Quick banana and date muffins

These muffins are quick and easy to make. A great way to use up over-ripe bananas.

Delicious and very moist!

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Ingredients: (makes 12 muffins)

1.5 cups selfraising flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinammon

3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

2-3 large ripe banana (the really black mushy ones no one wants to eat) – mashed

3/4 to 1 cup chopped pitted dates

1/2 cup sunflower or any other light tasting oil

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar or your choice of vanilla flavouring.

 

To make:

Preheat your oven to 150 deg C. Line a 12 – hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, including the dates

Mix all wet ingredients, including the banana, in another bowl or jug.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and fold in the wet ingredients until JUST COMBINED. This means the mixture will be a bit lumpy. That’s ok. This will make your muffins soft and moist.

Place the batter into the paper cases.Bake for approx 20 mins or until tops are golden and no longer soft. You can test either by inserting a skewer and removing it. If a few crumbs or non at all come on the skewer, then it is done. Take them out! If still moist and sticky, bake for a bit longer.

 

Tips:

  • Remember not to over-mix your batter. You really need a light touch when making muffins.
  • Mix the batter by folding/scraping the batter from the  bottom of the bowl upwards. That way you ensure even mixing without over-mixing the batter.
  • If you find some flour in the batter when scooping into the paper cases , do not panic.  if in the centre or at the bottom, It will mix when baking. If the flour is at the top of the batter in the paper cases, gently smooth out with your finger or add a bit of the moist batter ontop to cover it.
  • Keep bananas in the fridge as soon as they become over-ripe. They will be handy for when you want to make these yummy treats!

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Apple streusel wholemeal muffins

A few months back my husband rang me to ask a really important question; ‘ what’s the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?”

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Simply put: a cupcake is a mini fluffy cake while a muffin is a mini hybrid of a cake and a bread. It is more rustic, less sweet and lower in fat. Something you can enjoy with your morning tea or coffee, and smear with some butter and jam if you so wish. Some muffin recipes are more cake-like while others more bread-like

This recipe is closer to the bread-like variety and would be perfect as a loaf, sliced up for a special breakfast.

Before moving on to the recipe, I just want to share a funny apple discovery I made. The apples I used  today were purchased about 3 months ago and have been living in my fridge ever since. Apart from the skin shrivelling a bit, they were perfect. So if you have old apples, keep them in the fridge and use them when you want to bake.

This recipe is adapted from: http://www.folklifestyle.com/2011/09/whole-wheat-apple-muffins-with-walnut.html

The Recipe:

Makes 12

Prep Time:  10 mins

Bake time: 20-25 mins

Ingredients:

For the muffin mix:

• 1 1/2 cups plain flour

• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp mixed spice (optional)
• 3 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 cup milk
• 1/2 cup caster sugar
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/3 cup full fat plain yogurt
• 1/4 cup sunflower oil
• 2 large eggs
•  1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
• 2  large apples, peeled and finely chopped.
For the streusel topping:
• 4 tablespoons plain flour
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 50gm unsalted or lightly salted butter

• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds etc

To make:

Preheat your oven to 200 deg C.
Line a 12 hole muffin tin.

In a small bowl rub struesel mixture together to for a fine crumby mixture. Dont worry if a bit lumpy.

Mix dry sifted ingredients (except sugar) in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients and sugar in another bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the large bowl, add the wet ingredients and the apples. Mix gently until just combined. This means the mixture will still be  a bit lumpy, That is perfectly fine.

You dont want to over-mix. I repeat: you dont want to over-mix.

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Place mixture into baking tray, and top with some of thee struesel mix.

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Bake for 5 mins, then reduce oven temp to 180 deg C and bake for another 15-20 mins.

Dont over bake.

Once done, remove from baking pan and allow to cool before eating.

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Enjoy!

Rich Chocolate Cake with Dark Choc Ganache and Mocha Buttercream Filling

This cake is always a massive hit.  Whenever I make it people think it is store bought, but the flavour is oh so much richer than many commercial cakes.

I first tasted this (without the buttercream) a few years back when it was made for me by someone I knew. I later reaslised it was a recipe from the women’s weekly. I decided to try it and have been making this whenever I want to impress with minimal effort.

I have tweaked the recipe to suit me over time, and have found it is even better the next day, so perfect for preparing in advance.

Some of the charm of a chocolate cake is in its rustic appeal, so it is ideally suited to those (like me) who arent that great with cake decorating (yet).

So if you want a cake to impress, put aside that box of Betty Crocker, and try one from scractch.. you will be glad you did.

For the cake:

1.5 cups water

2 cups caster sugar

1 tablespoons vanilla sugar

1 tablespoons insant coffee

1 cup dark chocolate buttons

1 cup plain flour

1.5 cups selfraising flour

1/4 cup coco powder

1 cup oil or 250 gms unsalted butter

2 large eggs

For the buttercream filling: 

1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk

125 gms unsalted butter

125 gms coffa (vegetable shortening)

2 cups icing sugar

For the ganache:

1 cup thickened cream

1 cup dark chocolate buttons

To make:

In a saucepan, melt chocolate, water and sugar. Stir until dissolved. If using butter, add as well.

Allow to cool FULLY before proceeding to the next step or else you will end up with scrambled eggs.

Sift the coco powder, flours and vanilla sugar and mix well. This will ensure an even colouring.

Add lightly beaten eggs and cooled water/choc/sugar/butter liquid.

Mix well with a spatula, but do not over mix as this will make your cake tough.

Grease and line a deep round or square cake tin. I found my 7 cm high, 20 cm diam tin too small for this, so use the size up.

Bake in a medium heat (I had to lower my oven to 120 because the cake was rising too quickly). Start off at 150 and alter the temp to suit.

This cake takes about 1 hour 30- 50 mins to cook. It is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. check around the 1 hr ten minutes mark, if it is still wobbly and wet looking dont even bother with the skewer, wait and check later.

Do not over bake as this will result in a dry cake.

I bake my cake at night and make my fillings and ganache the next day. The cake must be cooled entirely before decorating.

…..Now for the filling!

Beat the butter, copha until well combined. Add sugar and and beat again until fluffy. Add milk/coffee mix until fluffy again. Set aside at room temp.

……..and the ganache

On medium heat, allow cream and milk to melt together. Mix well and remove from the heat. Allow to cool.

To fill the cake. Slice the cake into two or three equak portions. Slice off the top iff the cake is uneven. I use a long bread or any long flat knife with a jaggered edge.

Dont cut in one directional motion, rather go around while turning the cake and go deeper with each rotation. I will post a link to this.

Fill with as much butter cream as you want. You can retain some for decorating.

You have 2 choices with the ganache, either pour over when cool but still runny, which gives a glossy finish, but is more difficult to deal with, or allow to cool further and spread over which gives a more matted look.

Experiment with both techniques as they both look good, and ultimately both taste great!

Note: If you wondering what the golden dust is on the cake, that was some salted butterscotch crumble I made, but that is really not necessary.

Umm Ali (ام علي) – Arab Pudding

I dont like food staying in my fridge for too long, and I  noticed that we had a pack of  mini croisonts that have become a bit dry, so I decided to make this Egyptian dessert.

Interestingly while making it, I realised that this traditional arab dessert is the East’s version of bread and butter pudding!

It is traditonally made with riceh layred puff pastry, but works well with croisonts as well.

For 2 servings you will need:

2 mini croissonts – chopped or torn into 1-2 cm pieces

1 cup of milk + 1.5 tablespoons sugar mixed well (sugarto taste)

1 tablespoon each dried fruit and toasted nuts

3 tablespoons thickened cream

you can add any flavour you like: vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon etc (optional)

To make:

Place chopped pastry in individual ramekins, mix in fruit and nuts.

Pour milk and sugar mixture ontop , adding more milk if necessary. You just need the pastry to be soaked. Push down any nuts or fruit that comes to the surface so it doesnt burn.

Add 1.5 tablespoons of cream ontop of each ramekin.

Bake for 10-15 mins until it firms up and surface is golden brown (you can place under the grill)


Garnish with chopped nuts and serve warm or cold.

Mahalabiya (مهلبية)- Egyptian Milk Custard

This is a traditional Egyptian dessert that can be made in minutes.

For two servings you will need:

2 cups full cream milk

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

3 tablespoons rosewater (to taste) or vanilla flavouring, mastic etc

To make:

Bring milk to the boil with sugar and rose water in a saucepan, reduce heat to ensure that milk doesnt overflow.

Dissolve the cornstarch in seperate bowl with a few tablwspoons of hot milk until smooth.

Add to saucepan and whisk well. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until thickened. Remember it will thicken once it cools, so once it ooks like a thin custard it should be ready. Adjust sugar to taste during cooking time.

Garnish with crushed nuts of your choice. Enjoy warm or chilled!

Basboosa – Egyptian Semolina Slice

Basboosa is a rich traditional egyptian dessert. Today we were invited to a lunch in the park, so decided to make some traditional arab dessert. This was a definite crowd pleaser!

You will need:


3 cups semolina (i used coarse semolina, but you should  use fine)

1 cup plain full fat yogurt

1/2 cup full fat milk

2 cups thickened cream

1.5 cup sugar

1.5 cups dessicated coconut

150 gms melted unsalted butter

vanilla flavouring

raw almonds for garnish or crushed pistashios

For sugar syrup:

3 cups water, 3 cups sugar, rose water and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

To make:

Mix semolina, sugar and coconut well together to coat them in the melted butter. Add vanilla flavouring (optional). Add cream/milk/yogurt and mix well for about a minute so it all comes together.

Spread in a greased tray (i used a 30 X 20 cm) and smooth out the surface with wet hands. Allow to reast for about half an hour. You can garnish with raw almonds by pressing them in gently to the dough.

Bake in a preheated oven (180 deg) for about 30 mins on middle shelf until deep golden brown. If cooked but the top hasnt picked up colour, placed under grill for a short period but watch carefully as it will cook rapidly.

While baking prepare the sugar syrup by bringing 3 cups each water and castor sugar to the boil. Add some rose water or any other flavouring as per tast. (I use about 3 tablespoons). once up to a boil, lower heat and allow to simmer on a medium heat. Add about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice so that it does not crystalise.

The syrup is ready when you dip the spoon and it coats the spoon and is sticky once cooled to touch. It is usually ready by the time the basboosa is done.

Pour the syrup whilst hot (do not allow to cool) onto the basboosa after it has come out of the oven and you have cut into desired shapes.

Allow to cool fully before taking out of tray or else pieces may fall apart.

You can arrange in a tray and wrap for a lovely home-made gift!

This is best enjoyed with a nice cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!

Eid Sweet Recipe 1- Egyptian Kahk (maa’mool) filled with turkish delight

This is one of my all time favourite eid sweets. The dough is not very sweet, but with a delicious vanilla or lemon turkish delight filling, and a generous layer of icing sugar on top.. they make the perfect treat after a month of fasting!

The dough recipe below can be also used for egyptian date filled kahk: (makes lots)

1kg plain flour

vanilla  or lemon flavoured turkish delight- I bought Sultan Brand which comes in a 1kg box.
roasted hazelnuts- peeled

1 sachet instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
2 cups melted clarified butter at room temp (you can add more butter for a richer cookie, but I don’t)

Method:

Mix yeast and about 1 cup of water + sugar. Add flour and butter. Mix well (should look a bit crummy)

Add as much as is needed of the remaining water and mix the SURFACE in a circular motion until the dough just comes together. (so lay your hand flat on the surface and mix as if you were wiping a surface).

DONT KNEAD! If you knead, the Kahk will become dry.

Cover well and allow to rise in a warm place. Allow to double in size (should take 1-1.5 hrs depending on how warm the environment is)

You can use sepecial Kahk or maamool making moulds readily available at arab grocery stores to form uniform cookies, or you can do it freestyle.

This is what they look like (or you can buy wooden ones):

Depending on the size of your mold.. take approx 1.5 tablespoons worth  of dough.. make a round/smooth ball and flaten slightly.

Take some turkish delight (approx 1/4-1/3 of the cubes shown below), dust off excess sugar and fill with about 1/3-1/2 a roasted/peeled hazlenut. Smooth the turkish delight into a ball.

Fill inside the dough . Fold the dough and seal well by pinching the ends. Make into a round ball again and place in the mold.


Place in baking tray and allow to rise again.

Then bake until lightly golden (dont bake too long as you dont wnt it to go crunchy)

Once cooled, generously press the top of Kahk in icing sugar and press firmly to stick to the cookie.

Enjoy!

Apple and Almond Cake

Yes, another apple cake recipe.. I love this one more than my previous one 🙂

This recipe is my mum’s favourite. Before I married, I used to make this frequently at home. It only came second to a moist carrot cake : )

This cake is full of hidden goodies; yogurt, nuts and apples. It is also made without butter which makes it great for those looking for a healthier option. I actually prefer the taste of oil in cakes over butter.

You will need:

1 cup castor sugar

3/4 cup oil

2 eggs

1 cup almond meal

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Sprinkle of ground all spice (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Vanilla flavouring (approx 2 tablesoons vanilla sugar)

1 large granny smith apple- peeled, cored and chopped into approx 1.5-2 cm pieces

Sliced almonds for garnish (about a handful)

To make:

Whisk all wet ingredients with the sugar until creamy. Add flour and spices/flavouring. Fold in well with a spatula. Add the apples and mix in well.

Place in a lined and greased cake tin, sprinkle with almonds and bake for about 50-60 mins in a preheated 180 deg oven on the middle shelf, or until cooked through.

Apple Crumble Cake

Granny Smith apples are everywhere, and very cheap these days.

One thing I love to make with these apples are cakes and pies.

This cake is deliciously moist, with two surprises..

A soft delicious layer of almost stewed-like apples at the bottom.. and a crumble layer up the top.

Easy, peasy to make..

For the cake batter:

1.5 cups self raising flour

2 eggs

3/4 cup oil

1 cup brown sugar

1.5-2 tsp cinnamon powder

vanilla flavouring (about 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar)

1/2 cup plain yogyurt

  • We all know how to make cake batter 🙂 so wont explain here.

For the apple layer:

1.5 large granny smith apples (more or less depending on the size of your tin)

2 Tablespoons of sugar

Dusting of cinnamon

Some  butter for greasing the tin.

  • Slice the apples into 0.5 cm slices and toss in sugar and cinnamon.
  • Grease your tray well with butter after lining with baking paper.
  • Arrange your apple slices at the bottom and sides (optional) of the tin.
  • Pour the cake batter on top.

For the crumble layer:

3 tablespoons plain flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp)

Sprinkling of cinnamon

  • Mix everything together, rubbing together with your fingertips to create crumbs.
  • Sprinkle evenly ontop of cake batter.
  • Bake in a preheated 180 deg oven until cooked through and crumles is nice and golden

Ruz Bilaban- Rice Pudding

If you have only ever tasted rice pudding from your supermarket fridge, it is time to try it homemade. The difference is amazing!

This is one of those desserts that you need during winter.. keeps you warm.. and is really easy to make.

For about 4 servings you will need:

1 litre of milk (use 750 mls first)

One cup of white rice

1/2 cup of white sugar (more or less to taste)

Vanilla flavouring (I used about 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar)

To make:

Bring milk (750 mls) to the boil and add the rice. Stir in well.

Lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 10-15 mins, stirring constantly so it doesnt stick, burn or overflow.

If you find you need more milk add the remaining amount. Lower the heat. Keep stirring and cooking until the rice is well cooked and the consitency of the pudding is like thick cream.

Add sugar and vanilla at the end, stirring well to ensure it is well dissolved.

Divide into serving bowls or ramekins while still hot and allow to set at room temperature or in the fridge.

You can garnish with dissicated coconut, chopped nuts or sultanas.

Tips:

Do not wash you rice before using, as you need the starch to thicken the pudding.

You may need  more than 1 L of milk depending on the kind of rice you are using. Just add 1/3 cup at a time if you feel it needs more until it is fully cooked.