Tag Archives: Baking

Strawberries and cream muffins

6 Dec

I’m sure I’ve raved about how fresh the food is in Melbourne and how CHEAP it is.  At the market, the strawberries were going for ONE dollar a punnet. Who could resist?  I was greedy and got 2 punnets.  It was even cheaper than the time when I got them for 1.50 and thought I had a steal!

But as with all cheap food, the strawberries were on the brink of being overripe and would rot by the end of the day if I didn’t eat them or do something with them.  Jam would be difficult considering how ripe the strawberries were.  What’s more, I had just made another batch of apple jam.  I remembered how Fanny enthused about some really good strawberry muffins.  It all sounded just delicious.  Plus this would be a new thing to try – muffins which weren’t just mixing everything in a bowl and then baking the batter in tins.  It would involve actually layer different flavors in the tins!

I tried to do a step by step demonstration with each muffin tin being one step.  But it was getting dark fast so the other shots didn’t turn out.

By the time the muffins were out of the oven, the sun had set.  So I had to make do with my lousy apartment’s lights.  What a waste!  But the muffins were just out of this world. Especially when fresh out of the oven!

Strawberries and cream muffins

Adapted from lululu at home

Makes 12 medium sized muffins

Ingredients

1 punnet of strawberries chopped

Muffin batter

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup raw sugar

113g butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup milk

Cream cheese filling

100g cream cheese brought to room temperature

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients for the batter in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients for the batter in a separate bowl and mix well.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to just mix into a batter.
  5. Place cream cheese filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.
  6. Fill half the muffin case with batter.
  7. Then place some strawberries as the next layer.
  8. Cover with a teaspoon of cream cheese filling.
  9. Cover with a tablespoon of batter.
  10. Top with more strawberries
  11. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean after stabbing the muffin.

Tips

  1. I used 3/4 of a strawberry for each muffin.
  2. The strawberries will discolor after a day so it is best to eat it quick! (But honestly, it gets finished really fast anyway)
  3. The quickest way to melt butter is to chop it up and nuke it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and additional 5 second interval until it’s all melted.  I would recommend bringing the milk to room temperature as well.  Cold milk will solidify the butter again and make all your efforts go to waste.
  4. I use 2 spoons to transfer the batter and cream cheese filling for better control and not to spill it everywhere.  1 spoon scoops and the other one scrapes the first spoon.  I know some people use ice cream scoops but I don’t have that.

Ad libbing

4 Dec

Today, things didn’t go as planned.  For a good reason but it meant that we didn’t go to the market and I had to scrap my idea of Greek lamb patties.  But it also meant I had to open the fridge and cook something from it.  It’s difficult because I only have a bar fridge and so our stocks at the end of the week are usually very low.  Thank goodness we have a separate freezer which has a stock of meat and fish.

Flinging the fridge door open, I sighed.  I mean, how am I going to put together a dish with bits and bobs when every week I buy stuff according to a recipe in mind?  And to cook something without a recipe?  Quite unheard of!  But I had no choice.  So I managed to fish out some tomatoes, an eggplant and a bottle of homemade pesto I made 2 weeks ago.  I had some chicken thighs and so I set to work.  Admittedly, it isn’t something terribly original per se but I did surprise myself by the ease of the dish and how lovely it turned out.  The bonus?  The kid actually ate the whole lot of it without much trouble!

Baked Chicken and Vegetables with Pesto

Makes for 4 people

Ingredients

4 Chicken drumsticks

2 large tomatoes, cubed

1 eggplant sliced

3/4 cup of basil pesto

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place chicken in a baking pan and cover all over with pesto.
  3. Place vegetables around the chicken and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Double wrap the baking pan with aluminium foil.
  6. Bake chicken and vegetables for 40 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear when pierced with a skewer.

Tips

  1. To prepare eggplant, wash and slice up the eggplant.  Then rub salt into the cut parts of the eggplant and leave to stand for 30 minutes.  Then rinse well.  Dry with a paper towel before cooking.  This takes away the bitter taste of older egg plants.
  2. You can use a cast iron pot with a lid instead.
  3. The sauce goes well with spaghetti.

Adding to my waistline…

4 Dec

I used to have a friend who’s domestic help was a fantastic baker.  We’d have brownies, cookies and gingerbread men to name a few as treats – home made, no less.  Being the greedy little girl I was, I was terribly envious and always thought it must be difficult to do since my mum (who’s a good cook) didn’t do them.

I have been hoarding the compounded chocolate for a while and finally decided that I was going to make brownies – cheesecake brownies no less!  The thought of it made my mouth water.  So when the bubs went to sleep, I cracked out my baking things, all eager to start on my maiden brownie.  I thought I had all the ingredients nailed.  I did.  But I didn’t have enough.  I was missing one egg to be exact!  GAH!  But I had already started to melt my butter and chocolate and there was no turning back.  So I ended up with plain brownies – the fudgy sort.  A slice of pure heaven.  However it really reminded me of the phrase “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips”…  I had to take some to work to spread the guilt around.

Plain brownies – the fudgey sort

Adapted from The Joy of Baking

Makes 6×9 inch slab of brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into pieces

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line a baking pan with aluminium foil to cover all the sides and bottom.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl places over a saucepan of simmering water.
  4. Remove the melted mixture from heat and add sugar and vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan.
  6. Place batter in pan and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges are starting to brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool.
  8. Refrigerate brownies until they are firm enough to cut into squares.
  9. Once chilled, you can use a clean knife and cut up the brownies.

Tips

  1. I don’t actually have heatproof bowl that would fit into my saucepan.  So I used the smallest saucepan which fit into the larger saucepan.  I filled the larger saucepan with water and heated until it was simmering and placed the smaller saucepan in.  Then I tied the 2 handles together so the smaller saucepan wouldn’t capsize or bob up and down.  It worked.  Just be careful not to put too much water and not to let it bubble too vigorously.  You don’t want water in the chocolate as it seizes up when that happens.  (Common sense also says that you have to dry your equipment well before adding the chocolate)
  2. You will have to stir your chocolate constantly as you do not want the chocolate to over heat as it becomes grainy and unusable after that.  As many chocolate addicts would know, until you touch a piece of chocolate, you can’t tell if it has melted.  It’s not a piece of ice or butter!
  3. My baking pan was too big so I used another muffin pan (on any other pan you have) to fill half the pan and lined the remaining area with aluminium foil to get my “smaller” baking pan.
  4. I folded in my flour more than mixed it so I didn’t incorporate too much air into the batter.
  5. I’m impatient so I placed my brownie for about 15 minutes in the freezer and it became firm enough to cut easily!  But do watch that it doesn’t actually freeze over and don’t put a warm brownie near raw food!