Wednesday 10 February 2010

New blog, old favourite...

I wanted to start this new, all food blog with a very favourite book that transformed my enthusiasm for baking last year....paving the way for Baked later on. Now don't get me wrong...I adore, and I hope I always will adore, baking - cooking in all it's forms, really. But when it's your job, and you're trying to find ideas for something different 6 days a can get a little repetetive. I'd been to Ottolenghi's Islington branch in London a few times and felt excited by the beautiful, fresh, vibrant colours & flavours of it's food...especially the salads & the gorgeous bakery offerings placed tantalisingly by the door. The decor, too ,was innovative...shiny ,white walls and surfaces that further enhanced the glowing bowls around me. This was a seriously different place to the usual french-inspired, scrubbed-wood-floor rusticity of so many cafes around today....although I love many of those too!

When the book was published, to a fanfare of fantastic reviews, I ordered it straight away - and I was entranced immediately! The colours, freshness & vivacity were now MINE! And the baking section at the back of the book made me turn my oven on, button up my kitchen coat & plunge in straight away!! The first recipe I made, is the first that I shall post here...and it tastes as spectacular as it looks. So beautiful & celebratory in these long days of Winter. And with their ruby syrup decoration, they'd be perfect for a Valentines Day brunch or tea I think...
Plum, Cinnamon & Marzipan Muffins
{from Ottolenghi the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi}
Makes 10/12

480g plain (all purpose) flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt
200g caster(superfine) sugar
2 free-range eggs
110g unsalted butter, melted
280ml milk
grated zest of 2 oranges
120g marzipan (almond paste) -preferably natural & organic
icing (confectioners) sugar to dust

Plum Compote
700g ripe, red plums, stoned & quartered
60g caster (superfine) sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Make the compote first. Preheat oven to 170 degrees /Gas Mark 3. Place the plums in a shallow baking dish, add the sugar & cinnamon stick & mix. Place in the hot oven & bake for 10-20 mins until the plums are very soft & the skins are starting to separate from the flesh. Remove from the oven & set aside to cool.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & salt into a bowl. Put the sugar & eggs in a large mixing bowl & whisk together. Add the milk & butter (make sure it isn't too hot) and whisk to combine.
Grate the marzipan on the coarse side of a grater (I have also just pulled small bits off with my hands!) and add to the batter, together with the orange zest. Now add 80g of the plum compote - flesh & juice - and stir to combine, setting the remaining compote aside for later.
Using a rubber spatula (or fork), gently fold the flour mixture into the batter until just combined. DON'T overmix - if there are a few lumpy or floury bits, that's what you want!
Line muffin tin with paper liners & spoon in the mixture, filling all the way to the top. Bake 25/30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, remove from tin & leave to cool on a wire rack. Just before serving, dust with a little icing (confectioner's) sugar & top with the reserved cooked plums.

I especially love them slightly still warm...the flavours are divine, with the sweet almond paste & the slightly sharp contrast of the syrupy plums.
Gorgeous! Enjoy xoxo


  1. Wonderful!
    Love this new baking blog, it's so bright and beautiful.
    And I'm pleased to be the first follower! :)
    Those brownies in the banner....oh my!
    xoxo Dawn

  2. Dearest Rachel,
    Two wonderful blogs, how lucky are we!! The muffins sound amazing, and so strangely, I just bought some plum plums this morning, so just need to get the marzipan and we're off! I think the kids will love them. Will let you know. You write so beautifully as always xxxxxxxxx

  3. Darling Rachel, this new addition is fantastic! I cannot wait to get my foodie fix from your gorgeous new blog.
    Love Morwenna xoxo

  4. Dearest Rachel, I made the muffins today. I used lemon zest instead of oranges because I forgot to get some. They were really gorgeous! Very decadent. My kids wolfed them down and my husband who doesn't usually like sweet things had one too and said they were great. Don't even ask how many I've had! I had some plums left over, so we're having them with custard after our taglietelle. Reminds me of England.... Thanks for the recipe, will be using it in my repetoire. Love love love

  5. I've just made a batch of these and I'm impressed with my first effort. I used a smaller amount of plums and they still look and taste amazing.


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