Red velvet and blueberry muffins

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Helllooooo :)! 

So many things happening at the moment! But of course I want to take a moment to bake something this week as well :)! This week I made red velvet and blueberry muffins. Red velvet muffins have been popping up more and more the recent years – so you might think ‘oh no – she did not get into this trend as well…’. However, for me there are lots of good memories and stories connected to red velvet cake or muffins.

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Let me begin at the beginning (I feel a bit like Ted from How I Met Your Mother right now – if you have watched it haha), ‘it all started on shortly before my eighteenth birthday (which is almost 2 years ago…)’. Because turning 18 feels a bit more special than your average birthday, I wanted to celebrate it by having a ‘fancy’ dinner with cocktails and cake with my friends. I was very lucky – because in June an awesome friend from the USA had arrived in Amsterdam and was staying with us for a couple of months, while doing graphic design work for a company in Amsterdam (yes – he is doing what I would love to do after my degree – so he is a great source of inspiration). Let’s call him by his name haha, Seth. 18Seth was very excited to help me out with my birthday party and a brilliant source of enthusiasm for every single detail of the dinner. We created cocktails together, he designed my menu’s, we got things to decorate everything (within a colour scheme).And he introduced me to red velvet cake. I had never had red velvet cake before, and did not know what was so ‘special’ about it besides being bright red. Nevertheless, Seth convinced me to try Jamie Oliver‘s recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes (making it into a cake instead of muffins) to have as my birthday cake (he had brought Jamie’s America with him as a gift). And this cake turned out to be divine – my friends loved it. The rest of my cocktail party was amazing as well – I could not have wished for a better way to celebrate my 18th birthday – so once again: Thank you, Seth!!19

I also made this cake when my family came over for my birthday
– and it was literally g
one within 5 minutes (due to my slow slicing of the cake haha). So a pretty good cake you would say. I am not finished with my red velvet muffin story though (sorry – you might just want to scroll down to today’s recipe haha).

A couple of weeks after my birthday, I went to Canada to be a nanny. And when I came back I only had two months before leaving to Sydney. One of the first things when I came back from Canada was the question from one of my friends when I would make red velvet cake again – and I had to promise I would make it before I headed off again. So fair enough, when I had a goodbye-dinner a couple of days before I left, it was very easy to decide what to have for dessert: red velvet cake (but in the shape of a koala this time!) 15 16 Even though, the celebrating had more of a sad nature this time – the cake was delicious, helped a lot and the dinner was very nice! (And yes – got a koala hat to keep me warm in Sydney hihi)

Done yet? No – sorry, almost though! In my first year in Sydney, I asked my new friends if they ever had had red velvet muffins. And they told me that they hadn’t and asked me what is so special about them. Hmm… I actually found it hard to answer this question. For me, they obviously have a lot of memories connected to them. But they themselves are really nice as well. So let me try to describe them. They are very light in texture (velvet-like haha) and have a subtle but strong enough chocolate flavour to them. They are just really good, just try them haha – too hard to explain. And the same I did for my new friends – I decided just to make them, so they could experience them for themselves. They really enjoyed them too and so did my housemates.

Later, they were also one of the first bakes I made when I got together with Nic – and he really enjoyed them as well. Every time I made the muffins in Sydney, I got jealous messages from my friends in Amsterdam – demanding that I would make them as soon as I was back (I did also give them a recipe – but apparently they were much better when I made them haha – no I am not bragging). So when I was back in Amsterdam in February, we had a dinner in the last weekend before I left for which everyone made something. And I made my red velvet muffins again. They turned out really good and were yummy with the icing I made as well. The few there who had not tried them before (some of which a bit sceptical maybe of the red colour), enjoyed them as well. 17

Now, this week. Why make them this week?
Well, you can obviously make them any week, since they are pretty divine.But this week is a good week to post them onto my blog since it is in the middle of the birthdays of two really good friends in Amsterdam, Inge and Marike (with whom I can be crazy at home and maybe a bit more civilized at the airport haha)20
Inge’s birthday was last Friday – she had a fancy dinner this time and I got to be the designer designing her menu this time 🙂 which was a fun experience. But unfortunately I could of course not attend her dinner. Marike’s birthday is this Saturday and clearly I cannot celebrate it physically with her either. So therefore I decided to devote this post to them – wishing them an amazing, wonderful and awesome birthday and promising to make them red velvet muffins as soon as possible.

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I did tweak my recipe a bit this time – altering it a bit more from the Jamie Oliver recipe. I added blueberries. Why? Because I really like blueberries and especially in light-textured cakes they make an awesome addition to my opinion. I also thought the blueberry and chocolate combination would work well, and the colour contrast would be cool! And of course, I like to experiment with recipes. So here you go. They actually turned out even better than I expected. The blueberries are an amazing addition and lift the red velvet muffins to the next level (is there a level about divine? Maybe galaxy-like haha?). If you want to have the pure red velvet muffin experience first, just leave the blueberries out. I used frozen ones, but I am sure fresh blueberries would work as well.

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So, one more thing to address before I give you the recipe. Easter. Happy Easter to you first of all. And secondly, these muffins will keep Nic and me company on our road trip to my family in Mildura – where we are going for easter. I am very excited to see them all (and the cats and the new dog Moca) and really like that Nic is coming with me. The road to them is long though – about 1000km. So let’s hope that these muffins will make the trip a bit more bearable haha.

 

 

14 6I love the red colour – just so bright and happy!
9 102Bright colours – happy days! 
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Well, enough of my stories today. I hope you can make your own stories with these muffins and I would love to hear them! Enjoy!

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Red velvet and blueberry muffins

Makes 15 muffins or one large cake

  • 90g butter
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 4.5 tbsp red food colouring
  • 4 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 260g flour
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or make your own by combining 3/4 cup of milk (can by diary-free milk – I used soy milk today) with 3/4 tsp of white wine vinegar)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a muffin tin with muffin paper cups.
  2. Beat butter and the sugar by hand or with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and well mixed. Slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated. Add the salt and red food colour until you have a lovely bright red mixture.
  3. Slowly pour in half the butter milk and beat until well mixed. Fold in half the flour and mix everything well. Mix in the rest of the buttermilk and afterwards, fold the rest of the flour into the mixture. Beat until you have a smooth and even mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar. Whisk it and it will fizz up. Add it to the batter and mix until well combined.
  5. Quickly rinse the frozen blueberries (do not thaw them before using them) and coat them lightly in flour. Add them to the batter and fold them in.
  6. Divide the batter over the muffin tins – bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (it can come out a bit red because of the food colouring and if you prick into a blueberry, your toothpick will be wet, obviously – so keep that in mind when checking).
  7. Leave the muffins in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to let them cool completely (although they are yummy warm as well).
  8. Optional: after they have completely cooled down, you can cover them in frosting – you can use any recipe (with cream cheese or just butter), all work well!

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Almond and lemon biscotti

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Two posts in one week – woah! (Okay, okay, I did delay my post from last week with a week, so really it is not that impressive haha). Today in Sydney was a very gloomy, rainy and cold day. So after my lecture this morning and a meeting for the cookbook which I am working on, I got home and felt like crawling into bed, drinking tea, sleeping – but most of all: baking! And can you come up with anything better to do on a rainy day?! (Even if you can – baking is probably still a very good option!). IMG_1592I had been thinking over the last week what I wanted to make and decided that I do not often make cookies. Why? I do not know. It’s not that I dislike cookies, not at all, maybe it is just that I have made more muffins and cakes in my life so I am more able to adapt them while baking.

But this week – a challenge – cookies, and not just any cookies that I made before. No. This week I was going to make a kind of cookie I had never made before: biscotti. It is funny to discover how much more research I do into different recipes for the same baked good since I have started this blog (yes, I only want to give you the very best 😉 ). I used to always just google, often ended up on the BBC Food website, or just look in a cookbook, and as soon as I found a recipe for the thing I felt like making I would go with it. But not this week. I think I have probably looked at, hmmm let me think, 8 recipes for biscotti? Maybe even more – my brain is one big biscotti by now haha. I look at the BBC Good Food website, BBC Food, Smitten Kitchen, a cookbook that I owe (called ‘A Piece of Cake’) and lots more. They all used different amounts of sugar, flour, and other ingredients. I was really surprised by the fact that biscotti are made without butter – the things you learn from having a baking blog! Some were made with cranberries, others with hazelnut – I even found one with chocolate and OLIVE (okay – I HAVE to try that sometime – I just need to know if that combination actually works haha). But I decided to go for the more traditional one – almond and lemon (and a hint of cinnamon of course). Today was the perfect day for biscotti’s – in the middle of my crazy, busy, intense weeks (yes to bake is to have a break (and I needed one)), on a rainy, gloomy day – and they pair very well with either coffee or tea. I will stop rambling now. And just give you the recipe. Okay – one more thing – prepare yourself, your hands will get dirty, but it is worth every little bit (and it is actually quite relaxing, dirty hands and baking :)). I hope you like them – enjoy! Let me know what you think!

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IMG_1594 copyAlmond and lemon biscotti

  • 125g whole wheat flour
  • 175g all-purpose flour
  • 130g almonds, chopped and roasted*
  • 150g brown caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 eggs

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. And line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Combine the flour, almonds, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and the zest of the lemons in a big bowl. Mix until combined
  3. Add the eggs in and let the dirty-hand-stage begin.IMG_1583 copyMake the mixture into a dough – you might need to add a little more flour if your dough still seems very sticky (mine was a little sticky, so I added some flour). Once your dough has come together, shape it into 2
  4. IMG_1585logs and place them on thebaking sheet. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes in the oven, until they are lightly browned. Cut one of them through the middle to make sure that they are dry inside.
  5. Transfer them to a cutting board and let them cool slightly.
  6. Cut the two logs at an angle into 1 cm slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet.
  7. Place them back in the oven voor 10 minutes, then turn the slices over, and bake them on the other side for another 8 – 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. IMG_1586 copy
  8. Transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely (or eat them while they are still a little warm if you cannot wait). Enjoy them with coffee, tea, hot chocolate or just by themselves :)! If stored in an airtight container, they should keep up to at least 3 weeks.

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*Toast the chopped almonds for 5 minutes in the preheated oven, but let them cool a bit before you start making the dough – you do not want to burn your fingers on hot nuts :)!

 

 

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Flourless Chocolate and Pear Muffins

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Hi there! Firstly, sorry that it took me longer than I wanted to post up these muffins. I made them almost a week ago, but life was just too full to put them up. I hope the taste will make up for it ;). The weeks are getting busier and busier with university assessments and also my volunteering for the cookbook. All very exciting, but sometimes a bit intense. So that is one of the reasons why I really needed a weekend away. Last weekend, my lovely boyfriend, Nicolas, and I went camping in Coolendel. This is a campsite about 3 hours away from Sydney, but you have the feeling you are in the middle of nowhere – perfect for getting away from the rush of the city. I wanted to bring something baked to enjoy on our little trip. Something that was easy to bring, tasty, yummy and good. IMG_1542At the moment, pears are in season, so I decided to do something with pears, and (why not?!) chocolate. I looked at different recipes, scones, cakes, muffins. And decided in the end to use a BBC Good Food recipe as the base of my recipe. The recipe is a cake, but I figured muffins are easier to have ‘on-the-go’. I increased the chocolate a bit and used less butter – they turned out really good! They were a lot lighter than I had expected. Maybe my pear-bits were a little big, because the muffins did tend to fall apart a bit. They were nevertheless very tasty and a good camping treat :)! IMG_1546

 

Besides the tasty muffins, we had other treats at the campsite as well – wallabies, wombats and iguana’s! We got to pet one of the wombats, when we went for a late night walk. The first wombat we spotted ran away when we tried to approach it – so we let it be, since we didn’t want to stress it out. But the second one (our friend 🙂 ) stood still, a bit nervous-looking, but as soon as we started to pet its back, the wombat completely relaxed, dropped its shoulders and started eating grass. That was a very awesome and cute experience :)! We also went swimming in the river on the campsite, which was very cold. After a while, when I got used to the cold, it was a lot of fun! And the sun was shining enough to later dry you, if you were standing on a sunny spot. So all in all, it was a really good weekend – with an awesome campfire, cool wildlife and delicious muffins – hopefully we’ll get to do it again soon :)! But for now, this is the recipe for my flourless chocolate and  pear muffins! Let me know if you like them – and what you would take as a camping baked treat!

IMG_1551 copyFlourless chocolate and pear muffins

Makes 11 muffins

  • 85g hazelnuts, roasted and ground in a foodprocessor*
  • 60g butter
  • 85g brown caster sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used 90%)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 ripe pears, peeled and chopped into smaller cubes
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. And line your muffin tin with muffin paper cups. IMG_1544 copy
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water, remove from the heat, and leave to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick; fold into the chocolate with the hazelnuts
  4. In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk (I would use an electric whisk if you have one – I tried (okay, I have to admit that it was late at night and I was tired from kick boxing) to do it by hand, but decided to go for the electric whisk instead) , beat the whites until they reach a soft, but stiff peak. Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions.
  5. Fold in the pear pieces. Divide the batter over the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pears are soft and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Make sure you check every now and then within the 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin slightly before transferring the muffins to a rack to cool completely. You can definitely eat them warm as well, but the pears will be very hot. And I liked them more when they were cold!

IMG_1550 copy*To roast the hazelnuts, place them for about 8 -10 minutes at 180C in the oven. Afterwards, let them cool down completely. Try to get rid some of the hazelnut skin. Place the nuts in a foodprocessor and process until you get a fine meal. My hazelnuts were still a little coarse, which gave a nice texture in my opinion, with the surprise of a bigger piece of hazelnut from time to time. But if you want a softer, smoother texture, I recommend processing them until they look more like flour than small breadcrumbs!

Sweet Potato Muffins

Happy Thursday!

Sweet potato muffins

Finally, I managed to persuade myself just to go with my new header, or my new blog in general. I have been wanting to start a baking blog (with the occasional dinner/lunch) for quite a while. Let me introduce myself first, before I start talking too much about other things. My name is Julia. I am nineteen years old and a student in Sydney, where I moved about a year ago. I grew up in Amsterdam, but decided to do my degree somewhere else. So here I am, in Sydney. I am studying Design (just started my second year) and have a passion for Graphic Design so I hope to get into that field later on. That is also why I spend quite a lot of time making a header, or making several ones, because I like to do things like that. But studying can be quite stressful (especially if you know me haha), so I like to bake things from time to time to relax. Muffins, cakes, pies, tarts, macaroons (never done those…so maybe soon?), and lots more! I am always changing recipes I use, so I would like to have a way of remembering my changes besides having a way to share my love for baking and my recipes so that you can enjoy these bakes as well! I often aim for a bit healthier options, but that doesn’t mean that they should taste horrible (or that I won’t make ‘not-so-healthy-things’ every now and then). I am also a vegetarian, just so you know, not that it influences bakes much. Photography is another thing I enjoy doing, so I figured by doing a blog I can experiment a bit with that as well! Oh well, what else can I tell you about me? I just got back from a big trip to Canada, Amsterdam and the UK to visit family and (family) friends, which was very nice!

Enough about me for now, maybe later more, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

IMG_1182So for my first bake, I decided to make something with sweet potatoes. I had a lot spare, and figured that it would probably work in a muffin, just like pumpkin is sometimes used. And it did! I looked up a recipe for pumpkin muffins and took these ‘Whole Wheat Pumpkin Oat Muffins‘ by Karen Troughton. IMG_1149 Instead of the pumpkin, I cooked some sweet potato and made it into a puree (you can either do this by hand or with a food processor, and you can add some water to make it a little smoother). I also reduced the amount of sugar a bit, and only used brown sugar. And, since I have a love for cinnamon (a reason for my blog name), I increased the amount of cinnamon. It was still experimenting, but the muffins turned out to be quite moist, flavoursome and not too sweet (which I like, but you can increase the amount of sugar if you rather have them a bit sweeter). Well not much more to say than just to give you the recipe 🙂 Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • (a bit less than) 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats + 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking sodaIMG_1154
  • 2 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon**
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 12-muffin-tin or line the tins with muffin paper cups.
  2. Combine the sweet potato with the brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well mixed. Add in the egg, whisk, add the buttermilk and whisk until combined.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.IMG_1160
  4. Divide the batter among the 12 muffins and sprinkle the tops with the 2 tablespoons of oats. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. (I recommend checking after 10 – 15 minutes, and going from there, but my oven is quite unpredictable and temperamental)
  5. When the muffins are done, let them rest for 10 minutes in the tins before taking them out. They are very nice warm, but can definitely also be eaten cold!

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*Buttermilk can be replaced very easily by stirring 1 tablespoon of lemon or white wine vinegar into 1 cup of milk (can be plant-based milk as well) and letting it sit for 10 minutes.

**You can alter the amount of spices to your taste, of course 🙂