Lavender and honey muffins.

Lavender and honey muffins

I promise this is the last muffin post for a while. It just can’t be helped. Being Christmas crazy time, it’s easy to get swept up baking elaborate fruit cakes and nifty edible gifts for others. I feel like it’s probably important to take a break now and then though, drink plenty of tea, and enjoy a muffin.

When I cook, I generally use what’s available, rather than making a special trip to the shops for ingredients. I enjoy the creativity that comes with this, but it’s also always nice to avoid unnecessary errand-running. This time, there was a shortage of sugar and apples in the cupboard, so I used honey and eggs. These muffins are therefore a bit of a deviation from my usual muffin formula, so although they’re not vegan, they could easily be made so with a couple of substitutions.

I’ve never actually used lavender before, but the bush in full flower outside the window was too lovely to ignore. When I was in Paris recently, I had a delightful lavender and apricot cupcake from a little place called Vegan Folie’s, so I knew it could be done. Here’s a little taste of how amazing vegan cupcakes can be: (The lavender one is at the front, and the one in the background is felafel and hummous flavoured… more on this another time.)

vegan folie's cupcakes

With a little help from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion, I figured out the right quantity of lavender so as not to overpower. Be careful though, some varieties are more suited to cooking than others. “Provence” and English Lavender seem to be a couple of the more preferred varieties.

Now, put the mince pies aside, hunt down a lavender bush and bake some muffins. Quite possibly the best antidote to Christmas mayhem.

Lavender and honey muffins 2

Lavender

Lavender and honey muffins 3

Lavender and honey muffins

Makes approximately 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers (strip flowers off the stem after drying, or dry roast fresh flowers in a pan on the stove to speed up the process)
1/4 cup raw sugar
*2 tablespoons honey
*1 egg
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence)

*Vegan alternative:
Replace honey with either agave or another 1/4 cup of raw sugar.
Replace egg with 1/2 cup applesauce.

Preheat oven to 180C, and grease muffin pans.

Combine flours, baking powder and soda and lavender in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, lightly beat egg, then mix in sugar, honey, milk, water and vanilla until well combined.

Add wet ingredients to the dry, then mix until combined. Divide mixture among muffin pans, filling each to roughly 3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until slightly golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Serve with cups of tea, warm or cold, alone or with a mildly-flavoured spread of your choosing (eg butter/coconut butter).

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Rose and almond muffins.

rose and almond muffins

I am a fan of muffins. It’s barely a secret. They are so easy to make, versatile, not terribly unhealthy, and a brilliant multipurpose food (breakfast/snack/dessert anyone?)

They’re also a fun medium for playing with flavour combinations, and although these ones aren’t terribly adventurous, I have been known to make banana and coriander seed muffins in the past. Whoa!

Though I don’t have any exciting stories to tell today, it’s probably afternoon tea time somewhere in the world, so why not bake some muffins?

These vegan lovelies are deliciously rose-flavoured with crunchy almond bits. Might I suggest enjoying with a cup of tea, probably from a teapot, because it’s always better that way.

rose and almond muffins 2

rose and almond muffins 3

rose and almond muffins 4

Rose and almond muffins

Makes 12 small-medium muffins

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup almonds
1 apple
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons rose water
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)

Preheat oven to 180C and grease or line your muffin pans.

Lightly toast almonds using your preferred method. I threw them in a bowl in the microwave for one minute. Once toasted, roughly chop.

Core and roughly chop the apple, then whizz it in a food processor (a small one if possible), with the water. This makes a kind of instant applesauce. If you have applesauce on hand, use about half a cup of that instead if you like.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the applesauce, sugar, rose water and milk. Use a whisk or a fork to mix it well.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and powder and chopped almonds, then add the wet ingredients, whisking to combine well.

Spoon the mixture into your pre-prepared muffin pans, until they’re about 3/4 full. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Adventures in catering – Tom’s 21st.

A couple of weeks ago, I ventured into unchartered territory. My cousin’s 21st promised to be quite a rad event. With the Facebook event stating “90 people are attending”, and an enticing description of the likely happenings (soup, fires, couches, bring your own musical instruments), I was very keen to put my hand up to create some things for people to munch.

Catering isn’t really something I see myself doing as a career, but I do love cooking, and what better way to practise some skills (namely preparing large quantities), than cooking for a big party?

I really enjoyed this. A lot. Coming up with food suitable to all tastes and dietary requirements, as well as planning what to prepare when, is a fun activity for a chronic list-maker. With supplementary soups and meat dishes by my aunty and mum, there was a serious spread on offer. It was lovely to see people enjoying things I’d made, and made the “oh my god I hope they don’t hate it” moments all okay.

Here are some brilliant photos by Kate Kneebone Video and Photography. Check out her work on Facebook too – seriously great things happening from this girl!

Cheers! And happy birthday Tom :)

Hummus trio. Classic, spicy pumpkin, beetroot and thyme. Success. 
100% rye flatbread. For my wheat-free friend.
Vegetarian ‘sausage’ rolls. Mega success, and so sneaky! Even the meatiest of meat eaters were impressed.
Puff pastry pizzas. Potato and rosemary, jerusalem artichoke and lemon thyme, tomato and red onion. Classic. And how good is puff pastry?! Vegan yums!
Assorted vegan muffins. Orange and wattleseed, apple and rhubarb, chocolate.
Gluten-free orange and choc-chip chickpea cakes.

Honey-glazed earl grey and persimmon muffins – Sweet Adventures Blog Hop

This is something new for me. The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop (this month hosted by 84th & 3rd), is a monthly dessert link-up, whereby you submit a post relating to the month’s theme, and then become linked up with everyone else who does so in a neat little list, so you can read everyone’s wonderful recipes.

The theme for May is ‘What’s your cup of tea?’ – and if you have a little click on some of those links above, you can see the list of delightful adventures going on around this theme.

I have to admit to getting a little bit experimental with my entry here. Firstly, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a persimmon, let alone cooked with one. It was just one of those times where there were a few pieces of fruit in a bowl in the kitchen, looking a little bit sad, so it made sense to put them out of their misery and turn them into something a bit more appealing.

I can’t say I’ve ever used honey instead of sugar before either. However, I met up with a lovely uni friend today, whose Dad is a newly registered apiarist, and is selling his honey from hives in their suburban Adelaide backyard. How could I resist the sweet calling from happy hives?

And lastly; tea. The magic ingredient that is rather integral to this whole undertaking. I probably need to refine my methods for extracting the tea flavour (because there was some crazy stuff happening in my kitchen this afternoon), but I’ve had a think, and refined it for ease of replication in the recipe below.

These muffins are not too sweet, and the flavours are pretty subtle; probably quite appropriate for breakfast, as they’re quite healthy too (low-fat and egg and dairy-free). You might like to ramp up the tea flavour a bit by making a strong brew, and be careful with the honey on top – if it runs down the edges of the muffins, it makes them hard to get out of the patty pans. This could be a good thing though, if you want an excuse to get every last bit of muffin from the paper… I’m sure some experimentation will work this one out – perhaps just a dollop of honey in the centre. For a first try at an invented recipe though, these muffins are not bad. I mean, I ate two of them when I was supposed to just be ‘tasting’ them, so…

Well here you go. Honey-glazed earl grey and persimmon muffins. My first attempt at entering the world of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop.

Honey-glazed persimmon muffins

Makes 10 muffins

1/2 cup persimmon flesh, mashed (the persimmon I used was so soft, mashing wasn’t necessary)
1 persimmon, diced
1 persimmon, sliced horizontally (to get the star pattern)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup boiling water (to make tea)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 earl grey teabags
extra honey to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Brew some strong earl grey using around 3 teabags, and 1/2 cup boiling water. Heat soy milk in a small saucepan with the hot tea-water and tea bags to extract some more flavour.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder to remove any lumps. In a small bowl, mix mashed persimmon, 1/2 cup honey, tea-infused soy milk and water, and vegetable oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Carefully fold in diced persimmon pieces, then distribute evenly among muffin pans.

Ensure tops are level, then place one persimmon slice on top of each muffin. Drizzle a small amount of honey on top, preferably in the centre so it doesn’t end up around the muffin instead of on it.

Bake for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop. Head over here and scroll down to see the list of other blogs taking part in the hop!