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Strawberry and Lemon Cupcakes

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These little cup cakes are dead easy! The recipe is basically Nigella Lawson’s from her book How to be Domestic Goddess. It all happens in the food processor!

Ice however you like – I chose a strawberry buttercream with real strawberries and a lemon glaze. My piping skills are pretty bad – something I need to learn to perfect!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

75g strawberries

1 tsp lemon juice

50g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

Lemon Icing

2 tblsp lemon juice

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing.

Method

Cupcakes

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

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

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 half with the strawberry buttercream and the other half with the lemon icing.

 Strawberry Buttercream Icing

Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor and whiz to purée.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then gradually add the strawbewerry purée, beating continuously.

Lemon Icing

Mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar in a bowl until you achieve the desired consistency.

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Jams, Marmalades and Conserves 2013

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Just a reminder to myself of some of my favourite preserves of the year!

Ingredients
1 kg cumquats,
1 kg white sugar
1 litre water

Method
Slice the cumquats thinly, removing the seeds, and put into a large suacepan.

Add the water, and bring to a rapid simmer, cooking until the fruit is soft, between 25 minutess to an hour. Check regularly after  25 minutes – if the fruit is a little tough still, leave for another 10 minutes, and then check again.

Once the fruit is soft, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached.

Testing for setting point
Take the saucepan off the heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Take out a small saucer previously placed in the freezer, and spoon a little liquid onto the saucer, then return to the freezer for 1 minute. Push the marmalade along the plate with your finger. If setting point has been reached then the marmalade surface will wrinkle slightly and the marmalade won’t run back straight away. If it’s not at setting point, return to the heat and boil again for  a few more minutes (maximum 5 minutes) before re-testing. Repeat until setting point is reached.

Leave the marmalade to stand for 10 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars.

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Strawberry Conserve

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This recipe from my mother was my first attempt at jam making. I’m not sure who developed this version, but the jam is sensational as it is slightly tart, having only half the sugar of other recipes. As strawberries have a high pectin content, it sets well.

It’s really a conserve, as the fruit is kept whole. Conserves are a form of preserving in which whole fruit is suspended in jelly. I find berries make great conserves.

My mother noted: “do not make large quantities  – 2 pounds (1kilo) of strawberries is the maximum to be made at the one time”.

I’ve been making this conserve for ages and it’s always scrumptious.

Ingredients

500gms strawberries
250gms sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Hull the strawberries and put into a china or plastic basin (not metal).  Cover with the sugar and leave for several hours or overnight.

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Add lemon juice and gently stir the mixture to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.

Transfer to a large saucepan and boil briskly, testing for setting point regularly. When setting point* is reached – about 25 to 30 minutes, remove pan from the stove. Ladle carefully into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Note: use a wooden spoon and do not stir vigorously so that the berries are kept mostly intact.

*Testing for setting point
While the jam is cooking, place a small saucer in the freezer to thoroughly chill (about 5 minutes). When you think the jam may have reached setting point, remove the saucer form the freezer, place a teaspoonful of jam on it, put back in the freezer for 3 or 4 minutes. If the jam has a jelly-like consistency or a crinkly skin has formed on the sample, the jam is ready.

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Home-Made Crumpets

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A lazy Sunday brunch, perfect for home-made crumpets

This recipe makes fabulous crumpets! They are incredibly moorish and definitely beat the bought version! The recipe comes from the website of ABC Radio 702:

http://www.abc.net.au/local/recipes/2010/11/09/3061303.htm

Ingredients

300 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon caster sugar
7g sachet dried yeast
175ml milk, room temperature
175ml soda water, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray
Butter, honey or jam to serve.

Method

Sift the flour, caster sugar and yeast into a large bowl.
Stir in the milk, then add the soda water and whisk until smooth.

 Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 1-1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
Beat in the bicarb and salt.
Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan or the griddle plate on your barbecue until medium-hot.
Oil or spray the inside of the crumpet rings, as well as the pan or barbecue plate.
Place the rings on the cooking surface, making sure they’re evenly flat.

 Spoon 3-3 1/2 teaspoons of batter into each ring and gently cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the batter is set and covered with little holes.

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Turn the crumpets over and cook for another 2 minutes.
The bottom should be golden brown and the top only slightly coloured.

 Remove the rings and serve the crumpets straight away with lashings of butter, honey or your favourite jam (mine is homemade strawberry!)

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