May 30, 2008

Blueberry cupcakes with orange sugar drizzle

Blueberry Cupcakes with orange sugar drizzle


I had some blueberries to use up (not from our plant unfortunately) so I found this cupcake recipe. The texture of the cakes are between a fairy cake and a muffin, but the drizzle makes them very moist. The recipe for the drizzle says to use caster sugar, but the drizzle didn't go crunchy, so after some Internet research I'm going to try granulated sugar next time. I will definitely make these again and try them with raspberries which is what the original recipe used.

  • Makes: 12 cupcakes
  • Oven shelf position: middle
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C
  • Baking time: 30-35 minutes (Original recipe said 20-25 mins)
  • You will need: 12-hole muffin tin (or normal cake tin is fine) with paper muffin cases

Cupcakes – Ingredients:

  • 200g Self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 200g Unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large Eggs
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp Milk
  • 50g Ground almonds
  • Zest of 1medium Orange
  • 150g punnet Blueberries/Raspberries, washed then lightly crushed

Sugar drizzle – Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 medium Orange
  • 4 tbsp Caster or Granulated sugar


  1. Preheat the oven and line muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
  2. Tip the first 8 ingredients into a large bowl and beat with electric whisk until smooth.
  3. Fold the crushed fruit through the batter.
  4. Divide the batter between the cases - there is a lot of mixture so they will be almost full to the top.
  5. Gently tap the tray on your work surface to even out the mixture and knock out any excess air which could cause the cakes to sink.
  6. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden and just firm.
  7. To make the Sugar drizzle: mix together the orange juice and sugar until well blended.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool a little but the cakes should still be hot when you drizzle each with the orange and sugar mix.

Creamy chicken and leek pasta

I wanted to make a healthier version of a cream sauce because I've been making so many cakes recently and thought I should balance out my diet a bit! This recipe produces a lovely smooth sauce and has a lot of flavour. It would also be great piled on top of a Jacket Potato!

I have to admit I didn't take a photo because I was too focused on eating! But I will definitely be making this again so I'll take a photo next time before I wolf it down!

Serves 2

  • Pasta for 2 people (I used Bucatini which is my favourite)
  • 2 rashers of Bacon, cut into small strips
  • 2 Chicken Thighs, cut into small strips
  • 1 medium Leek, washed and cut into rings
  • A few Mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 clove Garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 300ml Stock (I used Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder)
  • 1 tbsp Wholegrain or French Mustard
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Creme Fraiche or low-fat cream cheese

  1. Cook pasta according to pack instructions whilst you make the sauce.
  2. Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until brown and crispy. Add the chicken and fry until brown as well. Remove meat from the pan and put in a bowl, but retain the oils and juices in the pan.
  3. Fry the mushrooms and leeks for about 5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic.
  4. Return the meat to the pan, then stir in the flour.
  5. Add the stock, mustard and cayenne and simmer until the stock has reduced by half.
  6. Add the creme fraiche or cream cheese and simmer until dissolved and the sauce is smooth and creamy.
  7. Drain the cooked pasta and reserve a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss until fully coated in the sauce. Add some of the cooking water if necessary to help bind and thicken the sauce.

May 26, 2008

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

I can’t take the credit for this recipe as my friend found it on a website and passed it onto me, but the measurements were all in American cups so I have converted it and tweaked some of the ingredients to make it easier to make.

These cupcakes are really moist due to the sour cream and the icing is really creamy and luxurious. Alternatively you can use Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Fudge icing which is really good.

  • Makes 12 cupcakes if using muffin cases
  • Oven shelf position: upper
  • Oven temperature: preheat oven to Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C
  • Baking time: 18-20 minutes
  • You will need: 1 small bowl, 2 medium bowls, saucepan, 12 hole muffin/fairy cake tin
The Cupcakes - Ingredients:
  • 1 stick (110g/4 oz) Unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (50g/2 oz) Dark chocolate (I used Bournville), broken into pieces or use chips
  • 1/2 cup (40g/1.5oz) Dark cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (110g/4oz) Plain all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda (Baking soda)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g/5oz) Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional but apparently brings out the flavour of the chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup (small 142ml pot) Sour cream
The Cupcakes - Directions
  1. Line baking tin with paper cases (I used muffin cases in a tin used for normal fairy cakes).
  2. Melt the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan shallow-filled with simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Whisk until smooth and combined, then set aside to cool, until just warm to the touch.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl to combine; add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until fully combined. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the mixture and whisk until combined. Then add 1/3 of the sour cream and mix in. Alternate adding and mixing in the flour and the sour cream until you end with the remaining flour mixture and whisk until the batter is homogenous and thick (it will be like a thick gooey mousse).
  6. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases - should be about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
  8. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  9. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.
Vanilla icing - The ingredients
  • 1 stick (110g/4 oz) Unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (175g/6oz) Icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Double cream
Vanilla icing - Directions
  1. In a medium bowl beat the butter until smooth.
  2. Add the icing sugar and beat until the sugar is incorporated.
  3. Scrape down the bowl and beat until mixture is light and fluffy and a pale yellow.
  4. Add vanilla extract and double cream and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. I have reduced the quantities of the ingredients for the icing just to give round numbers. You can store any leftover icing in the fridge or freezer, just allow it to thaw before attempting to ice your cupcakes.

You might be interested in these: Chocolate Cupcakes with Frosting

May 18, 2008

Blueberry (& Raspberry) Crunch Cake

I have halved the quantities in this recipe by Sue Lawrence, as her original quantities makes a huge cake and since this is quite a rich and filling cake, a small piece is quite sufficient!

The polenta gives the cake a lovely crunchy topping and quite a unique flavour.

I have only ever tried this recipe with fresh berries but I'm sure frozen ones would work just as well. The combination of blueberries and raspberries is excellent, but when I recently made this I didn't have any raspberries because they were too expensive, so I substituted them for 1 gala apple cut into small dice and it gave a good result.
This is great served with the blueberry syrup (see pancakes).

  • Oven shelf position: upper-middle
  • Oven temperature: pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas mark 4
  • Baking time: 50 minutes to 1 hour
  • You will also need a 20cm/8in springform cake tin, lightly buttered

100g Polenta - plus 1 teaspoon
250g Self raising flour, sifted
160g Golden caster sugar
Grated zest 1 unwaxed lemon (optional)
160g Cold unsalted butter, diced
1 Large free-range egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
125g Blueberries
125g Raspberries
12g Demerara sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
  2. Place the 100g of polenta, the flour and sugar in a large food processor and process for a few seconds. Add the lemon zest and butter and process again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (alternatively rub the butter into the dry ingredients by hand as if making a crumble mixture)
  3. Add the beaten egg and lemon juice then process using the pulse button, or mix, very briefly, until just combined.
  4. Tip about two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down all over.
  5. Sprinkle the teaspoon of polenta over the base, then scatter over the blueberries and raspberries (or whatever fruit you're using)
  6. Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top, then crumble the remaining cake mixture over to cover. Press down very lightly, then bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, then remove from the tin.

May 10, 2008

Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

My friend Lindsey told me about these Buttermilk Pancakes by Martha Stewart and they are really light and fluffy and very easy to make. I've halved her recipe as it makes 9 huge pancakes!
I suggested she serve them with the Blueberry Syrup by Nigella Lawson and she said it was really good so I decided to try it out myself and they are an excellent combination!


The key to fluffy pancakes is not to overmix the batter; it should not be beaten smooth.

Makes 4-5 6-inch pancakes

1 cup (125g/4.oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1.5 cups (350ml/12 fl.oz) buttermilk (look in the cream section in the supermarket or make your own - see below)
2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle/frying pan

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, and the 2 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently to combine. Do not overmix, the batter should have small to medium lumps.
  4. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes, this will result in lighter, fluffier pancakes (use this time to make the Blueberry syrup!)
  5. Heat your griddle or frying pan to medium-low and test by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush/piece of kitchen towel, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter onto griddle. Wipe off excess.
  6. Using a 4-ounce ladle (about 1/2 cup) pour in pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2.5 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
  7. Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm.


Put 1 cup (about 150g/5oz) washed Blueberries and 125ml (about 8 Tbsp) Maple Syrup in a small saucepan and simmer for about 5 mins until blueberries have softened and you have a nice syrupy consistency.

No Maple Syrup?! Don't worry, you can still make this delicious syrup by simmering 1 cup water and 1/2 cup white sugar in a small pan for a couple of minutes until you have got a slight syrup. Then add your cup of Blueberries and simmer gently as above.

No Buttermilk?! Then you can make your own with normal milk and lemon juice. Just mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes. The resulting mixture won't be as thick as buttermilk so you will only need 1 cup.

No Lemon?! Then use 1 cup normal milk (preferably whole/full fat), omit the baking soda (as there is no acid for it to react to) and increase the amount of baking powder to 1.5 teaspoons.

Alternatively, make my Cheat's American Pancakes which are equally delicious!
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