Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sugar and Spice and all Things Nice

It's been a rainy weekend, which is the perfect reason to dust off the rolling pin and get spend the whole day in the kitchen. Since I hurt my leg I've been unable to stand for too long which has limited my cooking soires to reheating and packet-cooking on the few days my mum hasn't been around the house to cook for me. I must admit I'm enjoying the easiness of being home for a while. The chores are shared and the mess is halved with more hands to help.
But this afternoon I gave my mum the afternoon off and took over the kitchen for a few hours. I started by making the dough for these little fellas:

And then I left it chill for a while and thew together possibly the yummiest blueberry muffins in the world:

I found the recipe (I can't remember where) last year sometime and have had all the ladies at mum's work begging me to make them again every time I come home. They're super easy and quick, and disappear way too quickly.

Blueberry Heaven
1/2cup unsalted butter (I'm lazy so I used salted and just omitted the salt)
1 1/4cups sugar (I used caster ut I've also used raw and they taste just as good)
2 eggs
2cups plain flour
1/2tsp salt
3tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
125g mashed blueberries
125g whole blueberries

Cream butter and sugar on slow speed. Add eggs one at a time.  Sift in dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Add blueberries and stir gently until combined. Fill muffin papers 3/4 full and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Bake at 190C for 20-30 minutes.

The Gingerbread men I took from the mini recipe book on the December issue of Australian Good Food. We had a whole heap of treacle in the cupboard and not much golden syrup so I substituded half and half which I think produced a slightly darker cookie. Again, I also used caster sugar instead of brown and omitted the cloves because, well...I forgot ro get them. 

Gingerbread Soldiers
1/4cup golden syrup
1/4cup firmly packed brown sugar
1tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground gloves
1tsp bicarb soda
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/4cups plain flour, sifted
Combine golden syrup, sugar and spices in heatproof bowl over simmering water and stir until sugar dissolves. Add bicarb soda and stir until mixture bubbles.Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until butter is melted and mixture is smooth and leave to cool.
Stir in egg and add one cup of flour, stirring until combined. Add remaining flour and use hands to bring dough together. turn out onto lightly floured surface and kneed gently until dough is soft and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30mins.
Roll out dough and use man-shaped cutters to cut out biscuits, placing on a greased and lined baking tray. Bake at 180C for 10-15 mins, or until biscuits start to harden and colour.

I used a basic icing mixture to decorate the little men and also made a few ginger stars while I was at it. I think next time I'd add a bit more spice to give them more of a kick, and maybe make them a bit bigger so I can use smarties of m&ms for buttons.

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