Chocolate Orange Yoghurt Muffins.

These Chocolate Orange Yoghurt Muffins were baked from an adapted Mary Berry recipe.

I get itchy hands when I haven’t baked for a few days.  It’s been a mad few days in SmartCookieSam land.  I had a really busy week doing a teaching assignment in a nursery, then that very weekend I went down with a chest infection. Before I started feeling really rough, I did manage to bake my son’s 16th birthday cake.  After that, it all went downhill.  I had three days in bed either coughing my guts up or dozing off to sleep.  I had to cancel two days pre-booked supply work in schools I go to regularly.  I only worked last Friday in the end and felt completely useless. Baking was the last thing on my mind, in fact it was even a struggle to muster up the energy to make myself a cup of tea!

By yesterday, though, apart from the odd coughing fit I have got back to my normal self.  I’m still feeling very tired and have been trying to take it easy but I really wanted to bake something quick and simple. To me, muffins fit the bill there, they take no time at all to make and don’t need much mixing. You just throw all the ingredients together and hey presto in about half an hour you have a gorgeous smell wafting out of your kitchen.

I chose to adapt a Mary Berry muffin recipe which is in her Cookery Course book.  Her original recipe is for Blueberry Muffins, which I love but I wanted to use chocolate chunks in mine.  I grated some orange zest and used a pot of natural yoghurt, as well as 5 tablespoonfuls of milk.  These muffins are also baked using melted butter, instead of oil. As for muffin cases, I used brown tulip shaped ones but it really doesn’t matter what you use.

This is how the muffins were made: first I beat two large eggs together, then added caster sugar, milk, natural yoghurt, vanilla extract and the grated orange zest to a large bowl.  All of these were stirred up gently so they were just combined, not beaten.  To this, I sifted in self raising flour and baking powder.  This needed to be folded into the wet mixture, and then finally in went a whole packet of dark chocolate chunks.  The batter was then divided equally among 12 muffin cases and put into a pre-heated oven.  The muffins came out well risen after about 25 minutes baking time with a wonderful aroma permeating the whole of the house.  I put them onto a wire rack and let them cool down.

It was gorgeous BBQ weather yesterday and not really the right time for eating warm muffins straight from the oven.  To be honest, it was the last thing I wanted to eat, even though I could eat cake all day and every day normally! The muffins ended up in a box and ready to go into the freezer for a day when cake would hit the spot.  I forgot to put them in the freezer and found hubby eating one when he came back in from work. He said they were lovely as they weren’t too overpoweringly sweet like you can find with some shop bought muffins.

Chocolate Muffins of any sort go down well with all my family.
I love using tulip muffin cases, these were an Ebay find I think.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

The Hairy Dieters’ Banana and Sultana Muffins.

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Who says you can’t have muffins on a diet? You can if you bake these banana and sultana muffins from the Hairy Bikers’ diet book.

I have a long running diet problem.  My weight goes up and down by the same two stone like a yo-yo.  The reason  why? I have a sweet tooth. I had a long chat with my hubby and he said the answer is simple: “Stop baking!” To me, to stop baking would be like someone who loved playing football to be told they couldn’t play or even watch a game.  Baking is therapy to me, a real stress buster and I hope when my children are older to go back to baking cakes professionally.  It is something I enjoy doing and although I need a lot of practice in some techniques, I like to think I’m good at what I do.

In the meantime, I had ripe bananas to use up.  The kids never seem to eat them as much as they used to and I didn’t want them to go to waste.  It was last Friday afternoon and we had to be up on the Saturday morning at 3am as my daughter was setting off on a school trip to New York.  This involved being at school for a very early coach trip down to Heathrow.  I don’t know about you but I can’t eat that early on in the morning, just a cup of tea or coffee is fine for me.  Same goes for my daughter but I was worried about her not eating breakfast.  So these muffins seemed a perfect idea.

The original recipe for the muffins is in the breakfast chapter of the second Hairy Bikers’ diet book “Eat For Life” which is the yellow one published last year.

The muffins are so easy to make and as Si and Dave say “These little beauties are lower in fat and sugar than the standard and are still nicely naughty. They don’t have the same texture as a shop bought muffin but they are still tasty and filling”

At only 119 calories a muffin they would be ideal for anyone who needed to be out and about for an early start and then you could eat something like a piece of fruit later on in the morning to keep you going.  Or if you’re like me, you’d drool at the smell of a bacon buttie…..

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These banana and sultana muffins tasted great and not like “diet” food!

 To bake the muffins I started off by sifting self raising flour, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. This was then mixed up and to this I added some grated lemon zest. After this I added in two medium mashed bananas and some milk.  Then this was followed by some sultanas.

The lower fat content is created by using egg whites only in the mixture and there isn’t any other fat such as butter or oil added. The sweetness comes from the flavour of the bananas and there is a sprinkling of brown sugar on top of the muffins themselves.  It’s a whole tablespoon that has to be divided amongst 12 muffins though!

I had to whisk three egg whites with my electric stick whisk until stiff peaks formed then this was quickly folded into the mixture until it was easily incorporated.  Into the oven they went after spooning the mixture carefully into some muffin cases.  The ones shown in the picture come from Waitrose, love the pretty pastel colours.  There were green ones in the packet as well but they’ve all gone now!

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The banana and sultana muffins fresh out of the oven. Baked in some pretty cases from Waitrose.

The muffins baked for about 20 minutes and rose beautifully in the oven.  I was desperate to eat one but had to wait until the next morning. My daughter didn’t eat one but my son and I enjoyed one.  I was pleasantly surprised. They did taste different from the muffins you get in the shops but then again I don’t really like them anyway. Much too sweet for me and too big! These tasted delicious and not like “diet” food.  Just the right size too.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Scandelicious Baking- Dime/Daim Bar Muffins.

Last Friday, at the end of the second week of the summer holidays I was at home in baking mode. I’d had the scales and the oven on to bake some cupcakes for my Dad’s cousin’s Golden Wedding Celebration. My two teenagers weren’t coming to the party but I wanted them to have a treat while we were out to have after their pizza.  They love muffins and chocolate so I thought I could try and bake them some Dime Bar Muffins like I saw in Scandelicious Baking by Signe Johansen.

Signe says in the recipe introduction: “These chocolate muffins satisfy a sweet tooth without being too sweet, despite the fact they contain little nuggets of Daim almond praline and are topped with a rich chocolate Daim glaze,”  Sounds good to me!

When I was out shopping the day before I struggled to find the Dime/ Daim bars needed to bake the muffins.  I was in Sainsburys and couldn’t find any on the shelf.  When I asked the assistant if they had any in he said they had stopped selling them.  Why?  I didn’t have time to go anywhere else except a local Tesco where I did find a couple of bars of Dairy Milk with Daim pieces in it.  I hoped that they would work just as well in the recipe.

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Dairy Milk Daim Bars, I needed two of these bars. Some pieces were chopped up in the muffins itself, the rest ended up as a chocolate glaze and sprinkled on the top of the muffins!

So on the Friday morning out came my muffin cases and the muffin tin and I got down to work.

The muffins didn’t swell up as much as I thought they would do, so they looked far more like cupcakes than muffins to me.  The kitchen smelled of chocolate heaven and my mouth was watering.  I didn’t eat any though as we were going out that night but I was really tempted!

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Whisking eggs, vanilla and sugar together.
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Folding in the flour and baking powder.
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The muffin batter ready to be put in the cake cases and for the oven.
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The finished Daim Bar Muffins were spread with a chocolate glaze and topped with chopped pieces of Dairy Milk with Daim inside.
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One of the muffins broken up to see what was inside!

Both my children loved the muffins and so did my hubby who had one to “put him on” until we ate at the Golden Wedding Celebration that evening.  He enjoyed it as he doesn’t have a sweet tooth but they still tasted great, just goes to show you don’t need to pack things full of sugar to taste good.  I thought, oh well I’ll have one for breakfast on the Saturday morning but when we got in from the party we found that ALL the muffins had gone!  Oh dear, my cake eating fairies had been at it again.  I’ll just have to go off and bake another batch!

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 February 2014- Snickers & Peanut Butter Muffins from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

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Snickers and Peanut Butter Muffins- an absolutely moreish treat.

As you’ve probably gathered from previous posts I’m doing a Cooking The Books Challenge.  In February I’m baking a recipe from each chapter of Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.  So yesterday on the Friday of half term week it was time for me to bake something from the Children chapter in the book.  Though I only have had one of my two children at home with me, my son has been away with school on a skiing trip. So it has been me and my sixteen year old daughter at home all week.

Nigella has a recipe for Snickers And Peanut Butter Muffins, which as she says in her recipe introduction “These muffins have a special charm: I think the ingredients speak for themselves. But what I should perhaps add is that they taste seriously good to adults too!”

As someone who loves Snickers bars and peanut butter this was going to be a hard temptation for me to resist.  It was hard enough when I’d been in Morrisons and bought a four pack of Snickers bars.  I’m so surprised they stayed in the wrappers from the day before. Normally with my track record I’d have wolfed the lot before even getting them home! I was also lucky with the peanut butter, I had to buy another jar and hide it from my daughter and hubby.  They love peanut butter on toast topped with chopped banana sometimes for breakfast.  I only needed 6 tablespoonfuls for the recipe, though so they got to have the remains of the jar in the end.

So, here is how these delicious goodies were made;

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I chopped up the Snickers bars ready to be thrown into the mixture.
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Bright orange muffin cases ready in the tin.
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First I needed to stir together some plain flour, salt, sugar and some baking powder in my mixing bowl.
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I then added the peanut butter to the bowl and mixed it in.
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Then I added in melted butter, a large beaten egg and some milk. The chopped Snickers bars were added in at the end.
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All combined gently to make the muffin batter.
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The mixture was put carefully into the prepared muffin tin and baked in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
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Out of the oven and on the serving plate.

Even though I’d stuck to the specified oven baking times I’d noticed that my muffins had burned a bit on the top where the Snickers bars were.  It didn’t affect the taste, only the appearance.

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I’d not had any lunch so by 5pm I was ravenous and tucked into one of these muffins with a cup of tea. Delicious!

I will definitely make these muffins again.  Nigella was definitely right when she said they were seriously good for adults too. Straight off the cooling rack and still warm as well! I had to hide the rest of the muffins in a plastic box so I wasn’t tempted to pinch another one.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess- Christmas Morning Muffins.

Nigella’s Christmas Morning Muffin recipe from her Domestic Goddess Cookbook is just one of those recipes I’ve been keen to try ever since I bought the book nearly 10 years ago.  In the introduction Nigella suggests that these muffins are good as part of establishing your very own Christmas morning traditions or rituals.  To us in our house, we have our own traditions but I’ve never bothered with traditions for food on Christmas morning. We usually have something light and quick like tea and toast. About 11 am we’ll have a glass of Champagne or Prosecco with a mince pie to put us on until dinner is ready, usually about 2 o’clock.  Then again things are never set in stone in our house.  But I was keen to try out the Christmas Muffin recipe, it looked simple enough to bake the night before as I didn’t want to be baking on Christmas morning and the ingredients sounded festive and delicious.

Instead of the cranberries Nigella suggested I chose to use the same quantity of dried fruit.  I had some mixed dried fruit left over in an open bag.  I thought I’d save the cranberries for something else.

Here’s how the Christmas Morning Muffins were made:

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I used these pretty Nordic inspired Christmas muffin cases from Waitrose. I bought them last year and loved them.
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All the “dry” ingredients were weighed out into a large bowl. This was flour, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger and some brown sugar.
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The “wet” ingredients went into another bowl: orange juice, milk, eggs and some melted butter.
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Everything was combined carefully in one bowl with the dried, mixed fruit added into the wet ingredients right at the end.
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The muffin mixture spooned into the cases and all ready to go into the oven.
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Fresh out of the oven. Some muffins rose better than others!

Nigella suggests sprinkling the muffins with demerara sugar and cinnamon before baking.  I totally forgot to do it so I ended sprinkling icing sugar on the top of mine.  However, I was a bit heavy handed as you can see in the picture below!

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Ready to be eaten dusted with a little icing sugar on Christmas Day.

So, will this be a tradition to come in my family?  I don’t think so. Sadly I was the only one who ate a muffin!  It was just the four of us on Christmas morning and my hubby said no to a muffin.  As soon as the kids noticed there was dried fruit in the muffins they turned their noses up at them. Bet it would have been different if it was chocolate.  So it was toast all round.  It did taste lovely though.  The rest ended up being used as the trifle sponges towards our Boxing Day Trifle!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas Day. It would be lovely to know if anyone reading this also has their favourite baking traditions over Christmas.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Apple and Oat Muffins- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

Last Wednesday I woke up feeling in a baking mood.  I think the excitement of the Great British Bake Off starting back on TV and everyone talking baking on Twitter made me want to get my apron on.  I didn’t need to bake anything, I just felt like it.  It was a day when we were staying at home (apart from getting my son’s hair cut ) it was all about catching up on jobs for me.  My daughter was stuck up in her room doing Art coursework and my son had his friend round.  So apart from the usual, I needed something exciting to do!  So what did I do- well baking, of course! What else?

I’d had my eye on the Apple and Oat Muffins in the Great British Bake Off Everyday book.  I love making muffins.  Did you know my nickname was Muffin when I was little? My Dad called me that because I couldn’t say Samantha properly when I was little, it came out as Muffind!  Mind you, I was dead clumsy as a child and still am very accident prone, I wondered if it was because I was like Muffin The Mule!

These gorgeous muffins were easy to make and ideal if you want to make something in a hurry. They took just under an hour from start to finish and tasted delicious with a large mug of steaming hot coffee. They’d be lovely for breakfast or a snack and I’m sorry to say but they do taste much nicer than the ones you get in chain coffee shops!

So, here’s how I made them :

First of all i made the crumbly topping for the muffins.  This is made in the same way as a crumble.  Flour, porridge oats, demerara sugar and butter were rubbed in together to form the topping.
First of all i made the crumbly topping for the muffins. This is made in the same way as a crumble. Flour, porridge oats, demerara sugar and butter were rubbed in together to form the topping.
Some unsalted butter was put into a bowl and melted gently in my microwave for about 30 seconds.
Some unsalted butter was put into a bowl and melted gently in my microwave for about 30 seconds.
In another bowl I combined flour, porridge oats, caster sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. These were mixed together with a wooden spoon to combine them.
In another bowl I combined flour, porridge oats, caster sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. These were mixed together with a wooden spoon to combine them.
In another container I measured out some milk and added two beaten free range eggs.
In another container I measured out some milk and added two beaten free range eggs.
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I used two large Braeburn apples in these muffins. It didn’t say whether to peel them or not but I did. I kept the chunks quite large as I didn’t want them to reduce to nothing and go all mushy while baking!
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The batter all ready to be spooned into paper muffin cases.
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The batter was carefully divided between 12 muffin cases. I used plain brown ones which are fab. They are from my local Morrisons and they are ideal, they do not discolour or peel away from the muffins. Also they are a very reasonable price.
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The crunchy crumble topping is then carefully sprinkled on the top of the unbaked muffins.
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And half an hour later or so they were ready to come out of the oven.
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Displayed on my new cake stand bought in the Lakeland sale for only £7.49 the other day.
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I know I shouldn’t but the smell was too inviting! I just HAD to have a muffin with my elevenses!

When I told my kids I had made muffins and they asked what flavour they were, they said “Urgh, gross!” and “What did you have to put apple in them for?”  Funny how they all disappeared very quickly.  Either that or we have a cake ghost in our house!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx