Monthly Archives: November 2010
Today is the first Sunday of advent, so to start kicking off the celebrations for the next four weeks, I got out of bed early and baked Christmas breakfast muffins (seriously, I did!).
I have used this really easy recipeas a breakfast muffin on Christmas morning and on Boxing Day, and made the preparation time quicker by preparing everything the night before (I’ll add some tips on this at the end of the post).
This recipe for Christmas muffins spreads a lovely warming smell throughout the house, filling your home with spicy, fruity and citrus scents- almost like edible aromatherapy!
I have added dried cranberries to this recipe for the festive touch, but this morning, as blackberries are coming into season here in Australia, I used those instead (from a little farm called The Bramble Farm).
Recipe for Christmas Muffins – Recipe will make 10 muffins.
Preparation time is 10 minutes, baking time 20 minutes
210g self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/42 teaspoon salt
50 g sultanas, 50g currants, 70g blackberries or cranberries or glace cherries
2 tablespoons brandy (optional )
100mL orange juice (freshly squeezed)
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
100mL milk (or eggnog if you have any left over)
60g melted butter
1) Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C, or 350 F. Soak fruits in brandy and orange juice for 10 minutes (the brandy is optional, and the alcohol does cook out in the baking). Line you muffin tray with 10 patty pans.
2) Melt butter in a small pan or microwave allow to cool.
3) Add add dry ingredients to a large bowl: flour, sugar, spices.
4) Add soaked fruit to the dry ingredients.
5) In a measuring jug add milk, egg and cooled butter and whisk well. Add to dry ingredients and gently fold through. Make sure you fold the mixture no more than 15 times (that’s what I average ) otherwise your muffins will be tough.
6) Add a large scoop of batter to each muffin, almost going to the top of the patty pan. Put into the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so, or until the top of the muffin is firm to touch. Don’t open the oven door until after the first 15 minutes or your muffins may sink.
7) When baked, remove tray from oven, then remove muffins from try and cool on a cake rack. When completely cooled, dust with icing sugar and serve with brandy butter!
We didn’t have brandy butter at breakfast- I just though of that now
TOP TIPS: In the dusting of the Christmas muffins pics, I used coffee dusting templates for the patterns, which I’d purchased from the supermarket years ago.
FRUGAL TIPS: If you can’t find these shapes, use a sheet of overhead projection film, or cut out shapes from a cereal box). And dust the muffins over a sheet of baking paper so you can reuse the icing sugar.
If you wanted to prepare this the night before, simply prepare all the dry ingredients in a bowl and cover. Soak the fruits in another bowl and cover (or airtight container) and leave in the fridge. Add the melted butter and liquids into another airtight container and mix really well, so that the butter doesn’t clump. Pre line the muffin tin. In the morning all you’ll need to do is preheat the oven, add the wet ingredients to the dry (plus the fruit), fold and pour, then bake!
I’ve also used this recipe, but added mixed fruit or left over (frugal baking tip!) fruit mince (I’d add about 50 g more of these ingredients to use it as a fruit cake substitute), and used it instead of a real fruit cake for the day.
Remember to check out my Christmas Baking List for more recipes. If you try this recipe, which I hope you will because it’s so easy and simply delicious, please let me know your results.
This recipe for gingerbread cookies is the one I always use for gingerbread men, gingerbread houses and gingerbread decorations cookies. This gingerbread recipe is quite spicy with a rich flavour, and is one I have tweaked and refined to make it the most delicious Christmas biscuit. I’ve also added some Top Tips for gingerbread baking through out the recipe.
I usually bake these early in the Christmas baking season, as for me it signifies the start of advent and celebration baking, filling the house with a beautiful aroma. Please make sure you buy fresh spices for you Christmas baking so that you’ll get the best, intense flavour from your gingerbread biscuits.
Here are some super sized gingerbread ballerinas I baked for my son’s ballet school as a fundraiser, they were around 34cm x 26cm and I rolled the pastry dough to 1.5 cm thick. These were fun to make, and I flavoured the icing with banana essence.
This recipe will make enough dough for one gingerbread house, about six gingerbread men and some other smaller shapes like hearts and snowflakes. I usually mix a 1.5 quantity of this dough, so that I get more of the gingerbread cookies (these always get eaten quickly ) and I use them as edible Christmas gifts to give to friends and visitors over the festive season.
Recipe for Gingerbread cookies
6 cups of self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (250g) butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salts
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses or treacle
1/2 cup golden syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1) Cream butter and sugar. Mix in spices and salt. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla and molasses and golden syrup and mix into the creamed butter.
2) Add sifted flour and baking powder, and stir with a spoon or with your beaters to combine. I actually mix the entire recipe in my Kenwood Patissiere.
3) Divide the dough into 3rds and refridgerate for an hour minimum.
TOP TIP for gingerbread cookies: It’s really important to do this step because you want the gluten in the dough to relax, which will make you dough less tough. Also, rolling any cookie in small lots reduces the toughness of the cookie, you should aim to roll out you dough no more than 2 times.
4) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Prepare your biscuit trays and line with baking paper. Roll out your dough in batches, cut with desired cutters. Bake until crisp, not hard, so about 10-12 minutes.
TOP TIP for rolling our gingerbread cookies: Before you roll out your dough, dust the area with icing sugar so it won’t stick- extra flour can make your dough too floury tasting. If you want crispy gingerbread cookies, roll out the dough thinner, thicker dough will make softer gingerbread cookies.
5) Cool on racks. When cold, decorate with royal icing (will post tomorrow).
I usually bake the cookies all on one day and then ice them with royal icing the following day. You could leave uniced biscuits in a cookie tin placing baking paper sheets in between the layers of biscuit and leave for up to 2 weeks until you ice them. You can also freeze the cookie dough earlier.
If you have any other special additions to your gingerbread recipes please share them, because you can always improve on a recipe Happy Gingerbread baking.
Roses are beautiful.
Roses are inspirational.
Roses are my passion.
Why do I love roses?
My grandfather had beautiful roses lining his front fence, and I suppose that’ where my passion for roses started. My Mum had a beautiful rose garden also, and then when my grandparents came to live with us, more roses emerged in our garden, it was an enchanting and perfumed delight to walk through our backyard.
We were fortunate to have many roses from 1960’s root stock, however, once my grandfather passed away we were unable to look after the some 50+ roses and floral garden which he had lovingly tended to with my Mum, so we passed them on to the care from some friends who also shared the same loving passion for these beautiful flowers.
Mum still has a few Black Queen roses from that 1960s root stock ,which have inspired many artworks for me that I’ll share in the coming posts.
My rose garden
Now that I have my own garden, I’ve started my rose bed. This week I photographed the first blooms of my Grand Parfums range of Delbard Roses to share with you all. I chose Delbard roses because their rose varieties are visually magical, and apparently a delight to the senses.
This was my first time growing the Delbard range, and I can honestly say that the blooms and smells are delightful. My morning meandering through my rose bed is a sheer pleasure, particularly now that I have created a quiet time and space to look after and ‘be’ with myself and my roses…a very calming way to start the day.
These roses are highly fragranced and delicate, and a sheer pleasure to look after.
While I love all flowers, the rose is still the one which stirs a lot of emotions and memories, and it’s a flower which I find that I can create with in many ways like baking, silk ribbon embroidery, painting, interior decorating, or simply admiring in the garden or in the house.
If you love roses, what do roses mean for you? Do you have a favourite colour or type? Do you have a rose garden? I’d love to hear your comments.
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