Thursday, 27 October 2011

Blueberry Muffins

I don't make muffins that often, but I think I should. Mostly because they're so easy. They're a good gift, and I was visiting a friend who has a new born baby this afternoon, so I took her half the batch of muffins. I don't think muffins keep well, so it helps if you give half away - otherwise I feel obliged to eat them all.

Making muffins is unlike any other kind of baking I've really done. The butter (75g) is melted, left to cool a little, and then mixed with yoghurt, milk (100 ml of each) and an egg. In a separate bowl, you mix 200g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, a tsp of salt and 75g caster sugar. Then you mix the two mixtures - wet and dry - together, before stirring through 200g blueberries.

I know they'll never be as dome-topped as the ones you get at Starbucks, but they're delicious.

I have to confess this picture isn't mine - my camera battery has died today - so it's from

Monday, 24 October 2011

A different kind of wedding cake

Back in January, my friends Becca and Jon Man got engaged. They decided that they didn't want a traditional wedding cake, mostly because Jon Man could stand the imagery of it. So they decided to do something rather unusual with their cake.

They got together a list of all the different kinds of cake they had enjoyed, together and separately. Next, they asked several of their baker friends if they would mind baking one or two of the cakes. On the day, these cakes were assembled on to vintage cake stands, and a selection was handed to each table, afternoon-tea style, in place of dessert.

Now, I know that afternoon tea is a very on-trend theme for weddings, but I have certainly never been to a wedding where they were served just like this. Becca had even made a little booklet describing each cake and why it was important to her. It was a really lovely touch.

The cakes were:

Chocolate Fudge
Amazing Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Torte
Lemon Drizzle Mash Cake
Apricot Fruit Cake
Carrot Cake
and, of course, scones.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Lemon Passion Meringue Cake

I made this cake for Easter, just before I start a well-needed diet. It certainly has the calories, but is a really lovely cake, and makes an amazing dessert. We had lovely weather here over the Easter weekend, and it complemented the trout we ate on Easter Monday after my husband's fishing trip.

As suggested by Nigella, Queen of Cakes, I added the pulp of two passion fruit to the lemon curd in the centre of the cake, and it was delicious. As you can see, it did make the lemon curd a bit too runny (or maybe I was just too generous with it) and it wasn't the prettiest cake, but I will definitely make it again.

The link to the recipe is here:

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Wedding Cupcakes

This year is definitely turning out to be a Year of Weddings. We had one wedding last weekend, another one today and we have six more to fit in between now and the end of August.

So when my friends Clare and Adam asked me to make some cupcakes to serve at the end of the their wedding service, it seemed fitting that I should turn to Samantha Blears' Love Bakery: Cupcakes from the Heart. This is an extremely pretty book, with loads of cupcake ideas.

As with all cupcakes, the icing really is the main event, and the prettier the better. I am definitely not the world's best with a piping bag, so I was pleased to read Samantha Blears' advice that the best thing to do is to 'Add the love' as she puts it, with flowers, sprinkles and other embellishments. These are designed to cover up the mistakes, but actually end up making the cakes look even more special.

With a good quantity of cakes to make, I invested in some flower and butterfly cutters as well as some pink royal icing from Hobbycraft. I had not discovered their cake-decorating aisle before, but I may well be hooked! Pink glitter sprinkles also helped to hide where my swirls had become more splodge.

The cakes are rose flavoured - to regular sponge cake batter, add a teaspoon of rose extract, and with rose buttercream icing (again, just add a teaspoon or two of rose extract to the icing). Now I'm off to find a large star-shaped icing nozzle...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Baked Porridge

A few weeks ago, it was National Breakfast Week. On The Archers, everyone was having breakfast - bacon butties, Full English, porridge, cereal, you name it. The following week, I was on half term. While visiting my parents, and flicking through one of my mum's magazines, I found this recipe for baked porridge.

Porridge is one of those things that you eat because you feel you should. It's true, it does keep you filled up much longer than cereal or toast, but it also takes ages to cook. I'd much rather have those extra 10 minutes in bed than stirring oats in a saucepan only to have to leave half of it because it's too hot to eat. To be honest, my breakfast is more often eaten at my desk in an effort to beat the rush hour traffic.

But when I saw this recipe, I really wanted to give it a go. It's by Bill Granger, that super-healthy Aussie chef, and although it does have some sugar in it, its very little compared to your average breakfast cereal. But the best thing about this baked porridge is the taste. It's so much better than that claggy, grey, sawdusty taste that stays with you all day. This porridge doesn't taste healthy.

My plan, at some point, is to bake this on a Sunday, and then to take it in tupperware to work, where I can eat it at my desk. That hasn't happened yet, but I'm working on it.

135g porrdge oats
75g sultanas
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Sea salt
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
750ml milk

Optional: Add 75g roughly chopped hazelnuts or pecans
Optional: Substitute up to 150ml milk with double cream.


1. Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas mark 2.
2. Scatter the oats, nuts (if using), fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt into a baking dish.
3. Add 1 tbsp of the sugar and toss it all together.
4. Pour in the milk (and cream if using) and bake for 45 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
Serve with stewed fruit.