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Peach Melba Muffins {from Have Your Cake and Eat It by Mich Turner MBE}

12 March 2017

Known as the ‘Queen of Couture Cakes’, Mich Turner MBE is something of an icon in the baking world. Since starting her business at the tender age of 17, Mich has baked for The Queen, Madonna, Pierce Brosnan and David Beckham. Her cakes and decorating craft were some of the first to inspire me to take baking - always a homely, understated hobby - a little more seriously. 

And so when Mich got in touch and sent me a review copy of her new book, Have Your Cake and Eat It, I had to pinch myself a little. This book is all about celebrating healthier recipes for everyday baking.

As a qualified nutritionist and food biochemist, Mich has used her experience and know-how to bring together nutritious and delicious recipes for those looking for a healthier way to bake. This book perfectly demonstrates that eating healthily doesn't need to be bland and boring. Instead, Mich offers natural alternatives to conventional fats, flours and sugars, to add new levels of flavour and complexity to healthier baked goods. 

Flicking through the book, I found myself bookmarking every other page - Mich's recipes for rhubarb and sour cream squares, Lemon polenta cake with strawberry compote and Dairy-free chocolate and coconut loaf are all sitting comfortably on my to do list.

By way of a preview, Mich has kindly shared her recipe for Peach Melba Muffins with me. These naturally dairy free muffins are a revelation - packed with fresh peach and raspberries, then injected with fruit compote for natural added sweetness and flavour.

Have Your Cake and Eat It by Mich Turner is available to buy on Amazon.

THE INGREDIENTS
Makes 12 muffins
210g plain flour 
40g ground almonds 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
125g golden caster sugar 
2 eggs 
90ml sunflower oil 
250g soya or coconut yogurt 
2 large peaches, 1 stoned and chopped and 1 cut into 12 slices 
8 amaretti biscuits, lightly crushed 
½ quantity Fruit Compote (see below), blended until smooth 
50g fresh raspberries 
40g flaked almonds 
For the compote
400g fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries) 
100g golden caster sugar 
Zest and juice of 1 lemon or orange (optional) 

THE RECIPE
Heat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases.

Sift the flour, ground almonds and baking powder into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and non-dairy yogurt. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Lightly fold in the chopped peach and crushed amaretti biscuits. Spoon the batter into the cases.

For the compote, place the fruit, sugar and citrus zest and juice (if using) together in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue to heat, stirring occasionally for about 25–30 minutes until the fruit has softened and reduced to a thick pulp. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the sugar or add lemon juice to taste. 

Spoon the smooth fruit compote into a piping bag and snip the end to make a small hole. Insert the tip just under the surface of the batter and inject about 2 teaspoons compote per muffin. Top with a peach slice, a few raspberries and some flaked almonds.

Bake for 25–30 minutes before cooling on a wire rack. Store for 2–3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These muffins are not suitable for freezing. 

Recipe courtesy of 'Have Your Cake and Eat It' by Mich Turner MBE, published by Jacqui Small. Photography by Peter Cassidy. 

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Pear, dark chocolate and hazelnut crumble {gluten free}

26 February 2017

I love the ritual of baking. By that, I mean the familiar process that accompanies each new recipe.

First, the idea. Like most things in this world, the start is small. The seed could be anything - a flavour pairing seen on a dessert menu in a restaurant, a sudden craving, new season fruit at the market, or the rediscovery of a long forgotten ingredient at the back of a cupboard.

Second, the development. Armed with coffee and my kitchen notebook, I take that first inspiration and begin to imagine the bare bones of a recipe. I wonder if those flavours would work in an enriched dough? Could I candy that fruit? Which secondary flavours – sugars, spices, herbs or grains – will make this ingredient sing? And perhaps more importantly, what mood am I in? Is this a slow cook, or do I just want something quick and delicious?

Next, the first draft. With the skeleton of an idea in mind, I’ll start to think logistically. I’ll consult my own recipe archive – how much cinnamon did I add to that cake? How long did those cookies take to bake in the end? I’ll also reference my extensive collection of cookbooks, to check that my imagined ratios and timings make sense. What would Nigel Slater do? Didn’t Elizabeth David make a plum cake with hazelnuts once? And perhaps before any of this – has the wonderful Felicity Cloake already done the hard work for me?

And then, the test drive. After shopping for or gathering together my ingredients and equipment, I test the recipe. I note down any changes – that’s far too much chocolate, this oven temperature is too high – but also roll with the punches. Sometimes things don’t turn out as I’d imagined, but are even more delicious for it. Baking is a paradoxical mix of precision and flare, after all.

This recipe was one such happy accident. A mismatched and quickly ripening bowl of pears, combined with a thrown together crumble made from store cupboard ingredients.  If you don’t have pear liquer, use wine or water. I couldn’t resist a little decadence in my mid-week dessert.
pears
3 ripe conference, comice or william pears
10g butter
25g golden caster sugar
25ml pear liqeur, white wine or water
40g dark chocolate, finely chopped
crumble
40g wholemeal buckwheat flour
Pinch sea salt
½ tsp ground ginger
30g butter, cubed
20g muscavado sugar
30g rolled oats
30g hazelnuts, lightly toasted

Heat the oven to 180°C.

Peel the pears, then slice them in half and use a teaspoon to neatly scoop out the cores.

Melt the butter and golden caster sugar in a small saucepan. Once golden and dissolved, add the wine, vermouth or water and turn up the heat. Add the pears and saute. Remove as soon as they are golden and well coated in the butter and sugar. Transfer to a small ovenproof dish, pouring over any remaining cooking syrup, and allow them to cool. Scatter over the finely chopped chocolate.

For the crumble, whisk together the buckwheat flour, salt and ground ginger in a large bowl. Add the butter, and rub into the flour using your fingertips. Continue until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the muscovado sugar, oats and hazelnuts.

Sprinkle the crumble over the pears. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling.

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Blood orange ice cream

19 February 2017

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog regularly will be well aware of my obsession with citrus fruits. The arrival of crate upon crate of these sunny, weighty fruits to our winter markets makes me all kinds of happy. I love them because just a squeeze of juice or a grating of zest can perfectly season a dish. And, no less importantly, I love them for bringing some much-needed tang and vitamin C during these lean winter months.

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