What does the last of the housewives do?

Category: Muffins

Another Banana Recipe

It turned out fine in the end, though it was touch and go for a while. There does seem to be an infinite amount of permutations to the banana cake recipe, but this one was a bit further out than most and I lost concentration half way through, as you do. It’s another one from the Black and White cookbook. I can sell you one if you’d like.

The Muffet only likes to eat bananas in company, so we have a surfeit of them from when the German girl came to stay. This morning I had six small spotty bananas, each with a halo of vinegar flies, begging to be put in a cake. I thought to myself, I thought, I’ll do a nice healthy banana loaf with half of those and something fancy with the other half.

The something fancy is a banana, raspberry and almond cake. The recipe suggest a bundt tin, but honestly, who has one of those? Well, I do actually, but I’m going to be making these in muffin form. Stuff gets a lot more eaten in muffin form.

You start off by creaming 200 grams of butter with a cup of caster sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add a couple of eggs, beating after each addition. Stir in a large banana, or two small bananas in this case, and a half a cup of sour cream. Or some leftover creme fraiche from last week’s Thermomix demonstration and some accidental light sour cream. Stir in two and a half cups of flour and half a cup of almond meal. What you should do at this point is also stir in five teaspoons of baking powder to make up for the fact that you don’t use self raising flour. Or you could just proceed to folding in a cup and a half of frozen raspberries. You have quite a stiff dough at this point. And I would recommend folding them in, don’t try using the KitchenAid.

I got to the point of spooning them into the paper lined muffin tin before realising I’d left out the baking powder. So I heaved a deep sigh. And spooned in the baking powder. Of course with the raspberries already in there, you start breaking them up a fair bit when you mix that in. You could try cursing a bit. I didn’t find it helped, but it relieved the tension a little. Not as much as eating a handful of chocolate bits did.

Spoon the mixture into lined muffin tins, I got eighteen out of it. Bake for about half an hour at 180 degrees. Notice halfway through that black spots are appearing on your muffins. Google fruitlessly for a bit. Decide to make sure they brown quite a lot. I’m guessing it was due to improperly mixed in baking powder, but I’ll never know for sure. The browning certainly helped, but they weren’t the most attractive things.

I thought about icing them, but they were fairly strongly flavoured already. A dusting of icing sugar while still hot covers a multitude of sins. I do this by getting a chunk of icing sugar and rubbing it on a sieve over the muffins.

I thought seriously about firing them from the event I’ll be taking them to tomorrow, but then I tasted one. The least attractive one. Rich, moist, delicious, what a flavour combination. The icing sugar on top had formed a crunchy crust. The Muffet ate two before I could wrestle them away from her. That’s going on my deadly sixty. Hang on, wrong show.


Hot Cross Buns

I’ve waited until February to make them. Yes, it is very distressing to see them in the shops before Australia Day. I like having a bit of usually pointless seasonal rhythm to my baking. Fruit cake at Christmas. Hot cross buns in Ent. Curse you iPad autocorrect. Lent. An Ent wouldn’t eat a hot cross bun. Actually, that’s it really, everything else I make year round.

This is one of those just bung all the ingredients together recipes. I’m pretty sure it’s a Donna Hay one, and I haven’t even played with it at all, it’s good as is.

I sometimes think I should start a YouTube channel for a real cooking show. There’s a gaping niche there. Today it would go like this. Search for metal bowl, not the one with the rubber bottom because we want to put it in the oven. Realise it’s in the fridge and it’s full of chicken stock. Rummage in the pantry for the Glad mini zip locks I decant half cups of chicken stock into to put in the freezer. Discover three empty boxes. Toss these in recycling. Realise recycling is full and take out same. Etcetera. That’s how real people cook, nobody ever has everything all lined up in glass bowls before they start.

Anyway, once you’ve washed your metal bowl until it doesn’t smell of chicken stock any more, place in it the following ingredients. Twenty grams of fresh yeast and a cup and a half of milk. Get in there with your fingers and squish the yeast until it has dissolved into the milk. Go wash your hands. Now add the rest. Four and a quarter cups of flour (sounds a little fussy, I grant you, you could definitely use four cups, then add the rest when you’re kneading), two teaspoons of mixed spice, two teaspoons of cinnamon, an egg, a cup of sultanas, half a cup of currants and fifty grams of melted butter. Mash all that together until you have a sticky heterogeneous lump, then dump it onto a flour covered workbench. Dust it with a good handful of flour and start kneading. The recipe suggests to keep going for eight minutes, but not even I’m anal enough to time myself and besides, I did a pump class this morning. You knead it until the dough feels smooth in between the fruit, but still a little sticky. It will have sucked up a bit of flour by then.

Wash the mixing bowl and tip a little oil into it. Wipe it around and place the dough back into it, you can now leave it to its thoughts if you have all day, or if it’s hot, but I don’t and it isn’t, so it’s going in the oven with just the light on. Wait until it has doubled in bulk, then get out that roasting pan that I seem to make everything, or a jelly roll tin if you have such a thing and line it with baking paper. Divide the dough in half, then in half again. Take one quarter and stretch it out so it’s like a very fat sausage. Divide that in three and shape each bit so it’s round and place it in the tin. Repeat until you have twelve buns. Cover it with a cloth, and back under the light. After about an hour they should have risen to be all squashed together.

Take a mini zip lock bag and place in it one third of a cup of flour and a quarter of a cup of water. Mix it around until it has combined, then seal the bag. Snip off a tiny corner, about half a centimetre. Squeeze lines of flour paste across the buns to form crosses. Or any pattern you like really. They spread out, so don’t get too fancy.

Bake them for about forty minutes at one hundred and eighty degrees. As soon as they come out of the oven brush them liberally with sugar syrup. You make sugar syrup by putting a quarter of a cup of sugar in a tiny saucepan with about an eighth of a cup of water and heating until the sugar dissolves. You don’t really have to do this, but it does make them very shiny.

Yes I know my crosses suck. Let this be a lesson to you, children, don’t let your mind wander when making the flour paste. Also, if you drop some on your toes you’ll notice a bit later when you’re picking the kids up from school that it looks as if your pedicure has gone mouldy.

Blender Apple Muffins

I don’t have Thermomix envy. Well, actually, I really do, you may have guessed that by now. But a result of obsessing about that magic German machine has been getting the kids to buy me a blender for one tenth of the price of a Thermomix, and I’m determined to get an enormous amount of use from it. So far, I have been extremely successful. And yesterday I made muffins in it.

They’re still not the greatest apple muffins, but they’re an improvement on the Green Apple Muffins I posted a few months ago. I think they need more fat. And wheat germ. Half of them are gone already, so they can’t be too bad.

Place into your super dooper blender three small or two large green apples, cut into quarters and with the seeds chopped out. Don’t peel them. Add a quarter of a cup of oil, a tablespoon of sour cream, two thirds of a cup of brown sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla essence, a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of mixed spice. Zap it. You may need to use the poking stick (supplied with blender), or to stop the blender a couple of times to move the fairly stiff mixture around. Add an egg, and this time just use the lowest setting to mix it in. Add in a cup and a half of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Again, just use the lowest setting to incorporate that flour. Get in there with a soup spoon and make sure it’s all mixed in. I’m using baking paper squares again to line the muffin tins. You do need to prod the paper down first before filling them up, they’re a bit more fiddly than muffin cups, but they do look good, and that’s one less thing for me to forget when I go to the shops.

Of course the one I take a photo of (aiding homework) is in the second last muffin cup, I had to use them up. It is hard to get an interesting shot of a muffin, there’s a certain sameness about them. I feel sorry for magazine food stylists. Perhaps next time I’ll put it up a tree or something. This mix makes the fairly annoying number of ten medium sized muffins. Something else to work on, a mix that makes an even dozen.

Rustic Pistachio Friands

Yes, thanks, I did have a lovely long weekend. All I’ll say about it is that I appear to have acquired reverse seasickness, which can only be temporarily assuaged by spinning around like a whirling dervish. Some dive sites also recommend getting very drunk. It may come to that.

The beginning of the school year and the cupboard is, yet again, bare. I’m sure I left plenty of baked goods, but all that remains is some neglected fruit cake and a container lined with biscotti crumbs. The Horror puts in a request for pistachio friands. He had spent many months of solid nagging to get me to develop a recipe for these that he would find acceptable. Most recipes are just for plain friands with a couple of pistachios dumped on top, not even to be thought of. I managed to make some a couple of weeks ago, and he condescended to enjoy them very much. I even offered one to his piano teacher with his weekly cup of tea, but felt a curiously familiar xraying sensation pass over me as I handed over the plate. The Horror has inherited his father’s icy death stare! That boy needs to learn that he doesn’t get exclusive rights to any baked goods, no matter how much of a hand he had in the development of the recipe.

It was pretty simple in the end. I’ve just substituted a cup of ground pistachios for the cup of almond meal in the traditional recipe. I’ve been grinding nuts in an old coffee grinder we possibly got as a wedding present, and it does a pretty reasonable, if rustic, job.

So the recipe, if you want it, is really simple. You just mix together a cup of, in this case, pistachio meal, three quarters of a cup of flour, one and two thirds of a cup of icing sugar and a teaspoon of baking powder. Add 125 grams of melted butter and three eggs and mix well.

Except that I didn’t have any icing sugar, because someone at Coles today had my shopping list and had gone around before me taking everything I wanted off the shelves. I hate them so much. No, I won’t love Coles brand soft icing mixture instead, it’s probably made with the ground up souls of exploited farmers. So I gave my new blender an appraising look, and tipped in some caster sugar. I started it off slow, then cranked it up until there was a whirling snowstorm of sugar in there. Great, I won’t need to buy icing sugar any more. I should probably consider doing the nut meal in there too. What an excellent Christmas present that was.

Where were we? Oh yes, spoon the mixture into friand tins. That’s if you really want to thoroughly grease and flour them. I’ve been experimenting with using baking paper as muffin cases because I’m pretending to be an upmarket cafe, and they’re going to work well in friand tins because of the oval shape. So I take my baking paper and cut strips a third of the width across, if you see what I’m saying, then cut them off square. Yes, I should have taken a picture, but I’m in the middle of making dinner now, so use your imaginations. Poke the squares down into the friand shapes, then load them almost to the top with mixture, it doesn’t rise very much. I’m calling them rustic because of the consistency of the pistachio meal and because I’m using whole eggs. This is what they look like.

They look a lot more like real friands, with that rise in the middle with a little break in it, if you use finer meal and five egg whites instead of the three eggs. With the amount if friands we get through, I’m not bothering. These have a distinct murky green colour, a slightly chewy outside and a slightly heavy but recognisably friandy crumb. They’ve gone straight to the top of the Horror’s request list.

Passionfruit Muffins

I didn’t actually kill our passionfruit vine. It was a combination of strangulation by a virulent bougainvillea (that we had to pay someone to dig out before we lost a child in it) and a lawnmowing man with a short attention span who kept whippersnippering it at the base. In the fullness of time I shall pick a spot and plant another and possibly even water it occasionally, but until then I’ll just have to wait until the fruit shop is selling nets of them for five bucks a pop.

To make passionfruit muffins, one must first locate a recipe. You can skip this step, there’s one happening further down as you may have surmised from the blog title. Many recipes with fruit in the title are misleading, the fruit goes on top as decoration or in icing. I’m as happy as the next person to make passionfruit icing, but I like my flavour to go all the way through, and you shouldn’t be putting icing on a muffin anyway, that turns it into a cupcake. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found in a slightly stilted article published in a range of New Zealand newspapers. My researches indicate that cooking with passionfruit may be a bit of a New Zealand thing.

Mix in a bowl the wet ingredients, which are one egg, sixty grams of melted butter, sixty grams of softened cream cheese, three quarters of a cup of milk and three quarters of a cup of passionfruit pulp. Today, that was six passionfruit. Add the dry ingredients, which are two cups of flour, four teaspoons of baking powder and three quarters of a cup of sugar, and after tasting these guys I’d also add a pinch of salt. Mix lightly, then fill up a twelve hole paper lined muffin tray. One day I must see how using squares of baking paper works, so I can pretend I’m running a cafe, but I still have about fifty of those accordion style cups, so I’ll use them up first. Get the batter in quickly, it seemed to be starting to react with the baking powder as I was spooning it in, I’m guessing because of the acidity of the passionfruit. Resist the urge to go and hang out the washing halfway through. Bake at one hundred and eighty degrees for twenty five minutes.

These have come out fairly cakelike, probably because of the extra fat in the cream cheese. I added the cream cheese in mainly because I thought it would be a nice flavour combination and I actually had some. They’re very light and not too sweet and I don’t expect them to last long.



Sometimes the day just gets away from you and you find yourself in the car with a couple of starving boys demanding to know what delectable treat you’ve whipped up for afternoon tea. What you do is hold them off for twenty minutes with yesterday’s strawberry sorbet while you mix up some cornbread.

I was given this recipe by a Korean colleague of my husband’s, but really only started making it after we got back from the US last year. Over there it’s a thing you serve as a meal’s carbohydrate, like mashed potatoes, which I still can’t bring myself to do. I do like to make this recipe and put it into mini muffin cups, that way it will get taken in lunch boxes by my crumb averse children. Makes about sixteen mini muffins.

What you’re supposed to do is mix together one cup of flour, one cup of yellow cornmeal or polenta, four teaspoons of baking powder, a third of a cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Then you’re supposed to beat in an egg and add up to a half a cup of milk, enough to make a stiff batter. Then you stir in a quarter of a cup of oil. But because I was being nagged fairly thoroughly I just dumped everything in the bowl and mixed it up and scooped it into mini muffin cups. Done after about fifteen minutes at 180 degrees.

You can also scrape it into a baking paper lined lamington tin and bake it for a bit longer for your more traditional shape. I’m sorely tempted to skip the sugar next time and substitute grated Parmesan cheese. Let me know if you try it before I do. It may interest you to know that while Parmesan cheese can be grated effortlessly in a Thermomix, it just makes a stick mixer make whiny noises. I can’t be bothered trying it in a blender. In case you were wondering.

Two types of Chocolate Muffins

I value audience participation, so I asked the Horror from Outer Space if he were given the choice between chocolate peppermint muffins and chocolate coconut muffins, what would it be? “Bacon muffins” he said.

I think if you’re going to make chocolate muffins, you may as well go all out and make chocolate with chocolate chips. I went looking for recipes, and loosely based my first version on that of an American woman who was making these as a healthy treat for her son who was going off to college. Should I even comment on that? Perhaps not. They were OK, and have been eaten, but required work. The recipe I provide here is more satisfying.

Take a metal bowl and melt about sixty grams of butter in it by sticking it in the oven which you’ve turned on to preheat. I do like avoiding washing up. Once it has melted, you’ll want to leave it to cool for a bit so you don’t cook the egg too early. My original version used oil at this step, but the butter makes it richer. Add a half a cup of milk and an egg and beat it all together. If you’re going down the chocolate peppermint route, add half a teaspoon of peppermint essence to the mixture now, no more, that stuff is strong. Now the dry ingredients. Add a cup of flour, one quarter of a cup of cocoa, one third of a cup of sugar, one quarter of a cup of chocolate chips, two teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. If you’re going down the coconut route, add a quarter of a cup of desiccated coconut here. You don’t have to do coconut or peppermint, but I wouldn’t advise doing both. Mix thoroughly, and spoon into those little pattycake cases, I don’t want my kids eating large sized ones of these. It makes twelve if you fill the cases up, then you’ll get those nice muffin tops, rather than the ones resulting from eating too many muffins. I would normally then top with about three chocolate chips per muffin for an even more exciting top, but I got to the bottom of the packet and am resisting opening the big packet I got from Chef’s Warehouse. Bake at 180 degrees for about twenty minutes. When you’re testing for doneness with a skewer, make sure you haven’t stabbed one of the chocolate chips, because that will give you the wrong idea.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must return to basting my batting.