More muffin madness

A lot of my cooking at the moment centres around baby food. Not overly exciting to anyone not involved in getting the small person on to big person foods. One of the benefits is that there's often quite a bit of stuff left over. Today that meant a lot of mashed up apple, just perfect for apple muffins. I cooked about 15 apples - pink lady and granny smiths - with around half a cup of water for 15 minutes. My feeling is about six apples, peeled, cored chopped and sprinkled with water would give you enough apple for the muffins. If you're in a rush or don't have fresh apples on hand, commercial apple sauce would do a more than adequate job.




Apple muffins

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups apple mash
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 cups SR flour
1 tspn baking soda
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground cloves

Method

Mix the melted butter and eggs together, stirring well. Add the apple, then sugar and stir thoroughly. Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices. Add to the apple mixture and mix, being careful not to over stir. Place in muffin pans and bake at 180 Celsius for 25 - 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Makes 12 medium sized muffins or 9 ludicrously large ones.

On the first day of Christmas

Since we're a month out from Christmas, it's definitely time to get the baking started. Sadly I've misplaced my favourite Christmas cake recipe, so I've done a bit of investigating, relied a little bit on memory, and have come up with a recipe that should do the job.

In the past I've included dried apricots and apples in my fruit mix. The fruit combination really comes down to personal preference. My breadwinner would prefer I made one without any dried grape products. We shall have to wait and see how his luck runs with that.

Dark fruit cake

500g currants
200g sultanas
200g raisins
100g mixed peel
100g dates
100g prunes
250ml brandy
250ml dark tea
250g butter
250g brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
225g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground cloves
1 tspn ground nutmeg
3/4 tspn ground ginger
3/4 tspn ground cardamon
1 tbspn treacle

Method

Chop the prunes and dates finely. Combine with remaining fruit. Cover with brandy and cooled tea and soak overnight. Preheat the oven to 150 Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm square pan. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices. Add around a third of the eggs to the butter mixture and mix well. Follow with a third of the flour mix, stirring to combine. Add the remaining eggs and flour alternately until all combined. Add the treacle to the fruit mix and stir through. Fold the fruit into the cake batter, ensuring even distribution. Place the batter in the prepared pan, hollowing out the centre to allow for rising. If you're not planning on icing the cake, decorate with blanched almonds, otherwise leave plain. Bake for 3 hours before testing with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done. If there is any batter on the skewer, reduce the heat to 110 Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes. Leave the cake in the pan until completely cooled. For a deliciously boozy cake, poke small holes in the cooled cake and sprinkle extra brandy over the top.

Banana muffins

When faced with loads of bananas I tend to make cake. It's really one of the easiest cakes I know how to bake - just take a medium rich butter cake batter and add bananas and a bit of bicarbonate soda before the milk and flour. Sadly nobody else in the house seems to like it as much as I do, and I can't eat a whole cake before it goes bad. So this time I decided to make muffins.




They didn't turn out massive, but they did turn out tasty. I guess if you're a big fan of overflowing muffin tops, either make 18 mini muffins or nine mega muffins. I made 12 medium muffins.

Banana muffins

4 bananas
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup caster sugar'
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tspn bicarbonate soda
2 cups self raising flour

Method

Mash the bananas and stir in the egg and melted butter. Add the sugar and walnuts and stir well to combine. Sift together the flour and bicarb soda, then add to the banana mix. Stir lightly. Place the batter in muffin cases or a greased muffin tin and bake at 180 degrees C until golden brown - around 25 to 30 minutes. Cool then serve plain or with a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

If you like pina coladas

Fish for dinner at Banjo and Spincop's house and I volunteered to make dessert. It's the least I could do, given everyone else works, while I hang out with the small person. Plus it seemed an excellent opportunity to get out of doing the housework.
Anyway, after the success of the apple sorbet, I figured something along the same lines would be good. Not too heavy, but not too healthy either. Pineapple and coconut gelato sounded ideal.




Pineapple and coconut gelato


2 cups coconut milk
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 tspn coconut essence (optional)
1 cup sugar
6 eggs
450g tin pineapple pieces

Method

Combine the coconut milk, milk and cream and bring to scalding point. Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar together until light and frothy. Remove the milk from heat and add half to the egg mix. Stir thoroughly, then add to remaining milk. Return the milk to the heat, and cook at a low temperature, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in a shallow container and allow to freeze for an hour. Remove from the freezer and beat with an electric mixer or blender. Return to the freezer and repeat until the desired consistency is reached. Meanwhile, drain the pineapple, reserving the syrup for a topping if desired. Puree the fruit. Add the coconut to the drained syrup, water and glucose. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer until the syrup has thickened to a topping. Stir the pineapple puree through the gelato and serve with coconut topping.

Apples galore

There are two reasons why I can't wait for stone fruit to kick in. First of all, I love it. Secondly because hopefully it will mean the endless supply of apples arriving in our weekly fruit and veg box will dwindle.
A few of them have gone into apple cakes - including a monumental presentation fail, which happily still tasted great - but there's only so many of those you can eat without getting bored. I had planned to cook some up for baby mush, but it turns out the small person really isn't a fan. So at a bit of a loss, I decided to turn some into sorbet.



Apple sorbet

5 granny smith apples
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tspn cardamon
4 tbspn glucose syrup
4 drops green food colouring (optional)

Method

Peel and core the apples. Chop roughly. Place in saucepan with apple juice, lemon juice and cardamon. Simmer until the apple is soft - around 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then stir through glucose syrup. Using a handheld mixer or a blender, whiz the mixture until it is pale and frothy. Add the food colouring and mix thoroughly. Place in a shallow dish, cover and freeze for 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and whiz again. Repeat until the desired consistency is reached.

For a sweeter sorbet, use 1/2 a cup of strong sugar syrup in place of the glucose.
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