Friday 25 November 2011

Wholemeal raisin muffins

For those of you who were most distressed by my last post that my friend didn't get her birthday cupcakes, fear not, I made her a slight variation (and possibly a slight improvement) of the chocolate chip cupcakes that I shared a few months ago on here.

For my latest baking endeavour, however, I decided for a slightly less indulgent and possibly a little healthier (or perhaps just a bit less unhealthy...) option. My Gran recently gave me her recipe for wholemeal scones, and it got me thinking that I had never tried making cakes with wholemeal flour. Here's how it turned out....

Here's how to make them:
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and fill a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
  • Take 8 oz. caster sugar and 8 oz. Stork margarine and cream together well.
  • In a separate bowl whisk 4 large eggs, add them to the butter mix, and beat in.
  • Gradually sieve in 4 oz. self raising flour and 4 oz. wholemeal self raising flour and fold in.
  • Pour in some raisins (here again I'm going to be quite unspecific I'm afraid. I like lots in my cakes so added quite a lot, but it's entirely up to taste. Ideally make sure there is quite an even spread of raisins throughout the whole mix, but not so that they out-number the cake mix!).
  • Spoon into the muffin cases (I had enough mix for four little cakes as well) and pop into the oven for 20-30 mins.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Baking books, and yummy results

Whilst browsing my local Waterstone's at the weekend I came across this book

for just £2! now, I'm a sucker for a cheap book, and couldn't resist this one. I was planning to make some cakes for a friend as a little birthday treat, and this seemed a great place for inspiration.

I went for the chocolate and raspberry cakes:

Unfortunately plans changed and I didn't see my friend to give them the cakes, so, alas, had to eat them myself...

I can't share the recipe here because I'm sure it would be infringing all kinds of copyright laws, but I will say, the pink icing on top is divine, and so easy to make (icing sugar and juice from raspberries). Tasty.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Neapolitan style muffins

Having been inspired by Holly's Neapolitan mini cakes in the final of the Great British Bake-Off, I thought I'd give some neapolitan style cakes a go myself. I was going to make a large, celebration type cake, but thought perhaps I'd better wait for a special occasion, so decided on muffins instead. I used to make multi-coloured cakes with my Gran when I was young so knew putting blobs of different coloured cake in one container worked just fine.

Here's how they turned out (excuse the bad icing skills!)

Here's how to make them:

  • Preheat your oven to gas mark 4.
  • Take 10 oz. Stork, and 10 oz. caster sugar and cream together until pale.
  • In a separate bowl beat 5 eggs and add gradually to the mix, beating as you go.
  • Sieve in 10 oz. self raising flour gradually, and fold in until combined.
  • Separate the mixture into thirds. In one bowl, add just over half a tsp of vanilla essence and baking powder, and fold in.
  • In another bowl, add just over half a tsp of strawberry flavouring, baking powder, and a few drops of red food colouring. Fold in.
  • In the final bowl fold in just under 1 tbsp of cocoa powder.
  • Take your muffin tin, fill it with muffin cases, and spoon in some of each flavour cake mix into each case. I went a bit over the top with how much cake mix I put in each, but it's up to you how much you use of each colour, etc.
  • Pop in the oven for 20-25 mins.

    They should look something like this:

For the decoration:
  • Cream together 1 tbsp milk and 8 oz. Stork.
  • Gradually sieve in and cream 12 oz. icing sugar.  Do this gradually or you may find yourself covered in icing sugar (or at least I do anyway...).
  • Separate about a third of this, add about a quarter of a tsp of strawberry flavouring and a couple of drops of red colouring, and mix well. Swirl this pink icing into the rest of the icing (but not so much that it's all just pale pink). 
  • Put in a piping bag, and swirl onto the top of the cakes, crumbling a flake on the top.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

The joys of gardening

This year was the first time I've done any substantial amount of growing my own fruit and vegetables. I'd cautiously dipped my toes into the world of home growing previously, growing simple herbs, and such, on windowsills. However, this year, I thought, I will finally get round to growing things that can form the basis of actual meals. Now, I don't have a large garden, so most of this was done in pots, and grow bags, but I was amazed how great the results could be with not that much effort involved. The only vegetables that I failed to grow successfully were cucumbers and mushrooms.

As a first time grower I found it fascinating, and hugely rewarding, to watch seeds turn into plants, and grow fruit. It was interesting to see how the different foods grew, and I was impressed by how pretty the plants could look in the process.

The peppers are finally turning red:

I was much excited by this, and thought I would share some photos of some of the plants and tasty food that resulted.

I thought the strawberry plants were some of the prettiest whilst in flower, and with fruit growing at the same time:

Our tomato plants were the most bountiful, and I was amazed by just how large the plants grew (they were as tall as me by the end!). I'm having trouble uploading the pictures of our giant tomato plants, so sadly won't be able to share them with you.

One of the other fun things about growing fruit and veg, is that you then have to think of something to do with your produce. Here's a few of the things I made with ours: