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.

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Lemon & Raspberry Yo-Yo Biscuits

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Although we’re in the middle of summer at the moment, we occasionally get these random cold days. Well, ‘cold’ is an exaggeration. But you get what I mean – it’s chilly enough to wear a cardigan, the sky is cloudy and you’re pretty sure that’s sweet, refreshing rain you can hear pattering down outside. It makes a nice change from the recent heatwave we’ve been having. Days like this are few and far between in summer, and my favourite thing to do on them is BAKE!

I felt like making something classic and timeless, something that everybody knows and likes, and I was in the mood for cookies. After consulting my recipe book collection, I decided upon Yo-Yo Biscuits. Soft, crumbly, buttery biscuits sandwiching creamy custard filling and sweet raspberry jam? Sounds good!

I was a tad surprised that the biscuits themselves only needed 2 tablespoons of sugar, as I’d never made them before and I guess I’m used to making things that use a lot more. decided to add a little bit of grated lemon rind to the batter to give it a delicate lemon flavour.

My favourite part of this would have to be the bit where I pressed them down with a fork before they went into the oven. I don’t know, I just felt like a professional baker preparing biscuits to be sold at a fancy bakery in the morning, taking care to apply the final touches to make everything perfecto!

The biscuits themselves turned out alright – probably could’ve flattened them out a little more though, as they were quite chunky. So much for the whole “professional baker” thing – I’d probably be fired! Once they were cooled, I made the filling – butter, icing sugar and custard powder – but it seemed a little dry so I added a bit more butter as well as some vanilla essence to make it smoother, and also for an extra shot of vanilla-flavoured goodness. I then sandwiched the biscuits together with the filling and a touch of raspberry jam.

These biscuits have a lovely subtle lemon flavour and a soft, crumbly texture. The filling (both the cream and the jam) is quite sweet so it contrasts nicely with the slightly savoury taste of the biscuits. They are a little awkwardly shaped and sized though – you know how sometimes you go to a restaurant and order a burger and all the stuff inside is piled up really high between two tiny buns and you’re like, “Um, how am I supposed to eat this?” Well, the biscuits were a bit like that. I think flattening them out a bit more before baking them would be a wise choice next time around.

I’d like to try out different fillings next time I make these – maybe passionfruit? Coffee? Nutella? Leave a comment and let me know what you think would work!

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Lemon & Raspberry Yo Yo Biscuits
(Adapted from Jam Drops and Marble Cake)
Makes 10 complete biscuits when assembled (or 20 separate unfilled biscuits)

Biscuits:
90g butter, softened
2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 heaped tablespoons custard powder
110g plain flour
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Filling:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
6-7 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon custard powder
Jam (I used raspberry, but just use your favourite)

Preheat oven 10 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease two baking trays.

Cream the butter and sifted icing sugar until pale and well-blended. Sift in the flour and custard powder. Add the grated lemon rind. Stir until well combined and the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, then mix with hands to form a dough.

Scoop out teaspoonfulls of the dough and roll into balls. Place these onto baking trays, flatten slightly with your palm, then flatten further with the back of a fork (you don’t want to flatten them too much, as they are going to spread a little, but you don’t want them too thick either!)

Bake for about 10 minutes (I actually left my first batch in for a bit longer and the base turned out very burnt – the burnt bit scraped right off so they were fine though. I guess it depends on your oven.)

Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray. They will be soft at first but don’t worry, once they’ve cooled a little they will set.

To make the custard filling, combine the softened butter with the custard powder, vanilla essence and icing sugar. Keep beating the ingredients together until the mixture is pale in colour. It will look quite dry, but that’s okay, it’s supposed to look like that. Scoop out half-teaspoonfuls, roll into balls and press against the inside halves of 10 of the biscuits. Spread the other half with the jam of your choice, and gently sandwich the biscuits together.