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).

Kitchen cupboard baking in Paris

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Hello! Long time no see!

True, I have left harvest and yarn a bit abandoned recently (but not forgotten). I’ve been travelling in Europe for the past couple of months, and honestly, who wants to write about food when you could be out in the world eating it?

I did have some wonderful food experiences though, especially in Slovenia (of all places), which is hardly a vegetarian’s paradise as grilled meat is the order of the day. I made a point of trying dishes and baked goodies unique to the countries I visited, even if it meant being a bit flexible with my principles at times. Experiencing the local culture while travelling is very important to me, so if that means eating deep fried cheese in a Slovenian gostilna (pub), then so be it.

However that’s not really the purpose of this post. A few days into my travels, I met up with my family in Paris, where we stayed for nearly a week in a gorgeous little apartment in the Marais. Despite being in the home of patisserie, I had an itch to bake something, so seized my moment one morning while waiting for my family to get ready to go out. As we were only there for a short time, the cupboard and fridge were not very well stocked. A few previous renters had left some supplies, though not much more than a packet of salt and a bottle of Pastis. Determined not to be beaten, I went down the road and bought an apple. You can’t go wrong with apple.

I hurried back to the apartment and preheated the oven with a very vague idea. Here is what happened. I found the following items in the cupboard:
corn flakes
ryvitas
a lump of sugar
banana
and my apple
I then proceeded to crush some cornflakes and some ryvita in a bowl with the back of a spoon, in place of a mortar and pestle. Don’t try this. I made a huge mess.
I mixed in some mashed banana to make something resembling biscuit dough, then formed it into rounds and baked them until they were a bit crispy.
I thinly sliced the apple and cooked it with the lump of sugar and some water, then arranged the pieces on the banana-cornflake biscuits.

And there you have it! Sweet apple things!

I was rather pleased at the simple snacks I’d made from almost nothing, and that they were vegan and gluten free (if you leave out the ryvita, which was probably unnecessary anyway).

This was the only time I attempted baking while away, but I gathered so many ideas that I am waiting to test, so the blog will start partying again very soon.

Until then, adios!