Healthy breakfast muffins

Healthy banana and gingerbread breakfast muffins (dairy-free)

I have what is close to a slightly unhealthy obsession with reading food blogs and researching recipes. I suppose it is because I am often reluctant to stick rigidly to a recipe, whether it be that I don’t have the ingredients for it, such as Xanthan Gum or Apple Butter (The UK lacks apple butter, and it costs an absolute bomb online, so the idea still of butter from apples mystifies me), or the combinations are boring or samey. I must have read through about 50 ‘revolutionary’ choc chip cookie and brownie recipes, but I’m afraid none of them really stood out to me. My motto? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Therefore, there is very little that will persuade me to abandon from my staple brownie recipe, no matter how fudgy they are claimed to be!

Mixing up a recipe has to be one of the most fun parts of baking for me. For example, why not mix up an ordinary millionaire’s shortbread by adding some crushed cardamom, or lemon and rosemary (a genuinely nice combo if done right, I promise) to the shortbread, a few granules of sea salt to add some zing to the caramel, or transform the whole recipe into something new, like banoffee or even S’More millionaire’s shortbread! (You can tell I just came up with that idea as I was writing this, that’s how much I think about these things.) You can totally judge me for mixing up a timeless classic, but sometimes I just need to break free from the cliches of baking.

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Avocado chocolate cookies

Healthy-ish Avocado Cookies

So it’s about 11pm, I’m bashing my head on my desk from manic essay writing and I just need to procrastinate and get away from my desk for a little bit. I flick through some baking blogs, looking frantically for a baking fix, a recipe that I won’t have to run to the shops for. All I could think about to minimise my search was the extremely ripe avocado sitting in my fridge, and a total craving for chocolate. My answer? Chocolate avocado cookies! Crisis averted, and they were kinda healthy, so I could munch on them relatively guilt free while I completed my essay too. Perfect.

I have to admit, I was skeptical of using an avocado in these cookies. Wouldn’t they make them taste funny? How would the batter even work? Avocado is great on a bit of toast sure, but baking with it was a whole new level to me. The avocado was ripe past eating point, kinda the equivalent to a black banana, so I didn’t see any harm in giving these a whirl and saving that poor lone fruit. Plus, it meant a bit of creativity could occur, so of course I added some cinnamon to these too (how could I not) while topping them off with a swipe of nutella just completed them for me. The actual cookies are dairy and egg free, so if you omit the nutella, these are vegan, which is even better!

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Victoria Sponge with a twist

The Classic Victoria Sponge with a TWIST (literally)

I often make very creative cakes for friend’s and family’s birthdays, and my little sister’s was no exception. She requested a simple victoria sponge so that she would be able to stuff her face with more cake and not feel sick – Classic sister – and I was wracking my brain for a more creative way to present the cake than the generic icing sugar dusting and two stacked cakes with cream and jam oozing out. And then my idea hit me, literally, in the form of my new bundt tin being delivered the morning of my cake baking crisis!

My epiphany: Continue reading