As a rule of thumb, I run screaming in the opposite direction when I encounter a recipe that requires the use of yeast as a raising agent.

But when I woke up today with an unrelenting craving for Puffies, I knew that I was done for. Puffies are popularly called puff-puff here in Nigeria and a favourite snack. There is hardly a Nigerian party that you will attend that won’t have these sweet ishy squishy delights as part of the meal offerings. They will usually be part of what we call “small chops” which is essentially finger foods.

Puffies are akin to the infamous French Beignets; consider them to be the African cousin to beignets.

After a hasty assessment, I gathered the ingredients I needed.

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 1/4 tsp instant active yeast
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or store bought ground nutmeg)
Vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar ( to garnish) optional

The “How To”

In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar, salt and warm water and leave to sit for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour and nut meg. Using your (clean) hands work the dough through until all ingredients are evenly mixed through. The consistency should be sticky and be a dropping consistency. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm placed for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Then heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet; you should have at least 3 – 4 inches oh oil. To test the temperature of the oil drop a bitter of the batter in the oil, if it sizzles and rises to the top then the oil is ready.

Proceed to carefully drop balls of the batter in the hot oil. The batter will puff up once it hits the oil (which is where it gets its name) so be mindful of that when you’re determining the size of each one.

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Fry them turning then over until they are evenly golden brown. Drain on paper towels, dust with icing sugar and favourite dip, in my case I paired mine with a raspberry coulis. The sharpness of the coulis was a fab contrast to sweet warm squishy treat.

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In my next post, I will share my recent berry cherry obssession.

FFF Tip of the day: Coulis are a versatile fruit “sauce” that can be made well ahead and keeps well on the deep freezer. The add such vibrancy to dishes that it’s a shame not to try them.

There aren’t that many fruits that are so versatile that they are pretty to look at, great to cook with, fabulous garnishes, and even excellent for cleaning. The lemon is one of those wholesome food items and I went to town with them this weekend.

I follow two amazing food blogs; Eat litle bird and The Patterned Plate, the women behind these blogs are nothing short of amazing and they are a source of inspiration for me and my food lab escapades. I was trawling their blogs (I am actually a permanent resident on both blogs but let’s keep that to ourselves shall we?) last week when I found some amazing recipes for lemon based cakes and treats.

In the last week, I have churned out 4 blueberry and lemon cakes, a batch of lemon drizzle friands, a batch of candied lemons and an amazing jar of fragrant lemon syrup.

Lemon cake and friands trio

These recipes are surprisingly easy to make and deliver such a wonderful eating experience that they are definitely worth making!

Without further a do, the recipe for Blueberry and Lemon Cake!

Ingredients

  • 150g butter, melted
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 140ml creme fraiche (I used butter milk)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g fresh blueberries

“The How To”
Pre-heat oven to 160°C.  Butter and lightly flour an 8 inch round cake pan or 9×5 inch loaf tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Add creme fraiche, lemon zest and vanilla essence and mix until well combined.

Gently fold through plain flour and baking powder. Then carefully fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the mixture into your preferred cake tin and bake for about an hour or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with some icing sugar and enjoy!

Blueberry and Lemon Cake cutBlueberry and lemon cake slice preferredThe lemon friands are also fuss free once you have all the ingredients. I couldn’t find ground almonds anywhere so I made mine by blitzing chopped almonds in my food processor.

lemon friands

Recipe

  • 160g unsalted butter, melted, cooled, plus extra to brush
  • 2/3 cup (100g) plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 2/3 cups (250g) icing sugar, plus extra to dust
  • 1 cup (125g) ground almonds
  • 6 egg whites
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus extra to serve (optional)

Lemon drizzle icing

  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon

 “The How To”

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 12-hole friand pan or muffin pan with a little melted butter, then dust with a little flour, shaking out excess.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl, then stir in the almond meal.

Place egg whites in a small bowl and lightly froth with a fork, then add to the flour mixture with the melted butter and lemon zest, stirring to combine.

Divide batter among friand/muffin holes, filling to two-thirds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the lemon icing, place the icing sugar and zest in a bowl, then stir in enough juice to make a soft runny icing.

Drizzle lemon icing over the cooled cakes and allow to set, top with candied lemon slices and garnish with extra lemon zest.

Lemon drizzled friands bittenAfter zesting all those lemons I couldn’t bear to let them go to waste so I made candied lemons to top the friands. I also ended up with the most fragrant lemon syrup.

Recipe for candied lemons

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water

“The How To”

Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick rounds using a mandolin or sharp knife; discard seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar is dissolved; about 4 minutes.

Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 30 – 40 minutes or until slightly translucent and rinds are softened.

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Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer on a wax paper lined tray, using tongs. Cool completely (about 1 hour).

Lemon drizzled friands on cake stand2The responses that I have received from these recipes have been wonderful. The lemon friands were a major hit with hubby and even the boys got in on the action (I had to hold back so they wouldn’t bounce off the walls with the sugar topping and all).

Baking these treats left my home smelling fresh and fragrant; it was truly a beautiful experience.

So next time life throws you a lemon, make lemon drizzle friands, blueberry lemon cake, candied lemons and lemon syrup!

TIP OF THE DAY:

You can use lemons to deordorise your fridge. Cut a lemon in half, put some salt on it and put it at the back of your fridge. It will absorb all those odd odours that fridges tend to harbour! Don’t you just love this fruit?

I enjoy trawling the net for recipes, sifting through endless information that I can use as inspiration in my food making experiments. So you can imagine my joy when I found Caroline’s food blog a few days ago. Her mango ice cream was a recipe I knew I was fated to make especially since my mum had just supplied me with a basket full of mangoes.

In case you hadn’t guessed by now; I love mangoes and with the onset of the rains signaling the end of the reign of mangoes for this season I couldn’t have chosen a better way to commemorate this fruit. This would be the first time I have ever attempted to make this kind of dessert and I was nervous and excited.

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The recipe was simple enough and it took no time at all to put it all together.

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I don’t own an ice cream maker so I had to churn the ice cream by hand periodically before letting it set in the freezer. It may sound laborious but trust me, you don’t know hard labour until you have to fend off a six foot sweet tooth. Yes, my ever willing food sampler of a husband was more than feverish with anticipation at the prospect of sampling this homemade treat; come to think of it, so was my gelato-loving friend who lived next door 🙂
Caroline had indicated that the ice cream worked well when it followed a curry based meal and since I had some left over coconut milk, I decided to make a curry for lunch.

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Before serving up the dessert, I prepared a chilli syrup which would be topping. I had never had chilli and ice cream before so I was keen to try it.

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When I took the first spoonful, the burst of flavour took me by surprise. The cold sweet full bodied mango flavour with a subliminal tangy hint of lime married well with the chewy slivers of ruby red chilli which provided a warm heat. The coconut milk gave this treat a lovely velveteen texture and the syrup finished it off with a glassy sheen. All these elements combined made for a very refreshing, pretty-looking dessert.

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After hubby had polished off the last spoonful, he declared rather theatrically (think Shakespeare play) that he would never look at ice cream the same way again.
And so I thought to myself, “Well then, if this could bring out the Shakespeare in him, I’d better uncover another dessert gem to make and fast!”
And so commences my dessert making chronicles.
TIP OF THE DAY: When a recipe calls for the use of a specific type of sugar you may substitute it for another type. However ensure that they have similar qualities such as texture and colour. For instance, I substituted icing sugar for caster sugar in this recipe but I used more icing sugar because it is not typically as sweet as cast sugar.
June 2, 2012
By popular demand, mostly by hubby, I have an encore of this delight-some dessert. This time though I have made the dairy version by incorporating lashings of cream as well as coconut milk. The topping is a double treat with chilli syrup and desiccated coconut.

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