It’s Strawberry Season!

Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins

I love it when you see crates full of strawberries lining the supermarkets…. it must really be summer. FINALLY!

Last year I made one of my favourite recipes – Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes – and they were delicious; super sweet and super pretty.

I don’t tend to bake with strawberries so much as I think they can be a little too sweet sometimes and don’t always hold together. I use them more for decoration i.e. plonk a strawberry on top of a cheesecake or souffle and it completely transforms the dessert into a beautiful masterpiece. Raspberries and blueberries however have that zing that works well in a lot of muffins, for example my Giant Raspberry & Chocolate Muffins and Gluten Free Chocolate & Blueberry Muffins. (note the chocolate in both these recipes, I think I have a problem?)

However I feel I have been blind to the potential of strawberries and will be baking with them more often…. I’m thinking strawberry and dark chocolate shortbread cookies next?!

Anyway, my Mom needed to take some baked goods to her church and I was nominated to bake some yummy treats. I ended up baking Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins. I had a pack of cream cheese in the fridge almost out of date…. and boy was I glad I used this as a filling. SO moist (especially from the yogurt) and SO tasty (from the fresh strawberries).

Mom came back empty handed……

Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins (makes around 12) 

For the streusel:

60g light brown sugar

60g plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

50g unsalted butter, cold

For the muffins:

115g unsalted butter, softened

100g granulated sugar

50g light brown sugar

2 eggs

120g natural greek yogurt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

220g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

Around 150-200g of fresh strawberries (I don’t tend to use frozen as the colour runs)

For the cream filling:

150g cream cheese

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

40g granulated sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Spray your muffin trays with nonstick spray
  2. Make the streusel: In a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter in very small pieces and mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Make the muffins: In a medium bowl beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Now add the sugars and beat until creamed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat until the mixture is completely combined.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and slowly mix with a whisk until combined (don’t worry I had a few lumps in my mixture). Finally, fold in the strawberries.
  5. Make the cream filling: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Beat until combined
  6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of muffin batter into the muffin cups. Layer with around 1 tablespoon of cream filling, followed by another tablespoon of muffin batter. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping and gently press the streusel down into the muffin so it sticks
  7. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 220 degrees and then lower the temperature down to 180 degrees and bake for a further 15 minutes
  8. Allow to cool completely and transfer to wire rack. Be careful as the cream filling makes these muffins very very moist!
  9. I keep my muffins in the fridge for around 5-10 days, giving them a quick 10 second blast in the microwave. So yummy!

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Zingy Poppy Seed Muffins

After an insanely busy week I am beyond happy it’s the weekend! I’ve missed baking more than I thought I would this week – there are so many eggs in my fridge – usually I’m on a constant mission of hunting eggs down.

The weather here in England has been stunning – hitting the 30 degree mark was pretty good for us – Wilfy looooooves to find a sun pocket to bask in. His coat has transformed into a lovely dark caramel (the hassle of putting doggy sunscreen on his ears is not so enjoyable!). My hair has gone all blonde and my bones finally feel a little warmer after a chilly few months.

Wimbledon is on (summer must be here!) and I’m feeling happy. After a lot of job stress I’m finally back on track with what I really want to be doing with my time…… especially finding time again to bake some yummy treats.

Today it was to be Lemon & Orange Poppy Seed Muffins. It was my first time including poppy seeds in a recipe (hard to believe I know) and I don’t think I will be looking back anytime soon. I absolutely LOVE the crunch they provide to these soft and zingy muffins – as well as the adorable appearance. Don’t even get me started on the flavours – the combination of orange and lemon is so so so so so so so good.

If muffins could ever be pretty – I think these hit the spot.

Have a great weekend everyone! ❤

Lemon & Orange Poppy Seed Muffins (makes around 15)

280g plain flour

90g granulated sugar

60g light brown sugar

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

100g unsalted butter, melted

juice and zest of 1 lemon

juice and zest of 1 large orange

2 eggs

130g low fat natural (greek) yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

(or you can use vanilla yogurt and omit the extract)

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Grease your muffin tin
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugars, poppy seeds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt together until thoroughly mixed
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter with the juices and zests. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Mix in the yogurt and vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix until no pockets of flour remain. Be careful not to overmix as this batter is sooooooo thick!
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins, filling them all the way to the top
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 220 degrees and then reduce the heat to around 180 degres. Bake for a further 8-10 minutes. This is the help them rise quickly at the beginning and then bake thoroughly once the heat has been reduced
  7. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes
  8. These keep fresh in the fridge for around 7 days (with a 10 second blast in the microwave these are simply delicious)

  
  
   

 

Big Friendly Classic Choc Chip Muffins

Using the same recipe as the Jumbo Raspberry Chocolate Muffins I have switched the fruit and dark chocolate – with nuts and milk/white chocolate – creating a lighter muffin, rather than the rich and tangy raspberry and dark combination.

The nutmeg and cinnamon in these really bring out the flavour of a bakery style muffin – you know the type you get in Starbucks or Costa, or funnily enough, a bakery! With a donut type hint these are so easy to munch on and taste amazing after a 10 second blast in the microwave a few days after they are made.

You won’t need anything else to eat after these… seriously…. they are not ‘skinny’ muffins!

Classic Jumbo Choc Chip Muffins (makes 6)

375g plain flour (I use gluten-free)

4 tsp baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs

200g caster sugar

240ml milk (I use soya)

120ml vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g milk chocolate chips

100g white chocolate chips

Flaked almonds to sprinkle on top

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and spray your muffin pan with non-stick spray
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the milk, oil and vanilla extract
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a wooden spoon (make sure not to over mix as this with produce dense muffins!)
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips (leaving some aside for the top)
  6. Spoon into the pan (fill right to the top!) and sprinkle over your almonds and the remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Place in the oven and bake at 220 degrees for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to around 180 degrees and bake for a further 25 minutes
  8. Leave to cool before removing – I love to heat these up for a few seconds after a few days, they are so tasty!

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BIG FRIENDLY GIANTS: Jumbo Raspberry Chocolate Muffins!

FAVOURITE RECIPE ALERT!

One of my favourite memories involves my Mom surprising me at my front door one day during my finals at university. I remember it was a warm day, I’d woken up at 6:30am as usual, showered, dressed, had breakfast at 7am, and sat down to work at my desk. I’d have a fruity snack at around 9, a little fruit smoothie at 10 and lunch at 12. My life revolved around reading, writing, planning, memorising, and food. My housemate and I would run into each others rooms excited that we could finally allow ourselves to have a break and eat… and have a good gossip about how we were destined to fail… and then maybe watch an episode or two of one of our favourite programmes in the evening to treat ourselves (this was to be my ritual for around a month and a half).

Throughout this period I was suffering from my recent diagnosis of CMV and a post-viral fatigue type syndrome, thus I was back and forth to the doctors every other week (usually in a taxi as I would be too exhausted to walk) for blood tests and more or less counselling sessions with my lovely doctor. I was advised by my dissertation tutor that I should probably consider dropping out and re-taking my final year when I was better. But I powered on through and managed to finish all my written work – now I just had to make it through finals – easier said than done – so close to the end yet so far away!

So there were good days and bad days. I got through it with help from my boyfriend who lived close by and of course my loving housemate Poe (who I ended up travelling with for 3 months later on of that year!) but some days I just really needed my Mommy.

ANYWAY! I got a call from my Mom sounding slightly weird, saying there would be someone at the door in the next few minutes and I needed to answer it as she’d sent something to cheer me up. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d sent flowers or something sweet in the post. After around 5 minutes I heard our very loud doorbell ring, so off I ran down the stairs nervous and excited, ready to receive something nice from the postman……

Low and behold – there was my Mommy standing on my doorstep – I literally broke down in tears (I’m not the biggest crier in the world) and actually wouldn’t let her in for around 5 minutes as I was too much in shock! Eventually I let her in and we sat on my bed for a few hours that afternoon – she sat and read her book whilst I did some work and then she helped me memorise important things – and finally she whipped out some jumbo muffins she’d made the day before.

I don’t know why this memory has stayed with me – maybe it was because I was just so surprised to see her and really needed her in that moment – or maybe it was because her muffins were so damn tasty!

But I can still taste them and remember thinking that I could actually make it through okay – if only I could have one of her muffins every day as a treat!

I was reminiscing about this a few days ago and decided I would attempt to make some. We have a special baking pan from the Pampered Chef Stoneware range which my Mom swears by, and which we usually make giant Yorkshire puddings in. But this actually doubles up perfectly as a giant muffin pan.

So expect more of these – I am obsessed – extremely chocolatey ones are next on my agenda…

ENJOY!

Jumbo Raspberry Chocolate Muffins (makes 6)

375g plain flour (I use gluten-free)

4 tsp baking powder (yes you read it right – you need this to help them rise!)

Pinch of sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

150g granulated sugar

50g light brown sugar

240ml milk (I use soya)

120ml vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

50g dark chocolate

50g white chocolate

100g fresh raspberries

Cinnamon sugar to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and spray your muffin pan with non-stick spray
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, and both types of sugar. Add the milk, oil and vanilla extract
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a wooden spoon (make sure not to over mix as this with produce dense muffins!)
  5. Fold in the chocolate and raspberries
  6. Spoon into the pan (fill right to the top!) and place in the oven. Bake at 220 degrees for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to around 180 degrees and bake for a further 25 minutes
  7. Leave to cool before removing – I love to heat these up for a few seconds after a few days, they are so tasty!

  

In this particular batch I also added some dark chocolate with raspberry bits in it (just to make sure they were extra dark and fruity!) – this was Portuguese chocolate we bought back from Madeira 🙂

      

And here’s a cute little picture of me and my Mom….

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*inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction*

Some Good Ol’ Chocolate Banana Muffins

I’ve been sitting outside with Wilfy, basking in the sunshine which has finally hit Wales, contemplating what I fancied baking. As much as I love experimenting with ingredients and recipes, creating and playing around with risky foods, sometimes I think we all need something simple and chocolately.

And you know what? I haven’t made chocolate muffins with cocoa powder in a long time. I’ve always been a bit snobby about using cocoa powder, as I think you get a slightly artificial taste, rather than that natural, smooth and rich taste you get when using fresh melted chocolate. However I recently bought some Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Powder (horribly expensive but I wanted a treat) so decided hey ho…. I’d give it a try!

These are so elegant in their simplicity, and the banana (oh how I love using up ripe bananas and baking with them!!) keeps these beauties moist and fresh for just that little bit longer. The dark flavour from the cocoa really gives these a kick and definitely does them justice.

And they taste pretty good with a coffee or cup of tea.

Enjoy these simple and classic munchies!

Chocolate Banana Muffins (makes around 12)

3 very ripe bananas

125ml vegetable oil

2 eggs

100g light brown sugar

225g plain flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder (sifted)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

Dash of milk (if needed)

75g white chocolate chunks (if desired to make these sweeter)

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a muffin tray with paper cases
  2. Mash the bananas with a fork and add the oil followed by the eggs and sugar
  3. Mix the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb together and gently beat this into the banana mixture
  4. Spoon into the prepared cases and bake for around 15–20 minutes
  5. Allow to cool and then place on a wire rack

  

  

Enjoying the sunshine pre-muffin making!

Wilfy enjoying a good stick!

Gluten-Free Chocolate & Blueberry Muffins

*recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver*

I’m spending the weekend at Gavin’s so I decided last minute, to bake him some goodies, that could travel well. I had some blueberries in the fridge that needed using up, and I know he likes muffins and cakes.

The last time I made blueberry and lemon muffins, I wasn’t the biggest fan! I don’t really like lemon, and the blueberries just didn’t mesh well with the muffin texture. I was more than disappointed!

So I researched a little online and really liked the sound of these ones. I liked the idea that they only had egg whites in, creating a light and fluffy muffin texture, which goes well with the juicy fruit and denseness that the almonds create.

I had to switch the white chocolate with dark, as Gavin is lactose-free, but I think this really added a nice twist to the light muffins.

And obviously the fact that these were actually catered for gluten-free bakers made it even better, as I am so used to just substituting gluten-free options and searching for gluten free equivalents to certain ingredients.

So enjoy these, they are such a breeze to make!

Chocolate & Blueberry Muffins (makes around 12)

200g unsalted butter (I used soya to keep it dairy free)

50g gluten-free plain flour

1tsp xanthan gum

175g ground almonds

250g golden caster sugar

1tsp vanilla essence

6 egg whites

50g white chocolate (I used dark and it worked out just as yummy!)

200g blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tin with cases
  2. Melt the butter in a small pan and then leave to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, sieve the flour and xanthan gum into a bowl, then stir in the ground almonds and sugar. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, then fold through.
  4. In another bowl, separate the egg whites (keep the yolks for another day) and whisk the whites well for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they start to froth
  5. Using a metal spoon, stir the egg whites into the flour mixture a little at a time
  6. Roughly chop and add the chocolate, along with half the blueberries, then stir briefly to combine
  7. Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases and then sprinkle over the remaining blueberries
  8. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins

HAPPY SUNDAY BAKING!

Sundays are my favourite days where I usually dedicate myself to baking some yummy treats ready for the week ahead. To get us straight on the way, I chose this recipe (one of my classics) as I love cinnamon, muffins and chocolate… what better way than to combine all three?!

These are so yummy and such a delicious munch when you are feeling a little stressed throughout the week with work or what not. They taste extra good when you warm them up in the microwave for 15 seconds! They always go down a treat and are SO easy to make… and they look pretty don’t you think?

I always like to try and explore muffin recipes and sometimes struggle to find the perfect combination and amount of ingredients… these really hit the spot. I love the addition of nutmeg – creating a donut-like muffin (which of course are my favourite!)

So here’s the recipe:

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins

75g unsalted butter

100g granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

120ml milk

190g plain flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Pot of Nutella

Topping

50g granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

45g unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together
  3. Mix in the egg, vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Gently stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until just combined
  5. Spoon one tablespoon of batter into muffin case, layer with 1 teaspoon of Nutella in the centre and then another tablespoon of batter on top.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at this temperature then reduce to 180 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Allow muffins to cool slightly
  8. Meanwhile make the cinnamon-sugar topping by melting the butter. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together in a separate bowl
  9. Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  10. Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container up to 1 week. Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.

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