Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Autumn Festival

Today was Miss E's Autumn Festival at Prep. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. All the children were dressed in their sparkling white Festival clothes and looked so proud and exited to show off their singing and dancing to their parents. The teachers did a wonderful job at decorating the room in the most vibrant of colors; the crimson, scarlet and yellow leaves arranged just so....

After lunch we all headed off to the Botanical Garden for a celebratory picnic. What a feast! There were polenta slices, smokey goats cheese, semi-sundried tomatoes and marinated artichokes. Quiches and pies, hummus dip, brown rice salad, fruit and cakes..... and lovely company..it is great to have time to chat and catch up on our lives. This term has been so busy and eventful for everyone and we often just cross paths at the school gates, in a hurry to our next destination. Today though there was time to just sit still, enjoy the shared food and breathe in the crisp autumn air.

And lucky me, I was asked to provide some of the refreshments for the adults, while the children had their usual morning tea at the table. Just as well since I am in full swing already and up for any excuse to bake some more....I had my eye on Stephanie Alexander's Beetroot and Chocolate Muffins and I thought something with Pumpkin would be appropriate too. I was also tossing with the idea to make a Zucchini Slice and maybe some Felafel Balls......

Well, I came to my senses and decided on just two simple Muffins. Normally I don't try out new recipes for a particular event. I did that for T's Birthday cake and it was a disaster. But I did have a beetroot in the fridge...

Chocolate and Beetroot Muffins
Stephanie Alexander
makes 12

80g Butter
1 large beetroot (over 250g)
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbs cocoa
1 lge egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cum vegetable oil
1/4 castor sugar
1/2 cup well-packed brown sugar
100g dark chocolate (enough for 12 squares)

Pre-heat oven to 180C
Peel and grate the beetroot. You will need 250g of peeled and grated beetroot.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a medium bowl, then sift again.
Lightly whisk together the egg and milk. Combine softened butter, oil and the two kinds of sugar and whisk until creamy. Gradually add the egg and milk mixture. Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then sitr in the grated beetroot. Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin tin. Break the chocolate into 12 squares and poke a square of chocolate into the top of each muffin.
Bake for 20-30min until the muffins are well-risen and feel springy. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, before turning out onto the wire rack.
If this was a batch I was making for a kids party, I probably would omit the chocolate squares. The muffins are wonderfully moist and rich with a velvety red tint. And a slight hint of earthy beetroot. Absolutely scrumptious!!!!

Next came the pumpkin Muffins. I make a lovely Pumpkin Gingerbread. But I could not find my recipe, so I had to jump online to find something similar. Searching for the two key words, this is what I found.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake
makes 12 Muffin and 1 loaf

600g sugar
235ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
160ml water
2 g ground allspice
4 g ground ginger
2 g ground cloves
440 g plain flour
9 g baking soda
9 g baking powder
15 ounce pumpkin puree

Mix sugar, oil and water. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Add the mashed pumpkin. Sift flour, spices and baking soda/powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mix. The mixture is relatively runny. You could also add sultanas or walnuts. I placed 1/2 walnut on top of each muffin halfway though the cooking time.

I didn't click at first, but you'll realise that these are enormous quantities. I made 12 muffins and a loaf with it and had some more batter leftover if I only had a bigger oven... I guess you could just half the quantities....I will post my other foolproof recipe when I find it....
The 15 ounce pumpkin puree is basically 2 cups of steamed and mashed pumpkin. Again, be creative with your spices. I didn't have enough ground ginger and only had mixed spice and it turned out lovely. The muffins would have definitely done with more ginger. Next time.

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