Cranberry, Orange and Cinnamon Muffins

Happy New Year!

Yes I know, it’s a little belated but we have all been under the weather here in the last few weeks, fortunately Christmas itself was sickness free, but we’ve been making up for it since…

Now that the veil of flu is lifting from HillyWillys house, it’s long past time to get back into the kitchen.

After the most wonderful Christmas eve meal small person and a sumptuous dinner from Hubby the kitchen has been a relatively HillyWilly free zone. Time to put that right 🙂

But what to cook? After the excess eating of Christmas and new year I thought perhaps I should try something slightly less …. decadent, but still super tasty of course so I have opted to give you some healthy, low fat muffins, I can assure you they are still delicious and as they are lower in fat that means you can eat more of them…… 😉

Cranberry, Orange and Cinnamon Muffins.

300g flour
1tsp Baking Powder
25g Brown Sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1tsp Cinnamon
1 Orange (zest and flesh)
100g Dried unsweetened Cranberries
100ml Skimmed Milk
100ml Orange Juice
1 Egg
25g Salted Butter ( melted )

About an hour before you are ready to bake soak the cranberries in the orange juice. This will give them a nice plumpness and add a bit of sharpness to the flavour.

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In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Add to this the zest and flesh of your orange and the drained cranberries and stir well.

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In a separate bowl beat the egg and add the milk and orange juice and stir well. Melt the butter and whisk it into the liquid. If you wish to substitute the butter for sunflower oil you can do so, but don’t forget to add a generous pinch of salt.

Add the liquid to the dry bowl and beat until fully combined.

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Divide the mixture into muffin cases ( this amount should make 12) and place in a preheated oven.bake at 200degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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When the muffins come out you can if you wish add a sprinkle of brown sugar to the top, or if you are being really good you can skip this step 🙂

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Allow to cool and enjoy.

A Bientôt.

Orange Curd

This week has been a bit of a dead loss when it comes to my kitchen. As I explained in the previous post I’ve had a very poorly small person to look after and food has been WAY down the agenda. Thankfully now she is on the road to recovery and my thoughts turn back to the kitchen.

Despite the fact there are a million and one things to be getting ready for Christmas I needed to relax so I decided to make one of my favourite preserves before even thinking about what I should be doing.

Curd was always something of a mystery to me until a few years ago when I watched a dear friend whip up a batch of lemon and since then there has been no stopping me!

I have ( of course ) experimented with lots of different flavours* and textures, but I always come back to orange as my ‘comfort’ food standby.

*great flavours I have tried include; Kiwi, Raspberry, Passion fruit. There is something about the consistency of curd that, for me, demands a flavour with a bit of a bite to them so I always find that slightly acidic fruits work best. I’ll let you know how Mango turns out once I get round to it!

Another tip when making a different flavour is to always combine your fruit juice or pulp with the juice of 1 lemon as this will greatly improve the set and reduce the overall cooking time.

Orange Curd

100g unsalted butter

200g granulated sugar

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

2 oranges

1 lemon

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Bring to the boil half a a pan of water, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place a glass bowl on the rim of the pan and ensure that the boiling water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.

Put your butter into the bowl and melt.

While the butter is melting, juice and zest your oranges and lemon and in a separate bowl beat your eggs.

When the butter has just melted pour in the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

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When the mixture is smooth add the combined juice of the oranges and lemon and stir gently, but well.

When the mixture is well combined slowly pour in the beaten eggs, stirring the mixture at all times.

ImageYou MUST stir this mixture gently (do not beat) for around 5 minutes to ensure that the egg well mixed with the other ingredients. if you do not combine the ingredients corectly at this point you may well end up with ‘strings’ of egg in you finished curd.

After around 5 minutes the mixture should be smooth and pale orange in colour, now is the time to add the zest. Of course this is a matter for personal taste and I know a lot of people prefer their curd to be totally smooth in which case just don’t add it.

Now you have to be patient.

Heat the curd over the water for 25-30 minutes. During this time stir occasionally and make sure there is still enough water in your pan!

After about 20 minutes of simmering you should notice the mixture begin to thicken. Using a metal spoon now, stir the mixture and ensure that you scrape around the sides and the bottom of the glass bowl as the curd will thicken round the edges of the bowl more quickly and you will not get an even consistency.

Dont worry if it takes a little longer for your mixture to thicken as it depends on the type of oranges you use and how big they are. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat, just leave it until it thickens of its own accord.

When it is ‘done’ is also a matter of personal preference. I prefer a slightly runny set for my curd so when the mixture clings to the back of my mixing spoon and coats it without running off this is my perfect potting temperature!

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If you prefer a thicker set then just leave the curd to cook for a few more minutes.

Pot up into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

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These quantities will make enough for around 2 100g jars. Unless you are making this as a gift I wouldn’t advise making much more than this at a time as it only keeps for between 2 and 3 weeks.

Once your jars have cooled store the curd in the fridge and enjoy at your leisure.

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I can thoroughly recommend it on toast!

A Bientôt.

Epic Jelly ….. Epic Fail

I was in two minds whether to post this one or not as it didn’t turn out quite as planned, but then I thought “What the heck, why not” because someone might like it and it does look so pretty….

epic jelly
As I mentioned in my last post we have been celebrating (for what seems like forever) the birthday of the smallest person in the house and HillyWillys kitchen has been under a cloud of flour, chocolate, icing sugar and jelly. Lots of jelly. ( For my U.S friends that would of course be jello )

I had seen this recipe posted on line a few months ago and stored it in my ‘oooh that looks fun’ file and decided that small ones birthday party would be the perfect time to try it out. The fridge was re-shuffled, many plastic tubs were unearthed and I began…

Stained Glass Window Jelly
4 packets of assorted (brightly coloured) Jelly

1 small tin of condensed milk

3 6g packets of Gelatin powder

Make up your 4 different flavours of jelly and set overnight.

Jelly

Sprinkle the gelatin powder into a small amount of cold water and stir to a smooth paste, set aside for 5 minutes then stir again. At this point add 500ml of boiling water and mix until there are no clumps or lumps. Now add the tin of condensed milk and mix well. Set aside and allow to cool.

mix the coloured cubes

When your coloured jellies are well set turn out and cut into cubes and gently mix the  cubes in a large container. Take the cooled gelatin mixture and pour slowly into the container of jelly cubes. Return the large container to the fridge and set for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight.

When your jelly is completely set. turn out. slice and serve.

stained glass Jelly

Now the title of the post will tell you that something went wrong, well 2 things went wrong in actual fact.

The first thing was that I had entirely failed to take into consideration that jelly isn’t a common dessert over here and whilst French cuisine is highly regarded around the world they are not exactly renowned for their acceptance of any food that is a bit different to their usual fare.  To put it mildly the children at the party looked terrified when I unveiled my masterpiece and were extremely reluctant to try it.

The second, and most important, thing was that the taste just doesn’t live up to the look.
Perhaps i used the wrong combination of jelly flavours, but it was just too much of a confusing taste to be considered lovely. The condensed milk/gelatin mixture is fantastic for the colour, but it makes the whole thing so sweet that my teeth were singing at the first spoonful. Perhaps (if I ever make it again) I would use single cream or evaporated milk instead to take an edge off the super-sweetness.

I would also recommend that if you attempt this one, only to use half of the jelly in each pack as there was rather a lot of it to dispose of.

So not my finest moment, but not everything always turns out quite how we would like, so its time to dust myself off and get back in the kitchen.

Thankfully the main event of the birthday cake was a triumph so the jelly incident was quickly forgotten, and I shall be putting up the recipe for that in a few days 🙂

A Bientot

Tropical Fruit Cake

There’s something quite brilliant about a fresh pineapple don’t you think? I don’t really know what exactly it is that attracts me so much, it could be the smell or the texture, it could be the fact that they just taste so much better than their tinned counterparts or perhaps it could just be that it’s a ridiculous shape and I always think it would look good as a hat, but whatever it is I do love them. When we saw them recently in our not-so-local supermarket at a price I deemed acceptable it was soon whisked from the ‘panier des fruit exotique’ and into my trolley. As I was already in the area of ‘exotique’ i felt it would be rude not to pick up a mango or two as well.

Of course when it got home it took pride of place in the fruit bowl and did little else but preen itself in front of the non-exotic fruit in the bowl for a few days until I finally hacked it open and small one and I devoured half of it in one sitting. Our needs sated for the moment the rest of it was consigned to the fridge to await it’s fate.

Once more my thoughts turned to cake, as they often do, and the immediate thought was for a ‘gâteau d’ananas inverse’* , but I’ve made quite a few of those recently and delicious as they are I was hankering for something a little…..different. A quick reconnoiter of the fruit bowl showed me a couple of bananas that should have been eaten already, a solitary orange and the as yet untouched mango. Game on 🙂

*pineapple upside-down cake sounds so much more elegant in French.

Apologies about the quality of pictures for this post. Out of necessity ( I’d temporarily misplaced my camera…) they were taken on the iPad and they are a little on the dark side.

Tropical Fruit Cake

85g Butter ( softened )
120g Sugar
1 medium Egg
300g Flour
2tsp Baking Powder
2 ripe Bananas
100ml Creme Fraiche
1 Orange
1 Mango
100g Pineapple
50-100g Icing sugar ( for glaze )

Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in 1 egg.
Gradually fold in the flour and baking powder until combined.

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In a separate bowl mash the 2 bananas and stir in the creme fraiche. Grate in the rind of 1 orange, then chop in half scoop out the flesh and add to the ‘wet’ bowl.
This is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but if possible separate the flesh from the segment skin, as this can give a bitter taste and it’s just not that pleasant to chew. Put aside the other half of the orange for later.
Peel and chop the mango- again not the easiest thing to do as I still haven’t found a satisfactory kitchen gadget to peel and stone a squishy mango and it always gets very messy! I try and peel it over the ‘wet’ bowl so any escaping juice gets into the cake mix rather than wasted.
Next finely dice the pineapple, add to the bowl and mix well.

When the ‘wet’ bowl is well mixed, add it to the large bowl and stir until the mixture is fully combined.

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Grease and line an …… Cm square tin and pour the batter in and allow to settle for a few minutes before covering with baking paper (for the first 45 minutes of baking time) and placing in an oven preheated to 170 degrees.

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The cooking time on this cake is a around an hour. You don’t want the cake to be completely dry in the middle when cooked as it’s the moisture that really develops the flavours after you take it out of the oven. Conversely you don’t want it to be too runny either…. At around about the hour mark poke a wooden skewer into the centr of the cake and pull it out. You should feel a certain amount of cling when you pull it out, but there should be no mixture left on the skewer. That’s when you take it out and rest it in the tin for 5 minutes, while you mix up the glaze.

For the glaze you will need the juice from the other half of your orange and combine with the icing sugar. I’ve been a little woolly about the amount of icing sugar you will need for this for a couple of reasons as it largely depends on the size of orange you have and the amount of juice you can get out of it. The glaze needs to be translucent and runny so it can be poured over the top of the cake while it’s still warm. (The other reason is that I was making it whilst chatting to a friend and completely forgot to measure the amount.)

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After about 20 minutes remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool completely. Now whilst the great temptation is to eat it straight away I would strongly recommend leaving it overnight before cutting in as the taste of the fruit develops when allowed to sit for a while. In fact the longer you can leave it the better as the individual flavours come into their own over the course of a few days.

This is a very heavy, dense rich fruit cake which will last for up to a week if stored in an an airtight container, wrapped in greaseproof paper, between nibbles.

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A Bientôt.