Spiced Vanilla Mug Cake

Living on my own has given me a bit of a single-portion obsession. It’s a self-preservation thing. You see, wanting to ‘have my cake and eat it too’ has never been something I’ve suffered from. I am very happy to gazzouffel* the whole darned thing. (Sentimentality is for memories and movies, not things that belong in my belly.) So the only way to save my waistline and my soul — you know, veggies for the body, cake for the soul — was to develop a love of tiny desserts. Ones that I can finish without inducing a sugar coma.

Enter the fabled Mug Cake.

I’ve played around with different mug cake recipes but, I’ll admit, they would only be considered a single portion to someone going through a break-up or over 6 ft tall. They were delicious, but just too big, so I started tinkering. And here is the result: a dainty, light, perfectly-portioned delight in a mug. The Spiced Vanilla Mug Cake.

*It is only in writing this post that I realise gazzouffel may not be a real word. All my life I have thought it was… but no matter how I spelt it, I couldn’t find it on google. If someone can help me out with this, I’d be eternally grateful. Or at least grateful until I forget…

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Ingredients:
2 tsp melted butter
4 tsp brown sugar
a touch of cinnamon
a touch of nutmeg
a touch of allspice
pinch salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp self-raising flour
2 tbsp milk

Before we get started, let’s talk about what I mean by a ‘a touch of’ as regards the spices. The picture below shows the amount of Allspice I used. It is a seriously small amount. The measuring spoon pictured is only 1/8 tsp… so I put in like… less than 1/32 tsp. I used the same amount of nutmeg and about twice as much cinnamon, since it isn’t as overpowering a spice.

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Now for the baking!

Melt the butter (2 tsp or a tad more) in a microwaveable cup or bowl. Add the brown sugar (4 tsp), spices, salt, and vanilla (1/4 tsp). Stir in the self-raising flour (2 tbsp). Add the milk (2 tbsp) and combine.

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Pour the batter into a mug.

DSCN6478And microwave for 1-2 minutes. Mine took 1min 20sec.

Add a dollop of ice-cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

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Banana Bread (of the Marvellously Moist Variety)

Back in the summer I temporarily relocated to London: the city that has everything. Authentic baklava? Done. Vietnamese so delicious you’re mentally transported to the Mekong? Easy. Cuban food that practically plays conga rhythms on your taste buds? No problem. But what if you want something relatively quickly? What if you don’t want to go on a 30 minute trek just to find a large supermarket? What if ALL YOU WANT TO DO is go to your neighbourhood Tesco or Sainsbos for a few key ingredients? Well, if that is the case, allow me to let you in on a tiny list on things you CANNOT find:

apple sauce
chocolate chips
brown sugar

IN LONDON! How is it possible that I can get a million and one pre-made meals for my leisure, pleasure, and convenience, but I CAN’T get apple sauce!?!?!? I feel like a pioneer woman, because YES, I am going to make my own godsbedarnedalltheflippingwaytoheck apple sauce. (A rare and exotic variety.) I’m also going to cut my own chocolate “chips” out of a bar of chocolate. Am I being a tad melodramatic? Perhaps I am. But really. All of this boils down to one. Simple. Question.

Why is godlike domesticity so difficult to achieve in a city with everything?

Warning: these photos are pretty awful. They were taken on my phone. But when it comes down to it: this banana bread is TOO good not to share with the world, regardless of shabby photo quality. It’s one of those friend-of-the-family recipes that I altered a tad.

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Pre-heat the oven to 155 C fan (175 C non-fan)

Ingredients:
156 g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
200 g brown sugar*

3 bananas
60 ml oil
60 ml apple sauce
2 eggs
45 g chocolate chips (optional)

*optional substitute: 250 g raw sugar

Sift plain flour (156 g) and baking soda (1 tsp) together in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas (3), then add the oil (60 ml), apple sauce (60 ml), and eggs (2). Mix the wet ingredients all together then add the dry mixture.

Banana Bread MixtureStir together and, just before it’s completely combined, add in the chocolate chips. Finish stirring until just mixed. Don’t over stir!

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Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. I often use parchment paper (along the bottom and the two long sides) to prevent sticking, although I didn’t have any this time.

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Bake 60 minutes – a knife or toothpick should come out clean. Oh ya, and ENJOY!

You can double or quadruple this recipe if you want to make 2 or 4 loaves. I’ve put the recipes below both in UK grams and Celcius, as well as good ol’ Canadian cups and Fahrenheit.

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Almond Madeleines Dipped in Chocolate

As it turns out, my interest in this whole ‘blogification of baking‘ thing is pretty dependant on having nice photos. Thus, summer came and went bloglessly. I baked many things — even took some photos with blogging intent – but the Culinary Klepto spark had gone the moment I moved away from my (ex)flatmate’s fancy camera. And tripod. Ye gads, I loved that tripod.

But now it would seem I’m back. I’ve got access to another lovely camera (albeit, not >as< lovely) and am ready to get blogging again! To celebrate, I’m posting one of my summer bakes: almond madeleines dipped in chocolate. These tiny French delights were worth every bit of effort it took to make them.

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Ingredients:
4 eggs
180 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
130 g flour
50 g almonds, ground
112.5 g butter, melted and cooled (approximately, har har)

Extra butter, soft and nearly melted, to grease the pan.

Use a pastry brush to coat your madeleine pan with butter, then dust it with flour (over a sink). Shake and tap it to spread the flour evenly, then invert and tap to get rid of any extra.

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Sift your flour (130 g) into a bowl and stir in your ground almonds. Set aside. (left photo below)

In a large bowl, mix together your eggs (4), sugar (180 g), and salt (1/2 tsp) on a medium speed until light and thick, somewhat like mousse, approximately 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract (1 tsp).

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Gradually sprinkle the flour/ground almonds on top of the wet mixture and stir. (photos below) You don’t want to just dump it on or it sinks to the bottom and clumps. Think snowshoes rather than stilettos. *hahaha…Canadian humour…*

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Gently fold in the melted butter (112.5 g) then chill for one hour.

Heat the oven to 170 C fan (190 non fan)

Put a tablespoon of batter in each mould (see below) and bake for 8-9 minutes. Makes 24 madeleines.

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Make sure to completely cool and grease your pan before cooking the second batch. I just turned my pan upside down, ran cold water over it, then wiped out the moulds with paper towel before re-greasing/flouring.

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Once all your madeleines are cooked, melt some chocolate, dip them in, then lay them to cool on a sheet of parchment paper. I made a double batch and did half of mine in dark chocolate and half in milk chocolate.

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Madeleines are best enjoyed within a day or two, so it’s your duty to eat them up quickly!

Better late than never!
TCK

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Oatmeal Muffins with Raspberry and White Chocolate

I found this recipe for fabulously fluffy oatmeal muffins about a year ago while perusing the internet. I’m a sucker for nostalgia so I instantly fell for the ‘from a 1940s home economics class in Louisiana’ description. And I am SO GLAD I DID. If you want a muffin that makes you feel like grandma’s baking, cosy pjs, and a nice wood fire, all at once, THIS is it. Basically, to me this muffin is like …. a symbol of the quintessential country-style home-cooked life.

Then I added raspberries and white chocolate, cuz sometimes life needs a little funk.

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Ingredients:
100 g oats
240 ml buttermilk
1 egg, beaten lightly
120 g brown sugar
114 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled down
125 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Raspberries
White chocolate

In a large bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk, then let them sit for 1 hour. This will make the oats nice and soft.

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Pre-heat your oven to 180 C fan (200 C non-fan).

Add the egg, brown sugar (120 g), and cooled, melted butter (114 g) to the, now soaked, oat and buttermilk combo. Stir until just combined.

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In another bowl, sift together the flour (125 g), salt (1/2 tsp), baking powder (1 tsp), and baking soda (1/2 tsp). Mix it together then add it to your oat mixture and stir until just combined.

It is really important not to over stir muffins as they get tougher the more they are mixed.

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Now for the raspberries and white chocolate photo because I think it is pretty :P

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I used about 90 g of white chocolate, which I think would have been fine for dark chocolate… but white chocolate has a high cocoa butter content (making it more oily) so in the future I wouldn’t put in quite as much. (Or I might experiment by cutting down the butter to offset the white chocolate). I used about 150 g of raspberries and I cut them in half because they were huge.

Fold in your chocolate and raspberries gently, until just mixed.

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Grease a muffin tin (or line it with paper cups) and fill the cups to around 3/4 full –they don’t rise terribly high — then cook for 20 minutes.

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Garnish with some extra raspberries if you’re feeling fancy :D

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They also make tasty mini muffins :)

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie is one of those gorgeous looking desserts that Mum miraculously turned out perfectly, time and time again. So the idea of trying (and potentially failing) to make one myself has pretty much always terrified me. And what is the healthy thing to do when something scares you? Avoid it like the plague, of course!! But recents events called for a little bit of extra love and care in the baking department, so I grew a pair (of nerves, that is. What else??) and tried my hand at this most glorious of pies.

Setting: Moving house.
Characters: Tirelessly Helpful Friend; Selflessly Helpful Friend; Selflessly Helpful Friend’s Generous Family; Crazy Grateful Baker
Plot Summary: THF moves a lot of boxes. There is a lot of going down and up stairs. SHF and SHFGF store said boxes. CGB knows THF is a huge fan of lemon and so bakes two Lemon Meringue Pies. One for each helpful household. Happy ending: the pies were a total success.

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This post also signals the end of the batch of pastry I made waaaaay back in July for the Celebratory Pumpkin Pie. So yet again, pop back to that post for my pastry recipe.

Before rolling out the pastry, preheat your oven to 200 C non fan (180 C fan).

Once your pastry has warmed up to room temperature, flatten it a bit with your palms (leftmost picture) then roll it out on a floured surface, turning, flipping, and sprinkling flour so it doesn’t stick to the counter. Stop when it is about a 1/4 inch thick and hangs an inch or so over the edge of your pie plate.

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I decided to roll up the edges and do a waved crust, as seen below.

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Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork all over so it does not puff up too much while cooking, then line the pastry with tinfoil and fill with beans or ceramic cooking beads.

Put in the oven to cook for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil (containing the beans) and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until a light golden brown.

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Set aside and lower the oven temperature to 175 C fan (155 C non fan). I actually turned mine off until I started making the meringue. Energy saving and all that jazz.

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
4 lemons
3 tbsp corn starch
150 ml cold water
150 g white sugar
4 egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue)
2 tbsp butter

Grate and juice four lemons.

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In a medium saucepan stir your cornstarch (3 tbsp) into cold water (150 ml), then stir in the juice and grated rind of four lemons. Turn the hob on to a medium heat and gradually bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.

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Once the mixture starts to thicken add the sugar (150 g) and continue stirring (leftmost picture). When it is quite thick, as seen in the right picture, take it off the heat.

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The four egg yolks should be lightly beaten in a medium sized bowl. Whisk 1/4 of your lemon mixture into the egg yolks. Add another 1/4 of the lemon mixture into the yolks and whisk. Now transfer your lemony yolks into the sauce pan with the remaining 1/2 of your lemon mixture. Whisk together and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. It will be thick and spoonable. Remove from heat and stir in the butter (2 tbsp).

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Pour into your prepared pie crust then set aside.

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At this point, make sure you’ve turned your oven to 175 C non-fan (155 C fan).

Meringue Ingredients:
4 egg whites
200 g white sugar
2 heaping tsp cornstarch

In a large bowl, beat your egg whites (4) until they are nice white foam (top right). Start gradually adding your sugar, just a couple tablespoons at a time, while still blending. When you have added half of the sugar (bottom left), stop and add the cornstarch (2 heaping tsp). Beat that in, then add the last half of your sugar, gradually as you did before. The finished product will be thick and glossy with peaks that can stand on their own. (bottom right)

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To cover your pie, start spooning the meringue on around the edges and work in, smoothing it as you go. I like to pile it nice and high in the centre, then either make traditional meringue peaks or use a spoon to create cloud-like undulations.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is golden and firm. Let cool on a rack until set, at least an hour, chill, then serve.

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Peach Passion Pie

Raspberries. Strawberries. Blackberries. Blueberries. … Cherries! Mangoes! Plums! Apricots! You see where I’m going with this, right? I’m talking about that little voice. The one that surfaces in the produce aisle saying “Buy ALL the JUICY, yummy goodness!” even though you can’t possibly eat that much. Luckily, there are pies: the perfect answer to the age-old the dilemma, “Why did I feel the need to buy 10 gorgeously ripe peaches?”

To mix them with passion fruit and make a Peach Passion Pie, of course!

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I started by making the same pastry recipe that I used for my pumpkin pie.

Take two balls of pastry and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball to a little less than half a centimetre thick. Lay it in your pie plate and trim the edges so there is about an inch of overhang. Now roll the other ball out. This one is for the strips, so I sometimes roll it out a teeny tiny bit thicker, as I quite like the top pastry.

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Pre-heat the oven 180 C fan (200 C non-fan)

Filling ingredients:
7 peaches
1 passion fruit
3 tbsp flour
100 g brown sugar
100 g white sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Feel free to play with these amounts based on how sweet you like your pies and how big your pie plate is. Mine is only 20 cm across.

Cut the peaches into slices and put in a big bowl. Cut one passion fruit in half and scrape the insides into the same bowl. Add flour (3 tbsp), sugar (100 g of each), and cinnamon (1/8 tsp). Stir it all together and pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust.

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Now for the fun part — the lattice topping. A simple way to make a pie look straight from a storybook.

You can choose to do any number of strips, of course, but I went with 5.

Lay your 5 strips across the pie. Fold strips 1, 3, and 5 back on themselves. (Leftmost image) Lay one strip perpendicularly across the two remaining strips. (Middle image) Unfold strips 1, 3, and 5, then fold 2 and 4 back on themselves (Rightmost image) in order to lay down another perpendicular strip. Continue this way until that half of the pie is done.

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Because you started by folding back 1, 3, and 5 for the other side, you want to fold back 2 and 4 this time. (Leftmost image) Lay a piece perpendicularly across, unfold 2 and 4, and fold back 1, 3, and 5. (Middle image) Continue doing this until the whole pie is latticed. (Rightmost image)

PeachPieSecond3To give it a nice finished look, fold the outer edges of the pie over the lattice strips and press along the top edge of the plate. Afterward, I made fork depressions around the edge.

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Lastly, I lightly beat an egg and brushed the top of the pastry with a thin coating to give it a shiny golden crust once cooked.

Cook for 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool a bit so the insides aren’t too runny, then serve warm! (Or cold. Who am I kidding, Peach Passion Pie is even great cold the next morning for breakfast. Not that I would eat pie for breakfast…)

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Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

Ever decided to bake from your own blog? I sure have. Result? Frustration! Why, oh why, did I not list the amount of each ingredient in the step-by-step instructions, as well as in the list at the beginning. WHY?! Because I wanted people to spend all their time scrolling up and down???? *ahem* Apologies all round. I am going to fix all previous posts as soon as this one is published! Klepto’s honour :D

Rant done. Onto the matter at hand: OMG DE-FREAKING-LICIOUS CUPCAKES

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What was that a photo of? Oh, only THE BEST caramel frosting I have had in my life, lovingly settled in a swirly fashion atop those indescribably delightful chocolate cupcakes I wrote about in my VERY FIRST BLOG POST.

As such, I won’t be reposting the chocolate cupcake process. Refer back to my previous chocolate cupcake recipe, but cut the cook time to 16 minutes if you are making mini cupcakes like I decided to do. I also put a secret treat in the centre of these mini ones. So, once you’ve mixed up your batter, jump back here before you start spooning them into your muffin tray!

MMmmm. I’m having flavour flashbacks. They were just so light and so fluffy and definitely delectable enough to lure Hansel and Gretel right into my oven.

Caramel Frosting Ingredients:
114 g salted butter
220 g dark brown sugar
80 ml milk
360 g confectioner’s sugar
an extra few tablespoons of milk

With one batch of frosting, I had enough to decorate 80 mini cupcakes!

Melt the butter (114 g) in a small saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar (220 g) and milk (80 ml). Stir continuously over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved then allow to bubble for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

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Pour your caramel into a large bowl and allow to cool. Using an electrical mixer, beat in the confectioners sugar (360 g total) in three equal parts. Before turning the hand mixer on, I stirred in the icing sugar a bit, then covered both the bowl and the mixer with a towel for beating. This, combined with turning on my extractor fan, helped me avoid the light coating of icing sugar that so often covers my kitchen and my lungs.

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Once your confectioner’s sugar is all beat in, tightly cover the frosting with cling film until you are ready to decorate, as contact with air quickly dries it out.

Just before you are ready to use it, beat in some milk, one tablespoon at a time, until it is soft enough to pipe but still firm enough to hold its shape. (I used 3 tbsp, but this will vary.)

Now back to CUPCAKES!

You’ve just finished mixing up your cupcake batter and are ready to spoon it into adorable mini muffin trays. But first, these little scrumpties (I tried to make scrumptious into a noun… Def: scrumptious and adorable baked goods) were filled with a tiny secret: Cadbury Nibbles hidden in the centre!

One batch of batter makes 40 mini cupcakes, so cut 40 Nibbles in half.

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The first method I tried just led to sunken Nibbles at the bottom of my cupcakes, but as I found out in my second batch (I was making 80 cupcakes and one batch is only 40, hence the second. Sadly, by then, I wasn’t being as vigilant with my photo-documentation) the best thing to do is to put two teaspoons of batter into each cup, then press the two half Nibbles together, side by side, and push them gently into the top of the batter. You want to be able to see the tops of the Nibbles.

The following picture doesn’t showcase the peeking out Nibbles, but it does show how much room the cupcakes need to expand. These little babies rise, so give them a good 1/3 of growing room!

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Pop them in the oven (160 C fan) for 16 minutes and the Nibbles-ified cupcakes will look like:

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Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and leave them until they are completely cool.

Now, as mentioned before, make your icing soft enough to pipe, transfer it to a piping bag, select your preferred nib, and get piping!

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