Tag Archives: cake

Monster Marmalade Muffins

orange-poppyseed

A quick fix for morning tea that takes about five minutes to whip up. You will need some large muffin cases, sometimes known as tulip cases: either buy them or make using six inch squares of baking parchment. The quantities here will produce four quite large muffins.

Preheat the oven to Gas 5.

In a saucepan, melt 50g of marmalade and 30g of butter, stirring to combine, turning off the heat just before melt is complete, and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 125g self raising flour, 30g sugar, ½tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of poppy seeds; mixing well.

Make sure the saucepan of melted butter/marmalade has cooled. Docteur de Pomiane’s expedient of sticking in one’s pinkie and ensuring it’s not painful works. Add one egg, and mix well, and then 100mL of milk, mixing again. (Add the ingredients in this order, otherwise you end up chasing lumps of solidified butter around the milk.)

Now pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix. Make sure all the flour is incorporated: it will be a little on the lumpy side but that doesn’t matter. Divide the mix between the four cases, and pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack for around five minutes before serving.

The orange flavour is fairly subtle, so you could add the zest of a lemon if you want something more fruity. (Some people use a drop of orange oil, but be careful, as this is immensely strong, and will irritate your skin in undiluted form.)


Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are absurdly easy to make. There should be no excuse for buying those sad, sad things you see in Starbucks. Not only have they been on the shelf for days, but most muffins you see sold in high street coffee shops have been cooked with huge amounts of vegetable oil and corn syrup to stop them from going off. And somehow they still taste stale.

This requires five minutes of effort, and shouldn’t take more than half an hour from when you get a muffin-shaped gleam in your eye to when the things are on the cooling rack.

The individual moulds in my muffin tin are 100mL in volume, and for twelve muffins, I use:

  • 250g white self-raising flour (or plain plus raising agent)
  • 45g caster sugar (you really don’t need more than this, unless the fruit is really sharp – feel free to substitute more interesting sugars)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg (medium or large, doesn’t matter too much)
  • 225ml milk (or buttermilk)
  • 50g butter (I used unsalted, adjust salt accordingly)
  • 200g fruit (blueberries, raspberries, et cetera)

Instead of self raising flour, you could also use plain flour, and add 3 (level) teaspoons of baking powder. If you don’t have baking powder, use two teaspoons cream of tartar plus one teaspoon sodium bicarbonate. Under no circumstances use strong (bread making) flour.

If you think of it in time, you can replace the milk with buttermilk for a more authentic American taste.

The ideal fruit is fresh blueberries: frozen is also fine, but produces a somehow less exciting result. Fresh cherries – stoned, halved, and steeped in brandy – will yield awesome results. Raspberries are great, too: they need a good shake after rinsing as they hold a lot of water, and go quite well with around 100g of white chocolate pieces stirred into the dry ingredients.

Start by getting the oven going. I set my fan forced to 180°C. Your muffin tray will need to be greased with butter or you’ll need muffin cases. I normally forget and improvise by lining the tin with squares of baking paper. Find a tumbler whose base is the same size as the bottom of the moulds…

…squish each square around this…

…and pop them in; they’ll stay in place if anchored with a dab of butter.

Melt the butter and turn off the heat. Whilst it’s cooling put the dry ingredients into a bowl, and mix well, especially if you’re adding raising agent.

A little care is needed with the wet ingredients which need their own bowl:

  1. start by lightly whisking the egg, then
  2. whisk in the warm butter, and finally
  3. whisk in the milk. (If you do this with hot butter your muffins will taste of scrambled egg.)

Now, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and all the sources are agreed: you must do as little mixing as possible, so the gluten in the flour doesn’t activate and make your muffins stodgy. A dozen good strokes with the spoon should be enough to eliminate any visible dry flour, and you needn’t worry about the lumps, of which there will be plenty.

Using a pair of teaspoons, pop a spoonful of batter in the bottom of each case…

…divide the fruit amongst the cases…

…and then top with the remainder of the batter. No need to smooth it out: it really can be as slapdash as it looks below.

Into the oven for 25 minutes. Retrieve, cool in the tray for a few minutes, and then onto a cooling rack. This is where the squished paper square approach comes into its own, as you can lift them out by the corners.

Eat when cool enough to do so safely, but they’ll be good for half a day, if they last that long.


Maternal Gingerbread

Courtesy of Mother Dearest, origins lost in the mists of time. The recipe I’ve been given is mainly by volume. I’ve faithfully measured out the quantities using metric cups (250mL) but weighing the results just to make sure. To remove any doubt the teaspoon is also metric; five millilitres.

  • ½ cup caster sugar (100g)
  • ½ cup black treacle (160g)
  • ½ cup butter (110g – you don’t need to wrestle butter into a cup measure!)
  • 1 level teasp bicarb soda dissolved in a small quantity of hot water
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1½ cups plain flour (180g)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 level tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp of ground cinnamon
  • a solitary clove, crushed
  • ½ cup milk soured with ½ tsp vinegar

Arteries ready?

  1. Melt the sugar, butter and treacle in large saucepan. Stir gently until sugar dissolved but do not boil.
  2. Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add dissolved soda and stir. Yes, it will get very frisky at this point. That’s why I said a large mixing bowl.
  4. Allow to cool for around half an hour.
  5. Mix in the beaten egg, and the salt and spices.
  6. Add flour alternately with the milk. Make sure each consignment of milk is stirred in well before adding next addition of flour or unappetising lumps will ensue. It should be a sort of thick claggy pouring consistency.
  7. Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin. It will probably go less than a quarter of the way up the side but you will need the other three.
  8. Bake in moderate oven (180ºC, or about 160ºC in a fan-forced) for about fifty minutes. Cover with paper or foil if it begins to brown too early. A metal skewer will come out clean if it’s done.

Suitable for freezing although it keeps well – the bacteria aren’t game to go near all that sugar. Wrap in foil and keep somewhere dark. It’s good served either hot or cold, and even better with some cream.