A Christmas MiracleĀ 

Ever since I read Not Quite Nigella’s blog post on making an edible Hogwarts I’ve wanted to make a gingerbread house. The problem is, construction isn’t my forte. I’m not particularly patient or detail oriented and even when I am taking care, I tend to make mistakes – owing to the fact that my spatial awareness and 3D visualisation skills seemed to have been lost at birth. 

Nevertheless I was undeterred and given that Christmas is looming, I decided the time was ripe to give it a raring hot go. To increase my chances of success, I decided to use the easiest recipe I could find – one intended for a cooking project with kids -and had my engineering sister on standby. 

The result- success!! It’s not as pretty as I’d like and there are a couple of unintended ventilation ports …but it is structurally sound, four walls and a roof standing unaided – A true Christmas miracle. Check out my progress photos below (I needed evidence). 


Ps: if you are looking for reasonably priced accomodation, this baby is available for 12 smarties a week or 4 freckles a month. First in, best dressed šŸ˜‰



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Brown Butter Apple Loaf

An apple a day keeps the doctor away but what do you do if it’s the apple/s that you want to go away- floury, waxy, slightly squishy apples that are past their prime but which you can’t bare to throw out because your mamma taught you better than that. Well you bake them of course. 

A good likeness of the apples in question

And there is nothing better on a grotty, grey day than the gorgeous buttery gold of a cinnamon, apple loaf that has just emerged all warm and fragrant from the oven.

The recipe below (adapted from the kitchn) is what became of my floury apples which had been slowly wasting away in the fruit bowl on my dining room table. What makes it extra special is the browned butter, the pecans and the inclusion of a little Cointreau liqueur. Served warm with a little bit of butter it was just delicious!

  Ingredients 

3 apples peeled and cubed 
1/2 butter
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mixed spices
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
3 tbsp Cointreau 
1/2 cup pecans 
1 tsp vanilla

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin with baking paper and/or oil or extra butter.

2. Place the 1/2 cup butter in a small pot and melt over a medium heat until it is bubbling and has turned a dark golden brown. This happens fast so make sure to watch it closely and swirl it occasionally. Remove from heat and cool. 

3. Combine the two sugars, two eggs and cooled butter in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. 

4. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the flours, spices, baking soda and salt, stirring until just combined. Then mix in the yoghurt, vanilla, Cointreau, apples and pecans. 

5. Pour mixture into the loaf tin, smooth the top and bake for an hour or until cooked through. You may have to cover the top after 30 min to avoid burning. 

6. Remove from tin after 1 hour cooling and serve warm, sliced with butter or wrap in foil and freeze for later.