Carrot Ginger Muffins

It feels a lot like spring here which makes me hopefully that we have gotten over this year’s cold-and-flu season. While I don’t get sick very often, it was a bad year for me, starting with picking up the Swine Flu while traveling (apparently it’s not a thing of the past everywhere in the world…), then catching the nasty flu everyone here seemed to have and finishing it off with a surprisingly resilient cold that actually tied me to the bed for a few days. I think all in all I was sick for a good 2 months since last fall but I’m not going to use this blog to complain about that (any longer). Instead, just to be on the safe side, I made some immune system boosting, vitamin and minerals loaded, infection fighting muffins. Yes, that’s a thing!

Ingredients:

mufifins

  • 1/2 cup (~65 g) bran (I used up some ground oats and chia seeds this time)
  • 1 1/4 cup (~160g) whole-wheat flower
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup (~250g ) plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 shredded carrots
  • 4 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Whisk together bran, four, baking soda and powder, and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat egg and add ginger, yoghurt, carrots and syrup. Combine the two, add seeds and raisins. Spoon into greased muffin tin and bake for 18 minutes or until the top springs back when you touch it.

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Easter Cake

I have never seen Easter cakes being sold in bakeries in Canada. Then again, I haven’t really seen too many bakeries in general. Back in my home country Switzerland, Easter cakes are hugely popular and even our regular grocery store chain sells them. They are so incredibly tasty that it was something I was looking forward to every year, knowing that a few weeks before Easter, they’d pop up everywhere again. While I love eating them, I am not a huge fan of making them because it’s quite time and labour intensive. I realize I just made this sound so attractive. But don’t stop reading! The fact that I am willing to go through the trouble of making it should give you a good idea of how tasty it is. Promised.

photo(2)For the cake mix:

Ingredients:

4dl (1 ½ cups) milk

1 pinch (prise) salt

4 tbsp rice (short grain,)

½ lemon

50g (¼ cup) butter

3 tbsp sugar or agave syrup

3 tbsp raisins

3 tbsp ground almonds

3 eggs

Directions:

Heat milk, add salt and rice. Cook on low heat for about 45 minutes or until rice is done. Don’t walk to far away – milk can be temperamental and the result is messy. I may or may not speak from experience. You can start the dough though (see below). Then add lemon zest and juice. Add butter, sweetener, raisins and ground almonds and mix well. Let cool off.

Separate eggs. Add egg yolks (Eigelb) to the mix. Beat egg whites and add carefully. Do this shortly before you put it in the oven so have the dough ready.

For the dough:

Ingredients:

200g (a good 1.5 cups) flour

½ tsp. salt

100g (½ cup) cold butter

3 tbsp sugar or agave syrup

½ lemon, zest

1 egg

Directions:

Mix flour and salt. Add butter in small pieces. Rub between your hands until your dough looks a bit like grated parmesan. If you’ve never made this kind of dough before, you might think “what on earth is she talking about” but trust me – you’ll see! Add sweetener and lemon zest. Beat egg with a fork and mix the entire dough quickly. Cover with a cloth and let it sit for 30 min in the cold. After 30 min, put dough into a round form and squish it with your knuckles until it is more or less evenly about 3 mm thick. I am not joking – the texture of the dough doesn’t allow for any other method.

Preheat oven. Pour cake mix over the dough and bake for 30-35.  Let cool before you eat it. Decorate if you like or feel the need to impress someone (not the worst reason to bake). All I did was cut a bunny shape out of some paper and sieved icing sugar over it. And yes, recycle or reuse the bunny shape!

Enjoy!

 

Apple Cider Shortbread

I saw this recipe in one of the free daily newspapers and tried to recreate it to make it my own. Mainly because I wasn’t smart enough to rip out the recipe from the paper so really, that left me no choice but to create my own. I wanted to bake something that felt Christmas-y for the Christmas Eve gathering tonight so I’m not sure if it will be received well. I may or may not have stolen a few pieces though and formed my own opinion. What’s yours?

Ingredients:

  • home made shortbread
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (50g) flour
  • 1.5 cups (375ml) apple juice or cider, not from concentrate, ideally fresh and organic
  • peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • icing sugar to dust on top

20121223-175138.jpgDirections: bake shortbread according to recipe. While it bakes, whisk egg yolks, sugar, flour, spices and baking powder together. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and apple juice and whisk until even and smooth (no lumps). Reduce heat to 300F (150C). Pour mixture over hot short bread crust and bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on your oven), or until top starts to brown. Cool on rack to room temperature, then chill for 2h. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.

Glühwein or Swiss Mulled Wine

In the German speaking world, Glühwein is an essential part of Christmas. At least that has always been my impression and it is certainly true for me. In every major city, you can find a colourful Christmas market this time a year and I have yet to visit one that didn’t offer about 400 vendors of Glühwein. The most exact translation would probably be Glow Wine but that sounds a bit trippy so most people would know it as mulled wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Red Wine, preferably on the fruitier side (I’m no sommelier but I think you get the idea). It does not have to be the greatest wine you ever bought
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 pods of Cardamom
  • 1 tsp of whole cloves
  • 1 slice of fresh ginger
  • peel of 1/2 orange or 1 lemon
  • 1 star anise if you have it
  • 1/2 cup (125g) sugar, brown sugar, molasses or honey

Direction:

Pour wine into pot, add spices and your choice of sweetener. Simmer on low until sweetener is dissolved and the wine is fragrant. Pour through sieve and serve in mugs.

A few comments: I strongly recommend using organic oranges or lemons whenever using the peel. You might not have all the spices, substitutes or leaving out one thing or another shouldn’t ruin it. Avoid using ground spices though as it isn’t lovely to drink that. If you make this for children or people who don’t drink alcohol, use apple juice instead (not from concentrate).

Shortbread

Shortbread is perhaps the easiest thing you’ll ever bake and it’s so good. It’s also a great basis for other cookies, like my Apple Cider Shortbread or Lemon Squares.

Here it goes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (500g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Mix butter, sugar and vanilla and stir until fluffy. Add flour and salt, mix well. Line 9×13 inch (22×33 cm) baking dish with parchment paper. Fill dish, flatten. Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven). Let cool and cut. Alternatively, use cookie cutters and bake for 8-12 minutes.

A few notes: parchment or baking paper is not the same as wax paper. Don’t use wax paper, it shouldn’t be used for baking at all and gets really messy, not to mention probably toxic. You can buy FSC certified unbleached parchment paper and I usually reuse it a few times when I make cookies (eventually it will break). For cakes I grease and flour my dish, but for cookies this is the easiest even if it may not be the greenest. You can use glass or metal for your baking dish, I use a glass cake form.