Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When the Weather Outside is Frightful

It's only a couple of weeks to go till summer rolls around but we're seeing wintry conditions these couple of days here in Melbourne. Since Monday, there have been intermittent showers and cold snaps culminating in a marvellous downpour complete with hailstones today (marvellous for the drought-stricken farming regions in Victoria that is, not so much for this shivering girl typing away with cold feet in booties). The temperature right now, despite the sun peeping out, is hovering somewhere about 8'C so I'm definitely glad to be snug and warm indoors.

Back in Singapore, days like today would be a welcome respite from the sweltering heat and if one is fortunate enough to be snuggling on your couch with a book, definitely an opportune period for doing nothing more than snoozing and reading and perhaps indulging in some pampering treats for the tummy.

I had earlier in the day started off with a pampering treat (purely by accident since I had made the appointment a while ago) when I went to try the Skin Quench facial at Aesop's South Yarra branch seeing that it was a short 7 minute walk away and was glad to be cosseted with warm oil and wrapped in blankets as the wind howled outside. Of course, the walk back home was enough to take my breath away so after lunch and working on some projects, I decided to treat myself to a cuppa and a couple of slices of the Orange Marmalade Cake I'd made last night.

Not the neatest slices of cake ever but these are so rich, they're better cut into smaller slices to enjoy

Made from a recipe from Campion and Curtis' Everyday Cooking (my favourite cookbook right now), the blurb to the recipe promises that a slice of this cake would be perfect for autumnal afternoons with a pot of tea. I decide today's weather qualifies as vaguely "autumnal" and reach for a couple of slices of that comforting cake. All rich buttery goodness, with a tinge of orange cutting through the richness, it needs only a freshly brewed cup of coffee/tea and a good book (which by luck, I had just bought a copy of "Every Living Thing" by a favourite childhood author, James Herriot).

Orange Marmalade Cake
(Serves 6-8 persons)

Ingredients:

220g soft butter
180g (3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange, chopped or grated
3 eggs
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted
60ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
½ cup orange marmalade

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180'C. Butter a 22cm springform cake tin, line the sides and bottom with greaseproof paper and butter lightly.
Cream the butter, caster sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Carefully fold in the flour, along with the orange juice. Finally, fold in the marmalade.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Test the cake by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready; if it doesn't, cook for a further 5 minutes and test again.

Another perfect treat for today (if I had any left after A took the remaining one to the office this morning) would have been the Jam Donut Muffins I made on the weekend. Bored stiff waiting for A to finish his work so we could go for dinner, I rummaged around in the fridge and scanned Everyday Cooking for a suitable recipe.

Here's the recipe for Jam Donut Muffins, to which the Campion and Curtis team described as tasting just "like a donut but with only a fraction of the work". A had to ask me to explain many times over why it was called a Jam Donut Muffin but whatever it is called, it sure is a good munch! You can substitute the jam filling with Nutella or in my case, my beloved Nutino

Jam Doughnut Muffins
(Makes 10- 12 muffins)

Ingredients:

250g (12/3 cups) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
1 egg
185ml (3/4 cup) milk
Raspberry jam / Nutino
75g melted butter
150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar, additional
1 tsp ground cinnamon, additional

Method:

Preheat oven to 180'C. Line 10 – 12 x 125ml (1/2 cup) muffin pans with paper cases.
Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, caster sugar, egg and milk together. Add to the flour and stir well until combined.
Half-fill the prepared muffin tins with the mixture, add ½ tsp of jam/Nutino to each muffin and cover with more batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.
Mix the melted butter, additional caster sugar and cinnamon together. When the muffins are cooked, remove them from the tins and dip their tops into the cinnamon and sugar mix, then place them onto a rack to cool.
You can see how much filling I've stuffed the muffins with!

Dipping the muffins into the cinnamon sugar mixture

Just a suggestion – it's tempting to stuff as much filling as you can past the recommended ½ teaspoon but do so at your own peril. I had half my muffins burst and spill its contents onto the muffin tray because I was overzealous in chucking in at least 1 teaspoon of Nutino or jam!

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