Tag Archives: homemade

Coffee and banana muffins

Today’s delicious offering was baked by the Offspring based on a recipe given to me by a fellow kindergarten mum, Diana. I won’t tell you how long ago she gave it to me. 😉

The thing I like about this recipe is that it’s very easy. It’s also very forgiving of variations. In the following recipe, our variations are shown in italics after the base recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soft butter [we used Lurpak Slightly salted spreadable butter which contains a small amount of vegetable oil],
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar [we used caster sugar],
  • 1.5 cups of self raising flour,
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of plain yoghurt or milk. Yoghurt makes it rise more. [We only used 1/2 a cup of yoghurt so we could add more banana]
  • 1 cup fresh fruit [we used 2 cups of bananas, chopped into decent sized ‘chunks’. NOT mashed]
  • a little extra butter to grease the muffin tins [we used paper cupcake thingies? to save on clean up]

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C [392 F]. If using fan bake, lower the temperature a couple of degrees.
  2. Grease muffin tins [or use paper thingies for easy clean up].
  3. With an electric mixer, blend the butter with the sugar until it changes colour and looks ‘creamy’.
  4. Beat in 2 whole eggs. If the mixture starts to separate or ‘curdle’, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  5. Beat in the yoghurt.
  6. Remove from beater and fold in the chunks of banana. [This is a trick I learned by accident. If you mush the banana the flavour will be very bland. If you leave the banana in chunks, you’ll get a burst of strong banana flavour whenever you bite into a piece].
  7. Fold in the flour [no need to sieve].
  8. Spoon mixture into the muffin tin [or into the paper cupcake thingies inside the muffin tin].
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove from the muffin tin and place onto a cooling rack

You can eat these muffins straight from the oven with a bit of butter, just watch out for the chunks of banana, they are hot! Or you can eat them plain, hot or cold. Either way they’re delicious with your beverage of choice.

Bon appetit!
Meeks


Red Tea and Profiteroles

Red Seal Blood Orange Tea with homemade Profiteroles

I’ve loved profiteroles – also known as cream puffs – for decades but never tried my hand at making them because I thought they’d be ‘too hard’, ‘too fiddly’, and probably wouldn’t work anyway.

Part of that negativity stemmed from the fact that I ordered a Croque-en-bouche [Croquembouche in English] for my wedding cake, and it really was a gastronomic delight. Mine didn’t have strawberries, otherwise it looked a lot like this:

By Eric Baker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4120063

No way in the wide world I could make something like that…right?

Wrong. In fact, as the profiteroles at the top prove, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Making them was probably one of the easiest things the Offspring and I have ever done. And we owe it all to my good friend Marian Allen, author extraordinaire, and a damn fine cook!

If anyone’s interested, I first met Marian via her book ‘Sideshow in the Centre Ring’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve since read just about everything she’s published and…I’ve fallen in love with her cats. Waves to Tipper and Chickie. And now back to dessert…

The only thing I messed up that didn’t quite work was the chocolate ganache on top of the profiteroles. I was getting a bit tired by the time it came to putting the profiteroles together and the ganache [the chocolate on top] turned into a delicious, but runny sauce instead.

Oh, and if I’m being honest, I made one more mistake: I made seven profiteroles. Not six, or four, or any other number that is easily divisible by two. No, in my infinite wisdom I made seven…

Have you ever tried to cut a profiterole in half so both of you could share equally? Don’t. Just don’t. 🙂

Anyway…the Offspring and I were so impressed with the profiteroles I decided to do this post and give you guys the chance to try them as well. Without further ado, here is Marian Allen’s recipe for profiteroles/cream puffs with my comments in brackets!

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup unsalted butter
    [or 30 gms or 1 oz]
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    [plain flour to us Aussies]
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • cream for whipping
    [however much you want or have on hand]
  • chocolate and extra cream for the ganache
    [we used about 3 oz of each but the ratio wasn’t right. Maybe 3 oz of chocolate to 1 of cream?]

This makes about four biggish puffs. I doubled this and made them smaller and got 10.
[I compromised and made 7. Next time I’m making it an even number!]

Directions

Bring water, salt and butter to a boil. Add the flour and stir it until it forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. If you’re not making a large batch, you may need to take it off the heat immediately.
[The Offspring did this part and the dough came together very quickly so don’t wander off!]

The dough coming together in the saucepan

Let this rest for 5 minutes while you crack and mix up your egg(s). Add the egg(s) to the flour ball. It will look alarming, but keep mixing: It WILL combine.
[So glad Marian made that comment because we looked at the dough plus egg and might have given up otherwise. The Offspring used a wooden spoon to start with but then I had a go with a whisk and it mixed beautifully, exactly as Marian said it would]

The dough after the egg has been mixed in

Pipe into the shape you want using a pastry bag, or plop it in spoonfuls (the MomGoth method onto an ungreased baking pan.
[We used the MomGoth method too but placed some baking paper on the baking tray first. Easier clean up. 🙂 ]

Piles of profiterole dough on a baking sheet prior to baking

Bake at 375F
[180 C for us, a tiny bit less if using the fanbake setting of the oven]
for about 1/2 hour, or until there is not one glint or bubble of moisture on the surface of any of the puffs. Don’t check very often. I got a stove with a glass front just so I could make creme puffs. Crazy.

When they’re done, cool them on a rack.

Meanwhile, make ganache for the top. Dead easy.

Ganache

Measure equal amounts of chopped semi-sweet chocolate or good chocolate chips and cream.
[This was where I messed up. I weighed the chocolate and the cream. I think I should have used a cup measurement instead.]

Put the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until it’s all mixed together and dark and glossy.
[This really was as simple as it sounds!]

Assemble

Put the cream into a piping bag. I don’t have one (have one on order), so I put the cream into a plastic sandwich bag and cut off the tip.
[We didn’t have a piping bag either and decided to use the cookie machine instead. It worked but made a mess as the cream was wetter than cookie dough. Oh well. Piping bag placed on order too].

Using a cookie machine to pipe whipped cream into profiteroles

Poke a hole in the side of a puff, stick the pointy end of the bag into the hole, and squeeze the cream in.
[We whipped the cream with about two teaspoons of icing sugar, so sweetish but not gaggingly sweet. Adjust to suit your own tastes].

You can feel the puff inflate with it. When the puffs are all filled, dip the tops into the ganache or spoon it over them.

And then see how fast they disappear! Honestly, we could have eaten another whole batch, they were so delicious. I can see us baking these scrumptious goodies on a regular basis because the process really was easy.

Thank you, Marian!


Milk and Chocolate Shortbread

This is another Offspring special, a basic shortbread recipe with added chunks of Plaistowe dark cooking chocolate. My contribution was the milk. 😀

The photo is a little washed out because it was taken at night with a flash. The shortbread actually looks more like this:

For those who have never tasted shortbread before, it’s an odd combination of dry, crumbly texture that literally melts in your mouth. It’s very easy to make and we love it. If you want to try it yourself, the recipe follows:

Traditional Shortbread [with added chocolate]

Note: the recipe is on the back of the McKenzie’s rice flour packet, and you will need rice flour in addition to ordinary wheat flour.

Ingredients:
  • 225 gm of plain flour [all purpose flour], sifted,
  • 115 gm of rice flour, sifted
  • 115 gm of caster sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 225 gm of unsalted, room temperature butter [do NOT use spreadable butter as the oil and/or process used changes how the butter works in recipes].
  • about 1/4 cup good quality cooking chocolate, chopped into smallish ‘chunks’. We used Plaistowe cooking chocolate because it’s actually good enough to eat on its own so long as you don’t like your chocolate very sweet.
Method

Pre-heat oven to 150 C. This is a slow oven.

Grease your baking tray [we didn’t, we lined it with baking paper instead].

Combine both flours, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Rub in butter and knead gently until a smooth dough forms.

Add the chopped chocolate and gently mix into the dough.

The recipe says to transfer the dough to a floured surface and ‘shape as required’. That basically means you can cut pretty shapes out of it. We don’t do any of that. We place the dough directly onto the baking tray and spread it out by hand or with the back of a spoon until it’s about the right ‘depth’. Shortbread should not be thick! 1/2 an inch is more than thick enough.

Prick the dough with a fork. We also ‘score’ the surface lightly with a knife. This makes cutting the cooked shortbread easier.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until a light, golden brown. The end.

A tip from us: leave the shortbread on the tray and gently cut along the scored lines while the shortbread is still a bit soft and pliable. The shortbread will firm up as it cools. Cutting it once it’s cold and crumbly is…not very successful.

And there you have it. Another day, another treat. If you have favourite treats of your own, please link to them in comments. Oh, and if you have favourite cups or dishes to go with the treats, please link them as well.

Cheers
Meeks


Coffee and pop tarts

For your gastronomic pleasure, I present the Offspring’s home made apple pop tarts!

And one of my beloved lustreware cup-and-saucer sets:

Oddly enough, it wasn’t until today that I noticed this set is made in Japan as well:

I really have had a love affair with Japan for most of my life!

And now for the pop tarts. This is not a hard and fast recipe so you’ll have to adjust the quantities to suit your own tastes.

The pastry is plain old, shop bought, frozen shortcrust. You should be able to use flaky or puff pastry as well. It just so happened that shortcrust was what we had in the freezer.

The Offspring allowed the sheets to thaw and then cut each one into quarters. One quarter for each pop tart.

The filling is where things get truly yummy. The apples are Granny Smiths but any tart, cooking apple will do. Sweet apples just don’t have enough flavour.

After washing the apples, the Offspring simply cut out the core and chopped the apple into bite-sized chunks. No peeling required. The skin actually adds to the flavour.

The apple went into a saucepan with some brown sugar [suit your own tastes], a lot of cinnamon, 1/2 a teaspoon of allspice and…a splash of champagne. The champagne is not mandatory, but like the pastry, it was what we had left over from the Un-Christmas dinner last year.

And before you ask, the Offspring doesn’t drink and I don’t like champagne so cooking is a great way of not wasting a perfectly good bottle of booze. I also use it in my Bolognese because I’ve been out of Shiraz for months. The champagne is ‘dry’ so it works pretty well.

The trick to making the apple is not to overcook it. Any liquid you add, whether it be wine or water, should only be enough to stop the apples from burning before they release their own juices. You really do not want to make apple sauce! As soon as the apples are cooked but still firm, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to moderate [about 375F or 180C].

To assemble the pop tarts, place a generous spoonful of the cold apple in the middle of the square of pastry, moisten the edges with a little water [so the pastry will stick to itself], fold over, removing as much air as you can [without going insane about it], and press the edges closed.

Make a few small holes in the top of the pop tarts with the point of a sharp knife. This is to allow the steam to escape. Otherwise you might end up with exploding pop tarts. 🙂

Place the pop tarts on a baking tray and glaze with a little warm apricot jam [optional]. Bake in the middle of a moderate oven for about 10 minutes. The exact timing will depend upon your oven.

When the pop tarts are golden brown, remove from the oven and transfer to a cake rack to cool a little.

Warning: the apple inside these tarts is VERY hot. We discovered this the hard way…;)

The pop tarts will keep in the fridge for about three days, and we’ve found that they reheat beautifully. Just pop them back in the over for about 5 minutes.

Enjoy,
Meeks

p.s. I’m trying hard to get back into writing so I won’t be posting as much for a while. Don’t worry though, we’re both quite healthy!


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