Monday, 26 March 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

In recent visits home to the states I have had pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin (filter)coffee, pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses, pumpkin preserve on toast, pumpkin ice cream, and of course pumpkin pie. The delicious list of pumpkin related foods grows every time I visit, yet many Brits I know have not had the chance to try pumpkin flavoured anything.   

Thankfully Fenwicks Food Hall here in Newcastle seemingly has a love of American foods. They always seem to stock those odd American treats such as Marshmallow Fluff, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms cereal, Bisquick Pancake Mix and all variations of Jelly Belly jelly beans.  Since they are imported items these normally reasonably priced sugary delights cost a ridiculous amount over here.  
However much it may cost, I am just thankful to be able to purchase a can of Libby’s Pumpkin to bake some of my favourite pumpkin flavoured treats. These Pumpkin muffins have been well received by both friends and colleagues who have taste tested them, so they remain on my list of favourite recipes.

They are uniquely flavoured but not offensive although I think it is difficult to describe them to someone who has never had pumpkin.  I will say that they taste best still warm slathered with cream cheese accompanying a cup of coffee but are equally delicious for afternoon tea with a cuppa (and don’t forget to make sure your pinky finger daintily points up).
Whatever the flavour you really can’t go wrong with homemade muffins.
Pumpkin Muffins
(from Muffins Fast and Fantastic, Third Edition 2001 by Susan Reimer)

Makes 10-12 standard-size

9oz(255g) plain flour (with self-raising flour, omit baking powder: do not adjust bicarbonate of soda)
1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5ml bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp (2.5ml) salt
1 tsp (5ml) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2.5ml) each of ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
4-6oz (110-170g) fine white granulated sugar
1 egg
4-5 fl oz (120-150ml) milk or water
2 TBSP (30ml) honey
Half of a 425g tin of pumpkin – that is, 7 fl oz (200ml) the remainder can be frozen in an airtight container
3 fl oz(90ml) vegetable oil or 3 oz(85g) butter, melted
2-3 oz (60-85g) chopped walnuts or raisins

Prepare muffin tins. Preheat oven to 375-400 F (190 -200 C) for a conventional oven, Gas Mark 5-6.

In a large bowl, sift together: flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, spices and sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat egg with a fork. Add milk/water, honey, pumpkin and oil/melted butter. Stir well.

Pour all of liquid mixture into dry. Stir just until combined and no dry flour is visible. Add walnuts/raisins during the final strokes.

Spoon batter into tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops spring back when pressed gently.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Pancakes for Brunch

A Sunday morning spent making thick American-style pancakes to smother in maple syrup and enjoy for brunch is my kind of weekend morning. 
Throw in a glass of fruit juice and share it all with loved ones and you’ve created the winning combination of great food & great company.   
It’s not difficult to achieve since pancakes are pretty straight forward to make.
All you need is the simple ingredients put together in the correct quantities and combined with the right technique.
I’ve included links to two simple recipes below for reference.
The main difference is that American pancakes use a thicker batter than their British counterpart (which is more like a crepe then the cakey American-style pancake, in my humble opinion).
I love the fact that each recipe uses similar ingredients but produces a completely different result.
Whichever type of pancakes you prefer, why not go ahead and make yourself some this weekend?

British Pancake recipe: