People keep asking me: “What’s happened to your blog? Why have you stopped writing?”
I don’t really have a good answer, but I suspect that so much energy has gone into baking a certain little bun in the oven, I haven’t had much left over for kitchen experimentation. We relied on old favourites and comfort foods to get us through the winter and now it is summer, I’m reveling in salads, gazpacho and quiches, and a wonderful husband who has been doing ALL the washing up for the last three months, if not longer.
So, now with just a few weeks to go until my life changes forever, obviously, my thoughts return to food. I have prepared and frozen in neat, flat packages: pea soup, Bolognese sauce, turkey burgers, mocha bars, and quiche. There isn’t too much point filling up our small freezer, as we are blessed with a wonderful family and friends who will probably take great pleasure in feeding us when we’re up to our necks in dirty nappies. However, there is one thing I still want to bake and freeze in copious amounts.
MUFFINS. All different types of muffins: easy-to-defrost, fruit-packed, bite-size snacks; sweet treats masquerading as ‘something healthy’ because they will all contain BRAN (smug smile). When browsing a forum for new mums, I found some great advice that spoke right to my heart. Several wise women suggested never sitting down to nurse without a snack in arm’s reach. Imagine: you settle into your comfy chair, your baby starts feeding, and then WHAM, serious hunger pangs attack and you are pinned down by a tiny little bundle for the next forty five minutes with NOONE TO BRING YOU SOMETHING TO EAT. Nightmare on Elm Street. Other new mums joked about the crumbs they left in their newborn’s hair as they munched on muffins while they were nursing. That’s when I realized – I need to fill my freezer with muffins.
So I began ‘Operation Muffins’ today. This recipe in its original form is for a loaf cake called ‘Oogat Chaylaim’ in Hebrew, or ‘Soldier’s Cake’. The woman who gave me the recipe used to make it for her sons when they were in the army because it keeps well, and although it tastes delicious, it actually contains all the ingredients to keep you healthy and ‘regular': Bran, dried fruit, wholewheat flour and Vitamin C. There isn’t even any oil, butter or margerine in the recipe. Just eating them makes me feel smug…hence the new name, Smug Muffins.
Makes one loaf cake or 12 muffins
1 cup All Bran
1 cup orange juice (or milk)
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup dried fruit (apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, etc. or nuts)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
Grated lemon/orange peel
1. Leave bran to soften in orange juice (or milk) for 8 hours.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and bicarb soda
3. Mix flour with the soaked bran, egg, sugar and grated lemon peel
4. Add dried fruit/nuts (I used apricot, raisins, cranberries, dates and walnuts). The mixture will be think and sticky.
5. Pour into muffin tin and bake at 180 for about 15 minutes, or until cocktail stick comes out clean. If using a loaf tin (line with baking sheet) bake for about 40 mins.
Et voila! So easy, so healthy, and so little washing-up involved. What more could you ask for?