Monday, 25 January 2016

overnight date and bran muffins

Muffins are currently my go-to breakfast. Because time in the mornings is always short, I bake 1-2 batches of muffins, freeze them, then pop them in the microwave for a hot, yet quick, healthy and satisfying breakfast.

I try to keep them as healthy as possible by leaving out the refined sugar (sugar highs are unpleasant - especially 7am sugar highs) and refined flour. These muffins fit the bill perfectly. They can even be baked fresh on the day - simply prepare the batter the night before, let it sit in the fridge overnight, then bake the muffins when needed.

These muffins are sooo soft and just plain goood.

Overnight date and bran muffins
Makes 12 large muffins

1 1/4 cups plain flour (I used wholemeal)
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
1 3/4 cups unprocessed bran
125g dates, chopped
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg

Sift and mix dry ingredients. Add dates, then combine wet ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 180C and fill a cupcake tray 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes. May also be mixed and cooked same day.

Adapted from AWW.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

healthy banana oat muffins

For those of you who know me, you'll know I'm rather health conscious. As in, eat healthy, excercise often, go running when time allows and up on health and fitness. This means I’m always on the lookout for healthy recipes. Healthy recipes, as in recipes with no refined flour, sugar, butter and oil. Crazy, you tell me, all recipes need those ingredients. Well, I used to think so too. But not anymore! It is possible to make healthy, tasty recipes without all those ingredients.

And because I love muffins (they’ve become my favorite type of baked goods), this recipe is just perfect. Muffins are easy to make, relatively healthy and are very satisfying and filling. They freeze well too and taste just as good when they’re reheated in the microwave.

These muffins are moist and flavoursome. You’d never guess they’re sugar free or are made with oat flour. They’ll satisfy the fussiest of eaters, I’ll tell you that.

As with all muffin recipes, I like to slightly underbake mine so they don’t dry out. I find that the muffins continue to cook even once out of the oven, so you needn’t worry about raw egg or the like.

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 18 medium-sized muffins

2.5 cups oats
1 cup greek unsweetened yoghurt
2 eggs
½ cup honey
2tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananans

Preheat oven to 180C. Process oats in food processor until very fine. Add remaining ingredients and process until mixture is smooth. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until muffins are just beginning to brown on the top and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

traditional greek pita bread

Boy oh boy! Guys! Make sure you’re listening today! I have an ah-mazing bread recipe to share with y’all! I am so excited!

Uhh.. I don’t think I’ve ever used so many exclamation marks in any blog post before. So you see, judging from the number of exclamation points I just used, you must be certain that these Greek pitas are totally and utterly amazing and demand your attention in making them. Right now.

We loved these pitas so much, that five – yes, five – batches of this stuff was made in about 10 days. And every time, all the bread was completely finished and people would not stop going on and on about how goooood the pitas tasted.

These pita breads taste so amazing. Honestly. I really don’t know how else to describe them. The dough has olive oil in it, making the pitas extra flavorsome and very soft and pliable. They’re the perfect bread to use when making wraps, though they taste wonderful when smothered with butter, Nutella, or even peanut butter and sliced bananas . They’re just as good on their own, however, eaten hot and straight off the pan.

These pitas are super easy to make: I timed myself and it took me 10mins to have the dough ready to rise, and once risen, cooking them took me no longer than 30mins.

Also, once the dough has risen, you can leave it in the fridge overnight and cook the pitas the next day. I did this and it worked perfectly well. Just make sure you leave the dough sitting out on the counter for about 30 mins before rolling it out, otherwise it may be a little difficult to work with.

Traditional Greek Pita Bread.
Makes 8 very large pitas

1 cup hot water, but not boiling
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the water and yeast together in a large bowl and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil. Sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing.
Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and run it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it's coated with oil. Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it's doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
At this point, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.
Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk. Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a circle 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter inch thick. Lift and turn the dough frequently as you roll to make sure the dough isn't sticking to your counter. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. (Once you get the hang of it you can be cooking one pita while rolling the next one out.)
Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn't or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel. Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.
These are best eaten fresh, but will keep in a ziplock bag for a few days.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

red velvet crinkle cookies

It's nearly Chriiiiiistmas. Time to get into the kitchen to bake Christmas foods, y'all.

Crinkle cookies.
Snowball cookies.
Earthquake cookies.
Cracked chocolate cookies.

These cookies go by lots of names.

Regardless of what you want to call them (I myself can't make up my mind on what to call them; I usually go by snowballs or crinkle cookies), I think you'll all agree that they're downright pretty, yes?

The steps of making this recipe goes like this:
1) Make dough
2) Taste dough
3) Refrigerate
4) Taste dough again
5) Roll dough into balls
6) Lick the excess dough off your hands
7) Wash hands
8) Roll in icing sugar
9) Resist temptation to stuff your face with raw cookie balls
10) Bake
11) Eat

These cookies are delicately crispy on the outside and are chewy and moist on the inside. Plus, this batch makes lots of cookies so they're perfect for a crowd!

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Makes 60 cookies

3 cups flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
5 tsp red food coloring
1 cup icing sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in milk, vanilla, vinegar and food colouring, mixing well.
Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk all ingredients.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring just until combine. Mix in chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (or just chuck it into the freezer).
Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking trays with baking paper. Put the icing sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll dough into golf-sized balls. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies have cracked and edges are set. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to cooing racks.

Recipe adapted from

Saturday, 17 October 2015

cinnamon and sugar doughnuts

{warning: looking at the photos in this post may result in excessive drooling and/or craving of doughnuts on your part}

It’s no surprise that my baked cinnamon and sugar donuts are one of the blog’s most popular recipes. It was one of my first posts ever, but I still get a lot of feedback on people making them - and loving them. They’re a lot different to the usual homemade donut recipe as they’re not cake donuts. They’re the proper yeast donuts, but they’re baked and not fried. They’re soft, fluffy and taste just like the fried store-bought version so you’d never guess they were homemade.

The recipe is very popular at my house too. I’ve lost count of how many times the words “can you make those donuts again, Graaace?” has been voiced in my household. Not that I mind – these donuts are a little time consuming, but I enjoy making them. There’s nothing like fresh, hot donuts.

I mean, looook at how fluffy they are!

So I decided to repost the recipe and post new pictures. After making the recipe multiple times, I’ve ever so slightly updated the recipe to reflect what works best for me. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully to ensure you get the best possible results. Also, make sure you don’t coat them with too much cinnamon and sugar. Only a light sprinkling works best.

And, um, donut holes. They're soooo good. They're like a popcorn version of doughnuts: small and easy to eat an entire box of.

This donut recipe is my all-time favorite and I haven’t come across a similar recipe in all my recipe-searching travels. It’s truly one of a kind.

Cinnamon & Sugar Donuts
{makes 18}

Note: I don’t have a cookie cutter so I used a cup and an eggcup to make the donut shape instead. It worked a treat!

1 egg
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 cup milk, slightly warmed
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 cups all purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature

½ cup butter, melted
1 cup castor sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon (more or less, depending on your taste), mixed together

In a bowl, beat the egg and sugar on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Add the slightly warmed milk, yeast, salt and vanilla, and stir to blend. Let it sit for a minute for the yeast to become active. With the machine on low speed, add 2.5 cups of flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until the dough is thick and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook. With the machine on medium speed, add the butter one piece at a time, and beat until no large chunks of butter are left in the bottom of the bowl, 3-5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the additional flour until the dough gathers around the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. It will be soft and moist, but not overly sticky (Note that you may not need to add all the flour).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and roll out to 1/2 inch thick. With a doughnut or a cookie cutter, cut out 3-inch diameter rounds with 1 inch diameter holes. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the doughnuts at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Bake until the doughnuts are light golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes, being very careful not to overbake them. Immediately after they come out of the oven, dip into butter, then directly into cinnamon sugar mixture.

Note #2: Don’t be like me and try to get as much cinnamon and sugar mixture as possible on the donut. Give the donut a really good shake after you’ve coated it with the mixture because you really can have too much sugar on these.

These are best eaten immediately after they're made.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

chewy m&m cookies

There's a secret as to why these M&M cookies, thick, chewy and loaded with chocolate, always turn out perfect.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that these NY Times’ choc chip cookies are my favorite cookie recipe ever. I've made them multiple times and yet never tire of them. Their chocolatey goodness is downright irresistible. The cookies are chewy, thick and moist and their texture is honestly like no other cookie I’ve tried. The secret as to why those cookies are so amazing is the secret as to why these cookies are just as amazing too. Except these have pretty pastel-coloured M&Ms in them so technically these cookies are cooler.

To achieve the ultimate cookie perfection, you’ll need to chill the raw cookie balls overnight. That way, you’ll give them a whole 12+ hours to let the flavours properly absorb into the mixture, thus giving you a perfectly chewy and moist cookie. Plus, they won’t spread as much when the dough has been chilled through – and that’ll give you a thicker, chewier cookie. Yes. I realize making cookies is rather scientific.

Chilling the dough overnight also makes baking these cookies easy.
Day 1: make cookie dough and roll into balls.
Day 2: remove from fridge, bake and eat.
How easy is that?

Soft and Chewy M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approx. 24

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate M&M's

In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, cornstarch and baking soda beat on low speed until just combined.
Add chocolate and beat on low speed until just combined. Roll dough into balls, flatten slightly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I refrigerated mine overnight and HIGHLY recommend you do so too. The longer they are refrigerated for, the less they will spread when baking and more chewy they'll turn out.)
Preheat oven to 180C and place cookie balls on a tray lined with baking paper. Make sure to leave room between them as they will spread slightly.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they look slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the centre. The cookies will firm up as they cool. Rest the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

raspberry crumb coffee cake

Say hellooo to the best-tasting coffee cake I’ve ever tried: raspberry crumb coffee cake.

Doesn’t it look so appetising and photogenic?

And that crispy, crumbly topping.

And it’s rustic beauty.

And those juicy berries.

Ahem. Let’s move on, shall we? (Food is my passion obsession, in case that wasn’t already quite the obvious).

This coffee cake has 3 separate, distinct layers but it’s not time-consuming to make. It also doesn’t dirty too many dishes. Win-win, right? The bottom layer is the same as the batter that’s dotted over the top, and you’ll need a saucepan to make the raspberry filling and a small bowl to combine the crumb topping. Easy, right?

The cake bit is dense and moist, the raspberry filling is sweet and tart and the topping is crunchy. Perfect combination, right? Right.

Fresh Raspberry Coffee Cake

For the filing:
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9x9 baking dish by buttering or spraying with cooking spray. To make the filling, whisk together the water, sugar, and corn starch in a medium saucepan. Mix in the raspberries and heat over medium heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Let simmer 4-6 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Spread about half of the mixture in the prepared pan. Pour the raspberry filling over the batter, then drop remaining batter by spoonfuls over the raspberry filling.

To make the crumb topping, mix together the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Bake 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown and cooked through.

Recipe from the baker upstairs.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

banana caramel muffins

Overly moist and fluffy banana muffins with a crunchy caramel topping. There’s no better combination!

If you’ve never heard of the Australian Women’s Weekly, then I’d suggest you either purchase one of their cookbooks, or take a look around their website. Like, now. Each and every single one of their recipes is triple tested, meaning you’re almost guaranteed a successful recipe every time.

I honestly can’t remember a time when an AWW recipe has let me down. Their recipes have always turned out excellently and they use simple ingredients, meaning you don’t have to go out and purchase special items for a recipe.

I have love/hate relationships with other cookbooks or series of cookbooks. Like Margaret Fulton and her baking cookbooks. One recipe may turn out well when followed exactly, yet with other recipes I need to more than triple the amount of butter or water to get the right consistency. It’s rather a hit and miss with her.

However, every single cookbook I've laid eyes on and every single recipe I've made from the AWW has exceeded my expectations. And these banana caramel muffins are no exception.

The muffin is moist and very, very light and fluffy. The caramel topping is crunchy and the coconut flavor complements the banana quite well. These are perfect for breakfast or as an in-between-meals snack. Best eaten on the day they’re made; however, if stored in an airtight container, they’ll last for a few days (though the topping may not retain its crunchiness).

Banana Caramel Muffins
Makes 12 (adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly)

2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup plain flour
½ tsp bicarb soda
½ dark brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
2/3 cup mashed banana (about 2 small overripe bananas)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Coconut topping
15g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
2/3 cup desiccated coconut (flaked or shredded also work)

Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 12-hole muffin pan.
Make coconut topping by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add golden syrup and coconut and stir constantly until coconut is browned lightly. Set aside.
Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in the golden syrup and banana, then egg, buttermilk and oil.
Divide mixture among holes of prepared pan; sprinkle with coconut topping. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Watch closely and do not overbake.

Note: I wasn’t paid or reimbursed in any way to say this. AWW simply are the best!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

caramel apple tart

This sweet, tart and sticky caramel apple tart takes less than 30 mins to prepare and is perfect as a quick dessert, or for when you need to satisfy that sugar craving.

Puff pastry has got to be one of the most useful foods used in baking, ever. In all but a few minutes, you can have that crisp, buttery, flaky and golden goodness ready to devour. Puff pastry requires no kneading, spreading or rolling out, making it perfect for quick and easy on-the-go desserts or meals. Simply remove a sheet of puff pastry from the freezer, allow 10mins for it to thaw, and there you have it - pastry ready to use.

This tart came together very quickly: it's only got 4 ingredients and took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. You can eat this warm served with custard as a dessert, or you can eat it cold as a mid-afternoon snack.

Just make sure you use tart, crisp apples (like Granny Smith) and slice them thinly, about 1/4cm thick to ensure you have a crisp, but not too crisp apple once baked.

Caramel Apple Tart
makes 2 tarts

1 very large apple, sliced thinly
2 tbsp sugar (for a stronger caramel flavour, used brown or packed sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper. Core and slice the apples into thin pieces, about 1/4cm thick. Leaving about 4cm of crust, arrange the apples on the puff pastry sheets, overlapping slightly. Fold up the edges of the puff pastry to form a crust. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the apples. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with custard or icecream, or cold.