Just a quickie here, these mini muffins were whipped up for Bird to take into work for her belated birthday cake and they all disappeared very quickly! There is still a hint of the festive with the cranberry and orange combination, but cranberry and white chocolate is a classic that takes some beating. This recipe made 22 mini muffins (fairy cake sized cases) and would probably make 12-14 standard sized muffins.
300g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (not essence!)
200ml milk, we used semi-skimmed
100g white chocolate, chopped into small squares
100g dried cranberries
zest of half an orange
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. In a jug mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl and mix together being careful not to overmix. Add the melted butter, again mix gently and then fold in the chocolate, cranberries and orange. And that’s the mix done! Easy peasy.
Spoon the mix into cake cakes in a muffin tin (or use 2-3 cases inside each other on a baking tray if you don’t have a muffin tin) and place into the oven. Ours took around 15-18 minutes to be light golden on top and baked through but if you’re making these full size then they will take longer, around 25 minutes probably. Take them out, leave them to cool and then dive in! Or if you’re saintly like us, feed them to your colleagues while they complain about January dieting. The perfect antidote to the worst Monday of the year!
If you’ve been following our instagram recently you’ll have spotted this little beauty. Not completely stuffed to bursting with all of the wonderful home-made treats provided by Mama Fats over the festive period – not to mention the mountains of chocolate we received on Christmas day – we thought we’d top it all off with some extra-special cinnamon rolls, especially for Bird’s Birthday! We’ve got a lot more confident with our bread making in the last year, and couldn’t have imagined attempting something like this at the turn of 2013. This is a really easy recipe though, and as long as you give the dough time to rise you’ll end up with beautifully fluffy rolls, a real treat! Even Fats’ little brother loves these, and he “doesn’t like cinnamon” (at least one of us must be adopted…).
For 12 cinnamon rolls, you’ll need:
500g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
150g light brown sugar (we used light muscovado sugar)
1½ tsp dried yeast
175g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
2 free-range eggs, plus one egg yolk, for glazing (in all the excitement we forgot to glaze ours!)
flavourless oil (e.g. sunflower, vegetable) for oiling
1 orange, zest and juice (optional)
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
Start by making the dough. Mix together the flour, 50g of the sugar, 75g of the softened butter, the salt and the yeast in a large bowl, making sure that the butter is well rubbed in. Add the milk and one of the eggs and combine with your hands – it will start off quite sticky and very messy, but should come together once the flour has been incorporated. Put the mixture onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is nice and springy. Place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise until it has doubled in size – it should take about 1 1/2 hours, but this depends on how warm it is.
To make the filling take the rest of the butter, sugar, cinnamon and optionally the orange zest, and combine together in a bowl with a fork to form a paste.
Once the dough has risen, oil a surface and tip the dough onto it. Roll out the dough into a rectangle so that it is at least 30 cm long in one dimension, and about the thickness of a pound coin (3-4 mm). Smear over the filling, ensuring that it reaches the sides of the dough that will form the ends of the roll.
Now roll it up tightly – you’ll get a good roll if you ensure that the first roll is really tight. Slice this up into 12 rolls of even width, and place into a lined and oiled baking tray, leaving a small gap between each roll. Leave to prove until most of the gaps are filled in.
Preheat an oven to 200ºC. Brush the rolls with the yolk of an egg, to get a nice glaze – we forgot this bit, but they still worked out alright! When the oven is up to temperature, put the rolls in and cook on 200ºC for 10 minutes, before turning the temperature down to 180ºC and cooking for a further 20 minutes. When they’re nicely golden on top, take them out and leave to stand on a cooling rack for a little while, but not too long – these are absolutely delicious when they’re warm! If you forgot to glaze yours like we did – or if you just want a bit of extra orangeyness – you can glaze again with a mixture of orange juice and melted butter once they come out of the oven.
These won’t stick around for very long, especially if you’re surrounded by a sweet-toothed and hungry family! They’re really good reheated too, so you don’t have to eat them all at once…
For anyone who likes spicy food (that definitely includes us!) harissa is something of a wonder ingredient. The chilli and other ingredients (usually red pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, rose, coriander, caraway…) combine to form an intoxicatingly fragrant and warm paste, and very often it is the only flavouring that you’ll need to add! In this case, we’re adding fresh orange to our harissa and sardine dish – the sweet, tangy flavour makes this a really indulgent meal. It’s really quick and easy too, perfect for a week night. We’ve based this on a recipe from the BBC food website – a great place to go for inspiration if you have a few ingredients you want to use.
Here’s what you’ll need for two people:
2 120g tins of sardines in olive oil
1-2 tsp harissa (depending on taste – and how strong your harissa is)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
200 g couscous
Small handful of gently toasted pine nuts (optional)
Sprinkle of fresh coriander (optional)
Start off by splitting the sardines down the spine, and taking out the big bones – don’t worry if they fall apart a bit. Now coat them in a mixture of plain flour and paprika, we find it’s easier if you sift together the two and then coat each piece of sardine separately. The flour will make the sauce go thick and silky smooth, and the paprika is just delicious…
When this is all ready, mix together the zest and juice of the orange, the harissa and the leftover oil from one of your tins of sardines. At this point you’ll probably want to put your couscous on to cook (as per packet instructions), as the rest of the cooking happens rather fast! Put a little of the leftover oil from the other tin of sardines into a frying pan on a medium-high heat, and add the flour-coated sardines. Fry until the flour has lost most of its colour – this should take about 2 minutes – then add the orange & harissa mix and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Serve the sardines over the couscous, and optionally top with the pine nuts and coriander – we didn’t have any fresh coriander to hand when we cooked this but it adds a really nice fresh flavour to the dish.
Think of these as trans-seasonal brownies. Like a light jumper but more… gooey. That perfect snack for when there’s a bit of a chill in the air and you want some comforting chocolateyness but with a light, summery twist. These are based on a Lorraine Pascale (don’t you just want to be her best friend? We love her!) recipe which uses pieces of Oreo cookies. We tried them and were pleasantly surprised (not being massive Oreo fans) but the bit that really impressed us was the perfectly gooey, rich brownie mixture. So we have taken that and added our own flavours too it – this time we used orange zest, almond extract and fresh raspberries for a little of jam-like tart raspberry in every mouthful.
165g butter, plus extra for greasing
200g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
zest of 1 medium orange, finely grated
3 free-range eggs
2 free-range egg yolks
1 tsp almond extract
165g soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
150-200g fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm/8in square baking tin with butter, then line with baking paper.
Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated (or chopped) chocolate along with the orange zest.
We ended up having half grated, half chopped chocolate because grating seemed too much like hard work! So we recommend chopping (if you have a large knife) unless you have a food processor to do the grating for you. Leave to stand for a few minutes, or until the chocolate melts, and then stir together. Resist the urge to eat this mixture, the finished mixture tastes so much better.
Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and almond together in a large bowl until the eggs begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked in. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate into it – again around the sides so as not to knock the air out. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and stir until fully combined, then pour half of the mixture into the prepared tin. Place your raspberries in an even layer over this and then pour on the other half of the mixture.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25–30 minutes.. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin – the top will sink and crack a little. Cut into small squares because they’re pretty rich and then enjoy!
These little squares of joy will likely crumble and squidge all over you as you eat them but oh god are they worth it! Nothing better than curling up with these and a cup of tea or coffee as the nights start to draw in. We’re already thinking of the next flavour combination to try, at the moment we’re thinking espresso and hazelnut… any other suggestions?