Salted Caramel ‘Bouchon’ Hearts

saltcaramelbouchon-1-2Please don’t be fooled by the ‘hearts’ in the title for this recipe.

They are a ‘nod’ to the fact that the 14th February is fast approaching and I own a silicone, heart shaped baking tray, purchased a number of years ago, that needs its’ annual outing…

Whether you celebrate St. Valentine’s day or not, these can be baked shaped as hearts, or in a regular mini muffin pan. They are a delightful treat and will win over friends, family or a loved one.

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If you are an avid baking fan, you will be familiar with a ‘Bouchon’ – a beautifully light, chocolate cake with chocolate chips developed by the Bouchon Bakery in New York City. The little cakes are cork-like in shape and are baked in a specifically developed ‘Bouchon’ tray. In the past when I have made them, I used my Ikea muffin pan which actually gives the said narrow, cork-like shape (see below). However, there is no need to go out and buy a special tin, I see no reason why you cannot use a mini muffin tin/pan and still achieve these lovely cakes.

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So typically, these cakes contain dark chocolate chips. I experimented by adding the salted caramel to this original recipe but actually, I think it is too ‘overloaded’. Second time around I omitted the chocolate chips and added some salted caramel sauce to the centre of the batter. This gives a lovely sweet depth of flavour and  a salty after taste which compliments the slightly bitter cocoa powder in the cake (it has a ratio of 50:50 flour to cocoa powder).

The outside of this cake is crispy baked but the centre is slightly moist and a very flavoursome, caramel.saltcaramelbouchon4I know what you are thinking… Can I bothered to make the caramel sauce? The answer is ‘yes’! It is very quick (in this quantity) and straightforward. The batter requires some resting – a minimum of two hours, or overnight, so you can make the sauce during this time. As a bonus, although this is a small quantity of salted caramel, there will be some left over. You can use this for a host of other things, drizzling on cakes, meringues, ice cream, yoghurt and dare I say, just enjoying a spoonful from the jar when you need a pick-me-up! It lasts in the fridge for a few weeks.saltcaramelbouchcon3

So just to recap, the basics for making these are as follows;

  • Prepare the batter and let it rest.
  • Prepare the salted caramel sauce and chill.
  • Select your pan type and prepare accordingly.
  • Equally distribute half the batter in the trays.
  • Add a teaspoon of salted caramel sauce to the batter.
  • Top the sauce with remaining batter.
  • Bake.
  • Dust with icing.

The last thing you need to do is to enjoy these delicious morsels and share them with a loved one (assuming you are feeling generous?).

Why not celebrate the 14th with something home baked like these?

PS. Friends and neighbours, 1 x heart shaped pan available for loan this week… x

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Salted Caramel ‘Bouchon’ Hearts

10-12 cakes

Ingredients

  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 140g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 160g granulated sugar
  • For the salted caramel
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 150ml double cream, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon course sea salt
  • For finishing
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then add the salt. Mix and set aside.
  2. Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted, mix the warm butter with the room temperature butter in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla paste until very light and pale in colour. Alternating between the butter and flour mixture, add to the egg mixture as the mixer is continually running, in three additions. Once the mixture is fully combined, cover the bowl with food wrap and leave to rest in a cool place (not a fridge) for at least two hours. It can be stored in a fridge overnight but must be bought back to room temperature prior to baking.
  4. Whilst the batter is resting, prepare the salted caramel.
  5. Place the sugar in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to melt and swirl the pan to ensure all the sugar liquefies. Do not stir. After about 5 minutes, once the sugar has melted, it will turn a dark amber colour. At this point, remove from the heat and whisk in the melted butter and warmed cream. Keep whisking until fully combined. Add the salt and whisk further.
  6. Place a sieve over a heatproof bowl and pour the caramel through the sieve. If you choose, transfer to a sterilised jar. Allow to cool and then cover. Store in the fridge. (As it chills it will become paler in colour and a little firmer).
  7. Once the batter is rested, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. If using metal mini cupcake/muffin pan, prepare by lightly greasing. If you are using a silicone tray, there is no need for preparation other than to place it on a flat baking tray.
  8. Spoon, or pipe, half the batter equally in your muffin pan. Add a teaspoon of salted caramel to the centre of each batter cake. Top, in equal measure, with the remaining half of the batter.
  9. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan position and shelf half way through the bake. Once the top of the cakes has risen and looks sufficiently baked, these will be ready. It is difficult to test with a cake tester as the centre is meant to be a soft, moist caramel.
  10. Allow to cool in the tray for approximately 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Dust with icing sugar (optional) and serve. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/salted-caramel-bouchon-hearts/

Source: Cake batter adapted from Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel’s ‘Bouchon Bakery’ and Salted Caramel Sauce quantities adapted from April Carter’s ‘trEATs’.

 

 

New Year Muffins

newyearmuffins-1-3After all the wonderful food baked and consumed by everyone over the Christmas period and with 2014 fast approaching, I wanted to post something that is super quick and easy to make, with ingredients you are likely to have in your store cupboard or fridge.

Nothing fancy, just wholesome and tasty to ease you gently into the New Year, without breaking any resolutions.

These are basically a straightforward oat muffin which I have embellished with apricots and cocoa nibs but you could use any dried fruit – apples, raisins, sultanas, cranberries – whatever you have and use either, dark chocolate ( 70% cocoa solid) or white chocolate instead of the cocoa nibs.

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This is the first time I have used cocoa nibs, essentially ground, dried cocoa beans. Eaten raw they have a slightly bitter, and not overly sweet, taste. They are delicious in these muffins as once baked they give a sweeter, slightly nutty flavour with a crunchy consistency (just like a nut, in fact).

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So my plan for these? (admittedly I’m ‘cutting it fine’ with time…)

Prepare these muffins this evening, place in their muffin cases in the baking tray. Place in the freezer over night. Go out, celebrate the New Year in the usual way. Rise on January 1st, preheat the oven. Place frozen muffins directly into the oven (sprinkle with porridge oats, if you can manage). Bake as per ‘note’ in the recipe below. Enjoy these hearty muffins with a mug of milky tea (or coffee) with a clear(ish) conscience. The oats in these will keep you going in those new hours of 2014 when you may be struggling…

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Wishing a Happy New Year to you all, near and far, and thank you for reading my posts these past six months.

To 2014, a year of healthy (and not so healthy) bakes! x

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New Year Muffins

12 Large Muffins

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g porridge oats, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 180g golden caster sugar (or caster sugar)
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 300ml buttermilk (or whole milk mixed with natural yoghurt)
  • 150g cocoa nibs, or good quality chocolate, chopped
  • 150g dried apricots, chopped, or dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, or Gas Mark 6. Place 12 muffin liners into a muffin tin.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients, flour, porridge oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a jug, then set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a bowl, mix together the sugar and eggs until well combined. Add the grated lemon zest and incorporate.
  5. Add the buttermilk to the melted butter and mix together. Chop the apricots and the chocolate (if using).
  6. Make a well in the bowl of the dry ingredients. Add the sugar and egg mixture and the buttermilk and butter mix. Mix the mixture 4-5 times only. Add the apricot and chocolate and mix for a further 4-5 times. Do not over mix. The mixture should be lumpy and dry in parts.
  7. Spoon the mixture equally into the 12 muffin cases. Sprinkle with porridge oats if baking. Alternatively, place in the freezer to bake at a later date.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C, then reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C (Gas Mark 4) and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Best eaten the day they are baked otherwise store in an airtight container.

Notes

If baking from frozen, add a further 5 minutes to baking at 200 degrees C, Gas Mark 6, (so 15 minutes) and then reduce to 180 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes.

http://thecontentedbaker.com/new-year-muffins/

Source: Heavily adapted from Signe Johansen’s ‘Scandilicious Baking’

 

Pumpkin and Ginger Whoopie Pies

pumpkinwhoopies-2So I was planning on sharing these Pumpkin and Ginger Whoopie Pies with you closer to Halloween but I am so pleased with how they turned out, that I couldn’t resist posting them now.

The Whoopie Pie is a US baked good that is made of two rounds of flavoured cake, with a sweet creamy filling, or frosting, sandwiched between them. They are very easy to make and freeze well so can be made ahead of time.

pumpkinwhoopies-1You can use fresh, or tinned, pureed pumpkin. I have used the tinned version which is readily available in most supermarkets all year round. It is a lot less messy and time consuming than preparing the fresh pumpkin and, in my mind, has a great flavour.

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I have adapted this recipe slightly by way of altering the spice content in the actual pie, and the cream cheese frosting. I have included cinnamon, all spice and ground ginger although I reduced the ginger content in the batter mix as I wanted to enhance the cream cheese frosting by adding syrupy, diced stem ginger. This gives the pie a real ‘kick’ of warmth amongst the sweet cream cheese frosting. My goodness, is this frosting delicious? (So much so, I made another cake just so that I could make this frosting again).

pumpkinwhoopies-1-3So who would like these Whoopie Pies? Basically everyone!

The ginger in them makes them a real grown up indulgent treat around Halloween and Bonfire Night. You could offer up mini ones to the children, perhaps with less stem ginger in the frosting, or you could leave it out completely and substitute for 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste / extract.

The fact that the cake can be frozen makes them perfect for parties, or large gatherings as they defrost quickly and are easy to assemble. Then again, you don’t need the excuse of a party to make these. They go perfectly with a cup of tea…

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Pumpkin and Ginger Whoopie Pies

Make 9 large, or 24 mini pies

Ingredients

  • 280g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200g soft dark brown sugar
  • 115ml vegetable oil
  • 250g pumpkin puree, fresh or tinned
  • 65ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • For the Frosting
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 55g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 115g cream cheese
  • 40g diced stem ginger in syrup

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, all the spices and the salt and mix thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer, mix together the sugar, vegetable oil, pumpkin and milk until well blended and smooth. Whisk in the egg.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover the bowl with food wrap and chill for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. On two baking trays, lined with parchment, pipe, or spoon equal amounts of the mixture into rounds (small or large), depending on your required size of pie. Remember to allow for space around each pie as they will spread during the baking process. For large whoopies, bake for 10-12 minutes and for smaller ones, 8-10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little on the baking trays and then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
  6. Either frost and assemble the Whoopie Pies, or freeze in a large plastic container, layer with baking parchment to prevent sticking and frost at a later date.
  7. For the Frosting
  8. Whip the butter until light and fluffy using and electric whisk for freestanding mixer. Add the cream cheese and whip further. Sift the icing sugar into a separate bowl and then slowly add to the butter and cream cheese mixture. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, add the syrupy, diced stem ginger and mix well.
  9. Use immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container.
  10. To assemble the Whoopie Pie, pipe or spoon a sufficient quantity of frosting onto one flat side of the pie. Form a sandwich with a second pie. Optional - dust with icing sugar. Serve.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/pumpkin-and-ginger-whoopie-pies/

Source: Slightly adapted from Claire Ptak’s ‘The Whoopie Pie Book’

 

 

Baked Doughnut Selection

bakeddoughnuts-1-6My children have been asking me for sometime to make them doughnuts.

A month or so ago, I attempted to make a rather delicious sounding ‘Old Fashioned’ fried doughnut. Unfortunately, it was a complete disaster. The dough was too wet and did not retain the ‘ring’ shape in the frying process and ended up as random dollops of fried dough – not a pretty sight. They did taste good but my son said, ‘you’re no good at doughnuts Mum’.

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Not to be defeated, I gave these baked doughnuts a try. Having played around with flour, milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and flavour combinations, these are my third attempt with which I am very happy. They have a good rise, are fabulously light, are not overly sweet, have a hint of cinnamon and are baked. That makes them a more guilt-free option over the fried variety.

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Baked doughnuts can be prepared either by using a ‘doughnut’ baking pan, piping the dough into rings (both of these methods have a slightly wetter dough) or by rolling the dough and using a doughnut cutter, as I have done. You can buy the cutters fairly cheaply online, alternatively, most specialist cook shops should have them. I have used a 7cm diameter cutter so these are ‘midsize’ doughnuts – a perfect size for children.

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I have presented a selection of glaze and toppings. In our house everyone has their preferences and if you are  going to the effort to make these tasty morsels, you may as well keep everyone happy by offering a choice of toppings.

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Not only do children and adults alike enjoy these doughnuts, these are a fun bake to do with children. They love to help with the measuring of the ingredients, adding ingredients to the mixer (with supervision), cutting the doughnuts (warning: the dough is pretty soft and delicate) and of course, the glazing and decorating is the real fun for them.

These are best eaten fresh, warm and the day they are baked. They are a real hit and everyone will enjoy them. Perfect for the weekend!

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Baked Doughnut Selection

Approximately 20 mid-size doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 420g plain flour, plus extra for dusting surfaces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 7g (1 x sachet) instant active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 150g natural yogurt,
  • 75ml whole milk
  • 110g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Chocolate Topping
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Cinnamon Sugar Topping
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Glaze and Sprinkle Topping
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk
  • Sprinkles of your choice

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, sieve together the flour and cinnamon and mix together. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a freestanding mixture, with a paddle attachment, beat together the egg and sugar. Add the yeast, salt and honey. Mix further.
  3. Mix together the natural yoghurt and milk in microwave-proof dish, or cup. Warm the milk mixture in the microwave for approximately 20-30 seconds until lightly warmed. Add the warmed mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until fully incorporated. Slowly add approximately one third of the flour.
  4. Change the mixing attachment to the dough hook. Add the butter to the mixture, in small amounts, whilst the dough hook is mixing, ensuring that each amount is well incorporated. Add the remainder of the flour in small amounts until the dough comes together.
  5. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a little until the dough is smooth and less moist. Form into a ball and place into a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for approximately 1 hour.
  6. Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment.
  7. Once proved, again tip the dough on a floured work surface and knock the air out of the dough. Roll the dough until approximately 1/2 inch thick. With a cutter, cut the doughnuts and place on the prepared baking tray. With the off cuts, form into a smooth ball by stretching the dough over the creases and roll again to repeat the cutting.
  8. Cover the two trays with plastic bags and allow to prove for a further 20-30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or Gas Mark 6.
  10. Bake the doughnuts for approximately 8 minutes (check after 5 minutes) until the doughnuts are a light golden colour.
  11. Place on a cooling rack and glaze, or sugar, whilst still warm. Enjoy warm.
  12. For the Chocolate Topping
  13. Sieve together the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the water and stir thoroughly until you reach a smooth paste. Invert the warm doughnut and dip into the chocolate topping mixture.
  14. For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping
  15. Place the caster sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and mix together thoroughly. Melt the butter and then brush the doughnuts with the butter. Dip into the sugar mixture and cover entirely.
  16. For the Glaze and Sprinkle Topping
  17. Sieve the icing sugar into a shallow bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of milk and mix until you reach a smooth paste. Pour the sprinkles onto a saucer. Invert the doughnut and dip into the glaze and then dip the glaze into the sprinkles.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/baked-doughnut-selection/

Source: Adapted from Lara Ferroni’s ‘Doughnuts’

 

 

Chocolate Madeleines

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‘At last!’ I hear you chocolate lovers cry…

Apologies that it has taken me until my tenth post to feature chocolate. It really is unintentional. Indeed I do love chocolate, particularly the dark, intense, not overly sweet variety.

So why Madeleines? Why not some rich, triple layer, fudgy chocolate cake with ganache?

Firstly, as I am a fan of all things ‘kitchenalia’, modern and vintage, I recently purchased a ‘vintage’ madeleine tray online and I have been desperate to try it out.

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Secondly, we can look forward to a rich, chocolate feast cake in the cooler months when we  are not so concerned about our waistlines for our summer escapes and we all need a massive chocolate fix! So, ‘all good things…’ as they say.

Back to the Madeleines.

chocolatemad-1-3This is the first time I have made these and it most definitely won’t be my last. Madeleines are one of the most recognisable French pastries because of their familiar scallop shape; they are moulded one side and rise up to a bulbous round shape on the other. They are light, have a great texture and the scope for variation is enormous.

Although this is my first attempt, I made two batches trying out two methods. The first method involved making the batter and baking straightaway. The second, involves refrigerating the batter for 3 hours before baking. This allows for the Madeleines to rise a bit and form a more bulbous shape. I would propose chilling the batter if you have the time, but really don’t worry, they will still taste great. I have drizzled mine in chocolate, just to intensify the chocolate flavour but this is purely optional (and baking purists would probably be horrified!).

Anyway, theses little gems are perfect with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

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If you are a keen baker and are considering investing in a Madeleine pan, I would say go for it. You will definitely get plenty of use out of it. I have many variations that I want to bake. Watch this space…

Chocolate Madeleines

Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 60g salted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 50g dark chocolate, good quality, 70% minimum cocoa
  • 45g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g golden caster sugar
  • 30g dark chocolate (optional), melted for drizzling
  • Equipment
  • Madeleine tin

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Take off the heat and break in the chocolate and stir until it melts. Allow to cool.
  2. Sieve into a bowl the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and mix until combined.
  3. In a freestanding mixer, mix the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted butter and chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Tear off some food wrap and place over the top of the batter in the bowl. Leave to chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Brush the pan holes with a little melted butter, ensuring you grease the scallop shapes thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the batter into the scallop holes, about two thirds full and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow the Madeleines to cool briefly in the pan to ensure they are set before removing and the place on a wire rack to cool.
  8. (Optional) Melt 30g of chocolate over a double boiler and drizzle over the Madeleines.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/chocolate-madeleines/

 Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s ‘Willie’s Chocolate Bible’. Method research from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’.

 

Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

I was pretty certain that today I would bake something with blueberries and lemon. Blueberries because I had a punnet in the fridge that have probably seen fresher days and lemon, well, I just think is it a great compliment to the blueberries. My dilemma was to bake muffins or tea cake…

Muffins won today…

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Its been a while since I have baked muffins. To be honest, I had forgotten how quick and easy they are to make. They have the added bonus of not requiring a knife for cutting and serving!

I usually use muffin cases when baking these but often feel a little cheated when peeling back the wrapper only to find half the muffin (particularly fruit ones) clinging to the sides of the paper. Anyhow, on this occasion I omitted it altogether, as per the original recipe. I have to say, I liked the wrapper-free option. No such feelings of disappointment. The muffins came out of the pan easily and not a morsel went to waste.

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Sometimes my children procrastinate over whether they want to try one of my bakes or not. Without hesitation, these muffins were a hit and a perfect after school ‘tide-me-over-until-dinner’ snack.

A definite hit…

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Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

12 Muffins

Ingredients

  • 110g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by greasing with butter and dusting with flour, tapping out the excess flour.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. With the sieve over the bowl, toss the blueberries in a little flour. This will prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the bake.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add one egg at a time. Continue to beat and add in the vanilla paste/extract. Follow with mixing in the lemon zest.
  5. Gently stir the flour mixture into the batter mixture until just combined.
  6. Add the buttermilk and continue to combine. The mixture should be a little lumpy as this will the give the muffins a good texture.
  7. Fold in the blueberries and divide equally into the muffin cups.
  8. Sprinkle batter with granulated sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool a little in the pan before cooling on a wiring rack.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/blueberry-and-lemon-muffins/

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Baking Handbook’