Archive of ‘How-to guide’ category

Fruit mince pies – part 1 (the fruit mince)

Fruit mince in a jar

Right. Let’s mince.

This is a two part series on making fruit mince pies. Firstly, you need to get your mince soaking. Preferably for at least one week, up to a month (OK OK, AT LEAST over night, all right?).

Then, once that’s done skip across and check out ‘Why making fruit mince pies will be the death of you – part 2 (the pastry)‘.

I do love eating fruit mince pies. Here’s what we’re aiming for: (more…)

Basic muffin recipe

As part of my how-to collection, this handy recipe is a good starting point when you already have the muffin idea in your mind, but just need the recipe.

Banana and passionfruit muffins made from this basic muffin recipe

I always like to have food with me.  I’m one of those people who slip very quickly into grumpy-dom if I don’t eat constantly. I go from chirpy-Aimee, to evil-Aimee in a blood-sugar dropping minute.

This is why I have so many recipes. I need a range of food to last me until I’m safely back in my kitchen and pantry full of food. Today, for example, I have some cherry ripe slice and a feta and spinach muffin (amongst other things).

So every week I say ‘what muffins shall we have this week?’ the answer from my house is consistently ‘raspberry and white chocolate’. Which is lovely, but variety is the spice of life and all that. So when I look in the cupboard and see…. say…. a tin of passionfruit pulp and some old bananas, or a few apples and packet of white chocolate chips – this old favourite comes out.
Over to you – adapt away my pretties!

Ingredients
2 cups self raising flour (or 2 cups plain flour with 2 teaspoons of baking soda added)
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive/vegetable oil (or, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 plain, non-fat natural yoghurt)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 – 3/4 cup caster sugar (alter depending on how sweet you choice of flavourings are)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
150 grams added flavour, e.g. frozen raspberries, dark/milk choc chips, grated apple, mashed banana and passionfruit (as in pic above) etc.

Method
Don’t forget the how-to make muffns post if you want some step-by-step instructions.

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together and make a well. Add all wet ingredients and pour into well. Add your choice of flavourings and mix well until just combined. Over mixing will toughen the muffins. It’s OK if you have the occasional flour pocket, muffins are meant to be rough.
  3. Spoon in to your prepared muffin tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Do: get experimental. Switch out the white sugar for brown sugar or honey for different flavours. Substitute the flour for whole wheat flour. Let me know what works and what doesn’t.

Healthy? Obviously this depends what flavours you add, but this basic recipe made with 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 natural yoghurt is 154 calories a muffin

Gluten free: I haven’t tried adapting this recipe, I will endeavour to make a basic GF muffin soon.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days. Store in airtight container.

Modified from Kim’s Moist Muffins on bestrecipe.com.au

Banana and chocolate chip muffins (how to make muffin)

It’s time for a how-to post, meet my test subject, banana and chocolate chip muffins!

I’ve had a bit of feedback that ‘fold in all other ingredients’ isn’t that helpful if you haven’t been cooking much. So it’s time for a step-by-step guide. I’m going to use banana and chocolate chip muffins as the example because it’s a pretty normal recipe with the usual mix-dry-ingredients-add-wet-and-fold instructions.

Clever muffin, eh?

I think I take for granted cooking basics. I was lucky, in my house while I was a young’n’ cooking, I could always ask my mum for clarification.

10 year old me: Hey mum, the recipe says cream the butter and sugar together*, what does that mean?
Mum: Oh, no one actually does that darling. Just melt the butter and put it straight in.

Priceless motherly advice. Especially as her ‘it’ll be fine’ philosophy taught me not to be daunted by fancy-pants recipes. Not that I tend to make too many of them anyway.

*please note that although sometimes creaming butter and sugar is a grand old waste of time, for some recipes, like chocolate chip cookies, it makes them fluffier and is worth the effort. Just soften the butter on defrost in the microwave (but don’t let it melt!) and use electric beaters to beat the sugar and butter together until it’s pale in colour and fluffy, or work your arm muscles and do it yourself with a wooden spoon. Both will work.

This post will soon be followed by a basic muffin recipe you can adapt. But for now, let’s talk banana and chocolate chip.

Ingredients
Dry
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
Wet
60 grams butter, melted
2/3 cups mashed banana (about 2 medium/small bananas)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips (about 100 grams)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. In other words, turn the oven on when you start preparing your muffins.
  2. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin – either spray the tin with oil spray, or rub paper towel in some margarine or butter and grease each muffin cup. If using patty pans, spray lightly with olive oil.
  3. Place flour and caster sugar (your dry ingredients) in a bowl and mix together. Form a bit of a well in the middle.
  4. In a medium bowl or jug, mix up all your wet ingredients. If there is butter, melt it. Hold off on the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the well you have just formed.

Add wet to dry

Then add your chocolate chips, make sure you eat a couple to check they’re OK.

Then, using a large wooden spoon, in a single action, run the spoon around the side, then along the base of the bowl. Now fold the mixture over onto itself.

Start at the side, run along the base, and over the top.

The point of this is to combine the ingredients without knocking the air out of it. Air keeps it fluffy. Fold until the ingredients are JUST combined. It’s OK if there is still a bit of flour not mixed through. Muffins are supposed to be rough, and if you over mix, they get chewy and tough. Just give it a go, but if you want further instructions, then you can always watch an American girl called Casey on You Tube stirring some egg whites into a chocolatey thingy to get the technique down.

…just a little flour left showing, so two more folds ’till done.

Spoon your mixture in to your prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, turning the tin around half way through the cooking time so they cook evenly. I should add here that this recipe makes about 12 small muffins, or 10 better sized ones.

Muffins are done when either one, or all of these things apply:
1. you give it a poke with your finger and it bounces back instead of indents
2. it is golden on top
3. you stick a skewer or sharp knife in it and it comes back clean. By clean, it means no raw looking dough. A bit of melted chocolate chip doesn’t apply.

As a general rule, if you think muffins are done, give them another 2-5 minutes. Anywhere before burning point is OK in my books. Note that with biscuits, the opposite applies, if you think they need two more minutes, pull them out there and then. Over cooked biscuits are only good for lobbying at siblings, whereas soft chewy biscuits are an art form.

Using tongs, remove the muffins from your pan and move to a rack to cool. This is important otherwise the muffins steam themselves in their little cups and go soggy. If you haven’t used patty pans and they’re a bit stuck, try giving the muffins a gentle twist, then use a knife to leverage one side out before grabbing it with your tongs.

Allow muffins to cool completely before putting in an airtight container, or yet again, they’ll steam themselves straight to soggy-ville.

Eat them!

These muffins are especially fun served sliced, with banana and whipped cream inside. Faaancy.

Healthy? 185 calories if you make 12

Gluten free: I’ve used GF flour and these work well, though slightly crumbly. Could do with an extra egg white if converting.

Storage: In an airtight container, or freeze well.

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