Friday, September 21, 2007

Muffins, oh and a few flowers

A great sign that Spring has sprung in Canberra is the beginning of Floriade. A month long flower festival featuring over a million blooms. Here you can see just a fraction of what's on offer.

Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, pansies, irises, violas. All European flowers you notice. Australia has plethora of stunning native flowers, but really they don't lend themselves to organised mass displays. I think that their true beauty is best realised in their natural settings.

Every year there is a theme and this year's is Aussie icons, myths and legends. Predictably, this has been translated into a floral represenation of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) complete with cricket pitch, a meat pie and an iced vovo biscuit. Among other things. Sigh. It doesn't really matter though because without the signs I would have no idea what a display is about anyway. Really, it's just a case if 'WOW, look at all those pretty flowers'.

So with all this on the doorstep and a beautiful Saturday on offer what else was there to do, but have a picnic. What bliss, settled onto some lush green grass, warm sun beating down, the perfume of a thousand hyacinths wafting by, good friends and idle chit chat, nibbling on fantastic food.

My contribution to this al fresco fiesta was my absolute all time favourite muffins -just baked and kept warm from the oven. I am very picky about muffins. I do not like them to be too heavy and leaden. I don't like the tops to be all sticky. And I like them to be small. Those horiffic giant muffins that are usually served after being microwaved to within an inch of their life are a serious pet hate of mine.

These muffins are from the Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander. Still warm, the outside is a light crispy shell. The crumb is very light, tender and buttery. Any chocolate chips are still gooey and melted. Yum. Yum. Yum.

The flavour here is banana and chocolate. I have never made banana before. The flavour was a bit weak I think. These muffins work best with berries, diced fruit (apples, mango, peach etc) and/or chocolate chips. My absolute all time favourite is raspberry and white chocolate. Ohh drooool !! They are also very good just plain, with no additional ingredients, and then served warm with a good jam. Scrummy!! I could go on and on.

Like most muffins they don't keep fantastically well. You can successfully reheat them in the oven, but they are best eaten within a few hours of baking.

(adapted from Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander)

Mix 220gm of self raising flour and 1/2 cup of castor sugar. Add any additional dry ingredients, such as spices, nuts, chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, mix 3/4 cup of milk, an egg and 3/4 cup of vegetable oil. Add any additional wet ingredients, such bananas (150gm), berries, other fruit.

Pour liquid into dry ingredients and mix lightly.

Spoon into a muffin tin greased with butter. Fill by about 2/3. Chocolate chips will tend to stick, so it is important to grease the tin well. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 180C oven.


At 12:48 am, Blogger Deborah said...

The muffins look great and the flowers are gorgeous!! It's always quite strange for me to think that we are going in to fall while you are in spring!!

At 9:18 am, Blogger Nora B. said...

Terrific photos! My fav. flower this season are tulips. The muffins sounds like they would freeze well - I usually freeze my muffins because that's the only way I can stop myself from polishing it all off! :-)

At 7:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So jealous of your spring weather and new flowers and muffins!

At 11:07 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What beautiful flowers! And the muffins, how tasty they must be. What a contrast to our coming autumn season.

At 10:43 pm, Blogger KJ said...

Hi Deborah, I know. Over the last few months I've found it odd to be huddled by the heater with a cup of hot chocolate reading posts about ice cream recipes.

Hi Nora, I've taken your advice and put some of the latest batch in the freezer. I think it will work well.

Hi Molly, it's an exciting time of year.

Hi Veron, autumn has lots to offer too.It's a gorgeous time of year here in Canberra.


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