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.
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.
About two weeks ago I went along to the Pudsey and West Leeds’ Clandestine Cake Club event, held in Stanningley. It was a great afternoon and we had a fabulous time eating cake, drinking tea and catching up on all of the gossip before watching The Cake Man do a decorating masterclass. The theme was Showstopper Cakes so I had to think of something special to bring along.
Here’s a link to the event as publicised on my lovely friend Sharon’s (the group organiser!) blog, called Humbug’s House.
Over the past year or so I’ve got into baking bundt cakes fuelled by several other members of Cake Club who love them as well. It’s started off a little bundt addiction and I can’t wait to buy more pans to add to my collection.
In the end I decided to bake a Sandcastle shaped bundt cake as at the time it was nearly the start of the summer holidays and I was dreaming of taking my kids to the seaside! I’d bought the sandcastle shaped bundt pan from a local shop to me Boroughbridge Hardware which sells some bundt tins and needed a good excuse to use it. I also wanted to find a summery flavour, hence the mango yoghurt.
To bake my bundt cake once again I turned to the fabulous Rachel McGrath’s Dollybakes’ website and used her Build A Bundt recipe. I used some Onken Mango, Passionfruit and Guava yoghurt (with a rude note written in permanent ink on the lid so my hubby and kids didn’t nick it) as well as some chopped fresh mango to add to the summery taste.
As with many of my baking experiences at the end of term they are often rushed due to being so busy. So as you can see from the decoration on this cake it looks like it’s been decorated by a three year old. I rushed the piping as I knew I had to get the cake finished before starting on the tea. I also kept getting interrupted.
I thought the cake tasted deliciously moist and I did like the mango flavour in it, I brought back some leftovers for my family and they dived into it. I love the sandcastle bundt tin as I know it will be great to turn it into a princess castle or a knight’s castle in the future!
Last Sunday afternoon I wanted to bake our usual pudding but was keen to try out my latest bundt pan to add to my collection. Lakeland are selling two genuine Nordicware Bundt pans at the moment, the Jubilee Bundt pan and a 6 cup Traditional Bundt Pan. I have bought both because not only do they look fabulous I know they will last a lifetime. The traditional bundt pan is a little bit smaller, so with the remaining cake batter I made them into half a dozen matching muffins!
If you are looking for a foolproof bundt recipe then I suggest you look no further than Rachel McGrath’s website Dollybakes. She has a wonderful array of bundt recipes and ideas on her website. Just look for Build A Bundt and Bundts On The Brain. I’m always looking on her website as I can’t wait to see what Rachel will create next!
I used Rachel’s “Build A Bundt” recipe to make my Strawberry Yoghurt Bundt. I used two pots of Longley Farm Strawberry yoghurt, some chopped fresh strawberries and flavoured the batter with some strawberry extract from Lakeland. To make the icing I made a simple glace icing, tinted pale pink with food colouring and once again flavoured with strawberry extract.
Even though I’m trying to lose weight I just can’t face giving up my Sunday lunch pudding. You’ve got to have SOME enjoyment in life. A pudding after the Sunday roast rounds it all off nicely and although it can’t be a calorific, cream laden affair (now wouldn’t that be heaven?). I was thinking of what I could bake from my Lorraine Pascale “A Lighter Way To Bake” book as part of my Cooking The Books January Baking Challenge. It would have to be one of the bakes in the Cake chapter.
I fancied the idea of the Lemon Yoghurt Pound cake as it reminded me of a lemon drizzle cake but without the calories. Lorraine mentions in the introduction to the recipe was that she adapted a lemon drizzle cake from another of her books and gave it the least amount of sugar and butter possible. We all love Lemon Drizzle cake in our house and a small slice would fit in around my diet, everyone else could have theirs with a scoop of ice cream if they wanted to.
So here is how it was made:
Time was running out and I put the glaze on before I was really meant to. This meant some of it soaked into the cake instead of resting on the top like a separate layer of icing. It did add to my cake’s rustic charm though.
Our lemon cake ended up being eaten before pudding! As we were all busy with the usual family things, chores and the like I ended up doing the roast at tea time instead. I had made the cake mid-afternoon in between trying to get the ironing done and my son popped in the kitchen and begged for a slice. As he was hungry and I was tempted, how could I refuse? It meant no cake for pudding later though!
The cake appeared slightly smaller than my standard lemon drizzle cake recipe but, to me, what mattered most was that I could enjoy a small piece without the massive guilt trip. It tasted fab and you wouldn’t believe it was a “lighter” version!