Zucchini Cornbread

One last time this year…

We had chilli con carne for lunch and I’ve still got grated zucchini in the freezer for recipes I want to try out. This Zucchini Cornbread was one of them and the chilli recipe actually sounds very nice too.

But back to the bread!

I don’t see the need to put 100g of sugar into what is for all intents and purposes a savoury bread and therefore reduced it to just 10g. I find the bread on its own quite salty but eaten with chilli, it’s a perfect accompaniment.

Since we generally grow the yellow zucchini as we find them more pleasant in taste, the bread doesn’t look quite as interesting as in the original recipe with the green specks.

I’ll make it again to go with chilli. And you get extra veg without making an effort…

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Happy New Year, everybody!
Thanks for reading and putting up with me.
xxx

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Baking Bread (38), Lasagne and a Pie

Time to stock up before the next holidays hit us! I went into a baking frenzy… The oven was on for a good four hours…

I made Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer (fifth time this year!) for Mister Meike’s Kitchen. It’s his favourite bread, what can I do? I wasn’t happy with the rise but the bread turned out absolutely fine.

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Then it was time for lunch and I had already roasted and pureed a hokkaido pumpkin. I wanted to try out this Pumpkin Lasagne. It is a wonderful recipe, a very elegant pumpkin recipe.

There is a pumpkin-parmesan-cream mix:

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A spinach-and-onion layer:

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And a pumpkin-and-cream “sauce” for the top:

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I didn’t really get a good picture of the finished dish so you’ll have to make do with this, the leftovers on a messy plate:

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Make it! I think that’s the best way I have ever eaten pumpkin in a savoury dish.

In between all this I was also making Dan Lepard’s Alsace Loaf again (fourth time this year…). The recipe can be found here while I’m still working out on how best to make it. My sourdough starter is much wetter than his. I’m getting there though. I made double the quantity but instead of shaping it into sticks (that should have made ten), I made two proper loaves.

Here’s the better looking one:

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It’s my favourite bread. I love how the grains give it texture and at the same time keep it wonderfully moist.

And now for the pie. This is our New Year’s Even tradition. I’ve actually made it for the seventh time this year. It’s Mrs Whitlow’s Artery-Hardening Hogswatch Pie from Terry Pratchett’s Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook. It’s on page 30 of this PDF.

I only make half the quantity because it’s enough for us. And since Master Meike’s Kitchen has been eating proper food, I’ve made it without the port for the stock. I’ve also experimented with different seasonings for the minced pork over the years and it works also with cayenne and paprika and Italian herbs. I also sometimes put a layer of bacon between the pastry and the filling – if I don’t forget that I’ve bought bacon specifically for that…

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The pie is made the day before so the stock can set; therefore I can’t show you yet what it looks like inside, can’t reveal the meat feast… You’ll have to wait until next year for that.

Enjoy the last 26 and a bit hours (Central European time…) of 2014!

Merry Christmas!

Christkind was very kind to me last night (we get our presents on Christmas Eve, just like the British royal family…) and I got a couple of lovely kitchen-related presents:

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The t-shirt appeals greatly to my silly sense of humour and my Dad actually made that recipe book holder for me. I’m ever so touched. The Jamaican spices and sauce are from my dearest friend, who thinks she’s very funny but we’re now planning to have roast chicken soon…

Christmas Day is usually my turn to cook something grand and we always try to incorporate some elements of an English Christmas Dinner. However, this year this part falls to ……. sprouts, parsnips and roasties… Anyway, that’s not what I want to write about. I’m going to write about dessert. I bought a Lucky Dip Box from The Spicery and it contained – among other things – a kit for Lemon Rosemary Posset. I thought that was a suitably dessert for Christmas Day, herby, spicy, lemony- sharp and nothing overly sweet or laced with chocolate (though I’m usually rather fond of the latter). It’s the first time I’ve tried one of the Sweet Spice Kits.

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It’s all actually rather fool-proof. The herbs and spices come in clearly labelled sachets and the instructions are easy to follow.

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I first made the spiced shortbread, with crushed green peppercorns. I didn’t sprinkle any additional pepper on those biscuits intended for the children (the vertical row on the left).

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Then I made the posset. I’ve always been intrigued by “posset”, something that crops up every now and so often in literature but is not a common drink / dish anymore. (There’s an article on Wikipedia about it, including a list of literary references.) So this went into my first posset:

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I couldn’t get any double cream so I used crème fraîche and normal cream. It boiled alright and it set fine. It was just a pain to filter out the peppercorns and bits of rosemary…

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It was a very surprising dessert. The kids weren’t keen on it at all (and I don’t blame them) even though the Sweet Spice Kit claims be “a range of family-friendly desserts”. Probably not when the youngest members of the family are only five and two… And this one does have a heat rating of two chillies (out of five). Once you got over the initial shock of having a rather hot (as in spicy) dessert, we adults actually quite enjoyed it. Until we found yet another bit of crushed peppercorn between our teeth… I’ll certainly go back to making a posset again. Probably not with pepper though… And maybe not even lemon but the idea is still appealing.

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Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!

Need … to …. catch … up …

“Catch up” could easily be interchanged with sleep, relax, unwind, take a deep breath, slow down and all sorts of other verbs of this type of meaning. December is such a busy month! Christmas parties, the normal Christmassy stuff but then it’s also Master Meike’s Kitchen’s birthday… It’s just about enough.

But let’s start at the beginning. I have tried out a new bread, it’s this Multigrain Oatmeal Bread. I drastically reduced the sugar because, to my mind, there’s no need for 100g of sugar in a bread. I used one teaspoon for the yeast mix and one tablespoon for the main dough. It’s a wonderful bread, the only downside is that it dries out very quickly. I’d freeze it in small portions to keep it fresh.

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And now we enter the birthday bakeathon: For some reason, even unbeknownst to me, I made two birthday cakes for the lucky boy.

The first one was my White Zucchini Confetti Cake, unfortunately I got different sprinkles now and they just melted into the dough. It was still a nice cake though. I made a white chocolate frosting this time and covered the whole cake in sprinkles. It looked pretty though my choice of chocolate wasn’t the best. I should have bought better quality. Hohum. Next time.

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I also tried to make made a Captain Barnacles Cake. Captain Barnacles is a character from the children’s TV series The Octonauts, which the kids like a lot. I used the recipe for the Owl Cake I made for Miss Meike’s Kitchen in August because I thought it would be easiest to shape. Which it was. But then I decided to cover the cake in white chocolate buttercream and use dyed buttercream for the feature. That was a bad choice. If only I thought that through! Next time I use marzipan.

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One of Master Meike’s Kitchen’s friends, who were coming along for his birthday tea, is gluten intolerant and allergic to dairy and egg. That makes catering for him quite a challenge. He is not into sweet things at all but I like to make the effort so that there’s something for him, should he want to have it. And I don’t just want to serve up a couple of rice cakes. This year I made some everything-free Oreos because I was going to make a lovely dessert called Dirt for Master to take to Kindergarten to celebrate his birthday there. Anyway. Those “Oreos” were after nooone’s taste, I’m afraid to say. And I’m even more determined now to one day find a recipe that produces something Master’s friend, and everyone else for that matter, will enjoy.

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We also needed something savoury for the evening and because Master Meike’s Kitchen is rather fond of burgers, I was rather pleased to have found a recipe for a cheeseburger bread. It’s basically a pizza with cooked mince, gherkins, bacon, grated cheese and ketchup, rolled up. We dropped our bread onto the floor when I tried to get it from the worktop to the baking tray – which Master was holding for me; I think he was surprised by the sudden increase in weight… So we shaped it into a big snail. I baked it the night before and then just reheated it in the oven on the day. It was fantastic! Mister Meike’s Kitchen has already requested it for his birthday!!! (On the downside, Master didn’t try a single bite, I think he was too excited, but both kids had helped make it and wouldn’t leave the filling alone…)

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I’m still recovering from that bakeathon but the next loaf of bread is already in the making…

Chicken Pie and Cookies

I haven’t forgotten…

I have done some baking but not a lot. And since I’m kind of on holiday I’ve not baked any bread but we’re buying at the moment. There’s a nice little bakery in a village nearby… They actually bake on the premises so I don’t feel too bad about it…

The whole story is a bit long but our flat was rented out for a year and it’s just been done up and is getting furnished again. I have to improvise in the kitchen a bit when I notice while making something that I haven’t got certain equipment at hand.

This was the case with this Chicken Pie. I made pastry. Now Mr Meike’s Kitchen had stocked the kitchen after I sent him a shopping list. He’d decanted flour into a container and labelled it “self-raising” but there is also another, closed bag of self-raising flour. One of them was meant to be plain… So I’m using the open one as plain, in the hope that it’s right…

I had found a recipe for a Chicken Pot Pie here which I used as a guide to make my own.

Ingredients for the pastry:
360g flour – which may, or may not, be self-raising
1 tsp salt
250g butter
1 egg
2 tbsp cold water
1 sprig of rosemary

I had to roll out the pastry with a pint glass as there was no rolling pin… I used about two thirds for the base and somehow got it into a baking tray… I blind baked it at 200°C (although I’m not sure whether our oven here is accurate) for 10 minutes.

I didn’t get to eat the pie when it first came out of the oven. When I had some the next day, it was soft (I don’t want to say it was soggy…) but it was tasty.

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Ingredients for the Filling:
The meat of about one and a third roast chicken
A colander full of frozen mixed veg
Olive oil and butter
Flour
Milk and water
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
A sprig of rosemary

I took the veg out before I started making the sauce in order to let it thaw a bit. The sauce was just a simple thick white sauce to coat the chicken and veg. I stirred it together the best I could and spread it over the pastry base before covering it with the remaining pastry.

Bake for half an hour at 200°C.

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The men in the house liked it and that’s good enough for me.

We’ve done some culture since getting to Leicester, dragging the kids to Newarke House Museum and to New Walk Museum.

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Making cookies with the kids is a good idea when the weather isn’t great. So the other day, when Miss Meike’s Kitchen was busy lining up matchbox cars on the lowboard, Master Meike’s Kitchen and I made Double Choc Chip Cookies. He did a very good job chopping some dwrk and white chocolate. I was very impressed.

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We used my cookies recipe but used self-raising flour (due to no baking powder in the cupboard), only caster sugar and no vanilla. The dark chocolate unfortunately dominated the white and I really should have thought of that but I suppose they added to the flavour so it’s ok.

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The cookies were dark at the bottom and pale on top but they went from this

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to this

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overnight…

Baking Bread 28

I’ve tried something new this time. I know I say this a lot but it’s not just new recipes. I’ve made bread with grains. Proper whole grains.

It was also an opportunity to turn half of my rye sourdough starter (Sinbad II) into a wheat starter (Ishmael). That’s also something I’ve found intriguing for some time. You can really see the different colours (from the flours) – the first one is Ishmael, the second one Sinbad II:

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Near my dentist is a health food store and every time (well, nearly anyway) I go to the dentist, I pop in there too. They’ve got fantastic hot chocolate bars… among other things, of course. So when I went for a check-up in July, I bought barley, rye and wheat grains. I had no particular use for them in mind, I just remembered that there are a few recipes in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf that require grains. And I like bread with different textures, that give you something to chew. It took me a while to get round to them but I got there in the end and tried out two recipes, the Alsace Loaf with Rye and a Five Grain Loaf.

The grains need to be cooked prior to baking and I found that the time given in the book are not quite long enough. It just about works for the Alsace Loaf but for the other one, they were barely cooked. So this needs a bit more research and experimenting on my part. I used rye, as required, in the Alsace Loaf but a mix of barley, rye and wheat in the Five Grain Loaf. The barley and wheat need longer and I only cooked the for 45 minutes which was fine for the rye.

The doughs for both breads are incredibly sticky which is not something I enjoy working with, particularly when the recipe demands it to be shaped into batons… I deliberately only made two Alsace Loaves instead of five. (They just need a little bit longer in the oven.) They dry out too quickly when they’re that thin. The result was fantastic and the kids loved it. For the first time ever, they’ve actually liked my bread so much that they ate it at mealtimes – and not just when I was slicing it for freezing or for tasting. I’m very pleased with that.

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The Five Grain Loaf is fantastic for all the different things that it contains: rye and wheat flour, oat meal and millet grains. More cooked grains are added but what they are is up to the baker. As I’ve said I used rye, wheat and barley. I also ran out of black treacle and replaced the missing bits with malt extract. The loaf might be a tad too sweet but it’s incredibly light and very tasty!

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I know in the second picture it looks as if the slices had a green tinge to them. They hadn’t. It must have been the light in my kitchen. I tried to photoshop the green out but it didn’t work (rather, I’m not very good with photoshop). So believe me when I tell you that they had a lovely brown colour and looked rather appetising!

Dropping a clanger and other things….

Have you ever wondered what dropping a clanger really means? Where the expression comes from?

I have.

(I don’t get out much.)

And then I came across a recipe for Bedfordshire Clangers in Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds. He says that “clanging” may derive from an old East Midlands word meaning “eating with great relish”. These clangers are like the original Cornish pasties, with a savoury side and a sweet side, mains and dessert in one. So if you dropped one, you’d just lost yourself a whole meal. Definitely not good!

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Master Meike’s Kitchen and I will be traveling North again tomorrow and I thought these would be the perfect lunch items. This time we’ve been invited to a Christening (his Godmother’s youngest girl, my Goddaughter’s baby sister) and the Godmother-to-be is giving us a lift. I’ve only found out this evening that we won’t be leaving until noon so they’ll probably have to be a late lunch snack item. Or something.

Anyway. I had too much filling and the pastry was too sticky and too thin. And then I didn’t preheat the oven to the correct temperature. But – they look alright, they smell tasty and so far they’ve not broken apart…

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The recipe for the Clangers can be found here. I’ve also returned to the Bread book, still Paul Hollywood, to try out the Malt Loaf. I love the bought ones in England but these are lovely too. Mine didn’t rise as much as I expected them to in a two-hour period but the consistency is great, not too dense but not too fluffy either. Just right. The recipe is on the BBC website.

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One of the loaves will also join us tomorrow on our travels. I’m hoping that the raisins will keep it fresh.

And in my next post I will tell you all about a special Christening and a Christening cake…

Tomato-Ricotta Tarte

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in tomatoes so I didn’t really fancy writing about them as well but now I’m planning a baking day tomorrow so I ought to, really.

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For some reason, I’ve not been able to pick our tomatoes when they’re ripe. Every time I checked on them, they were either just slightly underripe or already soft to the touch and bursting. So I usually ended up with a large amount of them that needed to be dealt with quickly. Over the course of four days, there were four kilos. They ended up in two big salads, tomato chutney, tomato salsa, passata di pomodoro and a canned carrot-zucchini-pumpkin-tomato kind of stew.

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Above are the vegetables for the canned stew, ready to be roasted. I’m pleased to say that everything, even the onions, are from our garden. That stew can be used as a pizza base or for a pasta sauce. It’s a nice thing to have handy during winter when those kind of vegetables aren’t in season.

The recipe for the Tomato-Ricotta Tarte is here and I didn’t really change anything. I don’t have any buckwheat flour so I replaced it with whole wheat flour and the goats cream cheese I replaced with a cow’s milk “feta”. The tarte is beautiful! Warm or cold, doesn’t matter. Delicious!

I found the idea of freezing the tarte before blind baking rather interesting. However, I ran out of time (lunch that day was very, very late) so I skipped that step. But I can report: no soggy bottom!

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Miss Meike’s Kitchen and I have taken another trip to the mill to stock up on wheat flour. I went for the 5 kg bags this time. With the amount of baking I do it won’t go off. The miller himself carried it back to the car for me while his wife and kids manned the shop. It’s a very friendly place to go!

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Baking Bread 26 and other things

I’ve got to catch up on two baking days … and one of them was a night.

My mum was going to preserve some plums but the ones that my dad preped for her were too ripe so I got them to make jam. I’ve got a recipe where the plums are cooked in the oven for hours with brown sugar, vanilla, star anise and cinnamon sticks. It gets lovely and sticky and has quite a different taste to plum jam cooked on the hob. I don’t know which website I got the recipe from but here is one exactly the same. No photos because even though the smell and taste are delicious and wonderful, the look of it is not.

In the meantime I thought I’d bake the bread I had actually planned for the following day but my sourdough starter was bubbling away nicely so ahead I went. The spelt bread I made last time is lovely but not an everyday bread for me, it’s more something for Mr Meike’s Kitchen. I need proper grains… I made the 3-Korn-Vollkorn-Brot that I’ve made before because it’s proper whole meal but … I didn’t have any whole spelt flour so it’s more a 2-Korn-Vollkorn. I only used wheat and rye, a bit more of each to make up the total amount. It tastes alright. I suppose it may have been a bit lighter with added spelt. Since it was quite late, I also wasn’t much in the mood for kneading but I’m not sure whether that would have made a difference. I also think my scales were off because the bread tastes decidedly salty and I had a feeling while weighing it out that the display wasn’t moving for too long. There’s a saying here: if the bread is too salty, the baker’s in love…

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I cut the first slices about 18 hours after baking and – even though the slices are out of focus – you can see that the bread was still too fresh; there are those fluff-like bits at the bottom of the slices (wow, three lines and three times the word “slices” in it, must be a record….)

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These slices were cut another 24 hours after the first ones:

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The next day I made a Carrot and Coriander Quiche for lunch. I made it once before, a couple of weeks after my Goddaughter was christened in 2011. In a few weeks time, her baby sister will be christened. Funny coincidence.

A very similar recipe can be found here. Strictly speaking I don’t think it actually is a quiche since it sits on a yeast dough, more akin to a pizza base. My filling also contains bacon which adds a bit of texture.

This year’s crop of carrots has been exceptional:

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The dough for the base rose beautifully, thanks to an overload of yeast (one sachet for 250g flour), making it resemble a deep-crust pizza:

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I left out the chilli because of the kids but it’s tasty without. It’s lovely warm or cold.

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And while the dough was rising, I made Dan Lepard’s Spotted Soda Bread which I’ve made before. Kindergarten has started again after three weeks summer holidays so I wanted to have something nice to go into Master Meike’s Kitchen’s lunchbox – to go with his cheese and red currant jam sandwiches he’s developed an extreme fondness for. That concoction was his idea, by the way, although it’s something I could have come up with for sure…

It’s only a small loaf and I really don’t know why I bother to freeze half of it. I only defrost it again the next day.

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Anyway, that is the last of the “normal” wheat flour used up. I’ve only got whole wheat left, spelt and all the rye flours so there’s a trip to t’ mill scheduled for next week!

Tomato-Mozzarella Tart & Caribbean Sunrise Muffins

It may be bread week on the Great British Bake Off but bread was not on my to-do list yesterday. I made a tart for lunch and muffins for dessert.

One of my auntie’s subscribes to the German magazine ARD Buffet which accompanies a TV programme. It’s very similar to the BBC Good Food Magazine. When she’s done with the magazines, I get them, usually six to 12 months later… So luck would have it that the other day I grabbed the August 2013 issue with a feature on tomato recipes. We’ve got some wonderful plants with great fruit this year so I thought it would be interesting to try something new.

I made a Tomato-Mozzarella Tart. The recipe is not on their website and I didn’t change it sufficiently to call it my own so just let me tell you that the base is shortcrust pastry. I put some wholemeal flour with the plain and there’s also some added fresh thyme. I should have taken some pictures because the process of making it produced some wonderful still lifes. The base which would probably benefit from blind baking (I didn’t do it) is covered with finely chopped mozzarella mixed with parsley, salt, pepper and chilli powder. Halved tomatoes are arranged on top of this cut side up. More of the same mozzarella mix goes into the gaps between the tomatoes. And finally everything is covered in a mix of sour cream and eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Obviously it goes into the oven and when it comes out, the tomatoes are hotter than the centre of the earth. I let it cool down so it was just warm when we had it and it was lovely. The kids liked it (always a good indicator!), I liked it. I had another slice in the evening, cold, straight from the fridge, and that was very nice too.

Here are some shots, in the typical messy Meike-style:

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You know the usual logic of “since the oven is already hot, I might as well bake something else” … I had already some pineapple, including the juice, for this recipe in the freezer. We’ve got some fantastic carrots in the garden so this was all perfect for Caribbean Sunrise Muffins.

The recipe is from the BBC Good Food Magazine but it can also be found here. The only change I’ve made is – you can all sing along by now, I’m sure – a third less sugar for both types. These are really lovely muffins, so moist and tasty.

We took them to my auntie’s where we went to in the afternoon. We also had a bit of White Zucchini Cake left which I had kept back on purpose. I wanted to see how long it would stay fresh because Master Meike’s Kitchen and I are invited to a Christening next month and I’ve offered to bring a cake. However, we will be traveling there the day before so the cake will be at least two days old before we’ll have it. And I think it’ll be fine. The cake was still nice yesterday and by then I had baked the cakes four days before and frosted it a day later. My auntie asked for a second slice so there you have it. And she also kept a muffin for breakfast today… Everybody’s happy!

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