Blueberry muffins studded with sunflower seeds

Ingredients

½ cup / 113 grams softened unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups / 251 grams granulated sugar
2 eggs (to bring them to room temperature, pull them from the refrigerator and set them in a dish 15 minutes ahead of mixing this recipe)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups / 240 grams all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk (whole milk will have the nicest mouth feel, but any milk may be substituted)
2 cups / 200 grams blueberries, washed, drained and picked of stems; leave 1 cup whole berries and halve 1 cup
½ cup / 66 grams raw sunflower seeds (set about 1/3 of the seeds aside to be used on top of the muffins)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

If you’re using muffin tin liners, pop them into the tin now. If not, grease your muffin tin with some soft butter and lightly flour, making sure to knock out any excess.

Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (on a low speed- we’re not whipping air in here) after each addition. Remember to stop the mixer & scrape down the sides of the bowl & the beater for proper distribution. Add the vanilla.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together into a separate (medium sized) bowl. Add this dry mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk in 3 batches.

Fold the berries & 2/3 of the sunflower seeds into the batter.

Using a #2 scoop, portion the batter into the 12-cup standard muffin tin. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the sunflower seeds over the tops of the muffins and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Remove the baked muffins from the tin and cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack. Store, uncovered, else the muffins will be too moist the following day.

Blueberry muffin studded with sunflower seeds

Crème anglaise

I came down with a cold last week and had to miss my baking class lecture & lab.  Chef was kind enough to allow me to make up the lab at home with the stipulation that I document the process and show it to her.  This I could do!  My assigned dessert sauce was Crème anglaise which is a custard that can be poured over the likes of cake or fruit, or even be drunk on its own (it tastes like unspiced egg nog).  This recipe is very sweet which will be great on a plain cake or unsweet fruit, but if the item being topped is sweet, I would cut back on the sugar content.

Ingredients

250 g egg yolks
250 g granulated sugar
1 L whole milk or 1/2 L whole milk plus 1/2 L heavy cream
1 vanilla bean or  15 mL vanilla extract

Directions

Measure 250 g granulated sugar
Separate the egg yolks from the whites

Measure 250 g egg yolks

I opted to use 1/2 milk and 1/2 cream Measure 1 L milk & cream

Get out your vanilla bean and cut it lengthwise

Set up an ice bath to cool that custard down quickly once it’s cooked. Set a stainless bowl inside of a larger bowl that’s got some ice and water  int it

Set a strainer over the bowl that’s in the ice bath.  This will help to withhold any lumps that may end up in the custard

The yolks and sugar need to be combined in a stainless bowl and whipped as soon as they’re combined until thick and light

Scrape the beans out of the vanilla and put them into the milk mixture, in a large sauce pan, add the seed pods too

Heat the vanilla and milk mixture to scalding (181 degrees F)

Temper the egg mixture with the warm milk mixture by adding one ladle of milk to the eggs while mixing on low

Slowly add the egg mixture to the warm milk in the saucepan and cook it on a medium-low heat while stirring constantly to prevent curdling until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon(180 degrees F)

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into the strainer that’s resting over the bowl in the ice bath and stir it to cool it down before using or storing in the refrigerator

Rhubarb curd

Ingredients
600g/21 oz. rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch chunks
4 large eggs
200g/7oz. unsalted butter, diced
8 tsp cornstarch
175g/6 oz. powdered sugar

Directions
Put the rhubarb chunks into a food processor and work them until a fine pulp is achieved. Transfer the pulp to a food mill and work it over a medium bowl to catch the juice until you’ve collected about 350 ml.

Add the eggs, diced butter, cornstarch, powdered sugar and 250ml of the rhubarb juice (save the rest) to a pan and set over a low heat, whisking until all of the butter has melted.

Once the butter has melted, switch to a wooden spoon and stir the concoction constantly until the curd has thickened to a consistency a wee bit thicker than custard. Do not increase the heat to speed up the process or your eggs will curdle- nobody likes a chunky custard!

Stir in about 100ml more of the reserved rhubarb juice, then set the custard in the refrigerator to chill.

Once chilled, taste the custard and add a splash of rhubarb juice if it needs more tart, then divide into jars. The curd will keep, stored in the fridge, for up to a week.   This preservative is delightful spread on toast, spooned onto a scone, or dolloped onto bread pudding (as pictured below).  The one negative to this curd is that all of the beautiful color of the rhubarb disappears and the resulting product looks rather paste-like.

Rhubarb curd atop bread pudding

Simple Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding

Ingredients
4 cups milk (I used 1%)
4 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus a little for greasing the pan
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
½ cup dark brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (any bread is fine)
4 eggs, beaten

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the bottom and edges of an 8×8 baking dish thoroughly.

In a small saucepan over a low heat, warm the milk, butter, vanilla bean, brown sugar and salt. Continue cooking until the butter just melts, then cool the mixture a bit.

While the mixture cools, fill your baking dish with the cubed bread.

Remove the vanilla bean and add the eggs to cooled milk mixture and whisk, then pour the mixture over the bread cubes.  Be sure to push down any floating cubes so that all of the bread is dampened with custard.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the custard is set and the tips of the bread have browned. Serve warm or at room temperature, perhaps dolloped with rhubarb curd.

Bread pudding fresh out of the oven

Cooled then sliced bread pudding

New England Spritzgebäck (maple spritz cookie)

Ingredients

1 ½ cups butter

1 cup maple sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Cream butter & maple sugar

Add egg and milk

Whisk together flour & baking powder then gradually add to creamed mixture to make a smooth dough

Pack some dough into a cookie press or pastry bag fitted with a wide nozzle & press cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet

Bake 10-12 minutes until the cookie edges are lightly browned and remove immediately to cook on a rack