Thursday, June 27, 2013

Whole wheat pumpkin muffins

1 1/2 cup whole wheat or whole grain spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
2 large eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup white or light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Whisk first seven ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl whisk together everything else except the pumpkin seeds. Dump the flour moisture into the poking mixture and ate together until just combined. Ladle by 1/4 cupfuls into greased muffin tins and sprinkle with pumpkinseeds. Bake in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes. Makes a dozen muffins.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sweet Zucchini Pancakes

My husband always complains that I make extravagant breakfasts. Why can't we just have cereal? he whines. Well, perhaps some might call him crazy, but I do understand his woes. I would HATE to wake up every morning to a fresh cooked delicious hot breakfast to which I contributed nothing! He has a tough life.

But the truth is, I hate cereal. Perhaps he should blame my mother (bless her) who cooked me a hot breakfast every morning before the school run. Usually chocolate-chip pancakes, with a side of bananas & nutella. (I kid you not. I had a tough childhood.) Clearly, her traditions have been passed on.

These are one breakfast that my husband particularly likes to complain about because he says he doesn't like having veggies in the morning. I think after the fifth batch I've finally made a convert of him. But even if not I won't stop making them. I LOVE them, and so does our toddler! You win some, you lose some, but when you have a win that involves a toddler eating green things before 8am then you take that win and you TREASURE it.


Sweet Zucchini Pancakes
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Sometimes I have to throw these puppies in the oven to cook through all the way, and sometimes I win the batter thickness to pan heat lottery and come out with perfectly cooked through and perfectly toasty brown pancakes. Preheat the oven just to be on the safe side.

Shredded zucchini freezes really well so if you find yourself with extra, throw it in the freezer to use for another batch another morning.

2 cups all-purpose or white spelt flour1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons sugar
3-4 cups shredded zucchini
4 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 4 tablespoons plain yogurt mixed with 4 tablespoons of whole milk)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients (minus the zucchini) in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined. Stir in the zucchini. Batter will be thick and seem to consist mostly of zucchini!

Heat a fry pan on medium heat, and add some butter. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls and flatten them out a bit with the back of a spoon. Flip when bubbles appear on the surface, then cook for the same amount of time on the other side. Pop them in the warm oven to keep warm. If they are not cooked through (sometimes this happens because this batter is extra thick), then keep in the oven until they are completely cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.

Morning Glory muffins

You must excuse the picture. That sub-par photography is courtesy of my husband, who failed to capture the GLORY that is these muffins. (He was too busy scarfing them down to really pay attention to what the camera was doing.) And he thinks this muffin has a weird name. I'm not really sure why, because eating one (or three) of these for breakfast is the easiest way I know of making your morning glorious.

The three vegetables in these muffins make it seem like you are biting into a rainbow - and they are healthy too! So what are you waiting for? Go bake yourself some glory.

Morning Glory Muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour via Pam McKinstry

1/2 cup raisins
2 cups flour (a combo of white, wheat and spelt)
2/3 cup brown or white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups grated carrot and yellow & green zucchini
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
3 large eggs
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with muffin papers.

In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice. Make a well in the flour mixture, then dump in the wet ingredients and stir until evenly moistened. Then drain the raisins and stir them in.

Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan (they'll be full almost to the top; that's OK). Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, until they're nicely domed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: about 16 muffins.

*I used 1 teaspoon. I have a theory about baking soda... since baking in England I have found that my American recipes turn out much better when I halve the baking soda. I'm pretty sure this is because baking soda comes in teeny tiny little jars here that I use up in two months' time. At home, I have a ginarmous container of Arm and Hammer that lasts months. I think American recipes use too much baking soda to compensate for said baking soda's inefficiency. (It's inefficiency increases the longer the container has been opened.) Just a theory, but I'd use 1 teaspoon if you're using fresh baking soda, and 2 if yours has been open for several months. (And I'd throw it out and buy a new one if its been opened longer than 6 months.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bisquik's bane: aka easy homemade waffles

I can't find the original link for the blog I got this recipe from, but there are variations all over the place if you just google "best waffle". 

I wanted to make some yeasted overnight waffles which Deb from Smitten Kitchen says are the best. But last night at 8:30 I was so exhausted that I decided to go to sleep. 3 hours of restless tossing and iPhone pinterest photo searching found me still awake. I finally was able to go to sleep around 11:30 and then was woken by my toddler at 3am. A toddler who refused to go back to sleep again until 5am. 

And so it was a bleary- eyed sleep-walking version of myself who made waffles this morning. But even half-functioning it only took me 12 minutes from the time I looked up the recipe till the first batch went on the waffle iron.

Hence Bisquik's bane. Why on earth would you make waffles from a yellow box when you can make the most delicious ones free from preservatives and packaging? Here is the recipe to deliver you and your family from yellow box bondage.

1 3/4 cup flour (white or white spelt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cup milk (not skim)
1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 eggs, separated 

Preheat the waffle iron. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Measure out the milk in a 4-cup measuring cup (or pour into a small mixing bowl), and add the yolks, oil and vanilla. Whisk together until well combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and dump the milk mixture in, whisking until thoroughly combined.

Put the egg whites into a medium bowl and whip by hand or beat with a mixer until soft peaks form. Fold this mixture into the batter. (you can skip this step and just add the whites in with the yolks - makes one less step and only a slightly inferior texture. The whipped egg whites do make the waffles light and airy when folded in properly.)

Spoon the batter into the hot irons by the 1/3 or 1/4 cupful (depending on your iron). Cook until steam stops rising from the sides. Keep in a warm oven or eat them as they come off. Serve with maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Almond lemon cake

This is a wonderful cake. It turns out moist and lemony with a slight texture from the cornmeal and a nutty trace of almond. It is perfect for afternoon tea and can stand alone as a crowd-pleasing star of the show. I made it for some old friends who came for afternoon tea a few sundays ago, and I've wanted to make it every week since. I don't often pine for something I've just made, so this is saying something.

Another star recipe from baking goddess Nigella Lawson. Sorry this in grams because I used an English cookbook. On the up side, if you have a kitchen scale, it's actually really easy to use grams. Put your bowl on the scale, zero it out, and weigh each ingredient as you add it! Easy peasy.

Almond Lemon Cake
Adapted from Nigella's great cookbook Kitchen

200 grams unsalted butter, softened
200 grams sugar, preferably caster (superfine)
200 grams ground almonds
100 grams cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
zest and juice of 2 lemon
125 grams confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy - either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.

Whisk together the ground almond, cornmeal nd baking powder in a medium bowl, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating continuously.

Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour the mixture into your prepared pan. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes. You can tell when the cake is done when the sides of the cake begin to shrink away from the sides of the tin. A tester will come out with moist crumbs.

While the cake is baking make the syrup. Bring the lemon juice and confectioners sugar just barely to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the top of it all over with a toothpick, then pour the warm syrup over it, and leave to cool completely on a wire rack before taking it out of the pan.