Healthy and delicious snacks: Apple & Cinnamon Muffins recipe.

Busy? Hungry? Fighting the temptation to have an unhealthy, quick fix?  Apple and Cinnamon muffins to the rescue.

These delicious little muffins contain only 140 calories and 8 grams of fat so yes, they are still a little bit naughty but not as naughty as that packet of crisps or that chocolate bar that you find yourself reaching for.

Quick and easy to make, Apple and Cinnamon Muffins can be enjoyed breakfast, dinner and tea and will be much more satisfying than the sat-fat-alicious treats you normally divulge in.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of apple sauce (odd, but makes the muffins moist)

There were several more ingredients but they are unnecessary to the recipe and a little more expensive. When you’re pinching your pocket until next pay day like me, it doesn’t help when you want a cheap healthy snack and have to fork out more to make your own than it would be to just simply buy them.

Follow these 4 easy steps to make your own:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C

2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and oil until smooth. Stir in applesauce and sugar. Combine both mixtures.

4. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack.
Done! Thank me later when you notice your pants starting to fit better.
John Elsworth

Afternoon Tea Treats: Queen Victoria Crowns

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I like to call these miniature cakes, Queen Victoria Crowns as they look like a royal crown when baked and decorated with a sprinkle of icing sugar.
They are ultimately a scaled down version of the classic victoria sponge cake.
(You can read all about the history of these delicious creamy cakes in THIS POST)
This afternoon I am treating my friends to a crown or two.
Shhhh don’t tell anybody but I cheated a little to save time and bought a Victoria sponge mix.
It saves a lot of time if you need to whip these up in a hurry and doesn’t leave you with lots of baking ingredients that you aren’t likely to use up again.
If unlike me you are being a good baker and not cheating, for your sponge mix, you will need:
– 2 large free range eggs
– 4oz self raising flour
-4oz caster sugar
-4oz salted butter
(1/2tablespoon of baking powder if using a food processor to mix it all up)
-1tsp vanilla extract.
If you are naughty and cheating like me you will need:
-A Victoria Sponge ready made mix
-120ml of milk
– 2 eggs
– 100g of Unsalted butter to get your sponge mix going!
You will also need:
– Small tin cans (preferably the ones you get sweetcorn in)
The number of cans you need depends on how many cakes you want to make in one batch.
– Tinfoil to wrap around the bottom of the tin.
(Step 1)
Prepare your sponge mix first.
If you’re making your sponge by hand, you will need to: Cream your butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and stir in your vanilla extract. Then fold in the flour using a large (metal) spoon. (Note: no extra baking powder.) If you’re using a food processor, Pop your butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla & baking powder into your blitzer. Make sure the ‘stopper’ is removed, so the air can get in. Turn it on and blend until you have a smooth batter.
Or if like me you are following the instructions from your pre made mix.
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(Step 2)
Using a tin opener take off the bottoms of your cans and wrap in tinfoil.
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(Step 3)
 Spoon a little under half of the sponge mixture into your tin cans.
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(Step 4)
Pop into a preheaded oven at around 175-180c.
Once your tins are in do not open the door for 15 minutes as your sponge will drop.
After 15 minutes, open the door and pop a skewer through the middle of the cake.
If the skewer comes out clean and not sticky you are ready to let them cool, if not pop them back in the oven for another five minutes or so.
While your cakes are cooling
It’s onto making the buttercream filling..
It is best to make buttercream if you are not going to be digging into your cakes on the day you baked them as buttercream lasts longer than fresh double cream.
(Step 5)
 Mix 100g of unsalted butter along with your icing mix.
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(Step 6)
 Once your little cakes are cool, take off the tinfoil and use a knife to cut around the bottoms to get your little cake out.
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They can be a little tall so trim a small amount from the bottoms and then cut the buns in half.
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Now for the decorating fun!
(Step 7)
Add your buttercream to one side and any jam of your choice to the other side and sandwich them together!
And finally, dust with icing sugar!
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What do you think?
What occasion would you bake these for?
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By Hollie Bradbury

St David’s Day Treat

This piece is for all you Welsh folks out there, and with it being St David’s Day last weekend and having two Welsh flatmates I decided to treat them both.Welsh cakes or Pice ar y maen are a teatime treat passed on through the generations and have been enjoyed for centuries. The cakes are a cross between a cookie, a scone, and a pancake but have a completely unique taste. Wales was renowned for being a huge agricultural country that was heavily reliant on its mining community and it was once the largest coal producing nation on earth.

The cakes were usually made by the lady of the house and given to the miners as they left for the mines; it would provide them with the sugar and energy they would need to carry out the physical feats that lay ahead during their day down the coal mines. Being durable and small meant that miners could safely tuck them away into a coat pocket, keeping them handy for when they grew increasingly hungry from the intensity of their work. They would often be the only sweet, light relief they would get in their otherwise dark, dank, gloomy surroundings. Since then they have become a sweet treat that we can all enjoy, and a Welsh favourite.

Here's what you'll need.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Recipe taken from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5569/welsh-cakes

Ingredients

225g plain flour

85g caster sugar

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp baking powder

50g butter, cut into small pieces

50g lard, cut into small pieces, plus extra for frying

50g currants

1 egg, beaten

Splash of milk

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1. Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl.

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2. Then, with your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Mix in the currants. Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry – it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.

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3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger.

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4. Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, or if you don’t have a cutter simply use a cup. Carry on re-rolling any trimmings until you have used all the pastry. Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat.

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5. Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar. Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.

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Happy St David’s Day!

Wish to share your bakes with us? Did you make anything special on St David’s Day? Let us know.

By James Busby

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Heysham Village: history, scenery and a slice of Impossible Pie.

Heysham Village: scenic, quaint, historical and quite frankly, beautiful. Not to brag, but my second home. When I’m not in Lancaster, there’s nothing I love more than spending a few days with my dad in Heysham, walking the dog and enjoying the rich scenery that Heysham has to offer. Whether it’s a walk along Half Moon Bay, a stroll down the promenade, a venture around St. Peters Church (founded in the 8th Century and acting as a Saxon Church since 1080) or imagining a life that was when visiting the Viking Graves, it’s safe to say that you can’t fall shy of something to do in this quiet little village.

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Heysham Village sign post

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My Patterdale Terrier Ruby enjoying a dip in the sea.

There are a few cafe’s in Heysham, but we decided to start with the latest edition: Tracy’s Cafe. Formally known as Jim’s Cafe, new management has taken over (in the form of Tracy and her mum) and they have added a selection of homemade cakes to the menu.  I decided to have a slice of Impossible Pie and my dad decided to have a Chocolate & Cinnamon flapjack to go alongside our pot of tea.

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Slice of Impossible Pie and a pot of tea for two

At sight, the Impossible Pie looked less impressive than the actual concept behind it. When I asked Tracy’s mum what made it impossible to make, clearly it wasn’t impossible at all. Though not impossible, impressive all the same.  The method behind making this pie is similar to the all in one method. Mixing all of the ingredients together (4 eggs, 1/2 cup of margarine, 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of coconut and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract). However, with the impossible pie, once all of the ingredients have been blended until well mixed, the ingredients separate to form each individual layer.

The flour settles to form the crust, the coconut forms the topping and the centre is of course the egg custard filling. This sounded intriguing and fun to make! Although the textures seemed a bit strange together, after a few mouthfuls you truly began to appreciate the taste of all three layers and the marvel behind making it.

Next week, I will attempt to make the Impossible Pie to see if mine actually works. Also, seeing as how an Egg Custard Tart is one of my favourite deserts, my stomach will be glad of the treat.

Are there any recipes that you didn’t think would turn out as scrumptious as they did? Or any recipes that you use again and again because they’re that good? Leave your comments below.

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By John Elsworth

Peanut M&M Muffin Cake recipe.

Whether it’s the sugar rush we get from them or the elusive feeling of love from our first bite, there’s no denying it; we are a nation obsessed with chocolate. We walk into our corner shop or into our local supermarkets and the first thing that catches our eye is the confectionery aisle. The bright colours, the temptation, the naughtiness of knowing you shouldn’t but you really should, there’s just something about chocolate that we can’t resist.

Not only that, chocolate isn’t only making us happy, it’s making the manufacturers rather happy also. Chocolate is a multi-million pound industry so as long as we’re eating it, we’re keeping the big cats milk bowl full too. I decided to check out the stats of the nations favourite chocolate bars and interpret our Top 10 into household cake recipes. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way to the top. Starting with #10 on the list: M&M’s.

Manufactured by Mars Confectionery, latest figures from foodmanufacturer.co.uk indicate that those colourful little pills of chocolate raked in £66.9m by the end of 2013. Plain milk chocolate M&M’s were first introduced in 1941 by Forrest Mars. Jr, son of the founder of the Mars Company, Frank C. Mars. Not as convenient as they are today, the idea for M&M’s came during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) when Forrest saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard outer shell to stop the chocolate melting.

The rest is history. Now we have biscuit M&M’s, peanut M&M’s: America even have pretzel M&M’s! This in mind, I decided to make a classic muffin cake with a twist: I Peanut M&M’d it. Moist muffin, peanut butter cream filling with peanut butter cream icing, sprinkled with Peanut M&M’s. Here’s what you’ll need:

Muffin cake mix

  • 4 heaped tbsp of caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 heaped tbsp of self raising flour
  • A splash of milk

Peanut Butter cream

  • 4 heaped tbsp of icing sugar
  • 4 heaped tbsp of peanut butter
  • 4 heaped tbsp of butter

Topping

  • A big packet of Peanut M&M’s!

1. Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5 (190°) for half an hour.

2. Grease your cake tins with margarine, just so they’re ready to go straight into the oven once you’ve put your cake mix in them.

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3. Crack your eggs into a mixing bowl and add the margarine, self raising flour and caster sugar. Whisk! This is known as the “All In One” method, so it doesn’t really matter what order you put your ingredients in.  After all of the ingredients are mixed together, add a splash of milk. I go for full fat, but you can use skimmed or semi skimmed if you like. Whisk again for a light and fluffy texture.

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4. Spoon half of the mixture into one cake tin and the other half into the other. Bake for 15 minutes and check to see if the cake is rising. Little tip: stick a tooth pick into one of the layers and if the toothpick comes out clear, that means the cake mix is fully cooked. Don’t take your eye off the cake layers after this: it can burn very easily. Check again after another 5 minutes and they should be ready!

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5. Once your cake is cooked through, place the cake tins on a tea towel on the side and allow a good half an hour to cool before you fill and ice the cake. They should look something like this when done.

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6. Whilst your cake is cooling, it’s time to make the peanut butter cream. To do this, place your peanut butter, icing sugar and butter into a jug and mix! It’s that simple! And tastes like heaven.

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7. Spoon half of the cream onto the bottom layer and proceed to put the top layer on. Make sure you do not push the cream into the cake with the knife, make sure you are spreading it upwards as this makes for a better a effect.

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8. Once you have done this, repeat step 7 but on the top layer of the cake.

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9. After you have done this, get your packet of peanut M&M’s and place them on however you like! I went for an M&M M in the centre and various coloured M&M’s round the edge.

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10. Eat. Eat until it’s all gone. Perfect for pudding or as a tasty little treat. Serves 8 if you’re skimpy with the portion size: it lasted about two minutes in my house!

By John Elsworth

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A cake fit for a Queen

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Photo:Big Gangsta Photos Taken: https://www.flickr.com/

The Victoria Sponge has been around for decades. It is an old favourite that is held close to all British bakers’ hearts and is a national favourite. But before I go onto how you make this classic, I will briefly give you a quick history lesson about this simple but yet  delicious sponge came to be.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

To start off where did the name come from? I guess the clue is in the name of the cake, as the Victoria in question is that of Queen Victoria who reigned over Britain for the best part of the 19th century from 1837 to 1901.

Victoria’s reign was noted by historians as being a ‘golden age for Great Britain’ the industrial revolution was in full swing, and the commonwealth was forever expanding. Some of you historians out there may now that the phrase ‘’the empire on which the sun never sets” was coined as an adage to the nations curiosity to seek and find new resources. Some of the findings have become key ingredients that we now use in our daily lives and no baker could live without the likes of sugar, cocoa, herbs, spices and coffee.

So as a result the sponge was made for the Queen by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford who was one of Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting. She made small little cakes and named them after Victoria as homage to her successful reign. Soon these cakes where served at the numerous banquets and tea parties Victoria held; it wouldn’t be long till they made their way into the nation’s hearts and homes.

Here’s what you will need!

Ingredients

• 225g/8oz butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
• 225g/8oz caster sugar
• 4 medium eggs
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 225g/8oz self-raising flour
• milk, to loosen

Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Grease and line 2 x 18cm/7in cake tins with baking paper.
Technique: Greasing and lining cake tins .Greasing and lining cake tins.

3. Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.

Technique: Creaming butter by hand .Creaming butter by hand.

4. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract.

5. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
6. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

8. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack.

9. Sandwich the cakes together with jam, lemon curd or whipped cream and berries or just enjoy on its own.

10. Grab a plate and enjoy!

By James Busby

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