Raspberry and Rose Muffins

   With a few hours to spare this afternoon I felt it was only right to spend them baking. This is the bonus of early shifts...despite the 04:30am alarm!

   Following on from my recent ramble of trying to bake a little healthier, I picked up some pretty massive raspberries whilst waiting for my train after work to pop them into a recipe I tweaked from this month's Women's Health. By tweak, I mean a lot of improvisation. I thought I had enough maple syrup, but had to make up 30g with the vanilla syrup I make for my coffee. The recipe wanted vanilla extract anyway, and it worked!

   The recipe was for a healthier version of a victoria sponge cake, but I made individual muffins as I love my new Wilton muffin tray so much. I also skipped the yoghurt take on a victoria sponge's jam and cream and added a fresh raspberries into the cake batter and drizzled the baked muffins with a rose icing to finish.

   I've really enjoyed the bakes I've made so far from these recipes in Women's Health, definitely opened my eyes to healthier alternatives to refined sugars. Simple alternatives really do make all the difference. The other recipe I've tried is lemony hazelnut and blueberry muffins, recipe here.

Raspberry and Rose Muffins
(Adapted from Women's Health May/June 2013)
Makes 12 medium muffins
     160g unsalted butter, softened
     160g white spelt flour, sifted
     2 eggs
     2 tsp baking powder
     160g maple syrup
     1 tsp vanilla extract
     small squeeze lemon juice
     pack of fresh raspberries
     few drops pink food colouring
     few drops rose essence
     half a cup icing sugar

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and place 12 muffin cases into the tray.
  • Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy.
  • Add 2-3 tbsp of flour and beat in the eggs until the mixture is light and fluffy (if its curdling, add another spoon of flour).
  • Add the remaining flour, baking powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract and fold.
  • Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, poke in a few raspberries in each and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.
  • Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin try before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the rose icing, I mixed half a cup of icing sugar with a few drops each of rose essence and pink colouring. Top up with a few splashes of water and stir well. Pour into a piping bag and drizzle on the cool muffins.

I also dusted a little gold 'space dust' on top...couldn't help myself!

Peanut Butter Spelt Cookies

    Recently I've been aware that I should start thinking of ways to lessen my dependence on sugar. I've got to a stage where if I open a pack of biscuits, I will eat the whole lot. If I open a bar of Dairy Milk, I will eat the whole lot...and I'm talking about a big bar, daily! 

   I can't pretend to know a whole lot about refined sugars vs. naturally occurring sugars. But, I'd like to think that baking with naturally sweet ingredients can be just as tasty. I'd like to be a little more aware of ingredients and to have the knowledge to chose the healthier option - not always, of course! I love a treat from my favourite Bea's or the odd bar of Dairy Milk.

   I searched online for some cookie recipes that used ingredients I already had in the cupboard. I'm not very good at using up things, especially as the first time I've ever had tahini was in halva flapjacks I made recently. What else am I meant to use it for? So when I came across this recipe on Sweetest Kitchen, I got my apron on straight away and got mixing.

   These cookies use wholegrain spelt flour which is known as being much easier for your body to digest than regular flour due to its high water solubility. Its also rich in fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. I've only ever baked with spelt twice before, some bread and lemony hazelnut and blueberry muffins, so after baking these cookies I'm excited to try it in more recipes.

Peanut butter spelt cookies
(Adapted from Sweetest Kitchen)
     195g wholegrain spelt flour
     1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
     1 tsp sea salt
     185g natural peanut butter
     60g hulled tahini
     50g pure maple syrup
     60g margarine
     1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
     Few drops of almond milk
     Handful of unsalted peanuts
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Mix the spelt flour, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl combine the peanut butter, tahini, maple syrup, margarine and vanilla extract.
  • Pour the peanut butter mixture into the flour mixture and fold to combine.
  • I added a few drops of almond milk to help combine the mixture and added some peanuts to add crunch to the cookies.
  • Drop small rounded balls of dough onto the baking tray and give a little squish with your palm to flatten.
  • Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until slightly soft. They will harden as they cool.
As I love salt and sweet flavour combinations I decided to top these with a drizzle of melted cacao...not as bad as my usual slab of Dairy Milk!

   If anyone has any healthy recipes to recommend then I'd love to try? How shall I use the rest of my spelt flour and tahini?

Lemony Hazelnut & Blueberry Muffins

   Even though I haven't baked or blogged for a while I have still been indulging in many a sugar filled treat. Giant Jaffa cakes, dairy milk, speculoos and custard creams to name a few. So when I saw recipes for nourishing cakes filled with fruits, nuts and natural sugars in this months Women's Health, I thought I'd give one a go.

   I chose to make the lemony hazelnut and blueberry cake as it sounded similar to the Hummigbird blueberry and lemon bundt that I love baking. My brother always asks for the 'one with blue spots'!

   With blueberries and hazelnuts these cakes are packed with vitamin E and anti oxidants, perfect for skin. Something I struggle with being a sweet treat fiend!

Lemony hazelnut & blueberry cakes
(Adapted from Women's Health May/June 2013)
     60g hazelnuts
     130g soft unsalted butter
     110g white spelt flour
     1tsp baking powder
     2 large eggs
     65g honey
     65g maple syrup
     Finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tray with cases
  • Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes before removing any skins and blitzing in the blender into a fine meal. 
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat in all of the other ingredients. Be careful not to overmix to keep the cakes light and fluffy. 
  • Divide between the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes or unil a skewer comes out clean. 
Honey yoghurt topping
     175g fat free fromage frais
     1tbsp honey
     Few tbsps of blueberry jam
     Handful of blueberries
  • Lightly whip the fromage frais until thick, drizzle in the honey and whisk again until incorporated
  • Swirl in blueberry jam and top the cooled muffins with some of the yoghurt mix and fresh blueberries. 
The recipe in the magazine makes a sandwich cake, but I decided to divide the mix into a dozen muffins to try out my new Wilton muffin tray!

The Liebster Award

   Recently I feel like I've lost my baking mojo and the only thing that has kept me in the loop is Twitter. I've been following my fellow foodies' recipes with great envy and reading more posts than usual in the hope of some inspiration. Steph and Hannah recommended that I try a non-recipe post and when the lovely Emily nominated to take part in the Liebster Award I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start afresh. So here it goes...

10 things about me:

  1. My initials are SJS, if you say it quick enough it sounds like 'sausages'.
  2. My favourite cake in the whole entire world is Victoria Sponge.
  3. I studied a Bachelor of Science in Digital Imaging, specialising in Forensic and Biomedical Imaging.
  4. From January to March I took part in a food writing course with Lulu Grimes.
  5. My favourite biscuit is a custard cream.
  6. I have a dog who enjoys eating ice creams, particularly 99s.
  7. My favourite cake place in London is Bea's of Bloomsbury.
  8. Last year a friend and I got stuck in Hurricane Sandy in NYC.
  9. I'm a big Harry Potter fan.
  10. I can't sing, but I really enjoy car karaoke.
Emily's questions:

How would you sum up your blog in 5 words?
Sugar, simple, fun, learning and lighthearted.

Where did your blog name come from?
Well...I love food!

What is your ultimate favourite cuisine?
I'm not sure if this really counts, but baked goods. I have a terrible sweet tooth. Otherwise I really enjoy Indian food and experimenting with different spices and herbs. I'm on a mission to up my heat tolerance and to master the perfect dhal.

What foodie product or utensil could you not live without?
I recently got a new pair of digital scales, as a baker and a science geek I like to be very precise.

Do you think you could go veggie and why/why not?
I was a sort of veggie for 5-6 years. I wouldn't say that I was a strict vegetarian at all, I picked out meat from meals and enjoyed lots of fish. In the past year or so I've reintroduced chicken and turkey into my diet. Its just the texture of other meats that I don't enjoy, I will give anything a try though. 

What would you cook if you went on 'Come Dine with Me'?
I'd love to take part in something like this but haven't really thought about what I'd cook until now. I would start with a really cheesy soufflé, followed by something with haddock as its my favourite fish. Then, for the finale, a massive show stopper cake or boozy lemon desert.

Who is your favourite celebrity chef and why?
I'm incredibly fickle when it comes to celebrity chefs. I don't watch a lot of food TV because I think there's a real difference between a 'TV chef' and a 'proper chef'. People like Jamie Oliver are fantastic entrepreneurs and their names a brand of their own, but how much does he really cook? For aesthetics, I want Gizzi Erskine's beehive and Rachel Khoo's wardrobe. For proper home baking recipes, Dan Lepard is my go-to guy. I can't really think of any chefy chefs...its not often I think of anything other than baked treats!

If you were to make an ice cream with three scoops, any flavour, what would they be?
Peanut butter, salted caramel, and lemon meringue pie.

What is your earliest memory of cooking/baking?
I remember visiting my Grandmother (Nain) in Aberystwyth every school holiday, my brother and I were always greeted with baked treats. My favourites included orange dondis cake and lemon meringue pie.

Last but not least...sweet or savoury?

   Thank you to Steph & Hannah for your kind words and for my new addiction...Speculoos. If you have a minute to spare, read Hannah's 'Love Letter to Speculoos' every single line is completely true. If anyone has any recipes for it then let me know as I'd love to try! And thanks to Emily for nominating me.

   I nominate anyone reading this who would like to join in and spread the Lieb-love! My questions are...

  1. What is your favourite thing to spread on toast?
  2. What is your signature dish?
  3. If there was one food item you could not live without, what would it be?
  4. What made you decide to take up blogging?
  5. Where is your favourite local cake shop and why?
  6. Marmite, love it or hate it?
  7. What has been your most successful meal/bake?
  8. And your least successful?
  9. What is your favourite biscuit?
  10. Sweet or savoury?

Recipease: Knife Skills: Chop, slice & dice

   Mumma Loves Food and I popped to Recipease in Clapham Junction on Friday for a masterclass in chopping lead by Anjali Pathak of the Patak family. Recipease is Jamie Oliver's food and kitchen shop where regular masterclasses on all things foodie are held. I'd always wanted to take part in this kind of class because A, I'm rubbish at chopping and B, I want to chop like chefs do on TV!

In the 2 hour class we made an Asian prawn salad with the most amazingly versatile dressing that now I have mastered, want to put on absolutely everything I eat.

We started by prepping the biggest prawns I've ever seen, and with equally as big poopy pipes (sorry!).
The we chopped red onion, red chilli, ginger, garlic, coriander and added oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and some brown sugar. This dressing is used for the salad and to marinade the prawns so we popped a few spoons on and left them in the fridge whilst making the salad.

Anjali told us that a perfect Jamie dressing must be SSSH...sweet, salty, sharp and hot!

The salad was made with white cabbage, mango, red pepper, cucumber and spring onions.

To serve, we tossed the salad with the dressing, fried the prawns in their marinade for a few minutes each side and ta dahhh!

After, we sat and enjoyed our salad with a glass of wine and chatted to the rest of the class (only 6 of us in total so was really hands on).

Since, I've made some of this dressing and drizzled it over noodles with mange tout and crushed peanuts for a quick and simple work lunch.

Passionfruit, Blueberry & Poppy Seed Muffins

   Passionfruit is a new favourite of mine, and since getting a jar of curd I've attempted to put it on most things. With night shifts looming this weekend, I decided to bake some muffins from Gizzi Erskine's new book.

Passionfruit, blueberry & poppy seed muffins
(From Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts) Makes 16 small muffins
     225g self raising flour
     50g oats
     75g caster sugar
     1tsp baking powder
     1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
     a pinch of sea salt
     2tbsp poppy seeds
     zest of 2 lemons
     200ml milk
     75ml lemon juice
     125g unsalted butter, melted
     1 egg
     250g passionfruit curd
     150g blueberries

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, poppy seeds and lemon zest together in a large bowl.
  • In another bowl mix the milk and lemon juice, slowly adding the butter, egg and 100g of the curd.
  • Pour into the flour mix and combine well.
  • Gently stir in the blueberries.
  • Divide between the muffin cases.
  • Using a piping bag, pipe about 2 teaspoons of curd into the centre of each muffin.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and the curd has sunk a little.
You can also use lemon, lime or orange curd.

My other passionfruit recipe can be found here, passionfruit cupcakes with white chocolate icing.