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Category Archives: Sweet Food

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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Ottolenghi’s Rosemary, Olive Oil and Orange Cake

 

This is a lovely cake from the wonderful Middle Eastern inspired food impresario Yotam Ottolenghi.

It’s fragrant with rosemary inside the cake, and the orange and lemon icing gives the cake a great citrus tang.

Although there are few steps to the recipe, it’s actually quite easy. You could leave out crystallising the rosemary sprigs to save time, but the sprigs are a nice aromatic touch plus they look great on the cake!

You could bake the cake in an ordinary tin, but if you have a bundt tin, make it in that, so the icing can drip down the centre of the cake.

I made the recipe with unusually, no tweaks of my own, so here is Yotam’s recipe largely unaltered.

Ingredients

FOR THE CRYSTALLIZED ROSEMARY:
10 small rosemary sprigs, no more than 3 cms each in size (see note)
1 egg white, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons caster sugar
FOR THE CAKE:
About 30 grams unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the tin
240 grams plain flour plus more to flour the tin
160 mls extra-virgin olive oil
120 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
1 ½ tablespoons/7 grams packed finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 large free-range eggs
130 grams sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
FOR THE ORANGE ICING:
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
150 grams sifted icing sugar

Method

At least six hours before you plan to ice the cake, prepare the crystallised rosemary: Brush rosemary on all sides with a little of the egg white and then dip it in the sugar, so the needles are lightly coated on all sides. Set aside on a wire rack to dry. Repeat with remaining rosemary. *Note: You want small, decorative clusters of needles. The simplest way to do this is to pull the smaller, bottom-most clumps off of large sprigs, or trim off the very tops of several sprigs.

Make the cake: Heat oven to 160 degree C. Generously grease a 9 inch/23 cm Bundt tin with half the butter and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Butter again, generously, and then flour it, tapping away the excess.

Put olive oil, superfine sugar, orange zest and chopped rosemary leaves in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until combined, then add eggs, one at a time. Whisk for another minute, until thick, then add sour cream and mix until combined on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the whisk.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the olive oil mixture and mix until combined. Increase speed to high and whisk for 1 minute.

Scrape batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top with a small spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake is cooked and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. (You may want to trim the cake at this stage, if it rises unevenly, to allow it to sit flat on the plate.)

Prepare the icing: In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. When the cake has cooled, drizzle icing on top, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake, then top with the crystallized rosemary and serve.

PS Spot the Quirky Cat!

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Fig and Frangipane Tart

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I made this tart a couple of weeks ago when figs were plentiful, cheap and very luscious. Even now, on April 1st, they can still be got at farmers’ markets, the very last of the bounty of a long Indian summer.

Figs and frangipane go well together, the lovely almond cream complementing the juicy sweetness of the figs. A few posts go I made fig and frangipane muffins – here is the link – and this is the same combination in a more refined tart form.

The shortcrust pastry is based on the great Maggie Beer’s recipe using sour cream.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry base:

200gm chilled unsalted butter

250gm plain flour

1 tsp caster sugar

135gm sour cream

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

10 fresh figs, quartered

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a 23cm (9 inch) fluted flan tin with a removable bottom.

To make the pastry, pulse butter, flour and caster sugar in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out and place into the buttered flan tin.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well.

Spoon the frangipane over the tart base.  You may not need all the mixture – the idea is to have a base on which to sit the figs. Arrange the fig quarters in a circular pattern over the frangipane. You needn’t be too precise. The figs should be sitting on top of the frangipane. If they sink in, you probably have too much frangipane and may need to take some out.

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Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the frangipane is set and the pastry looks cooked round the edges. Don’t overcook so that the pastry edge burns.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve at room temperature on its own, or with cream or yoghurt.

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Baklava Traybake

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Here’s a simple version of baklava. It’s a no fuss version when you just want to throw a few ingredients together to make a sticky sweet treat.

It’s rustic – meaning I was more interested in the taste then the look of baklava – but taste wins out on visuals if  you’re short on time.

My version uses half the ingredients, with only one layer of nut filling in between the two filo layers. For a more traditional baklava, double the ingredients and make two nut layers in between three filo layers.

Ingredients
300g walnuts
50g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60g unsalted butter, melted
Half of a 375g packet filo pastry
Syrup
110g caster sugar
60g honey
30ml lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced.

To make the syrup, combine the sugar, honey and 90ml water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.

To make the filling, process the walnuts in a food processor until reasonably finely chopped – you  don’t want big pieces but you don’t want a nut paste either! Add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse to just combine.

Using a pastry brush, grease the base and sides of an 18cm x 28cm slice tin with butter.

Unroll the filo on a large chopping board. Keep filo covered with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to prevent the sheets drying out. Brush the first sheet with butter, then place it in the tin. Repeat until you have used half the filo sheets. Scatter the nut mixture over the sheets.

Brush the next sheet with melted butter and layer on top of the mixture. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Press the layered filo gently to compress slightly. Brush the top well with melted butter.

Place the baklava in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm to make it easier to score. Using a small sharp knife, score the top few layers of filo into diamond shapes. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover the top with foil if the filo looks like it’s browning too quickly.

Remove the tin from the oven, and while still hot, pour the honey syrup over the baklava in the tin. Leave for a couple of hours or until the syrup is absorbed, and baklava is cool.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces along the score lines. It keeps well, covered, in the fridge for a week, if you can resist that long!

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Salted Peanut Streusel Slice

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I like a good slice, or traybake as they are known in the U.K. In Oz they’re known as a slice, but years of devoted watching of The Great British Bakeoff have taught me that a slice by any other name is a traybake in the UK!

Do you love salted peanuts? I’m mad on nuts, preferably salted, so I have created a slice or traybake to incorporate shortbread, peanuts and a streusel topping.

For the shortbread base, I have used a Mary Berry biscuit recipe which is my latest go-to cookie recipe as it’s quick, rolls out easily and freezes well for future cookie adventures.

And the streusel is just butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon roughly combined.

Ingredients

For the shortbread base:

175g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

175g  plain flour

75g semolina

For the streusel:

50g butter

50g caster sugar

50g plain flour

1tsp cinnamon

Plus

100g salted peanuts in their skins

Extra butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Line a rectangular baking tray – the kind with the low sides that you can make a Swiss roll in – with baking paper. My tray is 27cm x 17cm.

To make the shortbread base, put the butter, sugar, flour and semolina into the bowl of a food processor and mix until a soft dough is formed.

Remove the dough from the processor, and with your hsnds, gently bring the dough together. You could roll it out into a rectangular shape to fit your tray, but it’s just as easy to take pieces of dough and squash into the tray, smoothing and joining as you go. Just make sure the base is a uniform depth.

Make the streusel by pulsing everything in the food processor, being careful not to overmux – you want clumps of rubble streusel mixture for the topping. Put the streusel mixture over the shortbread base, covering all the shortbread.

Scatter over the salted peanuts. Dot the mixture with a little extra butter. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Remove from the oven, cool in the tray, and cut into slices when completely cool.

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Peach, Nectarine and Plum Frangipane Tart

 

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It’s summer in Sydney and stone fruit are plentiful and really delicious. At this time each year I try to find lots of ways to showcase yellow and white peaches and nectarines, and blood plums with their wonderful dark red flesh.

This is a simple tart that is a great vehicle for summer stone fruits. A fillo pastry base, with a layer of frangipane and scattered with slices of fresh peaches, nectarines and plums.

A lovely way to to enjoy the summer bounty of fresh fruit.

Ingredients

For the base:

Half a 375gm packet of fillo pastry  (approximately)

2 tbls melted butter

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

For the fruit:

1 yellow or white peach

1 yellow or white nectarine

2 blooms plums

Demerara sugar, for scattering

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a flan tin with a removable bottom. I used a rectangular one – a traditional round one is fine, although the fillo pastry can be a little tricky to put into a round flan tin.

Place a sheet of fillo into the tin. Brush with melted butter. Keep on layering with fillo, brushing with melted butter between each layer, until you have used about half of the packet of fillo.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well. Spoon the frangipane over the tart base.

Now is the fun part! Slice the stone fruit, and arrange as artfully  – or as rusticslly  – as you please. Scatter some demerara sugar over the fruit slices.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the fillo is lightly browned and crisp around the edges, and the fruit is soft.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve warm or cold, with cream or on its own. Delicious.

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Strawberry Ripple Cake Revisited

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I was looking back at my archives and I found this lovely cake that I made a while back. I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It’s a simple butter cake, with a strawberry jam ripple. The addition of sour cream makes it a very moist cake too!

Summer in Sydney is all about the berries. Every supermarket and green grocer is practically giving away strawberries! And blueberries and raspberries are, well, as cheap as chips or … berries. So I use berries, and in particular strawberries, in cakes, puddindgs and pies quite a lot.

Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degreees C fan-forced.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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