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Category Archives: Small Baked Things

Apple and Rosemary Muffins with Lemon Glaze



My go-to recipe for muffins these days is Matt Stone’s wonderful Greenhouse muffin recipe, blogged here.  His book The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste is one of my favourite reference cookbooks at the moment. This recipe works well, as Matt suggests letting the mixture sit in the fridge overnight to let the flour hydrate and the flavours deepen. The resulting texture and taste are exceptional!

I’m experimenting with different flavours for this recipe. This recipe features rosemary, a fragrant woody herb, which gives the muffins a lovely intense aromatic flavour. I’ve used  apples, and lots of cinnamon and ground ginger. I drizzled the muffins with a lemon icing, which complements the rosemary beautifully.

Ingredients

4 free-range eggs

280g raw sugar

200g apples, unpeeled and grated

150ml vegetable oil

10g chopped fresh rosemary

300g  or wholemeal plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a lemon icing that will glaze the muffins, and drip a little over the sides

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced 180 degrees non fan-forced.

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and once things start to get foamy, slowly begin to pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the apple, oil and chopped rosemary. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away, but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge too.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

I used my fancy new Silverwood molds instead – available pretty easily in the UK, but if you’re in Australia like me, you will need to go to Blackwood Lane in Melbourne to buy them. If you want to use a fancy mold, my advice is to butter and flour very carefully to avoid the muffins sticking. I actually butter the molds, stick in the fridge for 10 minutes, then butter again, and finally flour.

Here is a photo of the molds I used:


Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, checking with a skewer to see if the muffins are cooked.

Once cooked, remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin, peel off the baking paper and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency.

Spoon the lemon glaze over the muffins, allowing a little to drop down the sides.


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Hot Cross Buns: Three Great Recipes!

I’m in the throes of making hot cross buns today, Good Friday, 2017. My buns are at the moment in the fridge having their overnight first prove. If you’ve not done this before, a slow fridge prove creates a flavour superior to a short warm prove.

But more of these buns anon when they’re out of the oven!

Here are my three favourite hot cross buns so far in my Easter baking journey, two Jamie Oliver recipes and a Paul Hollywood recipe. I have shown photos of each, with a link to my recipes in previous posts.

Making your own hot cross buns is fun, seasonal and very very satisfying!

No 1. Jamie Oliver Hot Cross Buns from the Jamie Oliver website
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2016/03/26/hot-cross-buns-jamie-oliver-inspired/

No 2. Jamie Oliver Hot Cross Buns from Jamie Magazine
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/04/13/jamie-olivers-hot-cross-buns/

No 3. Paul Hollywood’s book “How to Bake” and it’s on his website too.
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2015/04/03/paul-hollywoods-hot-cross-buns/

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Fig and Frangipane Muffins

 

 

Here’s another muffin recipe – I’m always experimenting with ingredients and tweaking recipes to create new taste and texture sensations.

Figs are plentiful in early autumn in Sydney, and a colleague brought me some beautiful bounty from the Southern Highlands from her very own fig tree. Lucky Ms L to have a tree bearing such luscious treats!

This recipe is based on one from Mike McKenearney’s “Kitchen by Mike” see here for details – with a bit of method thrown in from Matt Stone’s Greenhouse Muffins and my own flavour combo of fresh figs, stem ginger and frangipane.

Ingredients

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of sea salt

80g butter, softened

65ml vegetable oil

150g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

75ml buttermilk (or ordinary milk with a good squeeze of lemon juice added)

6 fresh figs

6 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped

1/2 quantity of frangipane

A couple of teaspoonfuls of a good jam – apricot works well

Handful of flaked almonds, toasted

Frangipane

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

1 free-range egg

Method

These quantities make 6 big muffins. You could probably get 8 or so daintier muffins from the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a six-hole muffin tin with baking paper or paper cases.

In an electric mixer, whisk the butter, oil and sugar until smooth, and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should look creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the buttermilk or lemon-soured milk.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into another bowl and then add  1/2 cup of the flour mixture and whisk on a low speeed until smooth. Be careful not to overmix and this will toughen the muffins.

Fold in the remaining flour mixture, again being careful not to overmix.

Chop 4 of the figs into quarters and then half each quarter. Carefully fold the chopped figs and the chopped stem ginger into the muffin mixture and then spoon evenly into the baking papers or muffin cases.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the egg and ground almonds and process until smooth. (You will only need 1/2 this quantity, if that).

Mix a good teaspoonful of the frangipane into each muffin. It doesn’t matter if it’s not mixed in too well – it’s nice to have an almond surprise in the centre of the muffin!

Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

When the muffins are cool, brush the top of each muffin with jam, then sprinkle on some toasted flaked almonds.

I decorated with slices of the remaining 2 figs. It would be nice too, to bake some fig slices on the top of the muffins. My track record of having baked fruit pieces stay on top of muffins and cakes is not good! They always sink. So I content myself with decorating the baked goods with fresh fruit.

Serve on their own or maybe with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.

 

Nectarine, Zucchini and Apple Muffins

 

img_5282img_5280Here’s another riff on my latest muffin recipe, Matt Stone’s beautiful Greenhouse Muffins from his book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste”, see here to buy the book.

Matt’s recipe uses carrots and apple. I substituted zucchini (courgettes) for the carrot, and added nectarine slices inside the mix and also as decoration on the top.

Ingredients

4 eggs

280g raw sugar

200g zucchini unpeeled and grated

1 apple unpeeled and grated

1 nectarine chopped into small pieces

150ml vegetable oil

100g nuts, roughly chopped –  pecans, walnuts, almonds would be good. I used pecans.

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

Topping

50g cold butter

70g plain flour

50g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

3 tsp honey

1 nectarine cut into thin slices

Method

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl until they are frothy. Slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the zucchini , apple, oil and nuts. Using a spatula,  gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Lastly gently fold in the nectarine pieces.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats and seeds and mix well, then mix in the honey to create a crumble-type mixture.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

Cover the top of the muffins with the crumble  topping and place 2 or 3 nectarine slices on top of the crumble. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. After  15 minutes check the muffins using a skewers and test  for “doneness”. My experience has been that they will need another  5-10 minutes, so keep checking until you are sure they are cooked.

When done, take the muffins out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Then finish cooling on a wire rack. They keep fine in their paper wraps, making them easy to store  and transport.

 

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Intense Strawberry Flavour

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These beautiful cupcakes are truly strawberry marvels. They have an intense strawberry flavour in both the cakes themselves and in the luscious strawberry icing. I used my usual go-to recipe for the cupcake mixture, based on Nigella‘s cupcake recipe. Adding some strawberry puree which I cooked down to a beautiful paste as well as a handful of chopped fresh berries, gives you the strawberry cake batter. A traditional buttercream icing with more reduced strawberry puree, and some optional strawberry fondant creme make these cupcakes really delicious!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

2 tbls reduced strawberry puree*

Handful of chopped fresh strawberries (about 6 will probably be enough)

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

50g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

2 tbls reduced strawberry puree*

1 tbls strawberry fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cup cake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the milk, reduced strawberry puree and chopped strawberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Carefully fold in the reduced strawberry puree and chopped strawberries.

Spoon mixture into the cases, filling the cases equally.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Ice with the strawberry buttercream icing.

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add the reduced strawberry puree and the strawberry fondant creme (if using) and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

*To make reduced strawberry puree

To make the total amount of reduced strawberry puree needed for both the cakes and icing, puree about 20 strawberries in a food processor or a blender. You will get about 1/2 cup, or 2/3 cup of puree. Put the puree in a saucepan  and heat the puree over low to medium heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by about 2/3 to 4 tbls –  about 10 minutes or so.

These quantities and instructions are rather loose – you need enough strawberries to make a decent amount of puree, then cook them down for long enough to give enough reduced puree for both the cakes and icing. It’s important to cook the puree so that it’s thick, particularly for the icing, so that the icing isn’t too runny.

Also, chill the puree before adding it to the cakes or icing.

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Greenhouse Muffins

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This is Matt Stone‘s recipe for really delicious muffins! The recipe is from his great book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste”, see here for link. He’s an interesting, sustainable chef, who has been involved in innovative kitchens such as the Greenhouse in Perth, Western Australia.

The recipe is full of grated apples and carrots, with walnuts and cinnamon, with an oaty crumble topping. What I liked too, was that Matt suggests making a big mixture, baking some straight away and keeping the rest of the mixture to bake in a day or two. Genius, if you want freshly baked muffins for breakfast, without having to make the mixture from scratch in the morning. He even suggests that it’s best to make the muffin mix the night before anyway, to let the flour and baking powder work overnight.

Matt’s recipe uses freshly milled flour and freshly rolled oats, as he is an advocate of using ingredients in the freshest possible state. I didn’t have access to these techniques, so I used regular plain flour and rolled oats. But I am seriously thinking about acquiring the equipment to mill and roll at home!

The first batch I made in a regular muffin tin but I made the second batch using a texas muffin tin. From one mixture I got 6 regular muffins and 4 texas sized ones. The recipe below refers to using a regular, 12 hole muffin tin. Obviously you can make different sizes, as I did, if you want.

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Ingredients

100g nuts (I used walnuts)

4 eggs

280g raw sugar

200g carrots, unpeeled and grated

200g apples, unpeeled and grated

150ml vegetable oil

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

Topping

50g cold butter

70g plain flour

50g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

1 tsp vegetable oil

3 tsp honey

Method

Dry-toast the nuts in a heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat for 3–5 minutes until fragrant and golden, then roughly chop.

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and once things start to get foamy, slowly begin to pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size. Whisk in the carrot, apple, oil and toasted nuts. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge so it’s not a bad idea to make a double batch and bake every second day so you can have fresh muffins all week with little fuss.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, seeds and oil, mix well, then mix in the honey. You want a crumble-type mixture. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water to get it to a lovely, crumbly consistency.

Grease a 12-hole standard muffin tin and line the holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture and press it down to the level of the tin.

Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there. The good ol’ skewer test is the perfect way to see if they’re cooked through.

Once cooked, remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin, peel off the baking paper and place on a wire rack.

Serve warm, pretty much after baking, with butter!

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

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These are great! They combine two great methods of biscuit making to create a thick, buttery, chocolately sweet treat. The recipe is more shortbread than cookie, creaming butter and sugar, and adding flour.There’s no egg, as there would be in traditional chocolate chip cookie. Add a handful of chocolate chips and the shortbread dough steps over into cookie territory.

The recipe is based on a post from “The View from Great Island”, see here. My version is minus peanut butter, and with my own variations. If you’re over  thin and crispy cookies, or soft and chewy, making a nice dense shortbread make sense.

If you want to zhush up these cookies, try mixing in a tablespoon or two of caramel filling when you cream the butter.  Something like dulche de leche is great. And sprinkle some sea salt on to the cookie rounds before baking.

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Ingredients

220g butter at room temperature

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

75g icing sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (dark or milk)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Cream the butter using an electric mixer until the butter is soft and whipped, Add the vanilla extract. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the butter and mix until the dough just comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips, making sure not to overmix the dough.

Turn the dough out onto greaseproof paper. Divide the dough into two, for easier handling.  You need to gently shape each dough portion to form them into a log shape. Each log will be about 15- 20cms in length and the diameter will be about what you would expect form a round cookie…ie 8-10 cms. But the size of the logs is really whatever size you want your cookies to be!

You may need to work it with your hands if it is too crumbly. Roll them up in the greaseproof paper, carefully making the log the shape, Twist both ends of the logs securely.

Refrigerate for  one to two hours until the logs are really firm.

Cut the logs into 1 cm slices with a very sharp knife, I find that a serrated knife works well. Some will be more even shaped than others, and the ends of the logs will be smaller.

Place the cookie slices on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. You may need 2 baking sheets depending on how many cookies you are baking. I usually get 20-22 good sized cookies from the dough quantity. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden and look like shortbread.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

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