Fruity, Wholemeal, Rather Healthy Muffins

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Do you ever just crave something a bit “sweet” to go with your morning coffee or afternoon tea?

Because I do, quite often actually. Especially when I’m at work and the coffee van (yes we have a special van that delivers coffee straight to our door, be jealous) comes around. When I’m waiting out there for my usual skinny latte, I can help but ogle the delicious croissants and slices of banana bread on display. Seriously, banana bread and coffee = the best combination.

Or when I’m at my computer working on projects at home, and it’s that time of the afternoon when I want my coffee hit… and whilst waiting for the water to boil, that tin of biscuits in the cupboard or that packet of blueberry scones that someone decided to pick up whilst at the shops looks ever so tempting.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a treat once in a while. I do like my coffee and cake on a special occasion. But if you make it a frequent thing, the calories (and the sugar!) adds up. Plus, a sweet treat with my morning or afternoon cuppa generally leaves my energy levels all over the place. Not good, when I need to focus on my work.

The other day, I happened upon some healthy recipe magazines from a few years back, that were gathering dust on my bookshelf. It had been forever since I’d read them, so I thought I’d pick one up and have a flip through, with the hope that I might possibly stumble across a magical recipe that will make me be skinny for ever and ever no matter how much of it I eat, or perhaps just something that’s healthy and simple to make.

I did end up finding the latter. I found a recipe for healthy muffins, and when I saw that it didn’t contain cane sugar it was instantly added to my to-bake list and then successfully crossed off later that afternoon. These muffins are sweetened only by fruit. Though the recipe called for two apples, I decided to substitute one of them for some frozen raspberries; I also threw in some pistachios and chopped dates. I used olive oil, as well, because that’s all I had but you can probably use whatever oil tickles your fancy.

These make an excellent accompaniment to morning or afternoon tea. They’re filling, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and contain a good dose of delicious fruit. I think the fact that the apples are cooked beforehand makes them nice and soft and brings out their flavor. The muffins are quite moist (don’t you just love the word “moist”?) and should last for a good few days, particularly if refrigerated. Enjoy!

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Fruity Wholemeal Muffins
(adapted from Healthy Food Guide magazine)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 apple, peeled and diced
1/3 cup frozen raspberries (or any fruit of your choosing)
1 medium banana, mashed
¼ cup chopped dates
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt
¼ cup pistachios (or other nut of your choosing)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Combine orange juice, apple, raspberries and banana in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour (return the husks to the bowl), cinnamon, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and oil. Add the egg mixture and the fruit mixture, along with the nuts, to the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases and bake for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted through the centre of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

Depending on how large you make each muffin, you make have enough batter left over to make another half a batch. I managed to make about 17 small-ish muffins, but you can make larger ones and less of them if you wish.

Banana, Walnut & Date Muffins with Coconut Sugar

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Ever made a promise to yourself but ended up not keeping it?

I have! Loads of times! Here are three I made and broke this month:

1. Make a new post on Sneaky Pudding at least once a week.

Nope, last post was on January 1st. I’m pretty sure that was more than a week ago.

2. Make some sort of celebratory cake in honour of Sneaky Pudding’s first birthday.

Again, nope. My blog actually turned one year old a couple of weeks ago, and I told myself I would whip up a pretty, nicely-decorated cake to share on my blog, but life got in the way as per usual.

3. Be a healthy person and don’t lick the leftover batter off the spoon before you put it in the wash.

That one was going well (probably because I haven’t been doing much baking this month) until last night when I baked those muffins that you’re about to read about. Seriously, those calories do count, I should stop pretending that they don’t! :P

So yeah, that’s my life story. Now let’s get on to the recipe.

See, we’re going for a holiday soon and we had a whole bunch of bananas just chilling in the fruit bowl. If they could talk, I’m sure they’d say, “Heh heh, we’re just gonna hang out here ‘til you get back and then we’ll be all brown and gross and make the whole house smell like banana.” Seriously, who wants to come home to that? So I figured, hey, why not transform some of those pesky bananas into a batch of Banana, Walnut & Date Muffins to share around? The whole batch was consumed by family and friends in under 24 hours – so, yes, it was a brilliant way to show those bananas who’s boss.

Oh, and this is my second recipe with coconut sugar. I know what you’re thinking (yes, I read minds) – “Again with the coconut sugar! What is with this girl and coconut sugar?” Seriously, try some! If you can’t find it though, substitute the same amount with light brown sugar, firmly packed.

What I like about these muffins is the fact that they are not overly sweet, but have very subtle caramel-y flavor thanks to the coconut sugar, which works nicely with the dates. Enjoy!

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Banana, Walnut & Date Muffins with Coconut Sugar

2 cups of self-raising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup dates, chopped
125g butter, melted
1 ¼ cup mashed banana
½ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin, plus 6 holes of another muffin tin, with margarine.

Sift the flour and spices in a large mixing bowl, then sift in the coconut sugar and mix to combine.

Combine the eggs and milk in a smaller bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg/milk mixture followed by the mashed banana and melted butter (make sure the butter has cooled slightly). Gently fold together until just combined, then stir through the walnuts and dates. Do not overmix the batter!

Distribute the batter evenly amongst the holes of the muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes (I did one tin at a time, but you can do both at once depending on how spacious your oven is). The muffins are cooked if the edges are slightly browned, they spring back lightly when touched and a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool muffins in the tin for a few minutes before carefully removing, and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack. Makes 18 muffins.

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins with Coconut Sugar

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Happy, happy, happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a spectacular time ringing in the New Year alongside your nearest and dearest, and I wish you all the best in keeping your New Years Resolutions for at least two weeks or so, until you realize that these resolutions are pointless and you’re always going to be the same person who makes the same mistakes year after year… hah, just kidding! I’m sure it will be a fantastic year :)

In fact, I too have some resolutions – to bake more and not neglect Sneaky Pudding so much! Expect way more posts and delicious recipes this year. I also want to try and get into baking healthier snacks and such, so keep an eye out for those too.

And now I bring you the first recipe of the year – Apple & Cinnamon Muffins! Fresh out of the oven on New Years Day. Hooray!
What makes these muffins interesting is that I’ve decided to try something new. A while back, I bought a packet of “coconut sugar” from the supermarket. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but it intrigued me. So, what is it? Well, it comes from the flower blossom of the coconut palm – the syrup is heated to evaporate the water, creating a slight caramel flavor. Also, it’s apparently way healthier than cane sugar – it’s got way more iron, magnesium and over ten times the zinc. Wow!

I used coconut sugar in place of cane sugar in this recipe, but if you can’t get your hands on coconut sugar, feel free to just use caster sugar instead. I’d highly recommend coconut sugar, though. It’s delicious!

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Apple & Cinnamon Muffins with Coconut Sugar

65g butter
½ cup coconut sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/3 cup of full cream milk
1 apple (you can use any kind – I used Pink Lady) cored and sliced thinly

TOPPING:
2 heaped tablespoons coconut sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift in half the flour and the cinnamon, then stir in half the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, and stir until combined.

Distribute the batter evenly amongst the 12 paper cases. Top each muffin with a thin apple slice. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are risen and spring back gently when touched, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

While the muffins are cooling in the tray, make the topping. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, and brush over the tops of the muffins while they are still slightly warm. Combine the coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle this over the top of each muffin.

Once the muffins have cooled in the muffin tin for about 5 minutes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely, or serve them warm (they’d go nicely with some vanilla custard!)

Classic Cinnamon Teacake

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I’m a huge fan of trying new things, at least when it comes to baking. In my head I have this list of my baking conquests, so when I bake something I haven’t made before it’s so satisfying to tick it off that imaginary list. Even if I do make something for a second or third time, I like to vary it a bit, perhaps by adding something to it like choc chips or cinnamon, just to experiment. When I do bake the exact same recipe over and over again, however, it’s usually because…

A) People really, really, really love that specific dish and don’t get to have it very often except when I make it.
B) I’ve promised to bake something for a special occasion/event and the recipe in question is quick, easy and hasn’t failed me in the past.
C) It’s so super delicious that everyone needs to eat as much of it as possible otherwise the universe will implode.
D) All of the above.

I would say that “D) All of the above” is where this Teacake recipe fits in. The original recipe I adapted it from is from a old issue of a recipe magazine, and I don’t even remember when the first time I baked it was; all I recall is that 80% of the time when my Grandmother comes over to our house for the day, I bake this cake for her. The recipe is simple and easy, it doesn’t take too long, and it uses ingredients that we always have on hand.

The cake itself is soft, crumbly and not overly sweet, with a slight vanilla flavor, and has a crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping. It’s perfect to serve with tea or coffee, and it can also be made into muffins or cupcakes if you’re into that sort of thing (you’ll just have to cook it for 15-20 minutes rather than 25-30).

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 Classic Cinnamon Teacake
(adapted from Super Food Ideas)

65g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk

Topping:
25g butter, melted
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg, lemon juice and vanilla essence until smooth and creamy. Sift in half the flour, salt and cinnamon, then half the milk. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk. Mix together until smooth and just combined. Pour into a small cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top springs back gently when touched and/or a skewer inserted unto the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, for the topping, melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan, and brush over the top of warm cake. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the cake before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool.

Serve warm either on its own or with cream and jam, or alternatively, wait until cool before slicing.