125g self raising flour
50g wholemeal flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon (I used 2 as my dad and I are cinnamon freaks!)
75g caster sugar
100g oats (reserve a tbl sp for sprinkling)
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
75g butter, melted
1 tbl sp demerara sugar
(The recipe also used 1 bramley apple peeled, cored and finely diced making them the Apple and Cinnamon Muffins they claimed to be but I wanted to do something more as this was a gift afterall)
I made the basic muffin batter by sifting the flours, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl and then adding the caster sugar and oats. The dry mixture.
The eggs and milk were then beat into a separate bowl and the banana and butter added. The wet mixture.
The wet mixture was then added to the dry mixture and the two folded together...be sure not to overmix or they will be tough and bread-like...not desirable in a fluffy muffin!
Most of the advice in the first points came courtesy of the magazine but I then went about implementing the twist..I distributed the batter between 3 bowls and to one I added 1/4 of diced a apple, to another a handful of roughly chopped dried sour cherries and 2 tbl sp dessicated coconut and to the final bowl a selection of roughly chopped and crushed nuts (brazil, almond, pecan and walnut etc) making sure to thoroughly combine the ingredients in each bowl whilst avoiding overmixing...
The batters were then spooned into a muffin tin lined with 12 muffin cases (4 per batter), a sprinkling of oats and demerara over each one and then baked in a preheated 200C oven for 15-20 mins. (Mine took 18 mins in total but all ovens vary so keep an eye on them and take them out when they look golden and feel firm).
It's worth mentioning that the muffins will continue to firm up after you take them out so, if they feel a little tender or the bottom of them feels soft it may be best to take them out and let them cool. I found this out a few years back when making labour intensive coconut muffins; after cooking them for the suggested time I kept prodding and putting them back in the oven until they felt totally firm and, as a result, was left with dense, bready muffins and I was heartbroken given the time and money I'd spent!
Once cooled and decidedly un-breadlike (I can now confidently recommend this recipe) they were placed into a gift bag; they did look and smell the business!
I reserved a few for hubby and I to enjoy with a milky coffee that evening and a spreading of peanut butter for breakfast...delish!
Also on my list was what to have for lunch that day; my husband and I being the only vegetarians. So, after a midweek phone chat with my mum, we settled on homemade pizza - a crowd pleaser...my role was that of bread base maker. I borrowed a basic recipe from Jamie Oliver:
800g strong bread flour
200g fine ground semolina flour or bread flour
1 level tbl sp fine sea salt
2x7g sachets of dried yeast
1 tbl sp golden caster sugar
approx. 650ml tepid water
(this made 8 medium-sized thin bases)
I did, however, replace the white bread flour with brown bread flour...it does give a different taste and texture of that in white pizza dough - less soft and elastic - but if you only eat brown bread anyway its not a big shock plus this lower GI option was more friendly to Dad's health...another fathers day gift in my eyes!
My folks agreed to supply a medley of toppings such as oregano infused tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichokes - chargrilled and steeped in garlic oil, olives, capers and basil - I had to draw the line at pineapple...although pinenuts can be sensational when lightly toasted and used with basil, garlic oil and veggie parmesan (using non-animal rennet) - a kind of deconstruct pesto pizza!
I figured we could make an activity of it - ie make your own plus I was intrigued as to what my family would put on their own pizzas, the composition, ratio of cheese to tomato sauce etc...I guess I'm weird like that but the cooking and eating habits of others can speak volumes about them - just take a look at someone else's trolly in the supermarket, as I do, and you'll know what I mean.
The pizzas were served with a simple salad of British rocket, watercress and peashoots along with thick slices of beef tomato all doused in chilli oil and aged balsamic and sprinkled (a little too liberally some might say) with salt and freshly ground black pepper...a must on a pizza!
The muffins and pizzas went down a storm with all involved...my dad has since text me using the word 'magnificent' whilst scoffing his 3rd muffin of the day - cheers Dad!