Apple and Cranberry Muffins

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I love the cranberries. I love the tartness and I love the association with Christmas. These muffins are beautiful; they are lightly spiced and both sweet and tart. I have to say I did improvise a bit with this recipe as I couldn’t find half the ingredients and the measurements were in American cups. Anyhow, I think I got lucky because I can’t stop eating them!

Ingredients

110g sunflower oil

225g apples peeled and cored (I used Braeburn apples)

1 piece of pared lemon peel

juice of half a lemon

½ teaspoon cinnamon

200g soft brown sugar

50g date syrup (you could just add more sugar)

2 eggs

zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225g whole wheat self raising flour

65g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

200g fresh or frozen cranberries

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 180°c/160°c/gas 4 and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
  • Make the apple sauce by cutting up the apples into small chunks and putting them in a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice, peel, cinnamon and a little water and cook for about 15 minutes on a low heat. When the apples have cooked through, take out the lemon peel and mash up the apples with the back of a fork.
  • Add the applesauce, sugar, syrup, eggs, orange zest and vanilla extract into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and mix on a medium speed until smooth.
  • In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: both flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
  • Use a rubber spatula to add the cranberries, leaving a few to put on top of the muffins.
  • Fill each of the muffin cases 3/4 full and decorate with the remaining cranberries and a sprinkle of the brown sugar.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Nutty Apple Loaf

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This recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. C’s mum wasn’t feeling very well and so I thought some cake might help. She loves her cake but favours the simpler styles rather than the flamboyant. It was C who suggested the apple theme. I think he probably fancied a piece himself. I was quite surprised by this recipe as it says to leave the mixture for a few hours or over night before baking, I’m not too sure why this is. Anyhow, this came out very moist and wintery. I love the pieces of chocolate dotted through the cake. It’s also well worth the effort of toasting the nuts as it really brings the flavour out.

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter (room temperature)

140g soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons strawberry jam

2 large eggs

140g plain flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (I misread the recipe and only used 1 teaspoon, it turned out fine and looked just like the picture in the book.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (if making again I would add 1 and 1/2teaspoons rather than just 1 teaspoon)

100g shelled mixed nuts, lightly toasted. (I used hazelnuts, almonds and pecans)

50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2 eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1 eating apple thinly sliced for decoration

A 23 x 13 cm loaf tin, lined with parchment paper.

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  • Put the butter, sugar and strawberry jam in a bowl and cream until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl, then beat into the butter mixture.
  • Stir in the nuts, chocolate and apples into the mixture with a spoon until evenly dispersed.
  • Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible.
  • Pre-heat oven to 170 °C/150°C fan/ gas 3
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over with a palette knife
  • Arrange the thinly sliced apple on top of the loaf along the middle
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until brown and the sponge feels firm to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean, unless you hit the melted chocolate.

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Classic Apple Tart

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I made this apple tart as soon as I got home after buying the cooking magazine, ‘Olive’, October, 2015. Since apples are in their prime and I happened to have a bowl of homegrown ones, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use them. The recipe itself couldn’t be easier to follow. I was really pleased about how this came out, but if I were to make it again, I would sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and add some sultanas, artistically, of course.

Ingredients

300g puff pastry (I used a ready rolled pack)

Plain flour for dusting

50g ground almonds

50g butter at room temperature

50g caster sugar

3-4 apples

1 lemon

1 egg beaten

4 tablespoons apricot jam

Splash of water

Baking rack and apple tart

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 190°C/ fan 170°C/ gas 5.
  • Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 20p piece and use a plate approx 25cm in diameter to cut around with a knife. Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet.
  • Gently mark a border approx 1cm from the edge. Don’t cut all the way through the pastry.
  • Mix the butter, ground almonds and the sugar to make the frangipane. Spread a thin layer over the pastry within the border using a palette knife.
  • Peel and core the apples, then slice them thinly. Toss in lemon juice to stop them browning.
  • Arrange the apples over the frangipane.
  • Brush the border with the beaten egg. Gently knock up the edges of the pastry with a sharp knife by loosening the pastry layers so they rise more.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden.
  • Heat the apricot jam and water in a small pan until runny then sieve. Brush over the apples while still warm.

That's a big slice!