Whisk together the flour, sugar baking powder and salt in a large bowl and then add the wet ingredients, gently but thoroughly combining.

Fold in the cranberries, spoon into muffin cases, sprinkle with a little of the extra sugar and bake for 18 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the trays for 15 mins.

The batter seemed very cranberry heavy – almost as if there wouldn’t be enough muffin to encase them all once cooked, but I needn’t have worried, the cranberries were perfectly encased in the batter although they did need a little over the 20 mins to brown nicely.

Apple, Cranberry and Bourbon Cake

Joy the Baker

450g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

3 large eggs

337.5g granulated sugar (I used caster)

87.5g muscavado sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon dark rum/ bourbon /orange juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 apples; peeled, cored ad cut into 1/4″ pieces (approx 245g) and a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them browning

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a large (12 cup) bundt pan.

Whisk or sift together the flour, bicarb and salt.

Whisk together the oil, eggs, sugars, spices rum and vanilla in a large bowl.

Fold the dry ingredients in to the wet and then fold in the fruit. Joy points out that the batter will be thick and heavy and it’s definitely one that needs to be spooned in the pan rather than poured.

Bake for 60 – 74 minutes (it was 60 for me) and then allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrap to cool completely.

h1

Autumn Apples

October 8, 2010

The Sticky Marmalade Tea Loaf from my previous post used up the jar of marmalade that had been mocking me from the fridge shelf. So I promptly went out and bought another one – because you can’t not have marmalade in the house can you? I am aware of the contradiction but should state that unopened jars in the cupboard do not elicit the same anxieties as open ones housed in the fridge – am I revealing too many neuroses in one post here?

I’m glad I did replenish my stock though, because my new copy of Nigel Slater’s Tender V2 arrived and one of the first recipes I flagged was his Apple and Marmalade Cake. I had been given an enormous bag of apples harvested from a colleagues tree so the ingredient gods were smiling on me that day.

I have made this cake again since, doubling the ingredients and making many small loaves as I wanted to give them away to neighbours – it works just as well.

 

Wholemeal Apple and Marmalade Cake

Nigel Slater

220g butter at room temperature
210g light muscavado sugar
4 eggs
250 g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
200g (peeled & cored weight) apples chopped into pieces less than 1cm
100g sultanas or raisins (I used a mixture of both)
125g Marmalade
Zest of an orange
Demerara sugar for sprinkling on the top
Pre heat oven to 160C and crease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Combine flour, cinnamon and baking powder
In a separate bowl combine the marmalade, raisins and/or sultanas, apples and zest
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the beaten eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
fold in the flour followed by the fruit and marmalade mixture
scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and sprinkle with Demerara sugar
bake for 1 hr 15 mins (my double recipe made 5 small loaves which I baked for 45-45 mins)

I have also used the apples to make Deb’s Wholewheat Apple Muffins which I first tried last year . I was disappointed last time, but the addition of mixed spice added the depth that I think was missing previously (I reduced the cinnamon to 1/2 a teaspoon and added a teaspoon of mixed spice) I also made sure that the apple pieces were a little smaller, more suited to a muffin. Make sure you fill the muffin cases well, these do not rise that much in the oven so you need to be generous with the batter.

I have found more use for the many apples gifted to me including an apple and date chutney that is currently maturing before I can review it, and an apple and gingerbread cupcake that I will share with you shortly. I have my eye on an apple and courgette cake from Tender (courgettes currently earmarked for my morning porridge though) and of course,  apples and autumn also mean it’s nearly time to make my mincemeat in time for mince pies!

h1

Early Morning Sunshine

May 1, 2010


The glorious weather of late April has mostly vanished, unsurprisingly, in time for the bank holiday weekend. But I can let you into a little secret … if you wake just before dawn – open your eyes as the birds are starting to stir and the sky begins to lighten – then by the time you are sat with that first coffee of the morning and are awake enough to appreciate it – the sun will be shining in a gloriously clear sky. Chances are it will be gone by 8am when most are rousing themselves for the start of the long weekend, but one of the compensations of waking so early every morning is seeing that early morning sun. No matter how wet and windy the recent days have turned out to be I have had some early alone time with the sun which goes a long way to lifting low spirits.

Another highlight of my day has been checking on my seeds. My previous attempts at ‘gardening’ usually extend only as far as placing bought pots of blooming hydrangeas around my garden, enjoying their mop-headed beauty before butchering them at the end of the season with the secateurs, a pruning from which they never quite recover. My small garden is littered with lopsided, near-corpses from previous years. To date the thing I am most proud of in my garden is not killing the poppy and christmas rose that were already established when I moved in ten years ago. I have, however, been seduced by the BBC2 series ‘Edible Garden’ something about the programme made growing my own veg, from seed, seem possible. Whilst part of the attraction of the half hour slot is coveting Alys Fowler’s beautiful garden – and wondering why I can’t manage to pull off the wearing of wellington boots in quite the same way – the big draw for me is the flexibility she conveys in how and what you can grow in a limited space. By choosing the right varieties, or just harvesting early, the smallest of spaces will hopefully provide some ingredients for my kitchen.

One thing I knew I wanted to grow was courgettes, I hope for a glut so I can bake with them, grate and add to my porridge, I’m also hoping for beetroot – again for the baking possibilities. There are radish which I hope to nibble on and I am hopeful for dwarf beans and kale. All have germinated so far, other than the beetroot which are being a little shy and the chili seeds. There’s still time. It’s all quite exciting.

So, early Saturday morning, with the earliest morning sun shining on my my seeds, me feeling so proud (and more than a little grateful that the cat hasn’t watered the trays too) I aimed for the perfect morning by baking. I had bookmarked an Orange Marmalade Tea Cake back in February from Deeba’s blog ‘Passionate about Baking’ which is one of my favourite sites. Her photo’s are stunning and whilst I couldn’t hope to recreate most of what she does in terms of presentation and styling I had all the ingredients for this cake.

I made made a few changes to the recipe Deeba lists, which she herself had adapted, I used half wholemeal flour and reduced the sugar as well as adding a little ginger. I also doubled the quantities listed for a loaf cake as I had plenty of courgettes and went with muffins for easier distribution (and less washing up). Deeba used some, no doubt stunning, homemade bitter orange marmalade and the run of the mill jar I had handy could’ve done with being a bit tarter, perhaps some additional zest would’ve added a bit more zing. If you’re going to make this and buy marmalade specifically for it I would go for a sharper variety with decent chunks of orange rind, I might even make again with a smattering of stem ginger. As they are below they are so light, with each bite offering a slightly different taste or texture due to the distribution of the orange, walnuts and chocolate chips. In honour of the hour when these were baked I have rechristened them…


Sunshine Muffins

Makes 16 muffins or 2 5″ x 9″ Loaves

262g plain flour
262g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
500g grated courgettes (approx 4 small)
1 cup / 375g marmalade (approx one jar)
250g caster sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 175C and line muffin tins with papers
Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and spices.
Mix all the other ingredients, except the walnuts, in a large bowl until combined , making sure there are no large lumps of marmalade.
Sift the dry ingredients into the wet
Stir in the walnuts then fill the muffin cases to just over 3/4 full each (I used a 1/4 cup measure, the muffins don’t rise that much)
Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are starting to brown and are firm to the touch, or until a skewer comes out clean.


h1

It’s a Date

February 24, 2010
Despite early mornings being the best time for me to bake, they’re not necessarily the best time to pick recipes. A certain amount of attention is needed for the basics, like checking you’ve got enough flour and sugar (and of the right type) that the berries you thought you had in the freezer are still in their packet; rather than spilling out and impossibly mixed in the drawer with the ever present escapee frozen peas. All this needs a relatively clear head lest you discover half way through that you’re out of some vital ingredient. It’s also not a good time to decide you’re going to take that loaf recipe and double it to fit a bundt tin and it’s most definitely not the best time to convert those doubled quantities from American cups to metric. Even if I manage all of the above at 5am the chances are something else will slip – like remembering to turn the oven on, or dusting that greased pan with flour.


In order to avoid moments of frustration part way through the baking process I’ve tried recently to plan just a little bit more, spend some time on a Saturday evening looking through my cupboards to check to see what I could bake. Seeing what I actually have in stock and then pick recipes from there, write out all my conversions and notes ready to go when I wake. I don’t go as far as to weigh out the ingredients ready – what if tomorrow morning was the one morning when I actually get to lie in? But I have a plan.


This past Saturday’s peruse of my cupboards revealed several packets of dates and a fruit bowl overstocked with oranges. Leiths offered up a Date and Orange Loaf, I doubled the quantities from those suggested for a 1 1/2 lb tin so I could fill three of my 1lb ones. It’s an easy recipe as everything is added to the date mixture after they’ve been simmered in water. Use a large pan and you can just whack it all in and save on the washing up.


Date and Orange Loaf

Leiths’ Baking Bible


Makes three 1lb loaves


450g chopped dates

250ml water

340g soft dark brown sugar

340g butter

Grated zest of two oranges

2 tbsp orange juice

2 large eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp all spice


Preheat the oven to 170C.

Grease the tins and line the base with baking parchment.

Place dates and water in a large pan and bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add sugar, butter, orange zest and juice and beat well.
Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Add the eggs, beat well and then sift on remaining ingredients.
Bake for 60 – 90 minutes and then allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.



This is a tasty cake, the moistness from the dates and citrus zing make it perfect to eat as it is. It will improve for being wrapped well for 24 hours, and should it last long enough to dry out, I can imagine that a little spread of butter, perhaps to a toasted slice, would be lovely too.


As I’m not capable of buying just one of anything, of not having a back-up or spare, there were still more dates in the cupboard and having not made muffins for awhile I chose the recipe below, swapping walnuts for chocolate chips in order to make mocha muffins.



Mocha Date Muffins

Adapted from Leiths’ Coffee and Date Muffin Recipe


Ingredients for 12 Muffins


140g chopped dates (tip – snip into pieces with kitchen scissors rather than chopping, far easier)

1/2 Tsp bicarbinate of soda

1 tsp instant coffee

150ml boiling water

225g soft light brown sugar

115g melted butter

2 beaten eggs

250g self-raising flour

100g dark chocolate chips


Line your muffin tins with cases, or grease and dust with flour.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Place dates in a large bowl with coffee and bicarb, pour over the boiling water, stir and leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Add the butter, sugar and eggs into the date mixture, fold in the four until just combined (do not over mix, for light muffins you want it just mixed) and fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Remove muffins from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack (the original recipe suggests covering them with a clean tea towel as they cool to keep the tops soft).


h1

Early O’Clock

February 9, 2010

The other week I took a couple of days off work, and with nothing much planned other than rest, relaxation and a lie in, I made sure that the eggs and butter were out of the fridge before I went to bed in order for them to be at that all important ‘room temperature’ so I could bake the next morning. I didn’t really anticipate the morning starting at 3am, but when I realised sleep was not going to return, and the lie in was definitely not going to happen, I got up, put apron on, and got started.

I had oranges and buttermilk to use which provided a guide for the recipe search and I’d spent a little time at the weekend looking through my books and converting recipes from cups and sticks to grams (the most important part of my prep recently as it’s always a little too much for my mathematically challenged brain first thing in the morning – or even the middle of the night). The Orange Ricotta Pound Cake from Cake Keeper Cakes caught my eye as a good showcase for the rose bundt tin. I swapped the ricotta for buttermilk, but increased the butter from 168g to 220g in order to compensate for the reduced fat. I used wholemeal flour and once again reduced the sugar content. I also added a bag of dried cranberries as I’d had my eye on a couple of orange and cranberry loaf cakes recently an they seem to be paired frequently. I think all of that messing around might have been a little too much. It needed more … flavour. By using wholemeal flour and in reducing both the sugar and fat content there was too much taken away, wholemeal flour can also be quite bitter and a bit of additional sweetness might have balanced this. The texture was also affected it was a dense cake, again I’m not sure whether the culprit is the flour or fat – possibly both. I think using plain flour would’ve made a big difference, perhaps half and half? I would also add a touch more citrus, as I said previously the oranges I’ve been using recently haven’t had much of a zing to them. The cranberries were a nice touch, they hold their form so well and the little zing of sharpness when you bite into on is lovely.

Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake

Based very loosely on a recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes

Cake

450g flour (I used wholemeal)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb

1 tsp salt

220g butter

270g sugar

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of two oranges

Glaze

1/2 cup orange marmalade

2 tsp water

Preheat oven 165C, grease bundt tin and dust with flour.

Beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl periodically

Add eggs one at a time, scrape bowl again

Add zest, juice and vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl

Add one third of flour mixture to mixing bowl with mixer on low speed, followed by half the buttermilk, another third of the flour, buttermilk and last of flour mixing well after each addition and not forgetting to scrape the bowl

Fold in cranberries

Place batter into tin, bake until golden brown approx 1 hour 10 minutes

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely

Once cool make the glaze by stirring water and marmalade in a saucepan over a low heat until the marmalade melts then brush the glaze over the cake

Second on the list was a whole-wheat honey nut cake again from Cake Keeper Cakes (I really can’t recommend this book enough). I wanted to make another cake that has a layer of filling running through it, in a more suitable tin than the rose bundt that I used for the Cardamom Cake. I reduced the sugar again but the layer of honey running through with the nuts and the caramel glaze added plenty of additional sweetness. It was a favourite of a few of the tasters.

Whole-wheat and Honey Nut Bundt Cake

Cake Keeper Cakes

Filling

75g flour

28g softened butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/4 cups walnuts or pecans coarsely chopped (I used walnuts)

1/2 cup honey

Cake

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

300g whole-wheat flour (original recipe 200g plain flour, 100g whole-wheat)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarb

1/2 tsp salt

112g butter

150g light brown sugar (reduced from 175g)

Glaze

56g granulated sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Grease bundt tin and dust with flour

Preheat oven to 180C

Make the filling by combining the flour, butter and cinnamon in a bowl until crumbly then add the nuts and honey.

Whist together buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs

Combine cake dry ingredients

Beat together butter and sugar in mixer or with electric whisk on medium high speed for 5 minutes

Lower the speed on the mixer, add one third of flour mixture to mixing bowl with mixer on low speed, followed by half the buttermilk mixture, another third of the flour, buttermilk and last of flour mixing well after each addition and not forgetting to scrape the bowl

Beat on high for one minute

Scrape half the batter into the prepared pan, spoon the filling as evenly as possibly over the base layer then add the rest of the batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake for 50 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely

Make the Glaze by bringing the sugar, honey and buttermilk to boil in a small pan, reduce the heat and cook for 7 – 9 minutes until caramel coloured, stirring occasionally

Remove from the heat, stir in vanilla and allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring over the cake letting the glaze drip down the sides

Allow to cool for about half an hour before serving

Lest the sunflower tin feel left out I also made the Pumpkin Spice Cake that I’ve made previously, I wanted to play around a bit with the spices – basically by being more generous with them all which I think worked, it can take it – and it also took care of the last of the buttermilk.

My sister paid an impromptu visit later that day, so I knew that between her, my dad and various neighbours and colleagues I could easily offload todays output – so I carried on.

Finally I made a Pumpkin and Ginger Spice Cake from Katrina of She’s in the Kitchen. Now this is just lovely, I’ve had several requests for the recipe and will definitely make it again – the original is for ‘Texas’ muffins which I had to google and discovered that they’re just very large muffin tins, some of which I happened to have (probably the result of yet another compulsive Lakeland shopping trip). Katrina suggests that this recipe will make two 8” cakes or one 8” and six muffins. I used a bundt tin and also got six muffins.

Pumpkin and Ginger Cake/Muffins

Adapted from Katrina’s recipe – She’s in the Kitchen

1 tin of pumpkin puree

275g soft brown sugar (reduced from 2 cups/350g)

225g melted butter

4 eggs

1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (Katrina suggests cider or apple juice)

525g flour (wholemeal)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp bicarb

1 tsp salt

4 1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cloves

1 1/2 cups crystalised ginger, chopped

1 cup currants (optional, but I still have loads left from Christmas and so added them)

Mix together the melted butter, pumpkin and sugar

Add eggs and mix well

Add fruit juice

Sift together the dry ingredients and then and to wet mix

Fold in the ginger and currants

Fill the pans/muffin cases half full and bake the cake for 40 minutes for the cake and 25 for the muffins at 180C.

h1

Sunday Bake-a-thon

August 20, 2009


On the same Sunday morning that saw me conquer the lemon drizzle disaster I also needed to use up a carton of buttermilk. Most of the buttermilk recipes I’ve collected are bundt cake ones which I adore. I never tire of looking at (and picking at)the cracked top as it cools in the tin before turning it out and marvelling at the smooth underside. Plus they’re dream cakes for slicing and sharing.

A mixture of fresh and frozen blueberries along with just enough lemons left from the nemesis cake and I was good to go with this recipe from Bonappetit. This cake is delicious and was a hit with everyone. Don’t forget to coat the blueberries in flour to distribute them evenly throughout the batter.

And, because I can never bake just one cake I also attempted these apple muffins from Smitten Kitchen (there was also a Victoria Sandwich, but more on that another time).



I’m not won over by these muffins. I think the memory of the apple and date cake is still too wondrously fresh for another apple based recipe. I didn’t help by not chopping the apple into small enough pieces – again my lack of forward thinking meant I didn’t fully consider the end muffin sized product. However, the crumb was lovely and light and the smell alone whilst they were baking was wonderful