Monday, September 27, 2010

Of muffins and rosehips.

Sunday I was up early, made some apple and white chocolate muffins and decided to cut back the rose bushes in the front garden and harvest the rosehips.

Ok, the muffins. Oven to GM6, or whatever the equivalent is in °C or F. Use a 12-cup muffin tin and muffin cases to fit. Peel, core and dice 2 eating apples. 250g flour, 2tsp baking powder, 2tsp mixed spice, 125g soft brown sugar, 100g white chocolate chips, all stirred together in a big bowl. In a jug, whisk together 60g milk, 100g oil, 2 eggs and 100g warm runny honey. Add the apples to the dry ingredients and stir, then pour in the liquid and mix until just combined; if you overmix the muffins will not be light and fluffy and they will stick to the cases. Divide the mix equally between the 12 cases, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden and just a little bit crispy. Eat while still a little warm. These can be frozen and either nuked or reheated in the oven, say GM4 for 10 minutes, however if they last long enough to be frozen then you're doing well.

Note all the measurements are in grammes, including the oil. It makes life a lot easier when you're using stuff that has different densities on a scale that purports to measure ml; scales do not measure ml accurately when stuff is significantly more/less dense than water, like honey or oil. Go by weight, srsly.

There's an interesting difference between american muffins and cupcakes; the matrix in muffins is really, really fragile but firms up when cold really quickly, to the extent that it almost feels like it has gone stale in under 6 hours. This is elasticity in the gluten, but I need to do more research into why wet (runny) mix behaves so differently to cake batter.

On that note I did notice Sainsers had a digital scale that is accurate to 1g. Tempted, but... my scales are fine, and I rarely need to measure less than 5g anyway.

The dog roses in the front garden have been overgrowing for years; I think I've cut them back about twice since we moved in. So we got out the secateurs and gloves and cut them back, harvesting the rosehips as we went.



After two hours - I originally thought it would take about ten minutes - the roses were cut back to main trunks and we had 3lbs of rosehips. But what to do with them? Well, the obvious answer is rosehip syrup, so I looked at the River Cottage Hedgerow book, which was very unhelpful; 250ml water for every 150g hips, is fine. Then add 150g of sugar. No "per x ml of juice" or anything, just a flat 150g sugar. Obviously this is not brilliant but I had the always helpful "Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables" from the Ministry of Agriculture to hand. Seriously, if you're big on preserving hunt down a copy of this, as it is a fantastic example of taxes going towards something brilliant, and it told me exactly what to do with the hips.

In the end we got 5-and-a-bit jars of syrup (which I've not photographed yet); after top-and-tailing 3lbs of hips and simmering that lot in my big preserving pan, then straining (I discovered my camera tripod is brilliant for hanging jelly bags from), then reboiling the pulp, and straining again, and then reducing and then adding sugar and boiling some more, it had taken about 8 hours of work in total to produce them. But - and this is a big but - the results are so, so worth it. It tastes like childhood. Nothing on earth tastes like rosehip syrup and it's bloody lovely stuff. And all it cost was an afternoon of tinkering in the kitchen and a bag of sugar.

If you have rosehips in the garden it's well worth thinking about using them. They're a great source of vitamin C and if you bottle the syrup properly it'll last for ages.

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