Saturday 24 November 2012

Lemon muffins with crunchy lemon sugar topping

Quiet moments can jolt your memory of lovely things.
It was a very busy baking week. I wanted to make four different cakes, three for a fundraiser for Bellyful and one for our builders working very hard on our house extension. I used the baking opportunity to try a number of new recipes to add to this  blog. On Wednesday one of my Old Girls gave me an 'All in one Cake' recipe. It was a cake her children used to bake, it never fails. It appealed to me because you could change the cake according to the flavourings you added, e.g. chocolate, lemon, orange or coffee.  So I decided on a coffee one. I will experiment a little more and will post later.
Catherine's recipe and story reminded me of an Eggless Chocolate Cake recipe my daughter used to make (from the NZ Radio and TV Cooking Book, I have talked about this book before, it served me well in the 1970's). When I opened to the page it made me smile. It was covered in cocoa powder and grease stains which has made it almost impossible to read the print. I am sure this mess was not made by me but by my dear daughter who (in later years) made it every time she needed to bake a cake (which was often, think birthdays and teachers morning teas!). The reason - quickly made in one bowl and she lovvves chocolate. It has stood the test of time and I will make sure I make the cake again and post this recipe too.
I was also given some lovely homegrown lemons so decided whatever else I made for the builders that week it had to include lemons. The quickest and easiest morning tea baking to make (when you are pressed for time) are muffins. So muffins it was.
I  copied this recipe some time ago but I didn't note the direct link, so my apologies to Kate's Kitchen.... It is a little gem. Apart from its simplicity I like this muffin recipe for the gorgeous crunchy sour topping.

Lemon muffins with crunchy sugar topping   - from Kate’s Kitchen 2012
2 cups self-raising flour
¾ cup sugar
75g butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
Grated zest and 1/4c lemon juice from a large lemon
and  for topping - 1/4cup lemon juice and 1/4cup of sugar
 Melt the butter, add milk, beaten egg and lemon zest
Beat with a fork to combine.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, don’t over mix – just gently fold to combine
Divide mixture between 12 greased muffin tins
Bake at 200°C (or 190 for fan oven) for 10 mins  
Stir together lemon juice and sugar, drizzle over muffins as soon as they come out of oven.
Prick top of muffin with a toothpick so it soaks in.
Remove from tins after only a few minutes as the syrup can make them stick to the tins.

Sharing the kitchen bench with the builders
To make them even' posher' (is that a word?) for your morning teas, eat served on a lovely china plate using a cake fork, with a little Greek plain yoghurt on the side.

Saturday 17 November 2012

My Christmas business

This morning I woke up bright and early so I decided to make our Christmas pudding. I have made the same pudding for quite a number of years now. The recipe came from a newspaper cutting (probably The Christchurch Press) but it has no date. It is a light pudding, not too rich, really easy to make and a tried and true favourite with family and friends.
The only pot large enough for boiling the pudding (for 4 hours!) is my mothers old preserving pan. I don't have a lid big enough to cover the pan so I use a heavy tea towel to cover the top (watching the edges don't hand down too low!). An old trick is to put a plate on the bottom of the pan for the bowl to sit on. It ensures the pudding doesn't get burnt on the bottom. I like to think of Mum while the pudding is merrily boiling away......

On occasions I have held my breath as it is not always easy to get the pudding out of the bowl in one piece. Now I make sure the bowl is well greased and wait until it is quite cooled before I try to turn it out onto a plate. With some relief the cooked pudding came out perfectly and it smelt divine!

Once the pudding was sorted I turned my attention to icing the two Christmas cakes I made at the beginning of November. In the past I might have made four large cakes but we tend to eat less cake these days so I really make them for sharing. Baking my cake and pudding really gets me into the Christmas spirit. Both recipes are attributed to Alison Holst, they tend to be no fuss methods using 'common' ingredients. Here is the cake one.
Ingredients ready to go, this cake has a nice spice combo
Cake iced upside down with blobs of almond paste to fill the little holes, roll them flat
I can't say I am a great cake decorator but over the years I have learnt a few tips on how to ensure a good smooth result. Turning the cake upside down and using a 'filler' means the cakes iced surface is nice and smooth. Once both layers have been 'glued on' with a syrup, I use a rolling pin to roll the top really smooth. If any bubbles occur under the icing, I gently pierce them with a pin and roll smooth.
I have these silly little decorations I use every year, sadly I lost the little plastic tree Father Christmas used to stand next to - if anyone can find a replacement I would be most grateful - I have had no luck in hunting one down!
The deer appear deep in snow!

My repertoire of Christmas baking also includes a few dozen mini Christmas Mince and Pecan pies. Last year a dear friend gave me a great truffle recipe made with Plum Duff soaked in sherry mixed with melted dark chocolate and golden syrup and rolled into little balls. Decorated to look like mini Plum Duffs, they are absolutely gorgeous with coffee or some Christmas spirit! This little gem of a recipe is now added to my 'seasons greetings' list of tasty goodies. (I will post this later).  Once all items have been cooked and baked I am content...... it wouldn't feel right if I didn't bake for Christmas. I suppose I am not particularly adventurous, making the same things every year but nothing gives me more pleasure than to share my homemade Christmas treats with family and friends.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Weet Bix Deluxe Slice

Most people in New Zealand have a box of Weet Bix in their pantry. I am not a great fan of the flakey cereals with milk etc as a breakfast option but I was told recently by one of our builders they are very popular with teenagers - his son eats 6 as a snack before dinner!  (I quite like them with a topping of margarine and Vegemite, although it has been a quite while since I have partaken in that particular snack). Anyway, we currently have renovations happening in our house so we have a number of builders that need feeding on a daily basis. On talking to a number of friends it confirms my understanding of the strong tradition in NZ that if you have tradesman working in your home it is the 'done thing' to provide a cuppa and cake etc for their morning and afternoon breaks. This I am happy to do, cos my feeling is if I show them the kindness and generosity by providing home baked goodies they will work harder (and better) and of course I do love to bake!
However.....I am currently working part time for a short term so my usual spare time is minimal. It has been an interesting week trying to juggle all the things I need to get done before I go to (and come home from) work! So far I have provided said builders with a Jo Seager Easy Fruit Cake, Jacqui's Cheese Puffs and Lesley's The Best Cheese Scones so I needed some more ideas of quick and easy cakes and slices etc. Then I remembered this quick and easy slice I used to make in the 1970's. I like it because it is simple, you would invariably have most ( if not all) of the ingredients in your pantry ready to go and because it is sort of healthy (not counting the sugar!) and you mix everything in one bowl and one pot. So the cake tins are full again ready to face another week.
I took a plate of this lovely slice to a Food Bloggers afternoon tea catch up and Libby said her mother had made the same slice in the 1970's, which was a really nice coincidence.
The Ritz cucumber sandwiches and strawberry custard tarts were divine, thank you ladies!
Weet Bix de Luxe SliceL.L.Hay, Edgecombe - from the NZ Radio and Television Cookbook -  Pub. 1974
3 weet bix - crushed  
1 cup flour
1 cup coconut 
 ¾ cup sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
125g melted butter 
½ of 400g tin sweetened condensed milk  
1 tbsp butter  
1 ½ tbsp golden syrup  
Chocolate icing (made with melted butter)

Place all dry ingredients in bowl. Mix in melted butter and press into a sponge roll tin.
Cook in oven at 180°C for 15 minutes.
Stir condensed milk, butter, golden syrup together in a pot over a load heat until blended.
Pour over base and return to oven for 3 minutes.
Ice while still warm with the chocolate icing.
Cut into squares when icing set, (you will need a clean sharp knife for this).

Ritz cucumber sandwiches, strawberry tarts and Weet Bix Deluxe slice

Thursday 1 November 2012

Warm fuzzies

Some weeks ago my daughter gave me a Sunshine Award, it is a warm fuzzie that other bloggers give to their favourites. For my prize I had 10 questions to answer and these are my responses.
1. Why the title for your blog? I moved to Wellington 6 years ago, for love. Living in the Capital has given me time to live my life with less stress and more time to enjoy the things I love and appreciate. My family and friends love to share this place with me.
2. What piece of clothing works the hardest in your wardrobe? My favourite hat that I wear when walking our dog up and down the hills every day, it stays on (just!) in the wind.
 3. If you had to choose only 3 pieces of clothing to wear for the next month (underwear excluded) what pieces would you choose? My new stylish navy wind jacket, my capri pants and my Ecco walking shoes cos they are so worn in and comfy. Plus my camera - can you include accessories?
4. Which blog do you find consistently inspires you? My daughters, Milk and Honey (I know, I know), and - Oh how I aspire to her photography talent.
5. On a menu what can you never resist? Any sort of seafood or vegetarian dish
6. If you could choose 3 words to describe yourself what would they be? caring, creative and happy
7. What colour can you never go past? Coral or Red
8. City Apartment, Country Mansion, Beach House, Wild Wilderness - which would you choose for a holiday? Beach house, cos I love watching the sea and walking along a beach with my man and our dog
9. Best piece of advice you have ever been given. Live your life looking forward, not backwards
10. Collections - did you have one as a child? Do you have one now? Dolls clothes (passed onto my daughter) and Books - I just can't let my favourites leave me. My oldest one would be a Std 1 book prize for a poem I wrote.