I feel like everyone is pregnant these days.
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. I’m just saying that there seem to be a lot of little babies and baby bumps around the place. Facebook, Instagram, twitter – social media is going nuts with the baby photos and pregnancy updates.
Maybe it’s just that I had one friend who was pregnant, and then I started noticing every other pregnant person in my stratosphere. Maybe it’s that I’m at an age where all my friends are pregnant. (Not really. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that I’m only twenty-one, and that while this age is fine for some people to be getting married and having babies, it is far from the norm and also, I’m fine the way I am.) Or, maybe it’s that with the social media saturation the culture we live in, everything is everywhere and I am just noticing pregnant people and babies. Read the rest of this entry »
I went home this past weekend to visit my family and ooh and aah over my sister’s wedding photos. I don’t always get home as often as I’d like to, despite the fact that my family only live a 2 1/2 hour drive away. Our lives get busy, work doesn’t always co operate and sometimes, there just isn’t the time.
However, I did get to drive home after work on Saturday, listening to the Joy the Baker podcast and finally wearing a light, summery dress – the weather is warming up, people! Despite my penchant for winter and all the fun it brings, there’s something undeniably uplifting about a warm, sunny day, light sandals and country air.
How does the time go so fast?
Soooo, it’s been a couple days since I hinted as to an amazing recipe I was about to make. And they were amazing. I’ve already shared a flourless chocolate cupcake recipe with you because I have a friend who’s allergic to gluten. Now, ta-da! Introducing spelt flour! It’s really nice flour – spelt is an ancient form of wheat that doesn’t have as much gluten as modern-day wheat, so it’s ok for people who are allergic. So I made muffins to share with both my house (eek! four people, three of whom I barely know! Let’s make muffins so they like me!) and my internship group (we’re spending every Thursday together. By midafternoon, we need a sugar hit.)
And so. I knew I wanted to make muffins because I’d made spelt scones before and they worked really well, so I knew muffins would benefit from the sturdiness of the flour and it wouldn’t matter too much if they didn’t rise as well. And I’m trying to add as much fruit and vegetables into my diet as I possibly can, because being a vegetarian, variety is even more important.
Pear, lemon and raspberry spelt flour muffins
So I got the base recipe from Smitten Kitchen but I tweaked it around so much it’s barely recognisable. I also used mini muffin pans because I couldn’t find large ones in the supermarket. I do not recommend this. They turned out fine but I just ate about five of them in one sitting and this could have been rectified had I made larger ones – they are much more satisfying.
Yield: I got 56 mini muffins. I suspect you could get around 24 large muffins. Deb got 18. Use your judgement, and don’t skimp when you’re putting the mixture in the cases. I also feel that 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon was too much, although this could be because the lid fell off the container I was using to measure it out so I may have gotten a whole lot more than 1 1/2 tablespoons. Use your judgement, again.
2 1/2 cups spelt flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
large pinch salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
150gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed, plus extra to sprinkle over the top
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups greek style yoghurt
2 corella pears, peeled, cored and chopped
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
about 1/2 cup frozen raspberries.
Preheat oven to 220ºC. Set out paper cases in two 12 muffin muffin pans.
Mix together first 5 ingredients (dry) and set aside. Cream butter, then add sugars and beat, scraping down sides. Add egg and do the same. Gently mix in yoghurt and fold into dry ingredients. Mix in pears, raspberries and lemon rind and stir until just incorporated. Fill muffin cases – like I said, don’t skimp. Spelt flour doesn’t rise too much, so feel free to fill to the top. Liberally sprinkle extra brown sugar over the top of the muffins.
If you’re making mini muffins like me, bake at 220ºC for 5 mins, then lower heat to 200ºC and bake another 5 mins. If you’re making large muffins like I should have, bake at 220ºC for 10 mins and at 200ºC for about 10-15 mins. Take out of the oven and let sit for about 5 mins, then take out of pans and let cool on a rack before packing them away, if you can bear not to gobble them up all at once.
*If you don’t have spelt flour, don’t worry. You can use all plain flour or one cup plain flour and one cup whole-wheat flour instead.
Sometimes, when life’s just crapping all over you, you just have to bake.
Sometimes, it’s so bad, you can’t do much. Honestly, all you want to do is sit back and eat the thing, not slave over a hot oven in humid Melbourne summer weather for something that may not work anyway.
So. Today was that day.
If you remember how to make lemon curd, make it. If you still have some left over from last time, like me, aren’t you lucky? Yep, you are.
Now take 125gm cold butter (I use salted, that’s just my preference) and chop it roughly into cubes. Put 1 2/3 cups of flour into a food processor and while it’s going, add in the butter. When it’s just about in a ball, turn it out and knead it into a ball. Refrigerate it for about 20 minutes and then roll it out on the same floured surface. Cut little circles out and put them into a patty cake tin, prick the bottoms with a fork and bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes. Let them cool and then fill them with that lemon curd.
If you have leftovers, I suggest you make a lemon meringue pie like I’m going to. Just put the rest of the rolled out shortcrust pastry in a little springform tin, blind bake for oh, 20 minutes maybe? Fill with lemon curd then make meringues (also like last time) except not as much. Pile it on and bake in a 200°C oven for maybe ten minutes. Not entirely sure. I’ll let you know how mine turns out.
Hope your day was better than mine. If not, listen to this and you’ll feel better.
I like to cook to music. Today I made scones, lemon curd and meringues, all from the Masterchef Cookbook (Volume One – from the first season. The first season in Australia, I should add. I couldn’t find a copy in Amazon OR on the official website, so it’s just a link to the website at the moment. Sorry!) I am a huge sweet tooth, in case you couldn’t tell – for instance, meringues, for you poor unfortunates who live under rocks, are basically sugar and egg white. I think that the egg whites are there to make the sugar stand up on it’s own two feet, because basically it’s just SUGAR, all the way. But that’s ok.
Back to the cooking to music – for my scone lemon curd meringue marathon (well… ) I listened to The Cat Empire’s So Many Nights – I feel that TCE (apart from being my favourite band in the world) make the best music for cooking to. I have yet to find someone who can best them for getting me upbeat when I’m down, as well. I am a big comfort eater, I have to admit, but cooking and music always cheer me up. In fact, for dinner I had one of my favourite (savoury) comfort foods: poached eggs. Thanks to Kickpleat over at Everybody Likes Sandwiches for the perfect way to poach eggs.
Happy January 2.
I used buttermilk instead of milk in this recipe because I had it on hand and also, I think it gives a great taste. However, I added more than the recipe called for because it was too dry. Just add as much as you feel is right without you having to overwork the dough – the death sentence for scones. Also, I like to cut my scones into triangles, because then you don’t have to re-roll the scraps.
Makes 6-8 largeish triangle scones
2 1/2 cups s.r. flour
30g butter, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
milk to brush over
jam and cream, to serve. or butter and jam. or lemon curd, below.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper. Sift the flour from a height into a bowl and rub the butter in. Make a well and add the buttermilk; cut in with a knife. Turn the bowl out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead together. Flatten into a large disc shape and cut with a sharp knife into six or eight triangles. Alternatively, you could cut circles out with a cookie cutter; use a rolling pin if you like, but I don’t like to make more dishes than I need to. Place onto the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. (The recipe suggested 12-15; I checked at twelve minutes and put them in for another eight. Use your discretion and your knowledge of your oven.) Serve with any or all of the above suggested accompaniments.
I would probably add more lemon juice than I did today; I didn’t have many options, our tree only just squeezed out three lemons as it was. However, I do suggest you use home-grown lemons. If you don’t have a tree yourself, ask around, they tend to hide in people’s backyards. Or side yards.
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tbsp cornflour
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 3 lemons
125g butter, chopped
Whisk together eggs, yolks, sugar and cornflour until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in zest and juice then place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (half a lemon in the saucepan will mean that the water doesn’t leave any discolouration on your pan) without letting the bowl touch the water. Stir in one piece of butter at a time, waiting until it melts before adding the next piece; the curd is done when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. I find it useful to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl at intervals. It should look like a large, sunny egg yolk. Very large. Cool and spoon into a wide-mouthed jar, package up with a gingham square and a pretty label and give to your neighbour as a gift.
This was part of a larger recipe for Aussie Mess, based on Eton Mess – add cream and seasonal fruits and a coulis, and voila! Pudding. Or dessert, as we Aussies would say. I piped them into large nest-like shapes, to be piled with cream and berries; I’ve also seen tiny meringues served at a café with the hot drinks. Very cute.
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 120°C and line two large baking trays with non-stick paper. Beat the egg whites with electric beaters until soft peaks form; add sugar gradually (very gradually – you don’t want grainy bits. Let the sugar dissolve.) and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Pipe or spoon onto prepared trays and place in oven for five minutes. Reduce heat to 100°C and bake a further 45 minutes.