Baked Vanilla Doughnuts

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I absolutely love doughnuts. As with everything I am quite fussy about what I consider to be my perfect doughnut. In my opinion Marks and Spencer have created the perfect filled doughnut and you can’t beat a Krispy Kreme vanilla glazed doughnut. Marks and Spencer fill their doughnuts with raspberry jam and lightly sprinkle them with icing sugar – not covered in crunchy granulated sugar.

Although I love doughnuts, I have never been very keen on the idea of making doughnuts because of all the faff involved with frying. A while ago I realised you could get doughnut trays so that you could make doughnuts in the oven which completely gets rid of the frying – perfect! I’m not trying to say that a baked doughnut is healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but a baked doughnut has to be healthier than a fried doughnut. I bought my doughnut trays from Sainsbury’s months ago and have been desperate to use them but didn’t get round to it – until now!

For my first attempt I wanted to try some vanilla doughnuts. I initially found this recipe on Pinterest and it is from a great blog called Cooking Classy (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/02/baked-vanilla-bean-doughnuts/). I was really impressed with how great these tasted, they were lovely and light and fluffy with a fantastic flavour.

One tip I have is that when you are filling the doughnut tins, fill them just over half way. I got a bit carried away and filled them nearly to the top which meant I had doughnuts that were about 5cm high and not the prettiest looking. If you fill them just over half way, you should get very pretty, dainty doughnuts which I was incredibly happy with.

For the doughnuts
2 2/3 cups plain flour
1 ½ baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp salt
¼ unsalted butter, melted
¼ vegetable oil
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
spray oil (for the trays)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and spray the doughnut tray with oil
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla bean paste. Once this is combined, mix the eggs in one at a time and then add the vanilla extract
  4. Add the flour mixture and milk to the wet mixture alternating between the two starting and ending with the flour (add 1/3 of the flour followed by half the milk etc). Mix until just combined after each addition

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  1. Spoon the batter into the doughnut holes. I haven’t found a particularly quick way of doing this, I just used two teaspoons and tried to keep it in the holes as much as possible!

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  1. Bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow to cool until lukewarm on a wire rack
For the glaze
1 ½ cups icing sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 small pinch of salt
2 – 3 tbsp milk
Food colouring and sprinkles (optional)
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Once combined stir in 2 tbsp of milk and then gradually add more if needed to get to the desired consistency. Don’t add too much at a time or else it will become too runny
  2. Add food colouring if you want and then dip in your doughnuts. If you are adding sprinkles, add them straight away or else they won’t stick once the glaze has dried

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I was really pleased with these doughnuts and will definitely be making these again as well as trying different recipes.

Raspberry Jam Muffins

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This is another attempt at a healthy muffin for breakfast. After the Nutella muffins, I thought I would try a spoonful of jam instead. You can use any jam you like, but make sure it is a good quality one as it does make a difference. To enhance the raspberry taste further, I added some freeze dried raspberries to the mixture and then to try and make it healthier I used half plain flour and half wholemeal flour. I didn’t use just wholemeal flour because it can change the texture and make it a little dryer and the aim is to make muffins that are healthy but also tasty.

I was very pleased with how these muffins turned out. The jam works really well because it provides a lovely moistness to the muffin. I was most impressed with how few calories there were in each muffin – just over 150! This was a massive improvement on the Nutella muffins and are equally as tasty.

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup no fat Greek yogurt
12 tsp raspberry jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a muffin tin with liners
  2. Mix together the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and freeze dried raspberries
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs and yogurt
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined

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  1. Fill the cases half way with mix and then add a level teaspoon of jam into the middle of each muffin. Cover the jam with the remaining muffin mix

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  1. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

These are another really simple and quick recipe. They also freeze really well so you can get them out the night before and they’ll be defrosted ready for your breakfast.

Gluten-free Sundried Tomato Bread

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I made this recipe when my friends from uni came to stay for the weekend as my friend Zoe has Coeliac disease. I usually buy her a little loaf from the shop but decided I wanted to have a go and see how it turned out!

She recommended a Good Food recipe to me because he had tried it before and she knew it was nice. The recipe was incredibly easy, far easier than bread using flour with gluten as it doesn’t require any kneading.

The bread doesn’t rise a lot so don’t be alarmed if it looks quite flat. I haven’t tried any gluten-free bread before so was intrigued to see what it would be like. It was very different to bread I am familiar with as it seemed to have a softer texture more like cake than bread. Zoe said it was very tasty and she recommends toasting it to give it a bit of a crisper crust.

200g gluten-free white flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp gluten-free baking powder (most types are gluten free but check)
284ml buttermilk 
3 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
50g sundried tomatoes in oil (approximately 6-8) coarsely chopped
25g parmesan

  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC or 160ºC in a fan oven. Grease a 2lb loaf tin with a small amount of olive oil. Grate the parmesan and chop the sundried tomatoes

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  1. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, tomato purée and oil

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  1. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and then add the sundried tomatoes and half of the parmesan
  2. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top and bake in the oven for 50-60 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool

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The sundried tomatoes I bought were in a lovely olive oil with herbs so instead of using ordinary olive oil, I used the oil from the jar to give extra flavour. It isn’t the sort of bread that you would use to make a sandwich really because it does make quite small slices, but cut into slices with some meat and cheese makes a lovely lunch.

Zoe has said that in general, gluten free bread isn’t that great and can be a bit boring. The sundried tomatoes and parmesan give this bread a lovely flavour which makes it one of the best recipes she has tried.

The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2070/glutenfree-sundried-tomato-bread

My Christmas menu & first event

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As I have mentioned before, I have been very busy recently with a Christmas menu I put together. It is a list of treats that I thought would be perfect for people to enjoy over Christmas or to give as gifts. The first items I came up with for the menu was chutneys. As you know I had already made my apple and sultana chutney which I knew was tasty so I decided to include it in the menu. One of my favourite shop bought chutneys is caramelised onion which we love to eat with Camembert so I decided I would like to give it a go and see if mine was as good as ones you can buy. The final chutney I decided to make was Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney – it was a no brainer.

I started making the chutneys back in September because I knew they needed time to mature and get even more delicious. I stared by ordering and making 36 jars of chutney. Once I had started advertising the chutneys to friends and colleagues, it quickly became clear that I needed to order more jars! I was very shocked at how popular the chutneys became and realised last weekend that yet again I needed to order more jars! I’m not going to lie, I hate peeling tomatoes and I have peeled more onions that I would care to imagine, but it is a great feeling to know that something you have made is so popular.

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I wanted to include little treats that would look good displayed in cellophane bags. Fridge cake was an obvious choice as it is so popular when I make it – it lasts 5 minutes at work. I have always referred to it as fridge cake but some people know of it as rocky road.

Cat Fridge Cake 2 copy

 (Photo by Betty)

I decided to put a spin on my cheese straws that are so popular by turning them into chilli cheese stars. I originally saw the idea on Food Network when Jonathan Phang was making them and thought it was a great idea. Instead of using his recipe, I stuck to my usual cheese straw recipe but added fresh and dried chilli powders before cutting them into stars. I didn’t want to make them too hot so didn’t use the West Indian hot pepper sauce that Jonathan used. Mine have a lovely gentle heat that I think is suitable for everyone’s taste.

Cat Stars 1 copy

(Photo by Betty)

I wanted to have some fudge on the menu; one chocolate and one vanilla. I found a lovely dark chocolate and pistachio fudge recipe by Nigella that turned out really well but I had no such luck with the vanilla fudge. I wanted a fudge with a creamy texture and after four failed attempts I gave up. Two attempts made what people told me was very nice Scottish tablet but this was quite crumbly so not what I was looking for. Another attempt tasted lovely and creamy but it just didn’t harden up enough and was very sticky. The final attempt with the 4th recipe was a complete disaster so I finally gave up!

Cat choc fudge 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Mum has a Mary Berry Christmas book so I had a look through there and saw these lovely snowflake shaped iced biscuits. They’re simple to make but really tasty and look very pretty. Someone said to me that they weren’t planning on ordering the biscuits but when they saw the photo they looked so pretty they decided they had to have them.

Cat Star Cookies

 (Photo by Betty)

I had to include mince pies because to me its not Christmas without them – I am a huge fan. My friend Millie told me that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (6th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months. I thought this was a very cute idea and any excuse to eat mince pies is valid in my opinion!

Cat mince pies 2

(Photo by Betty)

For something that wasn’t too sweet I decided to make some fruity biscotti which a lot of people associate with Christmas. The recipe I chose is packed with cranberries, raisins, almonds and pistachios. I find it slightly dry, but it is traditionally drank with black coffee in Italy.

Cat Biscotti 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Finally, I decided I wanted to include some form of sweet. After watching Sweets Made Simple on BB2, I saw how easy cinder toffee was to make. Although it is quite simple, it looks really impressive. I thought you would need all sorts of fancy equipment to make it but liquid glucose is the only ingredient you will need to buy, everything else you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Cat Honeycomb

(Photo by Betty)

The lovely and very talented Betty photographed my Christmas menu for me and made everything look fantastic. She staged the photographs beautifully and gave them a great Christmassy feel. I have had a number of people say to me that the photographs are what made them decide what they wanted to order as they were too tempting to resist! Please visit her website www.greedybetty.com to see more of her fantastic photography.

I initially saw the Christmas menu as a way of friend’s ordering my food, but as the popularity has grown I have put posters up at work and even did my first little event the other day! My friend Tula invited a number of people to her house for what she called her Christmas Extravaganza. I was very excited that she had asked me but also slightly nervous because this would be the first time people that didn’t know me would be trying my food and I would be able to see their reactions.

My Mum came along with me and with her help, I was able to put together a table that I was very happy with and people even commented on how professional it looked. This had a lot to do with my Mum’s help with the food labels and the amazing bunting she made for me. My Mum has spent hours making all of the labels for each item and they would not have looked anywhere near as good if I hadn’t had her help. She is very creative and has been a massive help from the start.

I was nervous about the chutney because although I had tried it once I had made it, I hadn’t tried it when it had matured. I asked my Mum to try it first because I knew she would give me an honest opinion, and luckily she said it was delicious! I was very happy with how many people said how tasty they were and bought them as gifts and for themselves.

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I am so pleased with how successful my menu has become and the upcoming events I have. I am going to have a very busy few weeks!

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Broccoli Soup

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We are well and truely in what I am calling Soup Season. Although the weather isn’t as cold as it usually is at this time of year, a lovely soup is still perfect on a cold, dark evening.

Soup has for many years been something I have been incredibly fussy about. I had a bad experience with some Heinz tomato soup when I was a lot younger and it has stuck with me. I don’t eat soup in restaurants and I have only found one bought soup that I liked which was Covent Garden chicken soup; but then to my disappointment they changed the recipe.

My Mum knows how fussy I am when it comes to soup so for Christmas last year she bought me a soup maker. The one I have is the Morphy Richards Sauté and Soup Soupmaker and is fantastic. Instead of following different steps and waiting for the soup to come up to the boil and then liquidising, this soup maker allows you to put all the ingredients in the machine at the start. It then does all of the work itself taking 21 minutes for smooth soup or 28 for chunky soup.

Since getting the soup maker, it has made making soup so much easier and quicker. It has also meant I have been able to experiment with even more flavours and am quickly expanding my soup repertoire – I’ve even made tomato soup!

The following recipe is the original one my Mum always used when she made her broccoli soup. It was from a microwave cooking book which looked like it was from the 70’s by Jill Spencer. Cooking soup in the microwave doesn’t sound particularly gourmet, but trust me this soup is delicious!

1 small onion
25g butter
25g plain flour
600ml hot chicken stock
230g broccoli florets
300ml milk
salt and pepper

  1. Chop the onion and put it in a 1.5 litre oven proof dish along with the butter. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes
  2. Stir in the flour and then add the finely chopped broccoli, stock and salt and pepper. Cook in the microwave or 6 minutes, stirring twice
  3. Allow to cool slightly and then liquidise. Add the milk and the reheat in the microwave for 1 minute
  4. The soup can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge and just reheat in the microwave

Rien isn’t a fan of broccoli but when I first made him this soup he kept saying how delicious it was. Coming from someone who isn’t forthcoming with compliments about food, this must have meant he liked it! When we were next having soup for dinner, he automatically assumed it was broccoli soup and he was a bit gutted when he realised it wasn’t!

I really recommend trying this soup – you won’t be disappointed!

Banana Bread

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Rien has been wanting me to bake something with bananas for ages, so I finally have! I have never been a fan of banana bread in the past because it can sometimes be a little dry with a very strong banana taste. I know some people would be happy with this but I prefer a more subtle flavour when it comes to banana!

This recipe is from The Great British Bake Off’s Big Book of Baking which has loads of lovely sounding recipes. It is a lovely moist bread which I think is more of a cake than bread. You can have it with butter but I don’t think you need to at all because of how moist it is already.

This recipe is really easy to make and although it takes an hour to bake, you can just put it in the oven while you get on with other things. It is also great for using up bananas that have got a little too ripe for you to want to eat. When they are turning black is when they are perfect for this recipe! The original recipe includes walnuts but we’re not keen on them in this house so I have left them out.

125g unsalted butter, softened
150g light soft brown sugar 
2 eggs
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
250g peeled, ripe bananas mashed
2 tbsp soured cream (alternatively you can use crème fraîche)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a loaf tin
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and mix again
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gently stir into the butter until the flour is nearly combined, but not quite

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  1. Mash the bananas on a plate with a fork, don’t go too crazy you want a lumpy texture rather than a smooth puree. Add to the rest of the mix along with the soured cream and mix until combined

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  1. Tip into the lined loaf tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 1 hour until the top is golden brown and a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin for around 15 mins before turning out onto a rack to cool. Once cool, wrap in foil and keep for up to 3 days (it won’t last that long though!)

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This bread makes a delicious afternoon treat so make yourself a drink, out your feet up and enjoy!

Brownies

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I have been very busy recently creating a menu of treats for people to give as Christmas presents. I am very happy with how successful it has been so far, but it does mean I have spent most of my spare time trialing recipes and making batch after batch of chutney! Because of this, I have had to put baking to one side. It does sounds a little sad, but I have really missed it! I used my uni friends coming to stay for the weekend as a perfect excuse to have a break from chutney and bake for them.

One of my friends, Zoe has Coeliac disease which means she has a gluten intolerance and has to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons. Gluten free food seems to be the latest ‘fad’ for people in search of living a healthier life. Although this overshadows people who can’t eat gluten for medical reasons, it at least means that gluten free food is becoming more widely available.

In our first year at uni, Zoe made me delicious brownies for my birthday which were gluten free. She used Nigel Slater’s recipe who is a chef I have admired for years. He speaks so passionately about cooking and creates delicious food. I really like the way he describes his brownies “The crust is thin and lightly crisp, the centre poised between chocolate cake and the texture of a peat bog. The flavour is intense. This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view.”

Because deliciously gooey brownies aren’t amazing enough, I decided to add Snickers to the mix before it went in the oven. I have seen people do this with lots of different chocolate bars and have wanted to try it for a while. Up until now I deliberately hadn’t bought a square tin because I knew it would tempt me to make brownies. I gave in when I needed one to make fudge for my Christmas menu and so at the first opportunity, I made brownies.

300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm x 23cm tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the sugar and and butter for at least 5 minutes until white and fluffy
  3. Break 200g of the chocolate and melt it in a bowl suspended over simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water! Keep stirring until the chocolate has melted and become smooth and glossy and then remove from the heat and set aside

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  1. Chop the remaining 50g of chocolate into small chunks and set aside

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  1. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder along with a pinch of salt. Turn the mixer back on to a low speed and add the egg a little at a time. As you add the egg, speed the mixer up
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add in the melted and chopped chocolate and stir with a large metal spoon
  3. Fold in the flour and cocoa mix gently making sure you don’t knock the air out. This can take a couple of minutes to ensure the ingredients are fully combined
  4. Scrape the mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Now is the time to add any chocolate bars if you want to. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Test the brownies with a cocktail stick – it should come out sticky but not with raw mixture. If it does, put back in the oven for 3 minutes. Remember the brownie will solidify as it cools

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One of my favourite parts from the original recipe is ” Leave the cake out to cool before cutting. It needs time to calm down. Oh, and if you pull out your skewer and it comes out clean then I’m afraid you have blown it.” He is quite right, what makes a brownie so delicious is its gooeyness so if you over bake it you have ruined it, as harsh as that sounds.

Between the five of us, we managed to easily eat the brownies within 12 hours – four of us ate two in one sitting! They are so rich and moist and delicious and the contrast between the soft gooey brownie and crunchy Snickers is fantastic. Obviously you can make these with ordinary plain flour and any chocolate bar you like; or even leave them as they are.

These are easily one of the nicest things I have baked.

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Beef Burgers

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If you read my posts often you will know I am quite fussy. I love burgers, but I don’t like them when they are made with onion. I first has this recipe a good few years ago when my sister made them using a Jamie Oliver recipe. Since then Jamie has realised lots of different burger recipes but I have been reluctant to try a different one as everyone loves this recipe. I have made these burgers for friends and family and have been told repeatedly that they are delicious. My boyfriend’s Mum isn’t a massive fan of beef burgers but she has said she loves these. These are the only beef burgers you will get if you come to my house!

The original recipe can be found here http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/a-cracking-burger/. I’m not 100% sure exactly how my sister made them, but I have tweaked the original recipe slightly to meet my own tastes. This recipe is great for adding more of what you like, and leaving out things you don’t.

This recipe is perfect for beginner cooks as it is so easy. As you will see by the photos, Rien made these.

Makes 4 large burgers 
500g beef mince
12 cream crackers, crushed
1 egg
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp  oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper

  1. Put the crackers in a sealed plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin until they are broken into smallish pieces. You don’t want fine crumbs at all, some texture is what adds to the burger

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  1. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl  and mix thoroughly to combine making sure all of the ingredients are mixed. I find it easiest to do this with my hands

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  1. Divide into four portions and shape into patties. If it isn’t holding together, add a little more egg to bind

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  1. These burgers are delicious cooked on the BBQ; on a high heat they should need about 7 minutes per side. If you don’t want to BBQ them or like me don’t have a BBQ, I put them in an oven set to 200ºC for approximately 20 minutes

These burgers are lovely and juicy with the crackers adding a nice crunch. They are very tasty with or without a bun, but I always serve them with homemade wedges.

They are so tasty and easy to make you will find yourself making them time and time again!

Nutella Muffins

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I LOVE Nutella. I think it is possibly one of the greatest things ever invented. I’m not one of those people you see in the advert that likes to eat Nutella on toast for breakfast, no way. My favourite way to eat Nutella without a doubt is with a spoon straight from the jar. This is why it is very dangerous for me to have Nutella in the house because it sits in the cupboard tempting me.

My lovely friend Millie, bought me the cutest heart shaped spoon which she had engraved with ‘Nutella spoon’ because she knows how much I love it. I now have to use that spoon every time I have Nutella and it makes me think of Millie.

As I have mentioned before, I like to have a muffin for breakfast and am trying to find healthier recipes for muffins. When I was thinking of different flavoured muffins, Nutella popped into my head. Now I know what you’re thinking – Nutella is not healthy. I’m not trying to claim it is, but by using yogurt in the recipe it reduces some of the fat and you only need a teaspoon full of Nutella. Depending on how generous you are with the Nutella will change how many calories are in the muffins, but if you use a level teaspoon the muffins are roughly 270 calories. In my quest to find a tasty, healthy muffin I know 270 calories is still not great, but it is less than the blueberry muffins I made so it is a start!

I used a recipe that I found on Pinterest for the muffin mix and instead of using chocolate chips, I used a small dollop of Nutella (http://juliasalbum.com/2013/09/greek-yogurt-chocolate-chip-muffins-recipe/) The muffins were lovely and fluffy with amazing Nutella goodness. I freeze them and the night before I want one, take it out and leave it on the side to defrost. This does mean they aren’t as fluffy as when they were first baked but I don’t want to eat 12 muffins in one sitting!

Depending on how big you make them, this mix will make between 12 and 14 muffins.

2 cups plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup no fat Greek yogurt
12-14 tsp Nutella

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a muffin tin with liners
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs and yogurt
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined

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  1. Fill the cases half way with mix and then add a level teaspoon of Nutella into the middle of each muffin. Cover the Nutella with the remaining muffin mix

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  1. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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These muffins are really easy so perfect to make a batch and enjoy as a tasty breakfast.

Baklava

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I have been very busy lately which is why I didn’t join in last week with #GreatBloggersBakeOff. I spent last Sunday with my Mum making labels ready for my chutneys that I am selling for people to give as presents or enjoy themselves around Christmas. I have been so happy and slightly surprised with how many people have placed orders already. So much so that I have had to order lots more jars to meet the demand! Because of this, I have been spending the majority of my spare time making the chutneys which has meant everything else has taken a back seat. I was looking forward to making doughnuts last week for #GreatBloggersBakeOff but I ran out of time. I have had a doughnut baking tray for a couple of months now which I am dying to use so I will be making doughnuts as soon as I can!

Week 9 of GBBO was patisserie which is something I have never even contemplated trying before. The technical bake and showstopper looked a little bit time consuming which wasn’t what I was looking for, so I decided to make baklava. Like in the show, I have no idea what the correct way to pronounce it is! I didn’t want to mess around with the recipe and wanted to keep it quite traditional. My idea of baklava is filo with pistachios with a syrup flavoured with rose water and honey. There seem to be a lot of slightly different variations out there, but I eventually found a recipe that incorporated all of the ingredients I associate with baklava. I did end up slightly tweaking the recipe but the original one was found at http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/607184. I obviously used ready-made filo pastry. I can’t see myself ever feeling the need to make it myself!

My manager at work has been suggesting baklava as something I could make for months now so when it came up on GBBO, there was no escaping it! I can’t remember ever eating baklava before, so finger’s crossed I like it!

For the baklava
300g shelled pistachio nuts
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
250g filo pastry
140g butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground and then mix in the cinnamon
  3. Lightly butter a 23cm square baking dish. Unfold the pastry and cut it in half, keep it under a damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Start layering the filo into the dish lying one sheet vertically and the next horizontally making sure you brush each layer with the melted butter.  After four sheets, scatter with a layer of the nuts. Repeat this until you have used up all of your nuts and filo

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  1. When you have finished, brush the top with melted butter and trim off the filo that is hanging over the tin. Cut diagonal lines right down to the bottom of the tin. The pastry will be too flaky when it comes out of the oven to cut which is why you cut it before it cooks

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  1. Put in the oven for 40-45 minutes until it is golden and crisp. If it is becoming too brown, turn the oven down to 170ºC
  2. Leave to cool

For the syrup
300ml water
350g caster sugar
125ml clear honey
1 tsp cinnamon
½ orange zest
1½ tsp rose water 

  1. Put all of the ingredients into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the syrup has reduced by 1/3. Pour the syrup into a jug and let it cool
  2. When the baklava has come to room temperature, pour half of the syrup down the cuts. Leave this to soak in for 5 minutes or so and then pour the remaining syrup down the cuts
  3. Leave for at least an hour to let the syrup soak into the baklava

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The pastry is deliciously crisp with layers or pistachios smothered with a thick, incredibly sweet syrup with the most amazing flavour which is like nothing I have had before. I think Nigella sums up baklava perfectly “This is so temple-achingly sweet that one small marked-out diamond, or maybe two, is enough. But even so, I love its perfumed sugariness – as much as I love the tender, rose-shot green of its equally fragrant nubbly interior.”

It’s not something you will sit and eat piece after piece, it is so sweet and satisfying that less really is more. This isn’t an everyday dish, but it makes an amazing treat for a special occasion. I am very pleased with how this recipe turned out because I have never used filo before and also because I had a fiddle with the recipe and did it my way.

To see more recipes inspired by GBBO. Please check out www.mummymishaps.co.uk or follow @jennypaulin on Twitter.

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