Archive for the 'Cakes and Muffins' Category

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Spelt and Hazelnut Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour (or half white/half whole spelt)
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter (140g), room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • colourful sprinkles

Method

Sift together flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder and sea salt.

Using hand or standing mixer, whisk together butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Add egg, whisk for another minute, then add vanilla extract.

Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture until well incorporated. 

Turn dough onto cling wrap, flatten into a disk, cover with more cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or over night.

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Roll out dough between 2 large sheets of cling wrap until it is about 1/4″ (0.5 cm) thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out hearts in various sizes. Place cookies on parchment lined baking tray and brush lightly with milk. Top with sprinkles and refrigerate for 10 minutes. If dough gets too soft when cutting the shapes, wrap it up again and refrigerate some more. I always use only half of the dough while the other half rests in the fridge.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotating baking trays back to front and top to bottom half way through.

Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

Share with loved ones!

Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

We are going through gallons of ice cream and popsicles at the moment – that’s how hot it is. As a special treat on Sunday evening, I made ice cream sandwiches. Not a typical dessert in Germany, but one of the ingenious things I passionately adopted once I came across it in the States. Since oatmeal cookies are my absolute favorite, I also use them for ice cream sandwiches. Not the “Oh-So-Good Oatmeal Cookies” I wrote about in an earlier post, but the buttery kind that turn into a flat and snappy cookie when baked. The “Oh-So Good” ones are perfect to eat by themselves, but since they have a lot less butter in them, they don’t go flat when baked and hence aren’t ideal for this type of dessert.

Most recipes I scanned use 2 cups of sugar, usually a mixture of white and brown, white (all purpose) flour, 2 sticks (226g) of butter and varying amounts of dark chocolate, raisins or cranberries. I did see the need for the amount of butter, but used only 1 1/2 cups of sugar and whole spelt flour plus oatbran instead of white flour. I am sure whole wheat and oat-or wheat bran will work just as well. I chopped up one bar (3.5 oz or 100g) of 70% chocolate, but there is definitely room for more, if you like yours really chocolaty. As to the sweetness, we found ours sweet enough, but if you have a sweet tooth, just add another 1/2 cup of sugar. The cookies are quick and easy to make and if you don’t want a large batch of 30 cookies all at once, you can freeze some of the the dough and use is later. Just let it defrost until you can scoop it out and increase the baking time by a minute or two.

I used plain storebought vanilla ice cream for our sandwiches, but chocolate and other flavors will be delicious as well. Hopefully I get a chance to dig out my ice cream maker later this week and concoct some on my own.

Continue reading ‘Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich’

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This one is for all my friends in the Northern Hemisphere, who are currently inundated with zucchinis and need help finding new ways to reduce their supply. Zucchinis have long been a staple in baked goods such as delicious zucchini bread, but the combination with chocolate is fairly new – at least to me. I made them 6 months ago for the first time and no one in my family could tell they had zucchini in it, which is a good thing. They are much more open to bananas and cranberries. I have made them ever since and get a total kick out of the surprise on people’s faces when they find out that they are loaded with vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and agave syrup. I admit, the combination sounds a bit scary and way too healthy for a treat like a muffin. But that’s what I am here for, to find new ways to combine the tasty with the healthy and make it delicious. I used agave syrup as a sweetener, which has a neutral taste and won’t give you the sugar high you will get from regular sugar. I packed in 2 medium zucchinis, grating them extra fine in the food processor and squeezing out the liquid with my hands. The flour is once again spelt and buckwheat, but any other will do without the need for adjustment. I used extra virgin olive oil, which might come as a bit of a surprise to you, but it’s my favorite oil and I try and use it whenever I include vegetables in my baking. You won’t notice the taste difference, I promise! Right at the end, I couldn’t resist and added 3.5 oz. of 70% chocolate, chopped into small pieces. Heaven!

Makes 12

Ingredients

2 small to medium zucchinis, finely grated and some excess liquid squeezed out

1 bar (100g or 3.5 oz.) of good quality 70% chocolate, cut into small pieces or a generous 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole spelt flour
  • 1 cup white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

In large mixing bowl, mix together wet ingredients.

Add half of dry ingredients to wet mix and gently combine. Mix in grated zucchini and stir until incorporated. Add chocolate. Gently fold in remaining half of dry ingredients. Don’t overmix!

Divide batter into 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Spelt and Buckwheat Banana Muffins

I know what you’re going to think. “Who needs another banana muffin recipe?” There are “only” about 304,000 results when you do a search on google. And I have tried many of them on my decade long quest to come up with the most delicious, healthy, light on the inside, crisp on the outside, sweet but not too sweet, banana muffin. It has to be whole grain and believe me, I have tried many variations. Whole wheat, spelt, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, maple syrup, brown sugar, agave syrup, canola oil, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, apple sauce, eggs, no eggs, you name it. You see, my middle son, Frederick, loves banana muffins and has the sweetest smile on his face when he finds a batch in the kitchen. He would never eat a banana in any other state, after all the only fruit he likes is apple. But then again, he doesn’t appreciate those in muffins. He loves all of my experiments around the banana muffin, so when I found some sad looking bananas yesterday, I gave it another go. They turned out super delicious and therefore I wanted to share this recipe with you.  But be careful, after the great muffin onslaught in the afternoon, no one was hungry for dinner yesterday and for once we have lots of left-overs…

This recipe is equally suitable for banana bread. Just lightly grease a loaf pan, pour in all of the batter and bake at 180C (350 F) for 50 minutes to an hour or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Just a note, I usually use only maple syrup as a sweetener for my muffins and prefer organic, cold pressed canola oil to butter, but since I don’t have much of either at hand at the moment, I decided to use brown sugar and a mixture of butter and canola oil instead. If I would be in the States right now, I would use 1/2 cup of maple syrup instead of the sugar and 1/3 of a cup of canola oil plus 1/3 of a cup of apple sauce. Because of the extra liquid, I’d reduce the buttermilk to 1/4 of a cup. So depending on the inside of you cupboard, you can use whatever you prefer or have most of.

Makes 12 (+1)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 180 C (350F). Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners. I always have a bit too much batter and usually need a ramekin for an extra muffin.

Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, oil, eggs, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Add mashed banana.

Pour wet ingredients into flour bowl and stir in gently, careful not to overmix as that will make the muffins too dense. Fold in walnuts and divide batter into muffin cups.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from muffin tin and let cool on wire rack.

Berry and Almond Scrunch

I first ate this dessert in London’s “Food For Thought” restaurant 20 years ago and I liked it so much that I had to eat it whenever I was in London. About 10 years later, I discovered there was a “Food For Thought” cookbook. Luckily it contains the Scrunch recipe, which I have made ever since, especially during summer. My favorite fruit combination is strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, but if you only have strawberries, that’s also fine. Sometimes I combine the berries with chunks of ripe mango, mmmm. It is loved by all and makes for delicious breakfast if you should be so lucky to have some left over. I adapted the recipe slightly over the years and use drained whole or low-fat yogurt instead of the yogurt/whipped cream mixture the original recipe asks for. After draining the yogurt for at least 5 hours or over night (see pictures below), I add some freshly squeezed orange juice and maple syrup and stir it all together. It comes out very creamy and you would never miss the whipped cream. Enjoy!

Berry and Almond Scrunch

Serves 10

Base                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           300 g rolled oats
150 g whole wheat/spelt flour
100 g butter cut into pieces
100 g brown sugar

Melt butter and set aside to cool. Mix dry ingredients, pour in melted butter and combine well. Press evenly into baking tray or 2 cake pans and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

Bake for 15-20 min until light golden. Let cool and cut/break into 1 inch pieces.

Cover base with washed and halfed strawberries ( about 3 punnets) or other fruit or your choice.

Glaze                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mix juice of 1 orange and 3 tablespoons of strawberry or other jam in small pan and heat till jam is dissolved; let cool down and drizzle over berries

Yogurt Topping   

1 1/2 kg whole or low-fat milk yoghurtdrained over cheesecloth lined colander for several hours, or greek style yoghurt (which is thick already and doesn’t require draining)
Juice of 1 orange
Maple syrup or honey
to taste (about 4 tablespoons)
Mix until smooth and pour over fruit.
Top with 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until use.

Summery Red Currant Cake

We arrived yesterday, the hottest day in England so far this year. There I was, hoping to show off my new jacket and cool rain boots, and instead sat in the shade eating lots of ice cream. Wherever I go, it’s usually hot and as you might have guessed by now, heat and I don’t go together very well. But then again, I realize that most importantly all these poor white English people deserve a bit of sunshine and that my live will be much easier with my children happily playing crocket (English game – don’t ask) outside instead of being miserable and fighting inside.

One of the first things I did after we arrived, was checking out my father-in-laws beautiful vegetable garden and raiding it for lunch. Fresh beets, crisp lettuce and delectable broad beans and I quickly got over not going to be able to put on rain gear for at least another week according to the weather forecast. We ate our way through the remaining day to find some energie and keep ourselves from falling asleep too early. Well, I made it until 8.30 in the evening and slept like a baby until my daughter thought it was time for breakfast just before 5 am. We ate fresh strawberries and lots of red currants with cereal, when I got the sudden urge to bake something with all those lovely and abundant red currants. I miss fresh currants wherever we live. They were hardly ever available in Texas and even less affordable, existent only as decoration on beautiful buffet displays in fancy Thai restaurants and literally non-existant in Western Australia. That’s where I tried to grow them myself, unfortunately without success. Hence the immeasurable delight when I saw all the fruit laden bushes in the garden.

It wasn’t even 7 am when I started rummaging through my mother-in-laws cupboards looking for potential cake ingredients. I found whole wheat flour, brown sugar, almonds, vanilla extract, butter and eggs, exactly what I needed. I didn’t find the right size cake pan, and decided to bake two small cakes instead. In theory, one could always be frozen… The gas oven gave me a bit of a fright, what with gas marks instead of temperature scales. But eventually another grown-up got up and together we figured it out. The base of this cake is very simple and can easily be adapted, by, for example substituting apple sauce for some of the butter, using spelt four, instead of whole wheat, ground hazelnuts instead of the almonds, rice or almond milk for cows milk and maple syrup instead of the sugar. The topping can be any fruit in season, I particularly enjoy it with fresh peaches in summer or pears in fall, but even frozen berries work well. I did underestimate the acidity of the currants a bit and should have used a little more sugar in the topping. Instead, after the cakes cooled down, I dusted them with some icing sugar and now they are perfect. (I changed the amount of sugar in the recipe, so unless you like it really sweet, you won’t need to add any icing sugar.) I ate 2 pieces already, and seriously doubt that the second cake will ever see the inside of the freezer. Happy summer days!

Red Currant and Almond Cake 

serves 10

2-3 cups red currants, all green bits removed

2 cups whole wheat flour, self raising

1 cup almonds, lightly toasted and finely ground

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

125 g unsalted butter (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon), room temperature

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Topping:

3 tablespoons light brown or demerara sugar

1/3 cup almonds, coarsly ground

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to gas mark 5 (350 F, 180 C)
  • Toast almonds in oven until slightly fragrant, about 5 minutes
  • Grind almonds in food processor. Personally, I like them fairly coarse, to give the batter a bit of extra texture.
  • Sift flour and combine with almonds and salt.
  • Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating until incorportated.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mix,  followed by half the milk, another 1/3 of flour mix, the remaining milk and finally the last third of flour mix. Incorporate each ingredient gently, careful not to overmix the batter. It will be slightly moist and sticky.
  • Spread batter in one 9-inch springform pan or divide into two small baking pans.
  • Top with red currants and gently press down into batter.
  • Mix extra sugar and ground almonds and sprinkle over cake.
  • Bake large cake for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean. If you made 2 small cakes, bake for 40 minutes.
  • Sorry, I know this is supposed to be a healthy food blog, but here is comes… Serve with lightly sweetened, freshly whipped CREAM! 

Oh-So-Good Oatmeal Cookies

 

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar, maple or agave syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ, preferably toasted
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup seedless raisins, chocolate or carob chips
1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 375°F (190 C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter and oil until completely blended. Whisk in maple syrup, egg, vanilla and salt; set aside. In a second large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, flour and baking powder, then add to butter mixture and stir well to combine thoroughly. Fold in raisins and pecans.

Drop dough by the spoonful onto prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart, and bake until cooked through and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Carefully transfer to wire racks and set aside to let cool completely.

Glorious Morning Muffins

These yummy muffins are an adaptation from the ‘Morning Glory Muffins’ you can buy at Whole Foods. I used spelt instead of whole wheat flour, maple syrup for the sugar, less oil and added zucchini, dried apricots and apple sauce to the mix. I made them in my son’s school once and they were a huge success.

Makes 12-14

Ingredients

1 cup whole spelt flour

1 cup unbleached white spelt flour

1/4 cup oat bran or wheat germ

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup real maple syrup or 1/3 cup honey+1/3 cup agave syrup 

1/4 cups buttermilk or yogurt

1/3 cup apple sauce

 1 medium to large apple, cored and grated (peel on)

1/2 cup dried unsulfured apricots, chopped (or 1/2 cup of sultanas, chopped)

2 medium carrots, grated

1 small zucchini, grated

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

2 tablespoons dried flaked unsweetened coconut, optional          

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F (180 C). In a large bowl, mix together flours, bran, ground flax seed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; sift and brake up any clumps.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla, maple syrup, buttermilk and apple sauce. Mix in apples, raisins, carrots, walnuts and coconut. Add to flour mixture and gently stir just until combined.
Spoon batter into 12-14 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Here’s the recipe to my most asked for cookies of all times, the ‘Oh-so-good Oatmeal Cookies’. I found it years ago on the Whole Foods website and have made them on many occassions ever since.

Cranberry Apple Muffins

This is one of those recipes I have made for years now. They are my oldest son’s (Nicholas) favorite muffins. Morning Glory – look of disappointment, banana walnut – not already again, carrot ginger – please no veggies in my muffin, are the responses I get from him for any muffin other than these. It’s hard to make everyone happy!

I use frozen cranberries all year around, but fresh should work just fine. They contain A LOT of FRUIT, so if you want more muffin than fruit, use a little less.

This batter can also be used to make a delicious cake. Put 3/4 of batter without fruit into 8 or 9 inch (20 – 22.5 cm) round greased baking tin and top with fruit. Put remaining dough in small dollops on top of fruit and sprinkle almond-sugar mixture over it. Bake for 50-60 min. until wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup whole and 1 cup white spelt flour)
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup almond, olive or coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries

 Topping

  • 1 tablespoons ground or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

 

Method

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Place apples and cranberries in small pot. Cover and cook on low heat until apples have slightly softened and cranberries are defrosted, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from stove.

Sift together flours, almonds, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk (or yogurt), egg, apple sauce, oil, maple syrup (or sugar) and vanilla extract. Pour into dry ingredients and gently mix to combine. Do not over-mix, mixture can be a bit lumpy. Fold in apples and cranberries.

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups. Spoon batter into cups. The muffins will rise, but hold their shape pretty well, so spoon as much batter in each cup as it can hold.

Mix remaining almonds and sugar and sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake for 25 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Flourless Almond Poppyseed Cake

adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

This is a delicate light cake with a bit of crunch from the poppy seeds and a hint of citrus flavor. It’s delicious with yogurt on the side and it keeps well. It was part of my baking class test recipes and I’ll definitely include it in the gluten-free class later this year. I love the challenge of making something delicious “out of the box” and I can’t wait to find more of those recipes down the line.

For the cake:

1/4 cup (60 g) butter, softened

1/4 cup unsalted almond butter

1/2 cup cane sugar

1 tablespoon white caster sugar

zest of one organic orange and lemon, finely grated

4 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons, ground almonds or almond meal

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

For the lemon syrup (optional):

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180C) and grease a 8-inch springform cake pan.

Combine the butter, almond butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and the orange zest in a large bowl. Cream together with handheld electric mixer (or in a stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and mix until fluffy.

Combine the ground almonds and poppy seeds in a medium bowl.

In a clean, grease-free bowl, combine the egg whites with the salt and baking powder. Using an electric mixer, beat until the egg whites are fluffy. Add the 2 tablespoon of white sugar, and keep beating until the egg whites form a smooth and glossy mass.

Working with a light hand, add one third of the egg whites to the first mixture and stir with a spatula to lighten. Fold in half of the poppy seed mixture. Add another third of the egg whites, folding it in gently with a spatula. Fold in the remaining poppy seed mixture, and add the last of the egg whites, working very gently to keep as much air as possible in the egg whites, until the egg whites are completely incorporated. Don’t worry if the mixture is a little lumpy.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until puffy and lightly brown. Turn the oven off and leave the cake inside to set for another 10 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack, and drizzle with half the syrup. Let cool for 10 more minutes, before drizzling cake with remaining syrup. Run a knife around the cake to loosen, and then remove sides of pan.