Glazed Orange & Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Let’s rewind the clock and relive the weekend for a little bit, shall we? On Friday night, James took me to see some gorgeous fireworks at his university. It was a loud, smoky and spectacular affair, with intense explosions of light rippling fervently across the sky. Of course, that was just the start of the weekend. No Saturday is complete without the lovely smell of homebaked goods wafting through your kitchen. In my case, it was the smell of crisp, buttery Anzac biscuits. Unfortunately, I fell sick soon after and felt miserable for the rest of the weekend. However, my painfully sore throat didn’t stop me from baking this wonderful batch of glazed orange and apricot jam muffins yesterday.

Apricot Jam Naval Orange

These are soft, pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth cake muffins with a hint of tangy orange, a burst of syrupy apricot jam and an army of crunchy poppy seeds. After baking, they are generously painted with a sweet warm glaze for a gem-like sheen. These cute little tea cakes make for an incredibly satisfying mid-afternoon snack, especially when accompanied with a steaming cup of coffee or tea.

Poppy Seeds and Caster Sugar Melting Butter and Jam

While the making of these golden, polka dotty muffins require a little bit of time and effort, the entire process is as easy as ABC. Once the flour, almond meal, poppy seeds and sugar are combined, you melt your cubes of butter and apricot jam in a small saucepan on low heat until a smooth, glossy mixture is formed. While this concoction is left to cool, the eggs, milk and orange zest are whisked together until foamy. Fold this mixture and the melted butter-jam into the dry ingredients and you’re all set to fill those muffin cases!

Muffin Batter Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Once baked to a nice golden-orange hue, the tops of these hot muffins are then brushed with some additional apricot jam for that nice, shiny finish. This apricot jam glaze is, of course, purely optional. But it gives the muffins that extra sweet-sticky tang that makes you want to smack your lips after every bite. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Worth noting is the soft and fluffy texture of these muffins, which I would like to attribute to the addition of milk and almond meal to the recipe. Many are already aware of the properties of almond meal in baking; the nut flour is often used to produce incredibly moist, tender and sometimes crumbly cakes and cookies. I’d say it works very well in this recipe to create delicate, cottony soft muffins!

Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

While I very much enjoy these muffins just the way they are — soft and sticky and finger-lickin’ good — I’ll admit they are a little on the sweet side, so feel free to cut down on the sugar. Also, feel free to tweak the amount of poppy seeds you want! Their pleasant, nutty crunch makes them quite addictive!

Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Orange & Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup raw caster sugar
1 cup apricot jam*
125g unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup low fat milk
3 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
Additional apricot jam* (about 3 tablespoons), for glazing muffins

* I used Australian-made Beerenberg Apricot Jam, a wonderfully sweet and sticky home style fruit jam.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and line a standard 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, almond meal, poppy seeds and sugar. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter and the apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously until ingredients are combined. Leave to cool.
  4. Using a stand mixer on high speed, combine the eggs, milk and orange zest until foamy.
  5. Pour mixture into the well of the dry ingredients, then add the jam and butter mixture.
  6. Gently fold mixture with a spatula until just combined. Leave the batter slightly lumpy; take care not to overmix!
  7. Fill muffin cases about 3/4 full and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden.
  8. Remove from oven and let muffins sit in tray while you heat up some additional apricot jam for the glaze (you can do this with a microwave for about 15-20 seconds).
  9. Brush a generous amount of jam over the tops of the hot muffins.
  10. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm, the day they are made.

Orange and Apricot Jam Poppy Seed Muffins

Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles

Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles

When I was a little girl, I never paid Valentine’s Day much attention. To little seven-year-old me, it seemed like an occasion that only adults like mummy and daddy had the privilege to enjoy. Then, in my preteen years, Valentine’s Day only left me (and plenty of other people) frustrated and annoyed. That eventually progressed into blatant indifference until the day I found James. Now, Valentine’s Day gives me the opportunity to exchange homemade gifts and meticulously crafted edible surprises with my boyfriend. This would be our third Valentine’s Day together. We have come a long way.

Valentine's Day Gifts Bella

This year, our celebrations were a little subdued. Bella, James’ family dog, passed away the night before and it was a very sad time for all of us. She was a gorgeous little thing, with large contemplative eyes and a bashful temperament. Everyone loved her. She was already very old when I first met her, but she was always young at heart. I feel very blessed to have had the chance to be in her life, even if only for the couple of years she had left. We will always remember sweet Bella. May she rest in peace.

Hazelnut Meal and Caster Sugar Orange Halves

I had a tough time deciding on the sort of sweet treat I was going to present to James on Valentine’s Day. He insisted that I needn’t give him anything, but I had a mixtape ready and I had a handwritten letter done. I just needed a box of edible goodies. I figured something a little traditional would be a safe route, so I opted for chocolate. Can’t go wrong with chocolate, right? But the more I thought about it, the more worried I got. I didn’t want to whip up a boring batch that you could easily get for $10 a box at any grocery store. I wanted to create something special. Then, inspired by a fantastic recipe on Cookies: Over 600 Great Recipes, I got to work on these hazelnut orange chocolate truffles.

Truffle Dough Rainbow Sprinkles

These aren’t your typical ganache-filled, cocoa powder-coated chocolate truffles. Consisting of a densely packed mixture of finely ground hazelnuts, cocoa, freshly squeezed orange juice, lemon essence and caster sugar, each malleable piece is carefully rolled into half tablespoon-sized balls and dusted with pink-purple-white sugar sprinkles.

Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles

Orange and chocolate are two flavours that go very well together. As expected, the complex and familiar taste of hazelnuts blended seamlessly with the orange-chocolate duo. Dense, but soft and almost chewy at the same time, with a mild crunch from the sugar sprinkles, these gorgeous little truffles look every inch the epitome of Valentine’s Day. I’m happy to say that James thoroughly enjoyed them.

Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles
Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Truffles
adapted from Cookies: Over 600 Great Recipes by McRae Books.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups hazelnut meal
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon essence
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Some colourful sugar sprinkles, to decorate

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine hazelnut meal and sugar.
  2. Stir in the orange juice and lemon essence and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl and mix thoroughly until the truffle dough turns a uniform brown colour.
  4. Scoop out small clumps of dough and roll them into balls. Approximately half a tablespoon of dough is recommended for each truffle as they are quite rich and dense.
  5. Pour your coloured sugar sprinkles of choice in a small bowl. Gently roll the balls in the sugar sprinkles until well-coated.
  6. Place truffles in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Red Rose

Spiced Orange & Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, mandarin oranges and tangerines are commonplace during Chinese New Year because they are traditionally considered to be symbols of abundance and good fortune. As such, they are a ‘must have’ item during the two-week celebration and are often displayed as decoration or presented to others as gifts. Now, thanks to the abundance of mandarin oranges at home during this Chinese New Year period, I took it upon myself to use a couple of them for this lovely loaf cake.

Mandarin Orange Orange Slices

Who doesn’t like the orange and poppy seed combination? I think poppy seeds make a wonderful addition to cakes. They stand out fantastically in a light crumb, grace your cakes with a subtle nutty flavour, and a leave you wanting more thanks to their characteristic pop-in-your-mouth crunch. Pair these tiny seeds with some orange zest and voilà, you now have a couple of wonderful ingredients to make a visually impressive cake!

Poppy Seeds and Orange Zest in Flour Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake

Spiced with some cinnamon and nutmeg, glazed with a lovely lemon icing, this orange and poppy seed cake is a classic. Usually seen in muffin form, I decided to make a loaf cake instead. And instead of butter, this cake uses a combination of oil and condensed milk to create an exceptionally moist and tender crumb. In fact, this cake is guaranteed to stay soft and moist even a few days after its baked.

Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

Finally, a tangy, citrusy glaze makes the perfect accessory to this cake. Fresh lemon juice is mixed with powdered sugar to form a sweet, shiny, sticky, puckery concoction that complements the sweetness of the cake in all the right ways. A light sprinkle of grated orange peel over the top garnishes the cake quite nicely and gives a slight bitter edge to each sweet-sour bite.

Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

This cake goes very well with a cup of strong black tea. And because of how powerful its flavour is, it would be good to start off with a small slice before you decide how much you can handle in one sitting. If you do, however, enjoy the tang of citrusy fruits and simply can’t get enough of lemons and oranges, have the entire loaf by all means! It is a beautiful and starkly refreshing cake.

Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

Spiced Orange & Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Zest of one orange
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup raw caster sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup condensed milk
Juice of one orange

Citrus Glaze

1 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Some orange zest, for sprinkling

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C and liberally grease a medium-sized loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, poppy seeds and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, combine sugar, condensed milk, oil, egg and orange juice thoroughly until smooth.
  4. Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until ingredients are just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove cake from oven and let stand in pan for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Lemon Lemon Halves

To make the citrus glaze, mix icing sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl, place in microwave and heat for 20 seconds. Continue to stir mixture until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool, then pour over cake. Lightly sprinkle orange zest over the top.

Spiced Orange and Poppy Seed Cake with Citrus Glaze

Baked Orange & Poppy Seed Donuts with Orange Glaze

Baked donuts. Different to the fried variety in the sense that baked donuts have a soft, fluffy cake-like consistency instead of that chewy inside, almost-crispy outside texture of fried ones. The simple fact is that baking your donuts is many times healthier than soaking them in a deep fryer. Sure, many still prefer the fried version. But baked donuts treat your body better. Who doesn’t like doing that once in awhile?

Lemon and poppy seed donuts seem to be a tad overdone. Everywhere I look, I see recipes for the lemon and poppy seed combination. I decided to be a little different and make orange and poppy seed donuts instead. Coupled with a lovely orange glaze, these donuts make a terrific snack when you’re craving something sweet.

I took care not to make the donuts too sweet because I knew the glaze would be extremely sugary. The balance works, so don’t worry if the donuts come out less sweet than you imagined them to be. Once you coat them in the glaze, they will taste perfect. Honest! Subtle orange notes buried in a fluffy baked donut, generously coated in fruity icing? Mmm, what more could you want?

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup full cream milk
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Natvia Natural Sweetener (or scant 1/2 cup white sugar)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

For the orange glaze:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup icing sugar

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C and generously grease your donut pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together milk and cream cheese until no lumps remain.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together butter and Natvia/sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add beaten egg, orange zest and poppy seeds to the creamed mixture and stir until combined.
  6. Alternating between flour mixture and milk mixture, fold into the creamed mixture until just combined. You may need to add more milk to the mixture if you find the batter too dry and clumpy. Note: Take care not to over mix as doing so will cause the donuts to become dense and tough.
  7. Spoon batter into a piping bag and slowly pipe batter into each donut indention until almost full.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the donuts are lightly brown. If using mini donut pans, bake for about 6-8 minutes.
  9. Remove pan from oven, transfer donuts to cooling rack to cool completely before glazing.

To make the orange glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, mix icing sugar and orange juice together until the sugar completely dissolves. Add more sugar or juice to get the consistency you desire.
  2. Dip the tops of each donut into the glaze and leave to set on a wire rack. For easier cleanup, place some baking paper underneath the wire rack to collect drippings.

The Orangescape

Wowed by the brilliance of this sunrise at 6 in the morning, I sneaked downstairs to take a few shots of the orange spectacle, despite the biting winter cold outside and me dressed in just a nightie. James was still in bed, nursing a headache and trying to go back to sleep. The poor baby woke me up for some Panadol, thus the trip downstairs to the kitchen to fetch some. That was when I spotted the sunrise out the back and knew I had to take some pictures.

I’m quite happy I did.