Festive Food: Rachel’s Spiced Apple Muffins

This afternoon, we have a slight break from the usual schedule and we’re bringing what is normally Friday Food to you a little early, (under the cunning guise of festive food – clever no?!) There are a few reasons for this, firstly, I have something to fit in tomorrow, but secondly, I was so excited to receive this from my lovely sister-in-law that I just had to post it! Despite her protestations, Rachel has been amazingly supportive of me starting Florence Finds and I’m so thrilled to include her on these pages. Please give Rachel a big Florence Finds welcome… 🙂

I’d like to introduce myself to all you lovely readers out there! I’m Rachel, Rebecca’s sister-in-law (Pete’s sister) and I have a confession to make. I’ve not been very supportive of Rebecca in her new venture. Being a big of a blog-reading-virgin, it has taken me a while to become used to checking out FF every day, so I am writing this by way of an apology to Rebecca (and because these buns are so damned delicious, I couldn’t not share!)

Every week, my daughter and I attend a toddler group, where one of the activities is baking. We made these not long before Christmas and I can honestly say they are the most baked thing in my kitchen at the moment.

Image credit: Eat Make Read.

Now, I’m no master baker – so for me to be able to share something with you that’s successful is really saying something! I remember (and probably so does Pete) in my younger days, trying to bake at home and it often (always) going wrong – whether I’d left out the sugar, forgotten to line the tin or just not read the instructions properly! For me, being on the Great British Bake Off will only ever be a dream – but I really do enjoy baking!
So, here we go……

Apple Spiced Muffins!
(makes 12 large muffins or 24 small buns)
125g butter, diced
75g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
75ml milk
3 eating apples of choice tossed in a little lemon juice to stop them browning (I used cooking apples once and they were great!)
30g sultanas

1. Pre-heat an oven to 190°c. Place butter and sugars in a bowl and beat together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing until well combined.
2. Sift the flour and cinnamon/spice together. Gradually beat in the flour and milk, alternating between the two until well combined with the butter mixture.
3. Fold in the grated apple and sultanas and combine well with the batter (I use a whisk for this part!).
4. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins so they are just below ¾ full. Bake for 20 minutes.

TOP TIP: Don’t be tempted to do what I did once and put in extra apple (because I was feeling healthy). The extra weight made the batter too heavy and they didn’t rise. Saying that, a visiting friend enjoyed them so much, she left with half the batch I’d made that day, so they couldn’t have been too bad!

Seriously, these are so easy to make! If I can do it… and all that! Happy baking! Now I must go and check that carrot cake that’s in the oven. Whoop Whoop!

Rachel xx

PS: My New Year’s Resolution: To read Florence Finds EVERY day. Oh – and to be more organised with the food shopping (but don’t tell my husband!)

PPS: I’m making a spinach and chick pea curry on Saturday night for friends – if it’s any good, Rebecca may let me post it! Watch this space!

The Great Christmas Debate…

So, you’ve hung the decorations, are slowly ticking presents off your list, the cards are written and you’re planning the food. But come Christmas Eve where will you be this year?

When I first met Pete I was so lucky and after only a year or two he joined my family for a couple of Christmases, interrupted by a stint in Australia. Eventually he wanted to go home but I wasn’t ready to try a Christmas away and I missed him so much. I think there’s something about Christmas… for me it’s all about being with the people and that someone that you love. But what do you do when they have people they love too and it’s crunch time?

Image Credit: Green Wedding Shoes

My problem was as much not wanting to be anywhere else at Christmas other than home, as my Mum not wanting me anywhere else. We’re not a big family and apart from my Mum being possibly Christmas’s number one fan, that left just the three of them, including my sister which makes for a pretty sorry Christmas celebration. So I felt guilty.

But I couldn’t feel guilty forever because every Christmas I made Pete spend with me I know he missed his family too. It wasn’t fair and it was selfish. Eventually my Mum nobly conceded that we would have to take it in turns and I had my first Norris Christmas.

Image Credit: Kirtsy

Part of the thing about Christmas I think, is that you build traditions as you grow up. Whether it’s midnight mass or the pub before Christmas lunch, a Boxing day party or carols on the village green, the perfect Christmas is often what you’re used to. In my case that involved a lot of socialising, parties, dressing up. The Norris Christmas was so different with carols in the freezing cold around the village Christmas tree and games in front of the fire. It took a bit of adjusting but it’s now right up there for me on an equal footing with a Christmas at home.

This year, it’s my turn. Christmas in Southport with my family and I will miss the Norris Christmas. But it’s made me think what the perfect Christmas would be. I long for the year we will hold a family Christmas in our house. I’d love to meld together the festive celebrations at my house with the yuletide cheer of Pete’s. Masses of people, pets, children and food. Chaos and music and laughter and joy, everyone we love together.

So share with me your Christmas dilemmas – Where are you having Christmas this year? Has it caused arguments between you and your beloved or family, and what are your solutions to making it fun but fair for everyone?


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