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Cooking – Spiced Carrot & Apple Breakfast Cupcakes

I love food but I am awful at making sure I eat breakfast everyday. It’s not that I don’t like breakfast foods but I like things that take time – french toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, baaaaaacon.

I’m not a morning person so I prefer to ease into the day first before thinking about breakfast – which normally means I’m ready to eat about 10am.Which normally ends up in me having a bar of chocolate or a sugary sweet cereal bar about that time – not very healthy or satisfying.

I’ve been meaning to make something based on a breakfast muffin for a while. These cupcakes are based around a normal sponge recipe but with less sugar, a little more flour and quite a lot of grated carrot and apple.

The best thing about these cakes is that they are incredibly moist, without too much butter or sugar. And the spicing from the nutmeg and cinnamon means you don’t miss out on flavour.
I used white flour for these as I didn’t have any wholewheat, but I am definitely going to use wholewheat next time.

Spiced Carrot and Apple Breakfast Cupcakes
makes about 12 cupcakes.

175g butter, unsalted, softened
150g granulated or brown sugar
2 large eggs
juice of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 level teaspoon nutmeg
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
100g plain or wholewheat flour
100g ground almonds (or you can substitute this for more flour)
3 tablespoons of wheatgerm (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large carrots, grated
1 apple peeled, cored and grated
shredded coconut to top (optional)

Cream together the butter and sugar until fully combined, then add in the eggs and beat til light and fluffy. Add in the juice of the orange, vanilla extra and the spices.

Then fold in your flour, ground almonds and baking powder – and wheatgerm if using. Then add in your apple and carrot and mix til combined. If your mixture seems a bit dry add a little bit of milk or extra orange juice.

Spoon approx 1 1/2 tablespoons into cupcake cases on a cupcake tray (I used a tablespoon here and it wasn’t enough to fill the case).
Sprinkle your coconut on top. You could also used chopped nuts here.
Bake in a medium oven for 15 – 20 minutes til golden.

If you are feeling a bit naughty a cream cheese icing woudn’t be a bad thing…
Or if you are being good add in some dried fruit or oats.

Cooking – Extremely Chocolatey Fudge Brownies

I love brownies. Who doesn’t love brownies? Do you know someone that doesn’t? If you do make them these and I assure you they’ll love them.

These are proper fudgey dense chocolatey brownies, no messing about here.I like making brownies because my terrible oven can cook them properly, mainly because you don’t need to cook brownies all the way through. I have trauma cooking cakes but brownies are a breeze.

I based them on this recipe on Joy the Baker, I swapped the walnuts for whole roasted hazelnuts (pop them on a baking tray in a medium hot oven for 10 minutes) because I think hazelnuts belong better in brownies. These may be the most chocolatey brownies I have made and it definitely helps that they are broken up by a few roasted hazelnuts.

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cocoa (yes it is a lot!) – I use Green and Blacks

3/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of water

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts

handful of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate to top

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 350f / 175f

Add your cocoa powder and butter to a glass bowl and melt together over a pan of simmering water, stir frequently to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of water in when it is melted.

Whilst it melts cream together your eggs and sugar til light and fluffy. Add in your vanilla extract. Then slowly add in the chocolate/butter mixture til combined.

Then fold in your flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in your hazelnuts. Save a few for the top.

Add into a greased and lined tin, I used a 9 inch round cake tin, a square one would be better.
Sprinkle your reserved hazelnuts and chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 18-25 minutes. I go for the longer option because I like an extra chewy crispy top, this is the best bit!
Once it is baked leave to cool for a few minutes and as soon as you can turn out on to a plate, then cut into pieces.

I was going to Easter-fy them by topping them with mini eggs but the chocolate content was really quite enough by this point, and there wasn’t much room for mini eggs.

These are best kept in the fridge and then brought back to room temperature for eating (if you can wait). They go a little too gooey and sticky if kept at room temperature all the time.

These are lovely warmed up a bit too and served with a dollop of ice cream or creme fraiche.

Cooking – Lemon & Poppyseed Cake

One of my birthday gifts this year was a copy of the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, its been on my wishlist for a while along with the Magnolia Bakery book. There are so many brilliant recipes in it, it was so hard to pin one down to make first of all!

I picked this lemon poppyseed cake to make first, I’ve a soft spot for lemon cakes, lemon drizzle is my favourite kind of cake.

This one is a more complex version of a lemon drizzle cake, with a lemon syrup and a tangy lemon icing.I was suprised this cake didn’t contain any egg yolks, just whites, I was a little worried it would fall apart – but it was fine.

Lemon & Poppyseed Cake – from the Hummingbird Bakery Book

Ingredients (tweaked a little by me)

for the cake:
85g butter
245g brown sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp poppyseeds
160mls of whole milk (I didn’t have whole so I used half cream half semi skimmed)
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder2 egg whites1/2 teaspoon salt

for the lemon syrup:
juice and zest of 2 lemons
50g caster sugar
50ml water

for the lemon glaze/icing:
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
125g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 / 180c / 350fCream together butter, sugar, lemon zest and poppyseeds until light and fluffy. The recipe suggests using a mixer but I don’t have one (sob) so I used elbow grease and then when the mixture was well combined I pulsed it with an electric whisk (slowly) until it was fluffier.

Add the milk slowly incorporating well with the butter mixture.Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together and fold into milk and butter mixture in 3 stages.
Whisk your egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks.
Carefully fold these into your cake mixture, try not to overmix.

Pour into a greased and lined cake tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes in your preheated oven til it is done (a knife should come out clean when you skewer it).Whilst your cake bakes make the lemon syrup. Add the lemon, sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer on a medium to high heat, stirring occassionally until you have a thick syrup. Remove from the heat. Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

The recipe suggests pouring it straight into the tin, I’ve had a lot of trouble with these kinds of syrups sticking to the greaseproof paper. So I turn the cake out into a plate and pour syrup over.
Next you need to make your glaze/icing. Add lemon juice to icing sugar in a bowl, beat until it is very smooth, it needs to be thick but pourable too. Add more sugar or juice to get the right consistency.

Wait until the cake is completely cool (torture!!) before you pour the icing over. Sprinkle with poppyseeds to decorate.

Once the icing is set cut yourself a large and well deserved piece.

Cooking – No Knead Bread

I love baking bread but my loaves never tend to be as light and fluffy because of my extremely poor kneading technique. I just don’t have the muscles! I must have come across this recipe for No Knead Bread about a year ago, I have no idea why it took me such a long time to make it. It came up on a few more blogs recently and so I set aside some time this weekend to make it.

This bread is not about instant gratification, due to the first prove being 20 hours long, but it is about very very little effort.

Because of the long proving process the dough is beautifully light and airy with very little effort. Also it has a higher water content than conventional bread recipes so you get a beautiful crisp crust.

No Knead Bread
makes approx 1 1lb loaf

This recipe comes from the New York times so my measurements are in cups, apologies to those in the UK! I believe you can buy cups in John Lewis, Lakeland and some supermarkets now. I got mine on ebay for about £5.

3 cups strong white bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast (this will use very little of a 7g packet)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water

Put your flour in a large bowl, add in the yeast and the salt.
Then add in your water and stir until you have a soft sloppy dough, like a very thick cake batter. Add a touch more water if your mix seems a little dry.

Then all you need to do is cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm non draughty place for a minimum of 12 but up to 20 hours, I left mine for 20 hours.

After your first prove the dough will be bubbly and light like this:
Drop your dough onto a very well floured surface and form into a rough round shape with wet hands. Your hands won’t stick to the dough if they are wet.
Drop this dough into a bowl lined with a floured cotton towel. Cover with the towel and leave to prove for 1-2 hours, I left mine for 1 1/2 and it was fine. It should double in size.

Half an hour before your dough is ready heat up your pot. Set your oven to gas mark 8 / 450f / 230c. You need to use a thick strong pot, such as a casserole dish, with a lid. I used a big stoneware dish. If I had a Le Creuset it would be perfect for this!

When your dough is ready add it to your pot. The recipe I used said to line with greaseproof paper if your pot isn’t non stick, unfortunately I did this (and floured the paper) and the dough stuck! So I would recommend oiling your paper or just flouring your pot very well.

Bake your loaf for 30 minutes covered, then for another 20 minutes uncovered to crisp the crust. It should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Leave to cool for 5-10minutes afterwards, then slice into big chunks and serve with proper butter!

macadamia, hazelnut and choc chip cookies

These cookies are a result of having lots of tiny packets of nuts from the Graze box we receive. I have to admit we eat the interesting things first (korean chili crackers, wasabi peanuts, chili almonds..) and the plain things like macadamia nuts and hazelnuts generally remain unopened.

So I make them into cookies!

I based this recipe on this one over at Joy the Baker- but replacing the white chocolate with 70% dark and using a mixture of nuts. The best part of this recipe is the browned butter, it gives the cookies a wonderful nutty flavour, which obviously goes with the nuts!

Macadamia, Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Makes about 12 very big cookies or 24 smaller ones
(I used cups for this recipe so I’m afraid I have no grams conversion!)

1/2 cup unsalted butter – softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons of milk (I added a touch more to the end as my dough was a bit dry)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

50gs macadamia nuts
50gs hazlenuts
50gs dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 190c / gas mark 6

Heat your butter on a medium heat in a saucepan, stirring regularly. After about 5 minutes you should see brown bits appearing in the butter, once this happens remove the butter from the heat, leave to cool for a 5 minutes more.

Once your butter is cooled add it to your sugar in a large bowl, slowly mixing it in. Then add in your egg and combine. Add milk and vanilla.
Then slowly add in your dry ingredients (except nuts and chocolate).

Bash up your macadamias and hazelnuts in a freezer bag so that they are coarsely chopped.
Chop your chocolate in to medium chunks – however small you like them.
Add your nuts and chocolate to the mixture.

For large cookies spoon tablespoon ( I made big ones) fulls on to a greased and lined baking sheet, for smaller ones aim for a generous heaped teaspoon.

Bake for approx 10 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Eat with a lovely frothy coffee or a glass of milk!

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