Lemon and Zucchini Muffins

Lemon and Zucchini Muffins

The rain has come and settled in, ready for a long stay so today was the perfect day to do some baking.  Our kitchen reno is so close to being finished: only the flooring and tiling of the backsplash are left to go. This means I finally have my new bench tops in place and it’s been W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L.

I mean, we were making do before but it was a tad depressing trying to ‘clean up’ a makeshift MDF board bench that literally soaks up and displays all the stains…

But anyway, enough about that for now. I will do a proper reveal of the finished kitchen on my channel in the future.  Now let’s get down to business, and by business, I mean Lemon and Zucchini muffins.

These little cakes are so fluffy and moist thanks to the addition of the zucchini. (Moist. That word everyone seems to hate. But seriously, have you looked it up in the thesaurus? Moist wins out of all the other options by far. Like, damp and soggy? No thank you!)

I added wholemeal flour to add some texture, and a little more fibre, a mere hint of cinnamon plus plenty of lemon zest for a tangy kick. These muffins as they are, freeze really well and make an excellent lunchbox filler.

Then top with a tart and tangy lemon glaze and you’re all set!

The batter makes enough for 12 standard sized muffins or a 23 cm round cake tin, though the baking time will have to be extended if making this as one cake.

I only added a simple lemon glaze on top to reduce the sugar amount a little, but if you were going all out then these would be excellent with a thick cream cheese icing.

Lemon and Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons plus juice
1 cup coconut oil or other cooking oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2  tsp baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup grated zucchini

Lemon glaze:

Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 cup icing sugar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a standard 12 muffin tin with paper cases.

In a large bowl combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers until the oils in the lemon zest are released. Add the lemon juice, eggs and oil and beat well until combined.

In a separate bowl, sieve together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir well to ensure it’s all mixed well together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in well. Fold in the grated zucchini.

Spoon the finished batter into the muffin cases. They should be filled just over 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes. Leave them to cool and make the glaze by combining the lemon juice and icing sugar until it makes a thick but runny glaze.

Once the muffins are cool, drizzle with the glaze.*

*if you are freezing the muffins, omit the glaze. It doesn’t freeze that well.

Happy baking!

 

EVEN EASIER: Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Scraps

EVEN EASIER: Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Scraps

One of my favourites and easiest ways to use up excess apples is making your own ACV: apple cider vinegar. I wrote this post at the start of the year and have since revised how I make my ACV, so here is the new and improved way!

You’ve all heard of the benefits of apple cider vinegar right? All the probiotics and enzymes  in there help balance your blood sugar, increase weight loss, reduces blood pressure…

Apple cider vinegar has been around for centuries and was traditionally made from pressed apple juice. Using apple juice is a great way to make ACV and that’s how I’m making it today,  but don’t think you have to use whole apples on this. This way is still using only apple scraps! (Though obviously, if you have too many apples, by all means use the whole thing!)

When I used to make it previously I would weigh the apple scraps down underneath filtered water, add in some sugar and let it sit. This way does work but you have to make sure all the scraps are held under water and you need to add a little sugar.

Now, all I’m doing is juicing my apple cores and peels. Even just these parts of the apple make a substantial amount of juice. You can add in some filtered water to bulk it out though if you want to make more. This new way needs no added sugar, and you don’t need to hold anything under water. The only maintenance is to scrape off any apple juice scum for the first couple of days as it rises to the top. It’s also a brilliant way to add in different types of fruit scraps for some exciting vinegar flavours such as feijoa, berries, pears, kiwifruit, stone fruits.

Once your scraps have been juiced, let it sit for a while so all the thick fruit scum rises to the top. You’ll want to separate this from the liquid. Scrape off what you can, then pour the rest through a cheesecloth, into a sterilised glass jar.

Now you can bulk it out with some filtered water if you like, don’t add more water than fruit juice though or it will be too diluted. Then you can in some already made vinegar to speed things up (both these are optional.)

Then cover your container with a cheesecloth or paper towels. You definitely want there to be airflow happening when you are fermenting, otherwise, you’ll have an explosion on your hands!

Store this mixture in a warm, dark place for about 3-6 weeks. I keep mine in the cupboard under the stairs. Every couple of days in the first week or two, I’ll check the scum that has risen to the top and scrape it off. If I added in some already made vinegar, the chance of this scum growing mouldy is minimal but if you’re making it completely from scratch, then you’ll need to scrape it off.  After the first week or two, you probably won’t need to scrape it anymore. It may form a white or grey topping,  or a scoby on top are fine to leave.

After a couple of weeks, you can start to taste your vinegar. Once it tastes to your liking you can bottle it. If you added no extra vinegar the process will take at least 4-6 weeks. With vinegar it’s as little as 3 weeks.

*Notes*

  • You may see a white or grey scum forming on the top of your vinegar. This is absolutely normal and is just a sign of the fermenting process. If mould grows it doesn’t mean all is lost. If it’s grey or fuzzy scoop it off before it has a chance to affect the taste of the vinegar. If dark green/black, discard the vinegar and start again.
  • A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) may occasionally form on top of your vinegar. This is just all the good bacteria combined in this squidgy little disc. (And yes, you can make kombucha from this SCOBY.)
  • Your vinegar will look cloudy and there will be remnants swirling around in there. These may form into another sort of squidgy disc but this one stays under the surface.  This is the vinegar ‘mother’. Both the SCOBY and the Mother of Vinegar are a collection of acetic bacteria (the bacteria that oxidise the sugar and turn it into alcohol) contained in a cellulose structure, but the SCOBY contains yeast while the vinegar mother does not.
    The yeast causes carbonation. This is why kombucha made with a SCOBY is fizzy, while a vinegar with the mother is not.
  • You can absolutely make fruit vinegar with other types of fruit, the possibilities are endless! Apple cider vinegar is mainly so popular because of the abundance of apples. Try pear cider vinegar or plum!

 

Stone Fruit Cobbler

Stone Fruit Cobbler

It’s that time of year where trees are laden and produce markets are bursting with freshly picked stone fruits.

This is the time my youngest son looks forward to the most. He waits for three quarters of the year, peachless and patient (I’m not a fan of buying fruit shipped from overseas, so we wait till it’s available locally.) Then when summer hits we load up on fruit.

And I mean, load up! We eat all we can/want fresh, then the rest I preserve or bake with. Preserving and baking is a great way to use up the fruit that’s getting a little bruised and today’s recipe is a perfect example.

A cobbler is essentially a shortcake on top of cooked fruit. Peach cobbler is a common variety but I think, why stop at peaches when we can combine ALL the stone fruit. 

Stone fruit of your choice (in this case, white cherries, nectarines and peaches) are combined with a lemon, vanilla and cinnamon filling. Topped with a buttery shortcake lid, this is seriously delicious.

You need about a kilo and a half of fruit, whether that’s peaches, apricots, plums, or whatever you think of. A bruised fruit you may normally put in the compost is perfect for this. This recipe is not about looks and all about flavour.

Stone Fruit Cobbler

Fruit layer
1.5 kg stone fruit of your choice (cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, plucots, apricots…etc)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice and zest of 1 small lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Shortcake topping

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
130g cold butter, chopped into small cubes or grated
1/2 cup cold milk

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk for the egg wash

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Pit and chop your fruit. I like to chop mine into about 2cm chunks. If using cherries you can leave these whole (but pitted.)

In a pie dish, combine all the fruit layer ingredients and mix them together. Set aside and start on the topping.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir together. Add the cubed or grated cold butter and work it into the flour with your fingers until it resembles large breadcrumbs. Add the milk and stir to combine until it forms a soft dough.

Tear off chunks of this dough and flatten them a bit, then place on top of the fruit fillings. Looks are not important, just space them around until about 90% of the filling is covered. Some gaps are good. Using a pastry brush, brush on some of the eggwash.

Loosely cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the tin foil and continue baking for another 25 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then serve it warm with yoghurt, ice cream or cream.

Enjoy!

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