Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I am maybe a little bit too excited about the first day of autumn - even though it's kind of grey and overcast here - because autumn means that my baking habits can unashamedly veer towards all things pumpkin, cinnamon, and/or apple related. SO cosy.

Here are a few very tasty looking recipes I am looking forward to trying to kick off the season:

These overnight buttermilk cinnamon rolls from Averie Cooks

This recipe for at home pumpkin spice latte syrup over on A Beautiful Mess. I've been adding pumpkin pie spice to my morning coffee for about a week now, and am excited to try a fancier at home coffee treat!

These adorable apple pie cookies from Smitten Kitchen

And I think I may need a special occasion/party to try this recipe for salted caramel swirled pumpkin cheesecake bars (also from Averie Cooks). They look like they'd be dangerous otherwise...

Do you have any autumn baking favorites or recent delicious discoveries?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When Your Baking Experiment Crumbles...

Embrace it and actually make crumble from it!  I have done this with several batches of banana bread and the like in the past, but most recently I had a bit of a cinnamon roll fail. I am choosing to blame out-of-date yeast for their less than stellar texture outcome. Rather than letting the batch go to waste, I converted it to apple crumble!

What you'll need:

  • One batch of banana bread, cinnamon rolls, cake, etc that didn't quite turn out as hoped
  • 80-100g unsalted butter
  • 4 baking apples
  • 1 tbsp flour (of your choice)
  • raisins or sultanas to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

What to do:

First I crumbled the decidedly un-fluffy cinnamon rolls onto a cookie sheet and lightly toasted their crumbled remains in the oven.

Let the toasted pieces cool for 5-10 minutes before combining them with 80-100g unsalted butter (depending on how dry your original baking disaster was...). If the oven is not already heated to 170C/350F, then start to preheat it now. 

Next, knead the butter into the toasted crumbles until you have a firm cookie-dough-like consistency. Set aside for a moment.

For the apple filling, I followed a very similar recipe to what I did for my Almond Apple Berry Crumble. Roughly chop 3-4 cooking apples. Then mix the apple chunks and raisins (if desired) in a mixing bowl and toss lightly with 1 tablespoon of flour. If you'd like, also toss with 1 tsp ground cinnamon. I didn't do that with this batch, since I was already using the remains of cinnamon rolls!

Divide the apple filling evenly into the four ramekins, then press 1/4 of the dough mixture on top of the apple filling. The filled ramekins should look like this:

Pop into the oven for about 30 minutes, let cool for 5, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Tried It: The Best Lemon Poppyseed Bread

Joanna over at A Cup of Joe was not kidding! This is some seriously good lemon poppyseed bread. I didn't even use lemon glaze, and I probably ate close to twenty percent of this cake while it was still warm. It's so light and fluffy that it made me think of this clip...

The original recipe for this delicious bread can be found at A Farmgirl's Dabbles (c/o A Cup of Joe). Below is my adapted version.

What you'll need:

  • 225g flour 
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 160ml buttermilk
  • 120ml oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp almond extract
  • freshly grated zest of 3 lemons
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (about a half lemon's worth)

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350F/175C.

Zest your lemon. I agree, it is one of the more tedious aspects of lemon-related-recipe-prep. But I promise, it will be worth it.

Combine your dry ingredients - the flour, caster sugar, salt, baking powder, and poppyseeds, in a mixing bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients - the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest and the juice from half a lemon. Blend with a handheld mixer, and then gradually add in the mix of dry ingredients. Blend for another minute or two, until all lumps have disappeared.

Lightly grease a bundt tin (or load tins, or muffin tins if you prefer!), pour the batter in, and bake for about 45 minutes - until an inserted fork comes out clean.  Let cool for at least 15 minuets before attempting to dislodge the cake from it's tin.

If you'd prefer this WITH the lemon glaze, check out Brenda's original recipe over on A Farmgirl's Dabbles.

(Thank you Brenda and Joanna!)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day Adventure: Richmond Park

For those of you in London wanting a little getaway from the city, have you been to Richmond Park? You can get there easily using public transport, and there are lots of nice little trails and paths that meander through the park. 

There are wild deer roaming around, which is something you don't see every day!

These guys look a bit like they've spotted Fenton.
Have you been to Richmond Park? I also really like wandering around Hampstead Heath, Regents Park, and Kew Gardens. Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pumpkin Muffins

It's September, and do you know what that means? At least according to elementary/primary school students it is now fall/autumn. Which, to me, means pumpkins! Okay, who am I kidding? I'd eat pumpkins year round. But apparently autumn and winter are the socially acceptable pumpkin eating seasons. 

So to kick off September in proper pumpkin style, I'm sharing one of my many Pumpkin Muffin recipes. They're also gluten and dairy free (although you can adjust this recipe if you like gluten and/or dairy)!

What you'll need: (makes 12 muffins)

  • 150g pumpkin (canned or cooked - I used Libby's)
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml unsweetened almond milk (I like Blue Diamond)
  • 20g melted coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 200g self-raising flour (I used Dove's Farm GF blend again - does that make me predictable?)
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • pecans (optional)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 180C/360F.

Combine the pumpkin, egg, coconut oil, vanilla, and almond milk. I used a handheld beater for this, you could use a whisk though. Definitely don't go high powered on this stage, as it is mostly liquid and will go everywhere!

Next add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice directly to this mixture.

Blend thoroughly. It should look like this:

Finally, blend in the light brown sugar, continuing to mix until you achieve this consistency:

Next, lightly grease a 12 muffin tin with a bit of coconut oil. I know in my pictures I've used paper muffin liners. But unless you want to be picking bits of paper off your muffins before you eat them (Mmm, fibre. Haha!) I would highly recommend just using coconut oil instead.

Finally, if you'd like to, top each muffin with a pecan half. Another option with the pecans would be to chop a decent sized handful and blend into the batter. I've tried it this way too, and it's tasty!

Pop into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick or fork and it comes out clean.

I've been eating these bad boys with my coffee for the last two days. Nom nom nom. Pumpkin.

Ed: These are best eaten within 24 hours of baking!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Snapshots of this Summer

So although I know that it's not technically autumn yet, I kind of feel like the last official day of summer was Saturday. And it was a really nice, sunny, pub lunch and hang out in the park kind of day. It made me just a little bit sad that summer is nearly over, but we had some amazing summer adventures and lots of outside time - just take a look!

Found tons and tons of flowers on Howth Hill during a stroll in Ireland...

Including this Disney-esque scene of fallen pink petals and twisty tree limbs, which were perfect for climbing.

A dream-come-true tiger kiss (and the most amazing day photographing big cats)!

Home for Fathers Day and freshly baked doughnuts for breakfast to celebrate. I definitely have some autumn themed doughnut recipes in the works!

A family trip to this beautiful and low-key beach with plenty of walks...

And also many loggerhead turtle nests spotted on those walks - I so wanted to see baby turtles!

We also made good use of the bikes at the beach. It was nice to take breaks with leisurely shaded bike rides in the afternoon - and on the beach in the evenings once the tide went out!

A nostalgic eatery visiting tour of Athens, Georgia with my sister. (Mama's Boy, Big City Bread, and Last Resort, I'm looking at you!)

And VERY colorful legs (actually, head to toe colorful!) after the Color Run, which was my first official 5k! Please note: only one of those legs is mine!

Spent a weekend in Wales and hiked up Snowdon.

Also spent a sunny Saturday walking around central London like great big tourists. Because sometimes you forget that monuments and sightseeing type things are everywhere when you live nearby.

I enjoyed times about 100 all of the beautiful, sunny, and seasonally appropriate weather in and around London and elsewhere this summer. So I suppose it's only fair that autumn's starting to sneak in now, right? At least I can unabashedly consumer unreasonable quantities of pumpkin soon, right?

Did you soak up as much sunshine as you could this summer? What are you looking forward to as it starts to cool off?