Blueberry Muffins


I was cleaning the house last weekend and had a sudden desire to fill the rooms with the smell of freshly baked muffins! Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked goods?!  I had some frozen blueberries and threw together a quick batch of blueberry muffins. It didn’t take long for the boys to come in the house from working in the shed, and ask how long they would be. A great treat!

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Recipe by Donna Hay
(makes 12)

Ingredients

2½ cups (375g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
½ cup (125ml) vegetable oil
1 egg
½ cup (125ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g fresh or frozen blueberries

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Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Place the oil, egg, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the blueberries and mix to combine.
4. Spoon mixture into a 12-hole ½-cup capacity (125ml) muffin tin lined with paper patty cases. Add extra blueberries to decorate the top and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Tell me… what’s the secret to your blueberry muffins? Lemon Zest? Sugar on top?

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Almond, Maple Syrup and Salt Biscuits


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I’ve been trying lots of different savoury recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cook book ‘It’s all good”, so I decided to give one of the ‘sweet tooth’ recipes a try. I decided on the Almond Cookie & Maldon Salt. Now, I wasn’t able to find this Maldon salt at the supermarket, but the recipe said I could substitute it for any coarse sea salt, which is what I ended up doing. Also, the recipe mentions the use of almond butter, which again, I couldn’t find at the supermarket. So I Googled a recipe and attempted to make my own. Needless to say, I’m not really sure it turned out the way it was meant to, but I used it anyway. The cookie has a gingerbread style texture.
Let me know what you think?!

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I’ll give you the baking instructions first, as I’ve included recipe alterations of the 2 batches I made.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
2. Whisk together almond spread, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, fine sea salt and baking powder.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the almond and maple mixture and whisk until combined.
5. Spoon out 1 tablespoon of mixture and use your hands to roll into a ball. Place on a baking paper lined baking tray approximately 2 cm apart.
6. Bake for 10-12  minutes “until air is fragrant and cookies are slightly firm”.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

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First Batch:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup natural almond butter
1 cup maple syrup
(I used what I had in the pantry… Green’s Maple Flavoured Syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

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Honestly, these cookies were so salty and bitter! Not the caramel and salt taste Gwyneth claims it has. So I’m putting it down to my substitution choices and lack of proper almond butter… but I’m posting this anyway. See if you can find a way to improve this.

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Second Batch:

I went to Woolies to check out the maple syrup range, and honestly, was a bit shocked at how much pure 100% maple syrup costs – $6-8 for a 250ml bottle. Now this recipe uses 1 cup of maple syrup (which is 250ml), so it really becomes an expensive cookie recipe once you add in the cost of the almond spread and gluten-free flour.

Oh, I googled almond butter, and we do have it in Australia, but it’s labelled as almond spread. You can find it in the health food section of your local supermarket, but again this cost me $6.98 (from Woolies) for a 250ml jar of Macro Natural Almond Spread.

For this recipe I used Steeves Canadian maple syrup $5-6.

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Now this batch was delicious! The maple flavour was there, but it still didn’t have the caramel taste I was hoping for. I did add a bit more vanilla extract to this batch as well (about an extra teaspoon). I would definitely make this again.

The art of living like Gwyneth

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Pavlova


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My all time favourite dessert!! I remember my cousin made this at my grandmother’s place many, many moons ago and I fell in love! I think I was  11 years old and I asked mum if we could make this. Well… the first attempt failed and I ended up with a flat disc. Mum had an idea to keep baking this thing and turned it into ‘failed pavlova biscuits’. Actually really yummy! I realised the error I’d made… the recipe asks to fold in corn starch and I may have added self-raising flour instead. Needless to say, I never made that mistake again.

Ingredients
6 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
300 ml thickened cream
Fruit of your choice

Method:

Step 1
Preheat oven to 120°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. (I cheat and use a dinner plate to mark out my circle). Place a dinner plate in the middle of your baking tray and gently dust the edge with corn starch. Life the plate. You will be left with a nice circle which I find helps me mould my pavlova shape (that is, I actually end up with a circle!). Dust the circle with more corn starch, then shake off any excess.

Step 2
Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still “gritty” with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until combined. Spoon meringue onto the baking paper, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.

Step 3
Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova and decorate with fresh fruit.

You can colour the meringue with food colouring and create a pavlova stack.
Just add a couple drops of food colouring along with the corn starch, vinegar and vanilla.
Make another pavlova batch. Double the goodness!!

                           pav1 pav2

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Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting


Ingredients:
200g butter, softened
6 cups (900g) icing sugar mixture
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Method:
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until very pale. Gradually add the icing sugar while beating. Add the milk and vanilla essence, and beat until well combined.

Note:
You can divide the frosting and add food colouring of your choice. Start with a small amount of colouring and build the colour by adding a bit more food colouring until you get the desired colour!

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