Cranberry crumble muffins

I'm sure it's everyone's 'using up leftovers' time this week, and I'd bought some cranberries and not used them. We love muffins and just to make them a bit different, I added some crumble mix on the top. I saw a chef doing this on one of the food programmes. They called it 'streusel topping' and I don't know if it's different from the run-of-the-mill crumble topping?
I used my usual muffin recipe and added the cranberries and some mixed spice.
This is my tried and tested muffin recipe, gathered from a friend in the US.

I'm not sure why, but I seem to make a different number of muffins each time I use the recipe! Today I made 11.

225g plain flour
100g caster sugar]
2 tspns baking powder
1 heaped tspn mixed spice

1/2 tspn salt
1 egg
250ml milk
120ml sunflower oil [ I usually use rapeseed, but only had sunflower left ]

Preheat oven 200C/400F/gas6

Either grease a muffin tin or put paper cases into the holes.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Mix the milk, egg and oil together in a jug then add to the dry ingredients - just stir it gently and don't overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the cases or into the tin filling them nearly full.
For the topping I used 50g plain flour and 25g butter rubbed together and 1 tbspn of soft brown sugar added to the mixture. I then sprinkled a little on top of each muffin.
Bake for 15-20 mins till golden.
Cool on a wire rack.

A very Happy New Year. xx

ps My lovely dil bought me a cake stand as one of my Christmas pressies. I love it.


Christmas biscuits

I haven't been well, so not posted on here for a while, but I have been baking. My dil is German and gave me the recipes for her Christmas biscuits and I made a selection of them.

This is the recipe for the melt-in-the-mouth vanilla crescents which are on the top layer of the cake stand.

Preheat oven 175C and grease 2 baking sheets.
200g flour
80g caster sugar
175g butter
2 egg yolks
100g ground almonds
1 tspn vanilla essence
6 tbspn vanilla sugar

Mix the flour, sugar, butter and egg yolks together then add the ground almonds and the vanilla esence.
Bring the mixture together with your hands and cut in into 4. Roll out each quarter and put in the fridge for 1/2 and hour. Cut the dough into small strips then loop each strip into a crescent.
Bake for 10 mins till light brown then roll in the vanilla sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

Christmas stars

Preheat oven 100C then 75C. Grease a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

3 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 tbspn vanilla sugar
1 tspn cinnamon
350g ground almonds

Beat the egg whites till stiff and add the caster sugar.
Take out 3 tbspns to save for the top of the biscuits.
Mix the vanilla sugar, cinnamon and ground almonds together and add to the egg white mixture a little at a time. Make the mixture into a ball and put into a polythene bag. Roll the mixture in the bag till about 1/2 cm thick and a square shape.
Remove from bag and cut out star shapes. Brush the tops of the stars with the reserved egg white.
Put into the middle of the oevn for 15mins then turn heat down for about 30 mins. The mixture should be white, not yellow or brown - if the latter, turn the heat down. Cool on a wire rack.


Lemony almond mincemeat tartlets

We are great mince pie fans, so I'm always on the lookout for a different version. Found this recipe in a Christmas pull-out from 'Prima' magagazine [from the 80s I think!] . It uses ground almonds in the pastry and it's made in a similar way to one of my favourite small cakes,Welsh cheese cake; by this I mean that you have the pastry shell, then a layer of mincemeat, then the lemon cake layer. In the Welsh cheese cake you'd have the pastry, then jam,  then cake.

This recipe makes 36 pies, but thought this was too many for us,so I halved the recipe, taking the measures to the nearest gram. This is the full recipe.

The pastry:
275g plain flour
75g icing sugar
1 tspn cinnamon
175g butter
50g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
45ml milk

450g jar mincemeat

For the cake filling:
Posted by Picasa115g butter or margarine
115g caster sugar
175g sr flour
2 large eggs
grated rind of a lemon

115g icing sugar
15ml lemon juice

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas 5

Make the pastry by putting the flour and cinnamon in a bowl and rubbing in the butter. Add the ground almonds then mix in the egg and milk to make a soft dough. Chill the dough in the fridge for half an hour, wrapped in cling film. Then roll out the dough and cut out 36 circles to line bun tins. Put a teaspoonful of mincemeat in each pastry case.

Make the cake by beating all the ingredients together till nice and smooth. It's just a good old sponge mixture.Spoon on top of the mincemeat then smooth the tops. Bake for 20-30 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

I'm not sure that I'd have bothered about the icing if my dil hadn't been here and wanted to do it! I'd have happy with some sifted icing sugar on top. So she did the fancy lines on top by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice and putting it into an icing bag with a small hole cut out of one corner.

These little pies are really delicious. A great Christmas offering. Next time I'll make the full 36, just with icing sugar on top!


Walnut, raisin and cheese teabread

I have a friend coming to stay for a few days and have been baking in preparation for her visit. I've made a spice cake, some muffins and wanted something else a bit different to have with a cup of tea.
I decided that a savoury teabread would be unusual, and found this recipe in an old cookery book called 'Cakes, breads and gateaux'.

350g sr flour
1/2tspn salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 level tspn dry mustard
75g butter or margarine
90g mature Cheddar, grated finely [keep 15g for the topping]
75g raisins
65g chopped walnuts [keep 15g for the topping]
1 beaten egg
250ml milk
Preheat oven 180C/350F.gas4

Grease and line a large loaf tin - 200g.
Sieve the flour, salt, cayenne and mustard together into a bowl, then add the fat and rub it in.
Stir in 75g of the grated cheese, raisins and 50g of the walnuts.
Mix the egg into the milk then add it to the mixture and beat well.
Put into the tin and level the top.
Mix the rest of the walnuts and cheese together and sprinkle over the top of the mixture.
Bake for about 1-11/4 hours till golden.
Cool on a wire rack and serve sliced with some good butter.

The texture and flavour was very good. Not sure if I liked the raisins; maybe I'd use a different fruit next time.
The crunchy topping was a good contrast to the loaf.

Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few Fr...