Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Morning Muffins #BreadBakers

With just a little preparation the day before, your family can enjoy freshly baked cranberry orange muffins on Christmas morning, with the bonus of filling your house with Christmasy baking aromas. What a joy to wake up to these!

The Christmas Day rule of my family growing up was that no presents could be opened before breakfast. I remember being happy with a bowl of cereal - and let’s get this show on the road! - but frustrated by the grownups who wanted eggs or pancakes or, most likely, freshly baked biscuits. Clearly they had their priorities askew! But don’t you know, when I became a mother, I kept the same rule. Turns out that it’s always a good plan to serve a decent breakfast when Christmas dinner won’t be on the table until three or four o’clock in the afternoon.

With just a little preparation, a hot, freshly baked breakfast is a cinch and you can get to the important part: Opening the gifts! This month our Bread Bakers host is Holly from A Baker’s House and she has challenged us to bake breads – quick or yeasty – which can be started one day and baked the next, giving you lots of lovely ideas for a perfectly easy holiday breakfast.

(And don’t forget my friend Donna’s great cookbook, Make Ahead Breads <Amazon affiliate link* which is also a wonderful source of recipes and inspiration for this theme and would make a fabulous Christmas gift for a baker in your life.)

This post is not technically part of Christmas Week but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you to check out my coconut praline post from yesterday, with details on how to enter to win one of three ($500, $250 and $50) Amazon gift cards up for grabs!

These muffins are adapted from this recipe by Nigella Lawson.

2 cups or 250g flour
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 120ml whole milk
1/3 cup or 75ml canola or other oil
1 large egg
2 clementines (for zest and 1/3 cup or 80ml juice)
1 cup or 140g dried cranberries, plus 12 more for decoration, if desired.

Prepare your muffin pan by greasing it with butter or nonstick spray or lining it with paper muffin cups. I usually line it with the paper cups and give the whole pan a quick spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

Add in the dried cranberries, mixing well, and cover the bowl with cling film and set it aside with the baking pan.

Measure your milk and oil into a large measuring jug. Add the egg and beat until well combined.

Zest the two clementines with a fine grater or microplane straight into the measuring jug.

Juice the clementines and add 1/3 cup or 80ml of the juice into the measuring jug as well. If you don’t get quite enough juice, top up with more milk to reach your required measurement. Cover the jug with cling film and pop it in the refrigerator.

The next morning, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Give your liquid ingredients a good mix with a fork and pour them into the dry ingredient bowl.

Fold to combine, being careful not to over mix. If a little flour still shows here and there, that’s a good thing.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Add one more dried cranberry to each muffin, if desired. I like to see a little of what's inside on top of my muffins.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful these smell while baking! The aroma will get the laggards out of bed and running to the kitchen.

Leave the muffins to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove them to a wire rack. Serve them warm with a hot cup of coffee or a glass of Champagne, if you are so inclined, in front of the sparkling Christmas tree.


Check out all the other great recipes for Overnight Bread! Which one will you make first this holiday season?

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

*Items purchased through an Amazon affiliate link cost no extra to the buyer but earn me a few pennies to buy more bacon. Thanks for the support.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Coconut Pralines

Take a sweet pecan praline and add some coconut for a delicious candy that is easy to make and perfect for wrapping up to bring along to your holiday parties. If you can bear to share them.

I am not a big sweet eater but anything caramel or praline is one of my big exceptions. (Also sweet and salty together!) These things are easy to make and even easier to eat. Make a batch and see if you don't agree with me!

Coconut Pralines

When I was a child, my grandmother made fudge and other candies to give away at Christmas time. I don't specifically remember her making pralines, but since we were in southern Louisiana, it's quite likely. I think she would like my coconut version.

Ingredients- For about 3 dozen pralines
2 1/2 cups or 500g sugar
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml corn syrup
1/2 cup or 113g butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups or 270g chopped pecans
2 cups or 175g sweetened shredded coconut

In a bowl, combine coconut and pecans; set aside. Line a pan with nonstick aluminum foil, wax paper or a silicone liner.

Put your sugar, milk, corn syrup, butter and salt in a medium-sized pot and stir well to combine.

Cook over a medium-high heat and continue stirring until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil.

Let it boil while stirring for 5 minutes. If you want to use a candy thermometer, you are looking for the mixture to reach almost 230°F or 110°C.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, then tip in the coconut/pecan mixture and stir well until everything is coated with the syrup.

Drop the mixture by large spoonfuls on your lined pan.

Leave to cool until the pralines harden completely.  This could take several hours or even overnight, depending on the temperature of your home.


Recipes from Christmas Week Bloggers


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Aussie Boiled Fruitcake #FoodieExtravaganza

Since the dried fruit and candied peel are first boiled with sugar, water and butter, they turn plump and juicy, filling the cake batter with tender bits of fruit. This makes for such a moist fruitcake that even non-lovers would like a slice.

Happy Christmas month! We are finally into December and while I’d like to say, “Let the holiday baking begin!” I know for many of you it started ages ago. Meanwhile, my Foodie Extravaganza group is getting their fruitcake on. Growing up, the only fruitcake I would eat was my grandmother’s because it wasn’t dry and hard as so many are. Nowadays I am a little more flexible but since the dry cakes still aren’t a favorite, I was intrigued by recipes that kept popping up on the Australian websites. Called variously boiled fruitcake, Australian fruit cake or quick-mix fruitcake, the fruit mix is first boiled with sugar, water and butter then set aside to cool, allowing time for the dried fruit to be rehydrated in a most delicious manner.

I think you’ll find that this version isn’t dry at all and may even win over some fruitcake naysayers.

2 1/2 cups or 375g mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup, firmly packed or 100g soft brown sugar
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 240ml water
3 1/2 tablespoons or 50g butter, plus extra for buttering the pan
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups or 280g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons honey
To decorate:
1/2 cup or 80g whole blanched almonds
1 candied cherry - optional

Note: The Australian tablespoon is four teaspoons to the US tablespoon’s three. Amounts given here have been converted from the original recipes to match the US standard, where appropriate. Also, the Australian cup is 250ml to the US cup’s 240ml. This has likewise been converted when necessary or the recipe has been adapted to compensate.

Place mixed dried fruit, soft brown sugar, sugar, water, butter and salt in a pot.

Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Set aside to cool. This can even be done a day ahead.

The fruit will plump right up as it cools.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C. Grease a 9in or 23cm springform pan with the softened butter and line the base and sides with parchment baking paper.

First cover the buttered bottom with a circle of parchment and cut a long strip for the sides.

Use the long strip to cover the buttered sides from top to bottom.

To the cooled fruit mixture, add the golden syrup and vanilla extract and give it a good stir.

Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda straight into the fruit mixture.

Stir again until well combined.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared springform pan and decorate the top with the blanched almonds and the cherry.

Bake in your preheated oven for 55 minutes or until the top is dark golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Cover the top with foil if it’s browning too fast before the cake is baked through.

Remove the fruitcake from the oven and brush it with the honey while hot.

Wrap the pan in 2 clean tea towels and set aside until cool. Remove the cake from the pan. Store in an airtight container. You don’t want it drying out at this point!


Many thanks to our host this month, Laura from Baking in Pyjamas, who says that fruit cake, soaked in brandy, is an absolute must for Christmas to be Christmas. From the looks of our link list this month, the rest of the Foodie Extravaganza group agree!

Foodie Extravaganza celebrates obscure food holidays or shares recipes with the same ingredient or theme every month.

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

If you're a reader looking for delicious recipes, check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out here.