Apple and blueberry muffins

Maybe it’s because The Great British Bake off is back on the TV or maybe because I’m getting my baking mojo back, whatever the reason I am rediscovering why I enjoyed baking. I am not making as detailed cakes as I once used but opting for quick bakes that can easily fit into my daily routine and still taste good; muffins, biscuits even bread that doesn’t take a great length of time. You’ll have noticed that I occasionally dabble in eggless baking, the texture and taste is different to that of an egg based cake but only those who are cake connoisseurs or are told about the lack of egg would most likely notice the difference. 

Tuesday night I had Bake Off on in the background but not sure if other avid fans of this television show feel the same but this series isn’t holding my interest. I was on in the background while I busied myself experimenting with a new recipe I had found for blueberry and apple muffins through Google from netmums.comApple Blueberry muffin batter_WebThe mixture looked ok, I don’t think I over mixed the batter and it definitely looked lumpy as the recipe said it should. Where I fell down was the timing, every oven is different but I think I just have a special one that either wants to cook food too quickly or wants to take its time, in this case it was the latter. The recipe said the muffins should take about 10-12 minutes to cook on gas mark 6, mine took about 16-18 minutes. I was concerned about overbaking them as they started to brown but when poked with a skewer there was still a bit of wet mixture attached.

Apple blueberry muffin_WebThe end result was better than I expected, I did think they felt a bit soft but were cooked but that can happen with additional liquid from fruit but they were holding their shape and not falling apart when they were removed from their cupcake cases. As always I have willing guinea pigs who give honest reviews, my work colleagues;

  • the blueberries gave a jammy texture
  • it was light with a nice texture
  • they were a bit soggy probably caused by the apple but tasted nice!  

Here is the Netmums recipe if you want to try it out.

Ingredients

  • 256g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 220g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 apple (large)
  • 150g raspberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml milk
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200’C/400’F/Gas mark 6
  • Line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  • In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together
  • Beat the milk and egg together lightly, add the melted butter and then add the apples and raspberries
  • Mix gently into the dried ingredients until just combined (the mixture will look lumpy, but that’s okay!)
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden, well risen and firm to touch
  • Remove from the oven and cool in the tray for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray and leave to thoroughly cool on a wire rack

 

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Latest attempt at eggless baking

The Great British Bakeoff is back on our screens and on the new TV channel, Channel 4 with the exception of old blue eyes; Paul Hollywood, new presenters. I did find that the last years series on BBC One wasn’t has good as the previous series so thought the revamp and the current changes would be a good move, breath some new life into the programme. I was wrong. Presenter Noel Fielding has a witty personality which I just feel is being suppressed, it’s like he is on his best behaviour not to offend anyone, and I’m waiting for him to break free. It could just be me and maybe I’m being a little unreasonable but I don’t think the talent is has high as some of the bakers from past series, let’s face it no one has been able to top lion bread. There are a few bakers that have won me over, Yana, Julia and Liam. He was robbed of star baker, think Facepalmsomeone needs to check that it is only tea in Pru and Paul’s mugs when they have to such an important decision. The introduction of Caramel week was interesting, though I think I will stick to buying stroopwafels, not a single baker was able to get the caramel right in the technical challenge, what was that all about?

I haven’t tried any of the bakes from the show but have been having my own little challenges. I back on the eggless baking trying to find a perfect go to eggless cake recipe. I personally don’t have any concerns baking with eggs but over the years I have come across people for whatever reason don’t eat eggs be it an allergy, religious or vegan or simply don’t like to eat eggs.

I am getting closer to reaching my goal with my recent attempt, think I may have found the ideal recipe from Carve your Craving. The mixture makes your own buttermilk by adding vinegar to milk and letting it curdle, I just bought buttermilk. I thought my mixture looked a bit too dry in the notes it says to add water but I didn’t read this part and added a few extra table spoons of buttermilk and chocolate chips. You can use an electric mixer but a trusty old hand whisk did the job.

In the eyes of my guinea pigs these cakes were success; the texture was that of an egg based cake and got thumbs up on the taste, I was a bit concerned they may not be sweet enough but I was Eggless Cupcakes Cooked Webwrong. I was just a bit disappointed with how the top of the cakes looked, I thought maybe I had overbaked them but the actual cake didn’t taste dry. With some icing on top no one who even see what the top of the cakes looked like!

One cake taste tester did say they had turned out nice but they did prefer the egg based muffin. I do think the egg based equivalent was that tad bit fluffier but that could also be down to over mixing the batter slightly. I am my own worst critic. I’ve added the recipe below but do visit Carve your Craving website for the original recipe as there are lots of accompanying pictures and helpful tips, plus lots of other recipes.

Ingredients
  • All purpose flour – 1 ½ cups / 215 grams
  • Granulated Sugar – 1 cup / 214 grams
  • Cocoa powder – ½ cup / 43 grams
  • Baking soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Milk – 1 cup / 240 ml
  • Oil – ½ cup / 118 ml
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Vinegar – 2 teaspoon
  • Milk plus vinegar is nothing but buttermilk:) so if u don’t have vinegar use sour buttermilk ( chaas) 1 cup by replacing milk and vinegar
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F or 180 degree C.
  • Line the cupcake tray with cupcake liners
  • Sieve and Mix all dry ingredients (All purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt) in a bowl. Always sieve from a height for tender crumb outcome
  • Now time for liquids
  • Add vinegar to milk and let it stand for a minute .. Stir in oil
  • Use liquid measuring cup to measure the liquids for best results smile emoticon
  • Mix liquid in the dry ingredients – whip with a electric whipper or by a spatula or hand whip only till the batter is smooth and no lumps – don’t over beat – very important
  • Mine is always ready within 30-40 secs.
  • And bake in pre-heated oven for about 18-20 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center of cupcake will come out with few dry crumbs .. Don’t over bake
  • Remove it from oven and after 5 minutes remove cupcakes on wire rack and let them cool completely before frosting.
  • Please follow the given tips – for the best tender moist cupcakes

 

Notes
I recommend adding 1 tsp instant coffee powder to the batter.. It enhances the flavor of chocolate… Do add if not making for kids
Milk plus vinegar is nothing but buttermilk:) so if u don’t have vinegar use sour buttermilk ( chaas) 1 cup buttermilk in place of milk
As there may be difference in flour quality – if you think the batter is too thick add no more than 3 tbsp water – 1 tbsp at a time
use whipping attachment not beaters
Can be stored at room temperature unfrosted upto 3 days in a air tight container
1 week in the fridge
3 months in the freezer

 

 

Soda Bread anyone?

Generally I’m more comfortable baking cakes and biscuits and have been learning the joys of freezing cut biscuit dough. As much as I like baking it can sometimes the preparation can be time consuming and when I’ve been at work and then have the craving to have a few biscuits, take a few out of the freezer and in about 15 minutes maybe 20 at a push I have fresh biscuits ready to go with my tea!

Enough about the cakes and frozen biscuits, the one area I dabble in and generally fail miserably is baking bread from scratch. I’ve used shop bough ready mixed bread where I just add water in the past, I’ve even tried focaccia bread from scratch with varying degrees of success and failure. So I thought I would try something a bit simple and opted for soda bread, no yeast involved, thought what could go wrong? My first attempt went wrong!

The dough was a wet, sticky mess …

Soda Bread_AllrecipesI found a recipe on Allrecipes that looked straightforward, I didn’t have any buttermilk but the recipe used the homemade version of buttermilk; milk with vinegar. I halved the recipe just in case it all went horrible wrong, which it did. The dough was a wet, sticky mess to which I kept adding flour that should have made the situation better, it didn’t. The dough became a bit tough and even though I was trying to find the silver lining in the moment and though the dough still had the chance to develop into a great looking and tasting soda bread, the oven would be the cocoon to make this all happen. Alas no this did not happen, the bread shouldn’t have taken long to bake yet the outcome was a lovely looking bread on the outside and a doughy substance on the inside. I couldn’t subject the daring foxes in the area that like to roam the streets, the only place for this lump that would offend bread bakers everywhere was the bin.

Was I beaten by this failed bake?

Soda Bread_James MartinI was for a short period of time, until I bought a pot of buttermilk then with the aid of BBC Good Food website and a recipe by James Martin (also see below) my bread baking fighting spirit was back in action. The ratios worked, the dough looked how I think it was meant to, onto the actual baking. Though there are many steps in bread making that I fall down on the actual baking and listening for the hollow sound does confuse me a bit but I went with it. The bread itself did catch a bit more colour than I would have liked, if I was comparing it to a colour chart I think it would have been the colour swatch that is just before burnt! The response from critics; brother and sister was the bread was a bit chewy, could have done with a few minutes in the oven which could explain why it tasted ok toasted and with butter, extra cooking under the grill. The main thing to take away from this attempt was it was edible.

Ignoring my limited bread making skills this bread is actually very simple and take no time to make. Give it a try and come and share your bread conquests on here or head on over to my Twitter share your thoughts.

Ingredients

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.

2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)

4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Thou shall not bake with eggs

My experience with eggless cake hasn’t been a rip roaring success, something always goes wrong;

  • The cake doesn’t rise
  • There is the bitter aftertaste of the bicarbonate that some of the recipes use
  • Just tastes awful, no accompaniment of icing, ice cream can save it

I’ve tried this eggless vanilla cake recipe from Sharmis Passions with some success, I remember it wasn’t very tall but looked like a sponge cake, needed a bit more sugar if you didn’t add any icing.

I’ve have tried this teen tiny eggless chocolate cake recipe from Cake Merchant before and the first time I made it the cake turned out perfect, it used to be my go to recipe.

Lately I’ve not been having much success with it.

It either comes out with the bicarbonate aftertaste or the cake is stodgy that it glues itself to your mouth. Am I using too much liquid, not mixing enough? Answers on a post card.

Why you are asking am I going to all this trouble to find a successful eggless cake recipe when I can knock up a decent cake with eggs? These days not everyone eats eggs due to allergies, religion become a vegan. Some of you know I have a regular biscuit stall at Kingswood Primary school fete, to be on the safe side I avoid baking anything that contains nuts and have a mixture of biscuits that both contain egg and are eggless. No parents have ever asked my if the biscuits contain egg but I just like to have a mixture just in case.

Back to my perfect eggless cake recipe quest

Eggless CakeI had some ripe banana’s and no eggs, found this vegan banana cake recipe from the Viveka Gardens which was adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe, I was pleasantly surprised.  Even people who don’t usually like banana cake liked this one.
This recipe gave me hope that I could produce something that not only is eggless but also edible!

 

Eggless Chocolate CakeFollowing my success with this the banana cake I had renewed faith that I was getting closer to finding a go to recipe. I have discovered this chocolate cake recipe from BBC Good Food. I forgot to add the 3 tablespoon of water to the glaze and it was a disaster. I then made a normal thin chocolate icing and that worked out fine. I made some holes in the cake so the icing drizzled through. This recipe was more like a brownie cake, and tasted nice with ice cream. My only criticism would be that it needed more sugar. With some tweaking this could become my go to eggless chocolate recipe.

Below is the recipe if you want to have a go, let me know what you thought of it.

Ingredients

  • 85g Butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 25g Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Chocolate glaze

  • 100g Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 tbsp Golden Syrup

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C/ fan 140C/ gas 3 and grease a 20cm round cake tin
  2. Tip the butter, syrup and vanilla into a heatproof jug, add 300 ml boiling water and briefly whisk with a fork to combine
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then in tip in the butter mixture. Stir until you have a smooth batter, then scrape into prepared tin. bake for 50 – 55 mins until the cake is well risen and springy to touch. Cool in tin for around 15 mins before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
  4. To make glaze, put chocolate and syrup into a small glass bowl with 3 tbsp of water, and microwave for 30secs on high until melted and smooth. leave to cool, then pour over the cake before serving.

We reached our #BHF target!

26 March my youngest two siblings and I took park in 5k run at run in Stratford London at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park‎ supporting the British Heart Foundation, our aim was to raise £300 for the charity. From donations received through our just giving online page and the money raised from the biscuits I baked and sold each week up until the run I’m pleased to say we managed to raise £320.

I wouldn’t say that my siblings and I have the running bug but we have become more active. Unfortunately my family and I are in the group that are at high risk for heart disease and diabetes. A combination of exercise and watching our diet is important especially as we lost both our dad and uncle to the disease.

  • We go to the gym.
  • My sister and I have started going to a Zumba class, the moves may look simple but you get an all body workout!
  • Wednesday’s are usually reserved for a body balance class whilst my brother goes for a workout in the same gym.

20170305_201129Don’t think I’ll give up on the unhealthy foods but everything in moderation. I have begun making my own instant oat packets for breakfast, one to save money but the other was to be able to have a variety of flavours that I like. Day one today and have to admit I do like my oats a bit sweeter but before I reach for the sugar bowl I’ll try alternatives like honey and fruit to sweeten it up. 20170424_081830[1]

I’m still making my own flapjack / oat squares things. These ones I added raspberries which blended in with the oat mixture and some mixed chopped nuts I found in the cupboard. I’m not too sure about how these have turned out just yet, think I may have used too many nuts! Managed to take a picture of them before I rushed out the door for work.

Fundraising

I know it wasn’t the most healthy but baking biscuits to raise money appealed to the masses. Each week I would try and bake a different type of biscuit for a bit of variety though I have to admit my shortbread biscuits are pretty good. The final week’s biscuit offerings were a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and shortbread with a bit of orange extract thrown it. I wasn’t sure what kind ofBake the best response these biscuits would receive so you can imagine my surprise when I sold out within two days. They had a crumbly kind of texture and the orange flavour came through nicely.

Courtesy of my cookbook ‘Bake like the Best’ below is the recipe if you would like to make some of your own.

Make about 30

Ingredients

225g Butter, softened
140g Castor Sugar
1 egg Yolk lightly beaten
2 tsp Orange extract
280g Plain flour
100g plain chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)
Pinch of salt

Cinnamon Sugar

1.5 tbsp Castor sugar
1.2 tbsp cinnamon

Method

Preheat the oven to 190C / gas mark 5, line a baking sheet with baking paper

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix well, you can use a wooden spoon I used an electric mixer. Then beat in the egg yolk and orange extract.

Sift together the flour and salt and add to the butter / sugar mixture. Add the chocolate chips and stir until thoroughly combined.

For the cinnamon sugar coating mix the castor sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dish. If you don’t like cinnamon you can just use sugar or any other flavouring you like.

Roll about a tablespoon amount of dough into a ball and roll in the cinnamon sugar before placing on the baking tray.

Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. They’ll be soft when the come out of the oven so leave them to cool on the baking tray for about 5-10 minutes then using a palette knife or anything flat remove the biscuits from the tray onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make your own oat bars / flapjacks

I’m not as healthy as I could but I do like to try and find a balance. I like oat bars but thought I would try and make some of my own, I would know what goes into them and would be cheaper to make a batch at home.

All I wanted was a straightforward simple recipe that I could adapt to suit me, not too much to ask for really. Google search later and a number of recipes pop up from those including protein powder to chia seeds none of which I would have laying around in my kitchen cupboards. I found I could go super healthy and have all the internal cleansing, gut busting ingredients that would that would probably cost me a small fortune or I could start by using a few ingredients that I know I have.

Oat BarsThis recipe from www.inspiredtaste.net probably isn’t considered healthy with the honey, butter and sugar but at least I know what is going into them and cost me pennies to make. I didn’t have any almonds so skipped this step, mine did turn out looking more like flapjacks but tasted nice all the same.

The recipe is versatile that you can add any additional ingredients; berries, raisins, flax seeds etc, I stuck with cranberries and may have gone a bit overboard with the chocolate chips. The only thing I may play around with is the honey and sugar quantities as it was a bit sweet for me, that is just a personal taste. Overall this is a good recipe to start with when making your own oat bars / squares. So what are you waiting for, below is the recipe from Inspired Taste.

Makes 12 bars

Ingredient

2 1/2 cups (230 grams) old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup (80 grams) whole almonds, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup (113 grams) honey

1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup (50 grams) packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (60 grams) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 grams) mini chocolate chips

Method

Toast Oats and Nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees F / gas mark 4. Line bottom and sides of a 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with aluminium foil. Then lightly oil or spray with cooking spray.

Add oats and almonds to a small baking sheet then bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

Pour butter mixture in to bowl with toasted oats and almonds. Mix well.

Let cool about 5 minutes then add cranberries and a 1/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine. (The chocolate chips will most likely melt a little. This is fine, they turn into glue and help to hold the bars together). I should have waited a bit longer as the chocolate melted quite a lot.

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan then use a rubber spatula or damp finger tips to firmly press the mixture into the pan. (Press hard here, this way the bars will stay together once cooled and cut — We press for about one minute to be extra safe).

Scatter remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture then use a rubber spatula to gently press them into the top. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove block of granola mixture from pan then peel away aluminium foil. Cut into 12 bars.

Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For the softest bars, keep at room temperature. For slightly harder bars, store in the fridge.

Crumbs away: Shortbread Recipe

20170207_0817211I can’t remember which blog I found this recipe from, but if you recognize it then let me know so I can give you the credit you deserve.
This recipe is simple, straightforward and completely fool proof. This recipe has not ever failed me. Naturally with recipes there is always room to make adjustments but in the case if it’s not broke then don’t fix it!

The original recipe uses a mixture of plain flour and gluten free flour, I rarely have gluten free flour in my cupboards so use all plain flour.

Ingredients

300g Unsalted butter at room temperature
200g Caster sugar
360g Plain Flour
110g Gluten free flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g Chocolate chips
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C / Gas mark 3.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You could use a wooden spoon but I usually use a hand mixer.

Sift flour(s), baking powder and salt and mix well. The longer you mix it the better mixture you will get. I start of using a hand mixture then use my hands to make sure all the creamed mixture blends in with the dry ingredients.

Split the dough evenly and add the chocolate chips to one of the doughs. Again mix it well.

The mixture will start to come together. I don’t always use the dough straight away so tend to have it in the fridge until I’m ready to use it. When I want to use the dough I leave the dough out for about an hour to warm up. 

When you roll out the dough, make them approx. 1 cm thick. With the help of cookie cutters cut out your desired shapes. I usually find it easier to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking / greaseproof paper.

Put the biscuits on a parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake towards the bottom of the oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Sprinkle caster sugar on the plain shortbread biscuits,  but not on the chocolate ones.

Leave the biscuits to cool. I leave them on the tray until they have firmed up a bit before transferring to a cooling rack.

Once cut out, if you don’t want to cook the biscuits straight away you can freeze them and cook when you next feel like some freshly baked shortbread cookies.

Glitz & glam, fundraising with candle making thrown in

Kicked the week off with a bit fundraising baking for British Heart Foundation, had another go at making candles, smack bang in the middle of the week we had an awards ceremony at work that the Communications Team I’m part of had to organise, setup and host. If that wasn’t enough I managed to squeeze in a few minutes to have a look at one of the DIY makeup books my sister got me for Christmas and attempt a homemade facial bronzer.

The basic homemade bronzer recipe I used the end result colour was more for someone with a fairer skin tone, I’ve been playing around with the measurements to suit my Asian skin tone and feel I’m at a point where I’m happy with it I just can’t remember the adjusted measurements. Next time I think I will either leave out of reduce the amount of corn flour / icing sugar and possibly the ginger powder as I’m not sure what was it’s purpose. I’ll put the recipe in another post for those who are interested. If the bronzer doesn’t work for you it does look like something you could make a nice hot chocolate with!

Fundraising

In a previous post Go Rocking Raccoons I talked about taking part in the British Heart 20170130_1018101Foundation 5k charity run. I started my bit of fundraising by bringing in lemon drizzle cakes. At the moment it’s a bit difficult to encourage people to buy a delicious sweet treat that probably has more calories in than the New Year diet allows. I haven’t given up as there are still many people who will not be able to ignore the lure of a shortbread biscuit to go with their afternoon tea. I’m thinking when I next make a batch of muffins a few mini ones in little bags might be a good idea, the dieters may feel less guilty about eating them if they are the size of a mouthful or two.

Candle Making

20170131_0833271I’m really enjoying the whole candle making experience at the moment every time I make a candle I come across a new pitfall, this time there was a crack in one of them. I am a newbie to the candle making scene.

On a more positive note I do think I’m getting the hang of mixing up oils to make scented candles, In my opinion I think the little testers that I made have a stronger scent than the ones I have bought from the shops. The only difficulty I had was trying to get them out of the plastic moulds. With a lot of banging and teasing round the edges they finally popped out!

SEPT Star Awards

pixlr_201702011328259481Our last SEPT Star Awards was in 2015, the health trust I work for will be merging this year with another health trust so this awards night was a little more special as it will be the final one under the name.

The communications team that I am now a part of were responsible for organising and hosting this event. The day was spent decorating the hall and tables, blowing up and arranging the 30 sets of balloons. Myself and a colleague were on balloon arranging duty, by the time we got to set 20 we were losing the will to live, so we moved onto the pull bow ribbons which weren’t as soul destroying.

20170201_1828511By the evening stress & tension levels were high, not going to lie there were a few hiccups but fortunately there was no blood shed so that was a bonus.

The evening itself went well, the guests of the event were none the wiser that blood, sweat and tears from the members of the Communications and Patient Experience Teams had gone into putting on this event as they bounced up onto the stage to collect their awards.

In case you’re wondering why I’m wearing all black, not only because it’s slimming but also because all staff members hosting on the night had to wear this colour.

I’m glad it went well in the end but going on how I was feeling the following day and still the day after that I’m in no hurry to go through the whole experience again, next year we’ll be a bigger trust as well; I don’t even want to think about!

This weekend think I will sleep as I am definitely starting to feel my age!

Do you know the muffin woman?

Weekends go so quickly, one minute it’s Saturday next thing you know you’re getting ready to go to work that’s including the day off I had Friday! The day off was to go see a friend who had her first child in November, I had already sent presents for the new born but didn’t want to go empty handed so of course I baked something. I would have made a candle but my I’m not confident in my candle making skills just yet.

Crumble topped raspberry muffin

cupcakes_muffinsLooking through my cookbooks; Cupcakes & Muffins,  I found a crumble topped raspberry muffin recipe that I hadn’t made before. I thought it would be nice to try something new, the crumble topping isn’t difficult to make but I know from making apple crumbles that the topping can sometimes be a bit too sweet. These turned out better than I expected. as you can see from the picture I put a bit too much mixture in a few of the cases resulting in some of the muffins spreading and trying to escape the tray!20170120_092256

Below is the recipe if you want to make these soft delicious muffins. Experiment with different berries, I haven’t tried it myself yet but fruit flavoured yogurt could work.

Ingredients
Makes 12 Muffins

6 tbsp sunflower oil or 85g / 3 oz butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing.

280g / 10 oz plain flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

pinch of salt

115g / 4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs (I had large eggs so used them)

250 ml / 9 fl oz natural yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g / 5 1/2 oz frozen raspberries

Crumble Topping

50g / 1 1/4 oz plain flower

35 g / 1 1/4 oz butter, cut into pieces

2 tbsp. caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F/ Gas Mark 6. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin. (I used muffin cases)

For the crumble topping, place the flower into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside.

To make the muffins, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Place the eggs in a large jug or bowl and beat lightly, then beat in the yogurt, oil and vanilla extract.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the beaten liquid ingredients and add the raspberries.

Stir gently until just combined, don’t over mix. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. Scatter the crumble topping over each muffin and then press down lightly.

Bake in the reheated oven for 20 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.

leave to cool in the tin for five minutes then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

20170121_160748Chocolate chip muffins

I was on a bit of a baking roll also making a few chocolate chip muffins. I have a go to fool proof chocolate chip muffin recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.co.uk that always comes out soft and perfect each time, even when a few chocolate chip get a bit burnt on top!

If you can’t be bothered to click on the link, below is the recipe.

Ingredients
Makes 12 Muffins

250g plain flour

200g caster sugar

125g chocolate chips

45g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

235ml plain yogurt

120ml milk

120ml vegetable oil

40g chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C/ Gas 6. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Combine flour, caster sugar, 125g chocolate chips, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.

Whisk egg, yogurt, milk and vegetable oil in another bowl until smooth; pour into chocolate mixture and stir until mixture is just blended.

Fill paper muffin cases 3/4 full and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. (Sometimes I sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, sometimes I add them all in with the flour)

Bake in preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Cool in the tray for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Healthy = Grumpy

It’s amazing how quickly the weekend goes, come Sunday evening you realise that you haven’t actually done a great deal.

Saturday, the heavens opened up and rained constantly. Heading to the town centre was out of the question, in my mind Christmas is still a while away yet members of the public are already in a frenzy trying to find that ‘Christmas bargain’ whilst in the process forgetting all manners and etiquette. You know the type of people I mean; they come out en masse sometimes in packs to make the rest of us shopper’s lives a misery. Hence no weekend shopping at any shopping centre/complex. I did temporarily entertain the idea that I may brave a shopping centre one evening then woke up from that nightmare. Online shopping it is, shopping online isn’t necessarily cheaper but it is much safer and better for my health and wellbeing!

Slimming World

A few people at work have joined slimming world, one of them being the lady I sit next to. I have tried to be supportive and eat healthier, the fruit got eaten but the rest of the healthy eating and no crisps just made me grumpy. Dieting of any kind isn’t for me, think I’ll stick to trying to find a balance. I need to do something until I can motivate myself to get back into exercise which hasn’t happened yet. If anyone is curious the Fitbit is still in its box.

Some of the meals that are suggested by Slimming world don’t look too bad but then there are some that look like the person needs to paralyse their taste buds before tasting as the picture alone is enough to put you off trying it. I’m being unfair as many people have successfully lost weight through Slimming World and look great for it. To me it looks like it’s not only helping people to lose weight in a structured way but to also learn to cook more from scratch and forego relying on ready made sauces.

pixlr_201611141123386101Most of my meals are already cooked from scratch just not always by me. Sometimes the ingredients used can be considered a bit rich/fattening depending on which way you look at it. I had a very nice slow cooked lamb dinner over the weekend that was marinated in double cream and yoghurt, the marinate was also used to create the sauce and had a strawberry trifle for dessert; this was shop bought. Neither the lamb or the trifle would be considered healthy and would count as a lot of sins in slimming world but tasted really good!

While I’m coming clean I also baked these oat biscuits and drizzled some dark chocolate over a few of them, I did share them at work.img_05701

I am trying to get the lamb recipe down on paper but I mostly assisted. The oat biscuits I can help with, this was the recipe I used from Allrecipes, the biscuits are quick, easy and only uses four ingredients!

 Christmas Bazaar

Guess who has a biscuit stall next month?

Meee!

These is a local school where since last year I have had a biscuit stall at their summer fete & Christmas bazaar, I must be doing something right as each time a member of the PTA has contacted me to ask me if I’d be interested in coming back each time. The baking does usually take me a day and it is a bit of hard work as I want the biscuits to look visually appealing and then creating the decorate your own gingerbread person kits but I do also have a lot of fun on the actual day, I get to dose up kids with sugar, send them home with their parents who at times are equally dosed up on sugar and caffeine, and I make a bit of pocket money.

Speak soon!