Lunchbox Baking Recipes

Polenta and Feta Gems

by Linda on August 19, 2011

I’m loving my gem iron.  I found it in an op shop, and it’s the perfect implement for breakfast baking because gems are so very fast.    This recipe takes just minutes to make – with a bit of practice you can probably have it on the breakfast table within less than 15 minutes. And gone within 20. If you can manage to make enough for leftovers, they go well in a lunch box.  If you can manage to make leftovers.

The Recipe:

Turn the oven on to  high and put the gem iron on the top shelf. It needs to be sizzling hot before you put the batter in.

For a dozen gems, mix together:

  • a generous ½ cup of  polenta
  • a generous ½ cup plain flour
  • good teaspoon of baking powder
  • good pinch salt

Whisk together

  • 1 large egg
  • a generous half cup of buttermilk (or substitute  plain low fat yoghurt mixed 50/50 with water)
  • a dessertspoon of olive oil

Mix the wet mix into the dry mix.  Just whisk them together – don’t overmix. You will end up with a  batter like muffin batter.

Take the hot gem iron out of the oven and put a tiny dob of butter in each hollow.  You only need a small teaspoonful altogether.  It will sizzle.  Tilt the iron to spread the melted butter.

Working quickly, spoon the batter into the hot gem iron, filling each hollow two thirds full.

Put a little cube of feta cheese in each gem, and spoon the rest of the batter in on top, so the cheese is in the middle. I made these with Danish feta, which semi-melted beautifully.

Put the tray back in the oven, near the top and up fairly high. Bake for around 6 minutes till the gems are risen, golden and set.

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal”. I’m going for a year’s worth of breakfast recipes, based on in-season ingredients, quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and  preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste.  The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

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Muesli Gems

by Linda on August 5, 2011

I found this gem iron in an op shop.  It took me several months and quite a few goes to learn how to use it, but now it is one of my favourite kitchen tools.  It’s a heavy cast iron baking tray for tiny little cake-scone-muffin bites called gems. It’s an old fashioned implement designed for the days when any self-respecting cook was expected to be able to whip up a batch of baking at a minute’s notice. Which makes gem irons due for a resurgence in these days when time poverty beats money poverty every day.

Once you get the hang of gem irons, this can be done in less than 20 minutes – 5 minutes preparation and 10 to 12 minutes cooking time – making it feasible to be a domestic goddess (or god) and bake on weekday mornings.

The Recipe:

Turn the oven on to medium high and put the gem iron on the top shelf. It needs to be sizzling hot before you put the batter in.

Use an egg beater to beat together

  • 1 egg
  • 3 dessertspoons of plain low fat yoghurt
  • 1 dessertspoon of honey
  • pinch cinnamon

Stir in

  • half a cup (4 good dessertspoons) of dried fruit, seeds and nuts.  I used pepitas, sunflower seeds, chopped macadamias and sultanas, but you could use dates, dried apple, almonds – whatever you have and is in season.
  • half a cup of rolled oats
  • 3 dessertspoons of wholemeal self-raising flour

You will end up with a thick batter. Like muffin batter, it is best not over-mixed.

Take the hot gem iron out of the oven and put a tiny dob of butter in each hollow.  You only need a small teaspoonful altogether.  It will sizzle.  Tilt the iron to spread the melted butter.

Working quickly, spoon the batter into the hot gem iron and put it back in the oven, near the top and up fairly high. Bake for around 10 minutes till the gems are almost cooked.

The Syrup

Meanwhile, in a small pot, melt a good dessertspoon of butter and a good dessertspoon of honey together. Working quickly, spoon a little syrup over each gem and put them back in the oven for another few minutes.

They’re best hot, straight from the oven, but if you make a double batch, you may even have leftovers for lunch boxes, making this double as a Muesli Bar Challenge recipe as will.

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal”. I’m going for a year’s worth of breakfast recipes, based on in-season ingredients, quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and  preferable, in nutrition, ethics, andtaste.  The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

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Carambola and Macadamia Frangipane Tarts

by Linda on July 5, 2011

Carambolas (Star Fruit) don’t appear in fruit shops much, and I wonder why?  They’re a really nice fruit, sweet and juicy and full of vitamin C and potassium. If you live in an area where they will grow, they fruit prolifically in mid-winter and you are likely to have a glut of them.

If you don’t live in a carambola growing region, you might like to adapt this recipe.  It works with any sweet, juicy fruit in season the same time as macas – which means late autumn to early spring. With the sweetness of the carambola and the oil in the nuts, these need very little sugar or butter so they’re the kind of treat you can comfortably pack in a school lunch box or have in a mid-afternoon break from too-inactive work!

The Recipe:

Macadamia Meal

First crack your macadamias then use a food processor to blend them into a fairly fine meal. You need 60 grams, or half a cup of macadamia meal for the pastry and another 90 grams or three quarters of a cup for the filling.  Fresh nuts in shell are a different thing to the stale old nuts you find in packets in midsummer, so it is worth making your own.  This tool makes macadamia nuts a realistic everyday food.

Macadamia Shortcrust Pastry

This pastry is so easy, so delicious, and so healthy that you can eat pastry every day and not feel guilty!

In a food processor, blend together:

  • ½ cup wholemeal plain flour
  • ½ cup (60 gm) cup maca meal
  • 1 egg yolk (keep the white for the filling)
  • 1 dessertspoon butter

Add just enough water – a couple of dessertspoons full – to make a soft dough.

If your kitchen is warm, you may need to put the dough in the fridge for a few minutes (while you make the filling) so it will roll out easily.

Flour your bench top and roll the dough out. Cut out 8 saucer sized rounds and use them to line 8 holes in a muffin tin or 8  little tart tins.

Bake for around 15 minutes in a moderate oven until the pastry is firm but not yet browning.  (I don’t bother with beans or rice or anything to blind bake – it stays pretty flat without it).

The Macadamia Carambola Frangipane

You don’t need to wash the food processor.

Slice up 4 carambolas and reserve 8 nice big slices from the middle of the fruits for decorating.

Blend together into a paste:

  • 90 grams carambolas (about 4 fruit after the middle slices have been reserved for decorating as above)
  • ¾ cup (90 grams) maca meal
  • 1 dessertspoon wholemeal plain flour
  • 1 dessertspoon butter
  • 1½ dessertspoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom powder

Beat an egg white until peaks form, then gently fold in the macadamia-carambola paste.

Assembling and Baking

Spoon the filling into the shells.  The filling will puff up but it will rise up rather than out so you can fill quite full.  Decorate each tart with a slice of carambola.

Bake for around half an hour in a moderate oven until puffed up and golden.

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Apple Oat Slice

April 6, 2011

Last week of the school term, and it’s been hard finding space for Muesli Bar Challenge recipes in amongst everything else.  But this week is the non-planting week by the lunar calendar, and though I don’t follow it very religiously, it is also a bit too wet for planting (ironically – mostly I complain about it [...]

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Zucchini Ginger Muffins

March 2, 2011

I promised there would be more Muesli Bar Challenge recipes this year but there’s been too much else to write about.  But a golden zucchini that got away inspired me.  What do you do with a kilo of zucchini? This recipe is in my handwritten book as Wwoofer’s Zuke Bread because the original came to me [...]

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Seedy biscuits

December 13, 2010

This is the last of my Muesli Bar Challenge series for the year. The draft of this post has been in my drafts folder since the very first week.  It’s one of my old favourites – so easy, so healthy, so school lunch box acceptable.  As a gardener, I’m really conscious that seeds are concentrated sources [...]

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Apricot and Semolina Tarts

December 6, 2010

The local Farmers’ Market this week had apricots, from within 100 miles.  Seduced by memories of apricots I had in Tasmania years ago I bought a kilo.  Sadly it just retaught me a lesson I know so well:  eating local is not just an ethical response to the need to reduce transport of everything, by [...]

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Lunchbox Peach Sbrisoletta

November 22, 2010

Early season peaches are just coming into season here.  I don’t really grow stonefruit – we are smack bang in fruit fly territory and it’s just too much work.  I have a couple of volunteer seedling peach trees though, and although most years the birds, possums, and flying foxes get most of the fruit,  the [...]

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Blueberry and Lemon Ricotta Slice

November 15, 2010

Our blueberry bushes are bearing and the farm up the road is selling bags of blueberry seconds so this is the  second in the   Muesli Bar Challenge series featuring blueberries.  Last week’s muffins are a hard act to follow.  This recipe is just as healthy, low in fat and sugar and featuring ricotta, yoghurt, eggs and [...]

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