I have been known to eat cake for breakfast on more than one (or two, or three or four) occasions, and any other number of sweet things. I’m not great at breakfast, I like sleeping in, but I do like breakfast food. I try and make up for this on weekends with pancakes or a nice bacon sandwich. Or eggs, yummmm. See I like breakfast, I do.
I have been experimenting with cupcakes and fairy cakes for a while but one of the things on my list has been a good breakfasty muffin with lots of things packed into it, but lower on the sweetness than a normal cake.
I was a bit greedy and got a kilo of cherries from the local Pick Your Own which meant I had something of a glut, brought on entirely by my eyes being bigger than my stomach. Some of the lucky things are spending time steeping in vodka, ready for a Christmas tipple, and others have gone into a juicy summer fruit cobbler (more on that soon). I had some left and they were destined for muffins!
I like real cherries and far too often you see those awful rubbery, almost flourescent, glace cherries in cakes, a real cherry cake is something much much better. I might have to go to the pick your own one more time and make a proper sweet dessert cake too 😉
These muffins have no too much sugar in them, lots of oats and some wheatgerm, and I pepped them up with some cinnamon and nutmeg.
Cherry & Oat Breakfast Muffins
makes about 8 muffins
100g unsalted softened butter
75g granulated or caster sugar
2 medium eggs
200g fresh cherries – pitted and halved
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
25g wheatgerm (or substitute with more oats)
approx 50ml whole or semi skimmed milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to gas mark 6 / 400f / 200c. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
Cream together your butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Then add in your eggs one at a time and combine.
Fold in your cherries, then add in your flour and baking powder and stir gently to combine.
Then fold in your oats and wheatgerm, and spices. Finally add in the milk to loosen the mixture slightly. If your mixture is quite wet you may not need to add the milk.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons into the mixture, you want the muffins to be fairly substantial, leave about 1cm from the top. Sprinkle with oats. Bake for 10-15minutes in the oven until golden brown on top, and when a knife comes out clean when inserted.
Things are moving slowly in the garden this year, we’ve just harvested the first vegetables (ok actually we harvested some potatoes but the crop wasn’t so great this year) – some teeny courgettes and some of their flowers too.
This is our first time growing courgettes successfully, last time we happily put them in the bed straightaway and they got eaten up very quickly! These were grown in the greenhouse first off and then planted out in a big pot once they were bigger. The plant has been slow moving in this weather but we’ve had a bit of rain now and it is growing much faster – we might even have one of these courgette gluts everyone is always going on about?
I chopped up the courgettes finely and put them on top of my favourite pizza base recipe with the flowers on top of those whole (stalks removed).
Pick the flowers in the morning or midday when they are fully open, dip them in a bowl of water to remove the little black bugs that courgette flowers attract. Then store them in a bowl of colder water in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
We treated them to some nice laverstoke mozarella and lots of herbs from the garden (sage, basil and oregano).
Such a summery meal, the taste of homegrown courgettes is nothing like the watery supermarket ones!
The flowers are lovely like this too, they are very courgetty (is that a word?) but also beautifully floral. Yum!
I am going to try them stuffed with cream cheese and deep fried soon too.
I do like this time of year, so many things are in season and it is so hard to choose what to cook with and eat next. Also the best thing is little garden gifts from relatives – their homegrown produce. We have been growing rhubarb this year and we exchanged a few stalks with my in laws for some of their lovely gooseberries and blackcurrants.
I am terrible for hardly ever just enjoying fruit as it is, I want to bake it or put it in jam or vodka, or something interesting. Rather than enjoying it in season as it is. Blackcurrants and gooseberries are different though, they do need to be cooked as they can be quite tart on their own, especially the gooseberries.
I have a shiny new cupcake/muffin pan this week and it was sitting there looking all new, so clearly – it was cupcake time!
I have a favourite basic sponge cake base that I nearly always use for cupcakes, and believe it or not it is from a book of student recipes, entitled ‘Student Grub,’ I don’t really use many of the other recipes (you know the one for beans on toast..) but this one is quite good for adding things to.
I wanted colourful cupcakes so I pureed half the blackcurrants and put the rest in whole. The whole ones burst slightly in the cupcakes during cooking so you get lovely bursts of pure colour in the cupcakes. The gooseberries were cooked down in a saucepan with some sugar and also a stick of rhubarb I had and spooned into hollowed out cupcakes once they were cool. And obviously some of them had frosting too, yum!
Blackcurrant & Gooseberry Cupcakes
For gooseberry sauce:
1/2 stick of rhubarb (mine was quite thin so use 1/2 a normal size stick)
3-4 tablespoons of sugar
Top and tail your gooseberries and cut your rhubarb into 1 inch long pieces. Add to a non stick saucepan with the sugar and a very small splash of water. Cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the gooseberries are soft and the skins collapsed. Cool slightly and taste for sweetness, if it is too tart, add a little more and cook on a low heat and stir til the sugar is dissolved. Puree with a blender. Set aside for filling the cupcakes later.
100g unsalted butter
100g granulated or caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium free range or organic eggs
150g blackcurrants – 75g pureed in a food processor, 75g whole.
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to gas mark 6 / 200c / 400f.
Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in your eggs one by one. Then add in your pureed blackcurrants, and vanilla. Stir lightly to combine, then add in your flour and baking powder slowly and fold in. Finally add in the rest of the blackcurrants and stir lightly to combine.
Line your cupcake pan with cases. Spoon in about 2 tablespoons into each cup, enough to fill them about 2/3 full. My mixture actually made 11 because I was a bit generous on some and less on others, but that is ok!
Bake for 10-15 minutes until tops are golden brown, and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the cake (look they are purple inside!).
Leave to cool for about half an hour, then for the fun bit! Cut little circles out the top of the cakes, go in about 1cm down and pop the top off the cake. Fill with about a heaped teaspoon of the gooseberry puree and pop the lid back on. Now you can leave them as they are or add some buttercream.
I frosted a few of mine with the rest of my butter, think a ratio of 1 part butter to 3 parts icing sugar, and I added some vanilla extract too, real vanilla bean would have been lovely though. Or you can flavour them with more pureed blackcurrant or mix in some of the gooseberry puree.
These have to be the easiest cookies to make ever. Four ingredients, made and in and out the oven in 30 minutes, and no flour!
They are crumbly and soft and if you want to add a 5th ingredient I urge you to press in some dark chocolate chips.
Please use good quality peanut butter for these, I opted for Whole Earth organic peanut butter which has nice chunky peanut pieces in it, and a lot less oily than standard peanut butter.
Update – 14/7 – Something I forgot to say! I tried these with a mixture of honey and sugar too, 3/4 of the sugar and 1/4 of soft set honey which works just as well. I think half and half might even work too!
Makes 24 cookies
adapted from joy the baker
1 cup (200g) good quality crunchy peanut butter
1 cup (200g) of brown or caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp of baking powder
Preheat your oven to 180c / gas mark 4. Grease and line a flat baking sheet. This recipe makes two batches, if you have two trays you can cook them at once or cook in batches.
Add your peanut butter, sugar and baking powder to a mixing bowl, stir well to combine the ingredients. Add in your beaten egg and mix for a few minutes until you have a soft dough.
Form into walnut sized dough balls and add to your baking sheet, press down with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Leave to cool completely on the baking tray (I know, torture!) so they harden slightly – they are quite soft when they come out of the oven.
Serve with a large cup of tea, feet up and begin dunking!
So it is summertime in England and it is hot, in June. Not raining. Hot. And meant to be hotter. I am wearing my questionable looking linen trousers to keep cool.
The office is like an oven and I had an odd desire to do gardening after work, so I collapsed on the sofa afterwards feeling hot and tired. I needed coffee in order to get energised for making jewellery and my (also) an oven of a studio.
I love my coffee machine, I’m not a fan of instant coffee (snob , yes) and it makes really great capuccinos (I have a Dualit by the way). And it is perfect if you want iced coffee too!
For this recipe you need a blender too. You can use double strength instant coffee but brewed coffee (try a cafetiere) is better. I am definitely going to experiment with syrups – caramel or hazlenut would be fabulous.
Iced Coffee – makes 2 big glasses
1.5 cups or 12oz of crushed ice (bash up cubes or buy crushed ice!)
2 shots of espresso (half a tea cup full)
3/4 cup or 6 fl.oz of semi skimmed milk
2 tablespoons of sugar or 1 tbsp of flavoured syrup
Make your coffee and then stir the sugar in to dissolve it.
Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend for about 30 seconds.
Pour into big tall glasses and feel colder!