Category Archives: Fruit

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry-Muffins-(6541)A very good friend of mine always asks me for more muffin recipes. I get this. Unlike cakes, my personal preference if I were to choose (I don’t think so), muffins are charming little things. Even though I may have a muffin with my coffee when out running errands, I prefer homemade ones. Somehow shop-bought ones seem too big, too out there if you know what I mean.

Sometime ago I was invited to a YSL event at a local store. In one corner the ladies prepared a spread of pretty little cupcakes, which seem to be all the rage nowadays. To me they looked more inviting than all the expensive stuff in the shop. They were good, a bit on the small side, but good nonetheless. One would argue that you cannot look sophisticated while devouring a large chunk of cake! I went home and I wanted to bake something in between.

Homebaked muffins will be smaller than the huge things you might get at the store but don’t let that deter you. You can make the mixture in five minutes flat and they are so convenient when you have people round for afternoon tea. All you need is coffee! Blueberries are great here, but you can use whatever you want…strawberries, raspberries, or perhaps a mixture of both. Makes 12.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 120g unsalted butter, softened almost melted
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100ml milk, preferably full-fat
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 180g blueberries

Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases and preheat the oven to 190ºC.

In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter together with the sugar, eggs, milk, lemon zest and juice till everything is just combined.

Fold in the flour mixture gently into the wet ingredients preferably with a spatula. Tip in the blueberries, and don’t overmix. A lumpy batter is exactly what you want here!

Using an ice-cream scoop, distribute the mixture evenly in the tray and bake for approximately 15 to 18 minutes. They should be ready by then but always check by inserting a skewer in the middle of one muffin just to be sure.

Place them on a cookie rack to cool, and eat them when they are slightly warm on the same day. They should keep in an airtight container until the next day – good excuse to invite a good friend for tea. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Adapted from River Cottage Handbook No. 8: Cakes, Pam Corbin, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

From the archives: Lemon Syrup Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake (6900)

A very good friend of mine came over to London for a short work-related visit. I hate not having a cake or some cookies standing by for days like these, but, as is so typical of me lately (don’t ask me why because I have absolutely no idea), I found myself frantically flipping through countless cake recipes and notes, not knowing what to do. After a few deep breaths and one lemon and ginger tea, it became as clear as day. The solution was simple: lemon cake. I love this recipe and I knew it was going to work. It brings so many memories of when I first started this blog. Enough nostalgia though and on with the baking.

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of a lemon
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt 
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 100g icing sugar

Tin: 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin (or similar), properly greased and lined

Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. When you line your tin with baking paper make sure it comes up to around 1cm or a bit more to the sides (see photo). This will make unmoulding much easier.

In a large bowl whisk together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and lemon zest and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt (you can leave the salt out if you want), and add the milk. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and place it in the oven. In the meantime prepare the syrup (see method below). Bake for around 45 minutes, or until golden and check with a skewer or knife to make sure it’s done.

Prepare the syrup by placing the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small pot over the heat and swirl the pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Puncture tiny holes in the cake and pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. Make sure the middle part absorbs as much liquid as the sides.

When the cake is completely cold, you can lift it up from the loaf tin onto your serving plate. If the cake is still warm it might crumble.

Incidentally my friend brought me a big bag of Mediterranean lemons from the tree in her garden. These will be very happy days, with many many baking days ahead! Enjoy! R xx

(This recipe is adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.)

From the archives: Pancake recipe

Blueberry-Pancakes-(4418)

I wrote about this recipe quite a while ago but today being Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Pancake Day, here it is again. I love pancakes and would eat them every week. If only!

Just a note before we start: instead of buttermilk, you can use the same quantity of milk and leave it at that. You can also add about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk and let it sit for around 15 minutes. Also feel free to leave the salt out completely. I prefer a salt-free batter personally but I know that J likes a slightly salty flavour. For extra taste and colour contrast J likes to add some blueberries, but you could add raspberries, or nothing at all.

  • 175g plain flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt – optional
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 35g butter, melted
  • 150g blueberries – optional
  1. If you don’t have buttermilk start off by preparing the milk as suggested above. If you’re using only milk then read on.
  2. Measure the flour, baking powder, salt (if you’re using it) and sugar and mix them in a bowl.
  3. For the waffles, or for fluffier pancakes, separate the eggs and use some muscle power to beat the whites into soft peaks. (Or use electric beaters!)
  4. Mix the milk/buttermilk with the egg yolks and melted butter. Pour these into the dry ingredients but try not to mix the batter too much.
  5. Fold the soft beaten egg whites into the mixture and use a ladle to pour a bit of the pancake batter on a preheated and greased griddle (or a good non-stick pan). Sprinkle in some blueberries if you want at this stage.
  6. Cook on one side until you see bubbles forming throughout the surface and the edges have solidified. Then turn the pancake over on the other side. Repeat until you have used all your batter.

Serve alone with some golden syrup or honey, fruit or my favourite treat, that marvellous hazelnut spread from the land of dreams: Italy. Or however you want for that matter! Enjoy!

Rob x

Apple and Walnut Cake

Apple-Cake-(6431)

I am not a big fan of apples. I buy sacks of them but it takes an effort to eat them all. The fact that J doesn’t like them much either doesn’t help. However they will always be forever present in this house, just because they are good and healthy. Any extras will undoubtedly end up in pies or cakes.

I am aware that I should make the most of the wonderful juicy apples here. They grow almost everywhere in England. Although all is not as rosy as it seems. A long time ago there were approximately 1,500 varieties of apples in this country. Now there are only around 500, and we are eating a lot less than that. It seems that we are only buying what looks good on supermarket shelves, many of which are imported from other countries. Pity.

There are many recipes out there for apple cake, but I chose to try one from Nigella’s Domestic Goddess book, or a variation of it anyway. (Turns out that Nigella’s recipe is a twist on one by Anna del Conte.) The original recipe calls for walnuts, listed as an optional ingredient. The thing is though, I did have the walnuts, way above the amount stated. I took the package out of my pantry and placed it right in front of me. However, as is typical when in a rush, or when there’s no peace of mind, I totally forgot about them and ended up with a plain apple cake. Typical. It was delicious anyway but I think it did lack something and I missed them. It would have been better to have them in the cake. There’s always a next time though…

I made this apple cake during the Christmas holidays, since I wanted an easy alternative to the traditional fruity one which can be a little bit too much for two people. This one struck the right balance. (Next time I will try to use baking powder instead of the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartare.) You will need:

  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml rum
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 450g apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon lemon oil (the original recipe doesn’t have this so don’t worry if you don’t have it.)
  • (100g chopped walnuts, optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC, and grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin. In a small pan with a heavy base, place the sultanas and rum on the hob. When they start bubbling away, take them off the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl add the flavourless oil and sugar and start beating, while adding the eggs one by one. Add the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and mix with a large metal spoon. The mixture will be quite stiff here so you do need some elbow grease I’m afraid! Fold in the apples, lemon juice, lemon oil and walnuts if you are including them (you really should I think).
  3. Tip the cake batter into your prepared tin and bake for around 1 hour. Always check if it’s cooked through with a knife or skewer. Eat it warm and make sure to wrap it in foil to keep it moist.

Good with a cup of coffee. Enjoy!

Rob x

Christmas muffins

Christmas-Muffins-(6398)This year, Christmas has completely drained me. My energy is almost all gone. So please forgive me for today’s easy recipe. I must admit that I only own one Christmas recipe book, and frankly I don’t aim to buy any more. (Again, Christmas books I mean…just in case you’re wondering…) You really don’t need to, especially if you’re all for the traditional lunch. Christmas food tends to be repetitive and for lack of a better word, somewhat boring. At least to me it is. I’m not a big fan of turkey, even though that’s what we ate this time round. Brussels sprouts, well, are what they are, chestnuts or no chestnuts. For me, the highlight of the meal are the roast potatoes, made the American way seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic, no faffing about with the fluffing in a colander and the roasting in goose fat. The simpler the prep the better.

While I don’t enjoy the savoury stuff, I do look forward to the sweet treats, and I get to indulge a little bit, as we all do. Nigella’s Christmas Morning Muffins recipe from Nigella Christmas has been a lifesaver during these hectic times. I made 2 batches, many of which I gave out to friends, and they have been a hit. The cinnamon covered dried cranberries I bought have added some extra flavour, but they can also be made with raisins or sultanas (or indeed a mixture of both). Though methinks they taste best with the dried cranberries. There’s no butter in this recipe. The oil and milk make them nice and moist. Any milk will do. Here’s the recipe.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 clementines, zested and juiced
  • around 125ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 175g cinnamon dusted dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6, and line a muffin tin with paper muffin cases.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and the clementine zests. Lightly mix.

In a measuring jug, just to make things easier for you, squeeze the juice from the clementines and pour in the milk until you reach the 200ml mark. Pour in the oil and beat lightly.

Pour the contents of the jug onto the dry ingredients and stir until you have a few lumps in the mixture. Remember, when making muffins, a lumpy mixture is what you want. Fold in the dried cranberries.

Pour the liquid into the muffin cases, and bake for around 20 minutes. Leave them to cool and cover them with some icing.

Enjoy and a Happy New Year to all!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Nigella Christmas, Chatto & Windus, 2008.)