Friday, 26 April 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

Muffins are one of the things I never had much luck with before. The recipes I tried were always a little bit disappointing, never tasted as good or looked as plump as they were supposed to. Going back to classics, I had a look through my Delia Smith books and found her basic American muffin mix a really good one, plus she had quite a few ideas for toppings, which are really so trendy again. 
I love the crunchy streusel topping on her muffin cake, which I used in this recipe. It's a crumble mix made with sugar, butter, flour and nuts usually sprinkled on top of cakes in Germany, it gives an extra texture and nice rich looks to the muffins. I replaced the flour for spelt and made mine an apple-cinnamon version. All in all what can I say? Pippa Middleton eat your heart out, Delia Smith still rocks!

For 15 normal size muffins:
300g white spelt flour (or plain flour)
1level tbsp baking powder
half tsp salt
half tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
220 ml milk
100 g melted butter, cooled to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g apples, peeled and chopped into small cubes

For the topping:
75g demarara sugar
75g self raising flour (or plain flour with a pinch of baking powder)
25g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g chopped pecan nuts
1 tbsp cold water

The secret of a good fluffy and light muffin is in the mixing. You must never over-mix the ingredients. For this reason it is suggested to sift the dry ingredients twice so that you only have to mix the wet ingredients in very little. This stops the flour activating too much, so as long as there are no white clouds of flour in the mix, don't worry if it looks a bit on the lumpy side, it's fine.
Preheat oven to 200C, gas mark 6.
Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon into a bowl. Mix the eggs, vanilla extract, milk and melted butter in another bowl until smooth. Then sift the flour mix into the egg mix again and fold in with a wooden spoon very gently 10-15 times. Fold in the chopped apples gently. Spoon the mix into muffin cases in a muffin tray just enough to fill the cases. Make the topping by rubbing the flour, cinnamon and butter together until crumbly. Add the sugar and the nuts, mix well then sprinkle the water over the mix and press it loosely together. Sprinkle this over the muffins generously and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Blueberry and Spelt Birthday Cake

I made this cake for our little one Leo's 2nd birthday last weekend. He loves blueberries and any cakes, so I wanted to make something special but not too sweet for him. He also has a bit of eczema problem and can't eat heavily creamy puddings, so I used creme fraiche instead of butter or cream filling. The sponge is a standard one I use for many recipes, you add the same number of tablespoons of water and sugar as the number of eggs you use and double number of tablespoons of flour. You can then reduce or increase the quantity as you wish. I learned it from a friend's Mum, she told me a little rhyme to remember it for the rest of my life :-) It goes like this: "Ahány tojás annyi víz, dupla cukor, dupla liszt" In this rhyme you might notice she adds more sugar (!) but I half this for my recipes these days. 

3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp wholemeal spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 heaped tsp baking powder
few drops of vanilla extract

For filling and decorating:
icing sugar
blueberry jam
300 ml creme fraiche
fresh blueberries
chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until completely smooth and pale in colour. Add the water and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the baking powder and the flour gradually and mix well again. Using a wooden spoon, very gently fold in the egg whites so that all the air is incorporated and the sponge mix is light and fluffy. Pour into a lined 20 cm cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked through. Let it cool on a wire rack then slice into two discs. Beat the creme fraiche with 3 tbsp icing sugar until it resembles soft peaks of double cream, but add more sugar if you like it sweeter. Spread the blueberry jam and the creme fraiche on one half of the cake, place the other half on top. Sprinkle the top with icing sugar, pile some more creme fraiche on top and arrange the blueberries in the middle. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and serve the remaining creme fraiche on the side.

Sweet Milk Loaf Fonott Tejes Kalács

As I was toasting the last of the sweet milk loaf I made this Easter, it reminded me how much I wanted to share this recipe. Sweet milk loaves or Kalács you can buy in Hungary all year round, but has a particular significance around Easter. It's perfect with the smoked cured ham for Easter Sunday breakfast but also freezes really well and ready to eat later on with butter and jam, like we did. Braiding the many strands of this loaf can be daunting but I found some excellent video tutorials on YouTube and will include in the recipe below. There are choices of how many strands you want to braid, less is a bit easier, but this one is made with 6 strands and was not too complicated to do at all. Also I think this is a great dough to use for braiding, it keeps its shape and beautiful shiny strands while baking. This is a lovely breakfast bread to make all year round, if you like a brioche, you will love this kalács too! I used refined spelt flour in this recipe as I have been using it for most of my baking recently, but plain white flour is also fine to use.

250ml double cream
50g butter
1 egg
1 egg white
500g refined spelt flour (or plain flour)
pinch of salt
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 packet of dried yeast (7g)
1 egg yolk for glazing

Warm the cream and butter until completely melted and allow to cool to room temperature.
Sift the flour, sugar, salt, yeast into a bowl. Add the beaten egg and the egg white and mix well. 
Add the warm milk and butter mix and knead for about 10 minutes or until you get a smooth, elastic dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Cover and let it prove in a warm place for 1 to 2 hrs or until doubles in size. When ready to braid, divide the dough into 6 and roll them into a 40cm long strand each. Bunch them at the top, arrange them into a fan shape and start braiding. Study this tutorial from YouTube before you have a go. This is what mine looked like after braiding:

When ready, let it prove in a warm place until you warm the oven to 180C. Glaze the loaf with the beaten egg yolk and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Delicious eaten fresh, but also freezes well and it is perfect toasted for breakfast.