12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 3: Upside-Down Caramel Apple Muffins

I’m going to have to make this a quick post, because I need to pack for a trip!

While I’ve had many successes with cake, I can’t say the same for muffins. I’ve had more misses than hits in the muffin department, and I think it’s because of the way the ingredients are combined. No creaming, just mixing wet ingredients into the dry and baking. I don’t think I have the lightest hand when combining muffin batter, and it results in strange aftertastes.

I once made an atrocious muffin from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, and it had a harsh baking soda aftertaste. So, for the next muffin recipe I tried from HTBADG,  I halved the amount of baking powder and soda. And I got a disgusting, claggy, underdone, flat muffin.

So I learned my lesson: follow the recipe. Which is what I did with these upside-down caramel apple muffins. The recipe is from NYT’s Melissa Clark, a writer I adore. She elevates the everyday with a twist in technique or by adding an unusual element, and her laidback style (in front of the camera and on paper) makes the recipe easy to follow. In this recipe, she’s added fruit and baked it under dollops of muffin batter, so the apple slices get a lovely caramelization. Plus, they look pretty cute.

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The only substitute I used was yogurt in lieu of sour cream. The original recipe is over at the NYT cooking page. 

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 1: Orange Almond Olive-Oil Cake

Have you ever come across a recipe that is so simple, yet seems to wow and impress the people around you each time you bake it? This is mine. It’s quick to prepare, travels well, (trust me- it’s travelled 3 hours on an expressway and from one end of Bombay to the other and hasn’t let me down!) and is a one-bowl affair that comes together in under fifteen minutes.

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My son’s hand got in the way

I found this recipe on Food52 when I was searching, very specifically, for an “almond and olive oil cake.” You see, after I made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Olive Oil cake, I kinda went bonkers over oil-based cakes with ground almonds. Oil-based nut-flour cakes are lovely and dense; rich and nibbly.  I love the unpretentiousness of a loaf cake and the quirk of a cupcake, but olive-oil cakes have a more grown-up air about them. Plus, they have this amazing ability to come out nice, flat and even- which makes icing and slicing them a breeze. Continue reading

Healthy Dessert Experiment: Flourless Fruit Crumble

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Crumbles are one of my favourite desserts. A great example of how a little goes a long way: fruit + a few other ingredients, put together in a way that transforms everything into a warm happy mess 😀 And I’ve realized they can be real crowd pleasers, too. I think the humble crumble- and her many cousins- are uncomplicated, forgiving desserts that won’t let you down.

Yeah. I really feel for crumble. Is it strange to have feelings for a dessert?

Hmmm…I’ve come this far, so I might as well take the liberty to ramble a little longer. Here are 5 more reasons why I think you absolutely must involve crumbles in your dessert routine.

  • Crispy on top + juicy and melting beneath.
  • No fancy baking equipment required. No whisking. No whipping. You don’t even need a fork!
  • You can serve them individually.
  • It takes less time to assemble than a pie or a cake.
  • You can make them with any kind of fruit! (Ok, perhaps not with watermelon. We’d best leave those for juices, smoothies or as they are. But has anyone had a watermelon crumble? Let me know.)

This *healthy* crumble came about as a way to use up leftover almond meal and Granny Smith apples. I usually make my crumble topping with some butter, sugar, flour and oats, but I thought Hey! Almond meal. Why not? And if you have a guest, friend or anybody who eats gluten-free, then this crumble is the way to go. (I pulse my own almond meal with the skin on, FYI.)

The flourless stone fruit crumble from It's All Good image courtesy  | www.self.com

Flourless stone fruit crumble from It’s All Good
image courtesy | http://www.self.com

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Flourless Anything Crumble recipe from It’s All Good. In it, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen came up with a vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free crumble recipe, for any kind of stone fruit. I didn’t go the vegan or sugar-free route, just opted for the use of almond meal instead of flour. You could easily stick to the healthier option as outlined in the book: leave out the butter, swap the oats for quinoa flakes, and sub the granulated sugar for a combination of maple syrup + brown rice syrup. (Quinoa flakes and brown rice syrup are things I will probably not buy. Like ever. So I just converted the healthy recipe into a with-sugar, with-dairy version.)

 

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FLOURLESS APPLE CRUMBLE (Adapted from It’s All Good.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar+ 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold butter

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • In a bowl, toss the chopped apples with the lemon/lime juice, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon powder and set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix the almond meal and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar until well combined.
  • Work the cold butter into the almond meal mixture with your fingers until it’s rubble-y and like wet sand.
  • Divide the chopped apples between individual ramekins.
  • Crumble the mixture over the fruit and bake until the top is browned, about 15-20 minutes. (Do check on your crumbles, since oven temperatures vary- I took mine out at 15, other ovens may need more or less time.)