Lemon & Raspberry Muffins

I love Nigella recipes because they’re consistently quick, easy and delicious. These muffins are no exception, taking under 40 minutes from start to finish. The recipe is also incredibly flexible – you can use fresh or frozen raspberries (or any other fruit for that matter) or try switching the lemon for another citrus fruit of your choice. Happy baking!

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Ingredients (makes 12)
60g butter
200g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
150g caster sugar
Juice and z est of 1 lemon
Milk (approx. 120ml)
1 large egg
150g raspberries

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Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Line a muffin tin with 12 patty pans.

Melt the butter in a medium bowl and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and lemon zest.

Pour the lemon juice into a large measuring jug and add milk until it comes to 200ml (don’t worry about it curdling). Add the milk mixture to the melted butter and then beat in the egg.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just combined (don’t overmix it as your muffins will be tough). Gently stir through the raspberries.

Spoon the batter into the patty pans and bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Nigella’s ‘Lemon-Raspberry Muffins’ in How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

Pavlova Wreath

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I made this pavlova wreath for a friend’s Christmas in July themed Birthday lunch. It’s a great, light way to finish a meal (perfect after a rich Christmas feast!) and looks festive without being kitsch. It’s great for Christmas Day as you can make and decorate it well ahead of time, giving you more time to focus on the main course and mingle with guests.

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Ingredients (serves 10-12)
6 large free-range egg whites
350g caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour

For the topping
600ml cream
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
½ – 1 tablespoon icing sugar (to taste)
2 punnets of strawberries
⅔ punnet of raspberries
½ punnet of blueberries
½ punnet blackberries
Mint leaves (optional)

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line a large baking tray (or round pizza tray as I used) with baking paper and draw a 30cm circle in the centre.

Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer in a large, clean bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar a little at a time, whisking on maximum speed until stiff and glossy. Once all of the sugar has been added, continue mixing for 10 minutes or until all of the sugar has been dissolved (test this by rubbing the meringue mixture between your fingertips and ensuring it is smooth). Mix the vinegar and cornflour in a cup and stir it into the egg whites.

Spoon dollops of meringue mixture onto the prepared circle on the baking paper as below:5xNnVspLSUuZc9DoPgiObg_thumb_d68

Transfer to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 140°C (120°C fan-forced). Bake the pavlova for 1 hour–1 ¼ hours, until the outside is hard but still white. Turn the oven off, prop the oven door open with a matchbox and leave the pavlova inside for an hour to cool and dry.

To assemble, whip the cream, vanilla and icing sugar until thickened. Gently spread over the top of the wreath and top with fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova recipe on BBC Food.

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Butterfly Cakes with Strawberries & Cream

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Considering it’s winter, we have been incredibly lucky to have an abundance of delicious, flavoursome strawberries and these cakes take full advantage of them.

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These cupcakes are probably the quickest and easiest to make in the history of the world;  you simply blitz the ingredients in a food processor, divide into patty pans and bake!

The cakes are very light with a soft, sponge-like texture, which makes them perfect for butterfly cakes. If butterfly cakes aren’t for you, they’re also delicious with a frosting of your choice (try my vanilla buttercream or marshmallow frosting).

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Ingredients (makes 12)
1 cup (125g) self-raising flour
⅔ cup (125g) caster sugar
125g butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
Sweetened thickened cream (or whipped cream)
Good quality strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries, halved (optional)
Icing sugar

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Put all of the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the patty pans (I know it doesn’t look like much batter, but they will rise a lot).

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer immediately onto a wire rack to cool completely.

If you will be serving the cakes immediately, make your thickened cream and cut up your strawberries while the cakes cool.

Using a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle, cut out a circle from the top of each cake and cut it in half to make the butterfly wings. Fill the holes with a teaspoon or so of strawberry jam and then top with cream, butterfly wings and another line of jam. If you like, you can serve them like this in the traditional butterfly cake style (below).

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For me though, I love fresh strawberries so I top each cake with a strawberry half and then sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy!

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NB: filled cakes are best eaten with 6 hours
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Cupcakes’ in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. 

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Chocolate Berry Meringue Nests

These meringue nests are the perfect conclusion to a summer dinner party or BBQ. They are light, flavoursome and not too sweet when paired with fresh berries and whipped cream. I especially love that they look like you’ve gone to a lot of effort (when they’re really very simple to make) and they don’t heat up the house too much while baking!

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Ingredients (makes 4)
3 egg whites
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
1 tablespoon dark dutch cocoa powder
300ml thickened cream, whipped
Fresh berries, to decorate (I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C (~100 degrees C fan-forced). Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or mixmaster until soft peaks form. Add caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar dissolves between each addition. Add in vanilla essence and cocoa powder.

Divide the meringue mixture into 4 roughly equal sized dollops on the baking tray, and spread into circles approximately 11cm in diameter.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until meringues are firm. Turn off the oven and let meringues cool for 5 minutes, before letting them cool completely with the door ajar.

Top meringues with whipped cream and berries. Enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘Chocolate Berry Meringues’ in The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook ‘Best Food’, 2005 reprint.

Raspberry Sorbet

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there! Tonight, I have the honour of preparing the Mother’s Day dessert for a dinner party with my extended family. After much thought, I have decided to make a rich chocolate tart to serve with raspberry sorbet.

This raspberry sorbet recipe is one of the first I ever used when cooking by myself. In the school holidays, my sister and I would each cook one thing out of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks we purchased in 2007. Mine would be from “Good Food: Desserts” (surprise, surprise) and Laura’s from “Potatoes”. As you can tell, it certainly wasn’t the most nutritious meal! But it was a lot of fun and helped Laura and I get into cooking.

I still love this sorbet – it’s perfectly tangy but sweet with a strong raspberry flavour. It’s also great as it doesn’t require an ice-cream machine. Hopefully it’s as useful for you as it has been for me 🙂

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Ingredients (serves 8-10 on the side or 6-8 as the whole dessert)
1 ½ cups water
1 cup caster sugar
900g frozen raspberries
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
3 egg whites

Method
Stir the water & sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat & simmer, uncovered, without stirring for 5 minutes.

Blend the raspberries, lemon juice & sugar syrup in a blender until smooth.

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Push mixture through a fine sieve into a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan (or 2 smaller pans) lined with clingfilm. Discard seeds. Cover with foil; freeze until firm.

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Coarsely chop the frozen berry mixture and add it to the blender with the egg whites. Blend until smoother and paler in colour. Return mixture to the pan, cover & freeze until firm.

Serve & enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Good Food: Desserts’

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