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….
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
You will need:
5-6 sliced and buttered with real butter hot X buns
300ml pot double cream
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
If you crave marzipan and icing, as I often do, simply layer star or snowflake cutouts on top and use a traditional cake tin – much easier than a full covering and looks stunning.