Blueberry Muffins

Making blueberry muffins is quick and easy. This recipe makes about 8-12 depending on how large you make them. They are best made on an easy morning and enjoyed still warm with a coffee. I find they are best eaten on the day they are made. If eaten later, 10-20 seconds in the microwave can revive that just cooked experience.

Ingredients

Dry

  • 280g plain flour
  • 10ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 2.5ml (½tsp) salt
  • 110g sugar

Wet

  • 1 egg
  • 240ml milk
  • 85g butter (melted)
  • 2.5ml (½tsp) vanilla extract
Fruit
  • Up to 200g of berries (can be blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or any other soft fruit; keep some frozen and use them straight from the freezer out of season)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (180°C fan)
  2. Prepare the tray and put in 9 – 12 muffin cases. I prefer 9 larger muffins but if making for kids you may want smaller portions.
  3. The trick is keeping the wet and dry ingredients separate until the last moment. Sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  4. Beat the egg and then add the wet ingredients into a different jug or bowl.
  5. Now add the wet to the dry and mix quickly with a wooden spoon. Don’t be too fussy it will look a bit lumpy and uneven – it’s fine. Just mix them briefly to wet the dry ingredients.
  6. Now add the fruit and stir in. Using frozen fruit works well as it doesn’t break up into the mix and cooks fine from frozen.
  7. Spoon into the cases and put in the oven.
  8. Should be cooked in about 20-35 minutes depending on what size they are and how much frozen fruit is in them.

Tips

Makes about 9-12 muffins blueberry muffins – lay out the tray and cases in advance.
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a jug. Add the wet to the dry just before you do the final mix.
Melt the butter till its just melted – don’t heat it up. I use a small warm saucepan on the cooker for this. If you microwave it then it will splatter all over the inside of your microwave.
Add the blueberries (or whatever fruit you choose) after you mix the wet and dry and just quickly stir them in – don’t break them up.
Be as quick as possible once you mix wet and dry ingredients to get them into the cases and in the oven.
To check if cooked press the top of a muffin gently with your finger – it should spring back. Or use a thin metal skewer to check there’s no uncooked gloop.

Apple Tray Bake

A nine year old harvesting apples by climbing the tree
Harvesting Apples

I always think of Apple Tray Bake as a lovely Autumn comfort treat. Basically, it is a sponge with chunks of cooking apple baked in it. The sweet warm sponge with contrasting slightly sharp apple is fabulous. We get a small glut of Bramley apples from the tree in our garden. First get a nine-year-old to climb the tree to pick the apples….

Serve this as a warm treat with your afternoon cup of tea. Or serve in portions with some warm custard on the side. Sure, you can make your own custard, but there’s not much wrong with the supermarket chilled stuff. Or, I grew up with custard made with Bird’s custard powder and until I was an adult I had no idea it could be made any other way. I loved it.

An old family recipe book.
Our old recipe book

This is one of these recipes that gets handed down. Our original version as written in our old recipe book shows its age. It’s all in ounces and tablespoons. And it uses margarine instead of butter. I grew up with pretty much all baking made with margarine but nowadays I tend to use butter. Also, I tend to use grams instead of ounces nowadays.

Times are changing. I grew up with pretty much all baking made with margarine but nowadays I tend to use butter. Also, I tend to stick to grams instead of ounces. Though I still use tablespoon and teaspoon measures. For temperatures, I use Celsius rather than Fahrenheit.

Ingredients

  • 110g Butter at room temperature
  • 110g Sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 220g Self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • about 300g Cooking apples
  • 80-90ml cold milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160-170C fan
  2. Look out a tray or ceramic dish. The one we use is a rectangular ceramic dish that is about 5cm deep and 25cmx17cm in size. Anything around this size will work. Lightly butter the dish.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon or a mixer
  4. Peel and chop the apples. Make them about 1cm thick and about 2-3cm in size. You need chunks so they don’t disappear into the sponge in the cooking.
  5. Beat the egg into the mix
  6. Sieve the flour and salt into the mixture
  7. Mix in the milk until there is a workable sponge mix, quite thick and not too runny
  8. Add the apples and stir them through
  9. Scrape the mix into your tray.
  10. Bake in the oven for about 40-50 minutes. We test it with a skewer to check it’s cooked. It will depend on the shape and depth of your tray.

Variations

  • You could reduce the apples a bit and add some blackberries, a classic combination, and the lovely purple-red staining from the berries will make it visually interesting too
  • Vanilla, it always splits opinion, you could a teaspoonful

We let the Apple Tray Bake cool till warm in the tray and then cut it into a grid of portions (they need to be a decent size, in my opinion!) and eat some warm with a cuppa. You will want to have it later for pudding, served with your favourite custard. If you have leftovers for the following day they really benefit from 15 seconds in the microwave.

Bread – Easy and Simple To Make

Baked Bread
Baked Bread

This is my normal non-sourdough bread. I like the overnight fridge proving as it is much better for the gluten, flavour and crumb of the bread. The is quite a wet mix so is very delicate even when proved. It tends to make a flatter loaf but I find it has a good crust, crumb and flavour.

This bread is little effort in terms of time preparing or working on the dough. The elapsed time is quite long because of the slow prove (which benefits the flavour etc) so some planning is required. I like to make the dough in a mid-evening, removing from the fridge in the morning when I get up. This allows me to bake the bread by about midday.
Ingredients
  • 350g strong bread flour
  • 150g Spelt wholemeal flour
  • 10g salt
  • 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 365g about room temperature water
Method
  1. Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl keeping the salt separate from the yeast. I put the yeast in first and the salt last and this works fine.
  2. Add the water.
  3. Baked bread showing crumb
    Baked bread showing crumb

    I use a dough hook on my Kitchenaid to mix it till it’s a decent dough, this only takes about 2-3 minutes. Otherwise, mix with the fingers of one hand till it is a dough and all the dry flour has been incorporated.

  4. Leave it for about 30-60 minutes at room temperature until it has risen by about 50%. It may take longer depending on temperature. This is the autolyse and helps the gluten and flavour.
  5. Now put it in the fridge to prove for about 8-12 hours. Overnight works for me.
  6. Remove from the fridge and knock the dough back into the bowl.
  7. Leave it out for about an hour in the morning. Then shape it. Tip it onto a well-floured work surface and create the shape you want by gently handling the dough. Then place on a well-floured baking sheet or into a dusted banetton to finally rise before baking. This will take an hour if warm or probably 2-3 hours if the dough was in the fridge, depending on the room temperature.
  8. Preheat your oven to the maximum temperature, usually about 250C (fan). If using a baking stone put it in at the beginning so it gets really hot. (Or you can bake in a Le Creuset, using it as a Dutch Oven)
  9. If not using a Dutch Oven approach, boil a kettle of water and put an empty dish in the bottom of the oven. A few minutes before you put the bread in the oven fill the dish with boiling water to create a moist atmosphere in the oven.
  10. Score the bread with a razor or sharp knife as you prefer before baking. I often leave uncut as the bread is very soft.
  11. Either place the baking sheet in the hot oven or gently put the loaf from your banetton on your hot baking stone (take the stone out of the oven to do this.) Turn the oven down to about 220C (fan)
  12. Bake for about 30-35 minutes. I like to have a darker crust so I turn the oven back to the maximum temperature for the last 5-8 minutes depending on colour before removing the loaf to a cooling rack.