Muffins are my weakness. I love them for various reasons, mostly because when I’m feeling lazy there’s nothing to cut: I just take one and stuff my face with it basically. Then a second one beckons. Usually. So the only thing that annoys me here is that they disappear very quickly. Somehow a cake lasts for a good couple of days. Oh well…
One of my favourite food bloggers and creative people around is Heidi Swanson, the brains behind 101 Cookbooks and founder of Quitokeeto. I have been following Heidi for a long time and I just love the minimalist look of both the blog and her photos. They are both examples of the saying that simple is best, which I totally am a fan of. As it happens, she together with a handful of other excellent bloggers, gave me that much needed nudge to start my own blog. I don’t know them but I still consider them to be my mentors. They truly show us how it’s done.
I cannot really remember the day I baked these lovely goodies. Most probably it was sometime around mid-June, but somehow I never managed to write about them until now. Things recently have been busy and complicated, and now I’m dealing with grief. I wish the temperatures were still in the decent 20s. Celcius that is. It would have been easier to bake because I know that being in the kitchen often is good for me. If you set aside the eating part, which is something I love most obviously, the act of measuring out the ingredients, putting them all together and waiting patiently for the result takes away a big load of stress and anxiety which unfortunately has lately become part of my life. I am still cooking, well, somewhat; I don’t really know if making myself a green salad is actually cooking but baking is another matter and it’s what I like to do best.
One of the things I get asked for most by friends and family are good recipes for muffins. Now this is quite tricky for me because I’ve had my issues when it comes to baking the little beauties. I’m not referring to this recipe in particular – these have been a total success. I blame my inability to get used to different ovens quickly and efficiently. The oven in our flat in Woking was very powerful and loads of muffins were burnt! The one in Guildford had a smaller wattage (or whatever you call it) so things took longer to bake. Now I’ve returned to a gas oven and to test it I’m finding myself making loads of pizzas. Some have come out with black bottoms, whilst others have been spared, and ended up in our bellies.
I feel as if I’m getting my blogging mojo back! And since I am now on Flickr, I have decided to upload a two or three photos a week whenever I can. I was very hesitant at first and always questioned why I (or rather J) thought I would need to be present on another platform, apart from the usual Facebook and Twitter. I had almost enough of Facebook and again, I often think about not bothering with it at all. What I hate is the fact that they change the rules often, without making any form of announcement. (Case in point: I’m trying to upload this on FB and some setting has definitely changed since three days ago!)
I am coming to you with another recipe. About time, I hear you say, and you’re absolutely right. I love posting pictures of places we’ve been to, but there’s no doubt that food gives me more enjoyment – and I don’t necessarily mean just the eating bit. I love the process, the gathering of ingredients from the pantry, the assembling, the mixing, the looking-in-the-oven-to-watch-the-baking, and how lovely the kitchen smells during the baking,
unless it’s the smell of burning. It’s the washing up that gets to me, but that will be solved very soon with the help of a dishwasher, or so I hope. I digress, as usual.
It’s Mothering Sunday this month in the UK. I get so confused: in Malta it’s in May. The first year we moved here I sent my cards really early and our mums were so surprised. I have a reputation of sending greeting cards a month before someone’s birthday, but this broke all records! Lately people have been messaging me saying that I have not been writing about sweet things for the past few posts. That’s very true, reason being that I have not been baking much this past month or so. I will rectify this now, although the following recipe goes back quite a while.
These are difficult times for almost everyone, so instead of spending all your precious pennies I’m sure that a little bit of baking would go a long way instead. How about some cute fairy cakes with pink icing and loads of sprinkles for the special lady, maybe wrapped up in a pink box? Or perhaps the following chocolate lovelies…They are so simple to make. One thing to pay attention to has to do with convection oven. These tend to be too powerful for baking small cakes, so preheat the oven 10 to 20 degrees C lower. If you have a fan oven then preheat it to 160ºC here. This recipe is for 12 muffins and takes about 35 minutes or so. Happy Baking!
- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 175g self-raising flour
- 25g good quality cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (for convection ovens see my note above). Line or grease a muffin tin for 12 cakes.
- In a large bowl mix in the butter, golden caster sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Place a sieve over the same bowl and in it tip the flour and cocoa powder. Sift the two ingredients into the liquids.
- Using a whisk beat everything together well but not too much. Some lumps in the mixture is fine. It will turn out better!
- Divide the mixture in the tins and bake for 15 minutes, or till a knife comes out clean. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily!
- Take them out of the tins after 5 minutes on a wire rack and let them cool.
If you want to make some buttercream to make them tastier, try mixing 150g unsalted butter, 300g icing sugar and 2 tablespoons milk in a bowl. Make sure you spread this on the muffins after they are completely cool, otherwise the buttercream will simply melt. Not nice. Happy Mothering Sunday to all you lovely mums!