I am a dessert junkie, I have such a sweet tooth that I get so excited about pudding, I am one of those who will skip starters so I have enough room for afters. Winter for me is all about anything dripping in custard, I love hot desserts, so it is always nice when the sun is shining to make a truly summer pudding and I don’t think you can get more summery than Fruit Pavlova, it is sweet and fresh with the added crunchy-yet-gooey vibe of the meringue that makes it perfection, well in my eyes anyway.
Since I started my healthy kick, cutting out sugar, chocolate and generally everything I love, I have found it hard to find anything to bake that doesn’t stray me too much from the new healthy me. But as I find baking a stress reliever and I love cake I just couldn’t stay away so I have been trying to figure out what is the healthiest cake option and I came up with Blueberry muffins – well they can’t be that bad as they are filled with yummy fruit.
OK, so I am not sure they are that healthy, just healthier than say double chocolate chip muffins, and they have to count as one of your five a day – right??? Well that is what I am telling myself with these delicious beauties that are so easy to make. Plus, if like me you are obsessed with juicing and smoothies you will probably already have lots of blueberries to get baking these for a little afternoon snack.
I promise these are so simple to make, around 10 minutes prep work, then all you have to do is sit back and let them bake for around 30 minutes – if it helps you could use the time wisely and do a mini-workout.
Are you a fan of blueberry muffins?
375g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
125ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g blueberries – I prefer fresh but frozen works as well
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4, and line the muffin tine with 12 paper cases.
Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl – gently mix. Then place the oil, egg, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – then add the blueberries and mix.
Spoon mixture evenly into the muffin cases. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 30–35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.
The festive period is one of my favourite times to bake, mainly because I have a little more time, but mostly because you can have a little bit more fun when it comes to decorating. I bake cupcakes and muffins all the time, sometimes chocolate, occasionally carrot cake, and lots of blueberry ones, but no matter what I love to have a recipe to follow, it is kind of like a safety net that reassures me along the way.
I have tried the cookbook stand, it never really stays put, I have tried using the iPad on a stand, but getting cake mix on the screen is annoying, so when I heard that the Microsoft Surface had a Bing Food & Drink app that you could literally use with a swipe of a hand I had to give it ago.
Armed with my cupcake recipe ingredients, I turned on the hands-free mode on the app, so I could literally swipe my hand in front of the web-camera to get the page to turn, so it was easy to see what was next on my recipe. Plus you can search through lots of different recipes, so I decided to try out a new cupcake mix, which turned out really well.
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature – I like to leave out for at least an hour before
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
750g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Green food colouring
Festive toppers, sprinkles, stars, glitter – anything goes
Preheat your oven to 160°C/315°F/Gas mark 2-3, and line the muffin tine with 12 paper cases.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. I use a free-standing mixer – the Kenwood K-Mix on a medium speed for about 3-4 minutes.
Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition, don’t forget to scrap down the sides of the bowl from time to time to make sure everything is mixed. Then add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix together until combined. I use the fold setting on my free-standing mixer but you can easily use a large metal spoon or rubber spatula to do by hand.
Then using an ice-cream scoop or a table-spoon add the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes spring back slightly when pressed, and when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream. Add the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extra to a large bowl and beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. When mixed well, add a couple of drops of food colouring, remember if you are planning to use two colours divide the mixture first, then remix until all the buttercream is the chosen colour.
You can either then decorate with a palette knife or by using a piping bag, I prefer a piping bag as it is more fun. Try using different nozzles to create different effects on your cupcakes.
Once you have added the buttercream decorate as you wish – I added Christmas tree, snowmen, penguins and polar bear toppers, as well as pink glitter dust, candy stars and silver balls – I basically was going for mini Christmas trees.
As well as these cupcakes I also made a cherry and raisin loaf, mince pies and honeycomb brownies – what are you favourite festive recipes?
**Microsoft Surface was gifted to me as part of my participation in the Microsoft Loop**