Goosebumps aka Gooseberry muffins

Deliciously simple, the goosebumps come from the texture of halved plumptious berries breaking through the crust and the fear that they may be too tart or too sweet….
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You will need:

150g self raising flour sifted

50g golden caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 x medium eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

50g vegetable oil

2 tbsp milk

200g gooseberries: washed, topped and tailed and cut into two if large

12 muffin cases

How to:

Preheat your oven to 200C, 180C fan, gas mark 6

Add the ingredients one by one except the gooseberries in a large mixing bowl and lightly combine. Stir through the gooseberries to distribute and divide between the cases.

Place in the centre of the oven until golden on top, approx 25 minutes.

Optional

Add 2/3 tbsp elderflower cordial to the batter if you have it, for the ultimate gooseberry treat. The combination is stunning.

Drizzle the cakes once cooled with elderflower honey and serve with good ice cream.

Summer muffin’ had me a blast ….summer muffin’ happened so fast

Watching Grease with my cherubs on the first day of the summer holidays, I feel the urgent need to bake a treat to celebrate the cosy calm…

Dairy free banana mini muffins

Dairy free banana mini muffins

Like Old Mother Hubbard my larder is practically bare of delicious treats so I use what I have – 5 small over ripe bananas that have been begging to be baked into a banana bread for days. I want something more portable than a loaf cake as the cherubs are nagging to go swimming, so spotting my new bottle of sunflower oil I choose fluffy light muffins over heavier banana bread and reason that it is more summery too. To pep up the flavour I grab vanilla extract (always Nielson Massey) and white couverture powder (Mortimer Chocolate Company) so this decadent muffin is dairy free.

Makes 12 muffins 18 + smaller buns

You’ll need: 3 large or 5 small over ripe bananas 125ml vegetable oil or light olive oil 2 large eggs 100g golden caster sugar or soft brown muscovado for maximum flavour – Billingtons is delicious in baking, it lends toffee/caramel notes to your favourite recipes with no extra effort! 60g Mortimer Chocolate Co White Couveture powder 1tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste 1tsp bicarbonate of soda 225g self raising flour

How to: Preheat your oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas mark 6 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas by hand or with a hand mixer. Add the oil, vanilla, eggs then sugar, beating between each addition. Sieve in the flour, chocolate powder and bicarb then beat until thoroughly combined. Pour into cases up to 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 mins until risen, golden and a skewer when inserted comes away clean. Allow to cool for 5 mins before removing from tin and cooling on a wire rack.

Watch as happy faces devour your first batch in moments prompting to you to start the process again!

Alternatives: You can swap the chocolate couverture for cocoa or chocolate chips! For more muffin rise fill cases fully. I tried to make the mix go further but we ate the whole batch whilst still warm regardless!

Lavender sugar

I adore the heady spice of lavender in many sweet treats from shortbread to cheesecake almost as much as the simple task of picking fresh and dry flowers on a warm sunny day and shaking free any adorable crawlies before jarring with bright white caster sugar. So simple, yet so satisfying, make sure you make this perfumed sugar once your own lavender comes into bloom.

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To make:
Add 1 tbsp of fresh lavender flowers (grown without chemical sprays) picked on a dry day, to a jam jar of caster sugar, shake and leave to infuse for at least one week before using.

Heaven scent Hot Cross bun and butter pudding

For a decadent pud in a hurry, I can think of no better way to use up the last pack of hot cross buns…

Hot X Bun & Butter pudding

Hot X Bun & Butter pudding

You will need:

5-6 sliced and buttered with real butter hot X buns

300ml pot double cream

100ml milk

2 tbsp golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

1tbsp whisky

How to:

Preheat your oven to 170C/150C fan/ gas mark 3 and butter an ovenproof dish. Arrange your sliced and buttered hot X buns in the dish with crosses on top.

In a jug or mixing bowl whisk the cream, milk, 1 tbsp sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon and whisky and pour over the buns, pressing down and leaving for 20 mins.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the pudding and bake until golden and crisp on top and set underneath. Leave to stand for 5 minutes then serve with a little more cream and ice-cream.

Variations 

You could change the citrus to orange and the liqueur to bourbon, or dried apple and brandy and you could add marmalade to the buns for a more intense flavour. If you are partial to a chocolate hot X bun you can make in the same way with the addition of orange zest and liqueur.

Easter egg loaf

Break bread this Easter with those you love the most by making a simple flavoured plait decorated with hand dyed eggs – so pretty and so much fun to prepare this is certain to become a new Easter tradition.

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You will need: For the bread 500g strong white bread flour 50g golden caster sugar 2 ½ tsp dried fast action yeast 1 tsp sea salt 200ml milk 2 x star anise Zest of 1 orange 60g salted butter, softened 2 organic eggs, large   For the coloured eggs To dye your own eggs, dilute gel paste food colouring in water. Place the eggs in a bowl and pour over the coloured water. Wrap the eggs with elastic bands if you wish to leave undied stripes. Allow to soak for 24 hours before draining.   For the Glaze 2 tbps icing sugar 1 tbsp hot water   To make the dough: In a pan place the milk and star anise. Heat gently until nearly boiling then remove from the heat and leave to cool and the star anise to infuse. Once cool, strain the milk and set to one side. In a large mixing bowl place the strong white flour, golden caster sugar, yeast, sea salt and orange zest and mix lightly to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, eggs and milk. Work the mixture into a dough. Knead, by hand for at least 10 minutes until the dough is even in texture. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in a draught free spot to rise for 60 minutes or until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, tip onto work surface and knead lightly to knock it back. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each out into a very long sausage. Pinch together the three lengths at one end, tucking under for a neat edge then plait together and tuck the other end under. Place onto a well greased or lined baking tray. Gently ease apart the dough in equally spaced positions and insert a coloured egg between the plaited sections. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise again for 30 minutes or until doubled in size Preheat oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas mark 6. Bake in the preheated oven at  for 25 minutes or until well risen, golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Prepare the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar and water to make a very thin consistency.  As soon as the bread comes out of the oven brush over the glaze and add sprinkles if you desire.

 Variation:
For full Easter fragrance I also like to infuse the milk with 2 cloves, 1/2 grated nutmeg, pinch saffron strands, 1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Heaven scent!

Green machine banana bread, because even cavemen would have chosen cake if on offer, no?

sweet, nutritious and family friendly,  the perfect paleo pick-me-up 

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You will need: 4 bananas,

mashed 4 x organic eggs

110 g pumpkin seed butter

56g butter or coconut oil

80g coconut flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

1 tsp vanilla bean paste pinch sea salt

For the crunchy topping: 2 tbsp mixed chopped nuts and seeds 1 tbsp honey 1/2 tsp vanilla  

Photo on 03-02-2015 at 12.05 #4
How to:
Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas mark 4. Grease and line a 21b loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a large bowl combine the bananas, eggs, pumpkin butter and grass-fed butter until you have a smooth batter. Add the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt and mix well then pour into the prepared tin.
Mix the seeds, nuts, honey and vanilla until coated and drop on top of the batter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and a skewer when inserted into the middle comes away clean. Remove from oven and turn out onto a cooling rack and serve once cool. Really rather special with a slather of butter on top and a cup of good black tea!