Blueberry and Lemon Yoghurt Muffins

It’s very hard when you want to bake but you can’t because you know you’ll just eat it all. The other day I had the urge to bake some muffins. I told myself that it would be ok if I ate one for breakfast. Yes, it was very nice but I don’t recommend it because two hours later I was starving. Mind you, it didn’t help that in that two hours I’d done a load of jobs and walked the dog in between. So maybe I was genuinely in need of something. Well, that’s my excuse anyway!

These blueberry and lemon yoghurt muffins were so easy to knock up and were so light. The recipe was adapted from one in Annie Bell’s Baking Bible and was originally a blueberry and orange muffin recipe. They are dairy free and the fat content comes from using olive oil in the batter. Instead of using orange zest and juice, which I didn’t have, I used lemon zest and natural yoghurt in its place. This worked extremely well and I was pleased with the result.

Annie Bell has a tip at the end of her recipe saying “It is only one step on in imagination to use extra virgin olive oil in a muffin, rather than groundnut or sunflower. It mellows with cooking and the resulting scent, while distinctive, is very pleasing,”

I must admit I had never thought to bake with olive oil before as I thought the flavour would be too strong. It was, as Annie Bell said, a very mellow flavour within the muffin.

Happy baking!

Love Sam xx

Scandelicious Baking- Blueberry and Elderflower Upside Down Cake.

I’m a bit behind with my blog posts recently but I’m trying to catch up with it all.  We had a few mad days before going off to Spain on our summer holidays so cake and baking was the last thing on my mind!  But I always love to have a cake or a pudding for Sunday lunch dessert.  So on the first Sunday back at the beginning of August, it was a busy day as my hubby was out all day doing a classic car rally and I was at home with my two children. The kids were busy doing their own thing as teenagers do and  I had a pile of ironing the height of the Empire State Building. I was just so unmotivated to get it done.  In the end I did about half of it but at least I had some baking to look forward to!

I chose to bake Signe Johansen’s Upside Down Blueberry and Elderflower Cake from her Scandelicious Baking book.  I have tried this delicious cake before in Baltzersens which is a Scandinavian coffee shop in Harrogate.  It is just gorgeous and I love the blueberries glistening like shiny jewels on top of the cake against the pale vanilla sponge.  A pretty cake with lots of flavour but not overpoweringly sweet and sickly.

In the recipe introduction Signe says “This cake doesn’t keep well as the blueberries lose their fresh intensity relatively quickly after cooking so be sure to get your friends around to enjoy it on the day of baking!”

It was a shame I hadn’t got any friends coming round on that day then but I was sure it would go down well with the family when I served it up for pudding. Or so I thought.

On this day I just seemed to have one baking disaster after another.  I was in tears as I had also tried to bake a quiche for our dinner.  We were having our main meal of the day at dinnertime when my hubby was due to get back but I wasn’t sure what time he would be back. The quiche going wrong was another story and I was just so tempted to say “B******r it, lets have a Chinese!” I didn’t have much food in, being as we were off on holiday a few days later I was trying to run stocks down a little.

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The elderflower flavour in the cake comes from this gorgeous elderflower cordial. I recently bought some at the Harrogate Good Food Show from the Belvoir Fruit Farms stand. I love it and have bought more as it’s delicious with fizzy water!
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The elderflower cordial was poured over a large punnet of blueberries.
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In a large bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.

Disaster in the kitchen part one started when yet another of my hand held mixers (I’ve gone through about 5 in the last 2 years) decided to pack up.  I have a KitchenAid which I love but my hubby moans about it being in the way in the kitchen when I use it and makes me put it away in the garage or the cupboard every time I’ve finished baking.  This does my head in and isn’t convienient so the handheld one does the trick if I’m only baking one thing at a time.  On a Sunday afternoon there wasn’t time to go and get another one so I used the whisk attachment on my stick blender which isn’t very strong.

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Whisking the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract up.

Then I added spelt flour, ground almonds and baking powder and alternated folding these ingredients into the mixture along with some melted butter and some Greek yoghurt.  I used a large metal spoon but the mixture did seem a little bit runny to me.

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Here is the mixture all whisked up.

In the recipe Signe mentions using a 23cm round cake tin.  I didn’t know whether she meant a deep one or a sandwich one. I got the deep one out that I use for Christmas cakes but I think I used the wrong base!  As the cake is an upside down one, I had to put all the elderflower soaked blueberries in first. followed by the cake mixture.  All seemed to be fine until about half way through the cooking time I looked through the oven window and noticed blueberry juice seeping out of the bottom of the cake tin and splashing onto the oven bottom!  I could have cried.  The cake was meant to be in the oven for 30-35 minutes but it got beyond that time and the cake was still raw in the middle.  I kept it in for about 50 minutes in the end but because I’d had the oven door open a couple of times testing the cake it came out with a big dip in the middle.  Then the tears did come and afterwards I thought “Why am I crying over a cake?”

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The finished blueberry and elderflower upside down cake. Complete with sunken middle.
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A slice of the blueberry cake cut up and appearances can be deceptive. It tasted lovely.
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After my daughter also had a slice this is what was left. No one was really that impressed by it, sadly.

When the cake had cooled down and I’d cleared up I found out that my hubby was being given dinner after his race meeting. So a big blueberry cake dessert wasn’t needed after all.  I cut up the cake and asked my children if they would like some.  My daughter loves blueberries and she enjoyed it but my son turned his nose up at it.  I really enjoyed it and would love to try and bake it again another time.  A couple of days later we still had half the cake left so I decided to get it out and see if it was still worth eating.  Unfortunately I dropped the plate and my greedy labrador scoffed the lot!  I was fuming but he obviously liked it as there wasn’t anything but crumbs left on the floor!  Bad dog!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Blueberry and Pecan Muffin Cake from Delia’s Cakes.

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Blueberry and Pecan Muffin Cake: recipe from Delia’s Cakes.

This is the second recipe I baked from Delia’s Cakes as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.  I baked four recipes this weekend as I wanted to bake and donate some cakes to the cafe at my son’s old Primary school where they serve tea and cake during the village Spring Festival.

I love blueberries and any excuse to bake with them and there’s a couple of other posts on here with blueberry cakes.  But this cake with the addition of pecan nuts and a crumbly topping just made my mouth water from the picture.   I thought it would be a great bake to send down to the Spring Festival as not everyone likes fancy decorated cakes.  To be honest even though I love cake decorating,  it’s all about the taste for me!

First I greased my springform cake tin with Dr Oetker Cake Release Spray and lined it with a baking parchment circle.  The oven was still on from the previous bake at the right temperature so I got on straightaway with the weighing out.  All the dry ingredients were sifted together in a large mixing bowl- starting with plain flour, then I added some baking powder and cinnamon to the mixture.  In another bowl I mixed together some milk, melted butter, eggs and sugar.  These two mixtures were combined carefully and folded with a metal spoon.  Finally I added some blueberries.

The mixture was quickly spooned into the tin and then I added the crunchy crumbly topping.  This was some chopped pecan nuts, some more blueberries and a sprinkling of demerara sugar.  Into the oven it went for around an hour.  After an hour my mum checked the cake and it felt springy to the touch so she took it out of the oven and let it cool down.

I thought the cake looked a bit flat compared to other cakes but then when I checked the picture out in the book, thankfully there wasn’t much difference.  When it was cooled down I dusted the top of it with icing sugar and put it away in a box ready to be taken down to the Spring Festival.

Although I had been concerned about no one wanting to buy my Raspberry Cupcakes I noticed that my Blueberry Muffin cake had been cut up into 8 slices and by the end of the day they had all gone.  My son’s former teacher was eating the last slice of it when I was chatting to her on her stall in the playground and I was so grateful to hear her say it was delicious! My mum said to me afterwards that she thought people are turning away from the heavily decorated cupcakes and going for more plain things.  I agree with her.  I love the look of cupcakes but I always have a massive headache after eating loads of that buttercream!

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Delia says “Any of my muffin recipes can be adapted to any fruit and blueberries have always been popular so in this recipe I decided instead of making muffins, I’d use the mixture to make a cake, which has turned out to be a real winner!” I can definitely agree with that, Delia!

So, this cake in my opinion was a real success and one I would love to bake time and time again.  I think it would work well with raspberries and apples as well.  Watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cooking The Books March 2014- Eton Mess from A Passion For Baking.

Now there’s two days until the end of the month and I have two recipes left to try out from Jo Wheatley’s A Passion For Baking as part of my Cooking The Books challenge for March 2014.  Today, being Mothers’ Day I wanted to make a scrummy dessert for our lunch.  I wanted something everyone in our house would eat and something not too heavy and sickly.  All of the desserts in Jo’s first book looked lovely and I want to try them all out eventually.  I chose Eton Mess because it meant I would have to try out making meringues, something which I haven’t really done. Normally I just buy the ready made meringue nests you get in the supermarkets, but Jo’s recipe would not only test my meringue skills but jam making ones too! I would have to make a strawberry jam like sauce, now jam making is something else I really struggle with.  I can never get it to set properly!

Late this morning I was also trying to make an Onion and Cheese Tart  for our lunch with the Eton Mess as the pudding.  The meringue was going to be the time consuming bit as they would be in the oven for an hour baking plus the time they had to stay in there after to cool down.  This was a bit of a pain as I needed the oven to bake the tart in.  I have a double oven range cooker but I only cook roasts in the other one. It was funny as I was trying to sort out the Eton Mess downstairs in my kitchen, my hubby was upstairs moaning at my kids for the mess in their bedrooms.  I give up!

Anyway, I was well out of it down in the kitchen and I got down to it straightaway. Here’s how I got on:

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I had to make the meringues first. Here, I am whisking up three egg whites until they held soft peaks.
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After that, the second stage was to add some caster sugar bit by bit to the egg whites. It took a long time to get the meringues stiff!

The meringues were a bit runnier than I expected but I managed to pipe them onto some baking parchment ready to pop in the oven.  They were baked for about an hour on a low temperature (of 100oC), then were left to cool down in the oven afterwards even when the oven was switched off.  This helped them to crisp up and set a little bit.

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Here are my finished meringues. They don’t look very pretty but then it didn’t matter as I was going to break them up in chunks anyway!

While the meringues were baking I got on with the jam.  Jo’s recipe mentions strawberries but being as strawberries aren’t in season at the moment I used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to make up the same quantity needed for the jam.  I got the pan to the boil first to get the sugar dissolved which was also in the pan, then the heat was turned down and cooked for another 15 to 20 minutes longer to thicken up. Once this had happened I set it aside to cool down until I was ready to assemble the pudding.

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Boiling the jam.
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Whipping double cream and half fat creme fraiche together.

When it was time to get the pudding ready I got out some double cream and half fat creme fraiche.  I’d had to use some of my double cream in the onion and cheese tart so there wasn’t enough to put on the Eton Mess!  You needed 600ml of double cream, I only had 350ml, so I added in a small tub of half fat creme fraiche I had in the fridge.  This was whipped up together with my  electric hand whisk.

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A huge bowlful of whipped cream and creme fraiche.

When it was ready I started to assemble the puddings.  I don’t have any tall sundae glasses so I used some tumblers.  The strawberry jam went in the bottom of the glasses first, with pieces of crushed meringue, cream with jam stirred through, followed by plain cream and finished with more meringue pieces. I’d forgotten to save some fruit to keep for the top of the puddings.

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My finished Eton Messes!
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Showing the crushed homemade meringues on top of the cake.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our puddings and they were very naughty but nice.  My hubby is convinced that Eton Mess has vanilla ice cream in it, I told him he was wrong! To me Eton Mess is like a pavlova but messed up! If he wants ice cream with it I suppose you could have a scoop of it on the side.  I couldn’t help him out there, we didn’t have any ice cream in to give him!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cooking The Books February 2014- Blueberry Boy Bait from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

For my second recipe out of Nigella’s “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” as part of my February Cooking The Books Challenge I turned to the Puddings chapter for ideas for our usual Sunday lunch dessert treat. I wanted to try out something unusual yet be something everyone would eat in our house.  We had all been ill the previous week, struck down with a flu virus and no one had much appetite for dinner.  Though by the time we had got to the Sunday, I was still off my food, yet my hubby and son were feeling better.  My daughter was yet to go down with it!

Nigella has a recipe for Blueberry Boy Bait in her book. The title has always made me laugh,ever since I first heard of the recipe when Ruth Clemens (aka The Pink Whisk) baked a Peach and Blueberry Boy Bait in the very first series of The Great British Bake Off.  Although I don’t need to be “baiting” any boys as I am already happily married, I was secretly hoping the man in my life, plus my two children would be attracted by it.  The original Boy Bait recipe dates back from 1954 and was invented by a Chicago teenager for the Pillsbury $100,000 Recipe and Baking Contest.  It is still popular today.

Nigella says in her introduction to the recipe that she “wanted something different, something more luscious and perhaps something more English”  So, her version, to me comes out more like a Blueberry Queen Of Puddings. It has a custardy breadcrumbed based sponge, topped with blueberry jam and finished with a pile of crispy meringue.

First I heated some full fat milk and butter in a saucepan.
First I heated some full fat milk and butter in a saucepan.
Then I stirred in some breadcrumbs, sugar and lemon zest.
Then I stirred in some breadcrumbs, sugar and lemon zest.
The bread thickened custard base is put into the oven and baked for about 20-30 minutes.
The bread thickened custard base is put into the oven and baked for about 20-30 minutes.
In another saucepan went the blueberries, some caster sugar, some flour and some lemon juice.
In another saucepan went the blueberries, some caster sugar, some flour and some lemon juice.

When I got the blueberries out of the fridge I noticed the big punnet I’d bought had been opened and some had been eaten already! So the blueberry jam only had two thirds of the blueberries in it!

Stirring in the sugar and flour till it dissolved but I still wanted to keep the blueberries whole.
Stirring in the sugar and flour till it dissolved but I still wanted to keep the blueberries whole.
The blueberry jam.
The blueberry jam.
I whisked 5 egg whites together using my hand mixer.
I whisked 5 egg whites together using my hand mixer.
The baked base came out of the oven. It looked a bit stodgy and unappealing to me!
The baked base came out of the oven. It looked a bit stodgy and unappealing to me!

I was a bit unimpressed by the look of the sponge layer when it came out of the oven.  If this was meant to be boy bait…  well we would have to see what happened. More like boy running a mile from looking at that!

The jam layer was spread on top of the sponge in the dish.
The jam layer was spread on top of the sponge in the dish.
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The meringue is now ready after I’d whisked the egg whites. I added caster sugar to it, bit by bit.
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Piling the meringue on top of the pudding!
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Trying to make the meringue topping more interesting, like big fluffy clouds.
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The pudding went back into the oven for about 20 minutes to crisp up the meringues.
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I got three separate layers! Last time I made a Queen of Puddings like this all the layers merged into one and the meringue was squishy.

The verdict?  My husband tasted it and thought the base tasted a bit claggy.  I agreed with him although being off my food I only had a mouthful.  My son ate the meringue bit off the top and my hubby left the base part but loved the rest.  My daughter did the same.  Afterwards my hubby picked off the bits of overhanging crispy meringue but sadly this was definitely not boy bait here.  I think I will try Ruth Clemens’ version (which is on her Pink Whisk website) another time to compare. What a shame.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx