Strawberry and white chocolate muffins

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 1My love affair with strawberries is still very much in swing, as evidenced by these strawberry and white chocolate muffins that I made a few weeks ago. I reckon I’ve probably eaten about 2kg of lovely British strawberries so far this summer… it’s a good job they’re healthy, isn’t it?!

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 3
I was lazy and found a recipe online to use, rather than adapting one of my existing ones. I used vanilla extract rather than a vanilla pod and chopped up a white chocolate bar instead of using buttons (I actually think the recipe can stand a bit more chocolate, to be honest).

I don’t think these are quite as rich as they could be (I found the mix to be fairly runny rather than nice and thick), but they’re still delicious thanks to the use of fresh, in-season strawberries.

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 2
I did find that I had to bake these for a lot longer than the recipe said, which made me worry that they would turn out all tough and horrible, but I kept a beady eye on them and took them out of the oven as soon as they looked lightly browned on top.

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 4
The muffins were wonderfully soft and fruity, and went down a treat in my perpetually sugar-starved office, which is always nice!

Now, confession time: I’ve been in a bit of baking slump recently. I think I overstretched myself a while back when I did three lots of baking in a week… oops.

I’m also trying to get a handle on my eating habits while I recover from a hip/lower back injury I sustained in the Manchester 10k back in May. I haven’t been for a run since June and my waistline definitely knows it.

I’m going through physio at the moment, which seems to be going well, so hopefully I’ll be back on the baking wagon before long. No doubt the Cake Olympics (AKA Great British Bake Off) will whet my appetite for cakes again and I’ll be desperate to get the oven on come the 24th!

So if it’s a bit quiet around here, you’ll know why, but I might pop up with a curry recipe or something at some point!

Strawberry and coconut flapjacks

Strawberry and coconut flapjacksWe’re well and truly into summer fruits season, which suits me down to the ground because it means I get to gorge on beautiful British strawberries for the next few months! I’m normally perfectly happy to just eat them on their own, but I decided to put them in a bake last week and came up with these strawberry and coconut flapjacks.

Strawberry and coconut flapjacks
I used a recipe I’ve previously used to make blueberry flapjacks, swapping the berries and adding some dessicated coconut. The recipe makes for a fairly chewy flapjacks, as opposed to a sturdier one, but you could leave them in the oven for a bit longer if you prefer them to have a harder texture.

Strawberry and coconut flapjacks
Baking with strawberries is always a bit weird – because they’re quite wet, they have a tendency to go mushy very quickly. Thankfully, they seemed to stay fairly intact in these flapjacks, but you do still need to eat them up within a couple of days before they turn your flapjacks into a sort of cold porridge!

Strawberry and coconut flapjacks
The flapjacks were delicious – the strawberry flavour really came through and made what are otherwise fairly autumnal flapjacks nice and summery!

I think I could have added some more coconut, as the flavour was very subtle, so my recipe below accounts for this and ups the quantity of dessicated coconut from what I used. You may need to add a little more butter/syrup to make sure it holds together sufficiently – see how well the mix holds together in the pan before you transfer it to the tin.

Strawberry and coconut flapjacks

Strawberry and coconut flapjacks recipe

Adapted from this Vegetarian Living recipe

Makes 12 large or 16 small flapjacks

  • 150g butter
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 275g rolled oats
  • 75g dessicated coconut
  • 125g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a shallow 20cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat, stirring regularly. Add the lemon zest and stir.
  3. Stir in the oats and dessicated coconut.
  4. Gently fold in the strawberries.If the mix looks like it won’t hold together, add a little more melted butter and golden syrup.
  5. Turn the mix into the tin, level the top, and press the mixture evenly and firmly into the corners of the tin with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then cut into 12 or 16 pieces while the flapjacks are still warm.
  8. Cool completely before turning the flapjacks out and cutting again with a sharp knife.

Strawberry yoghurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing
This is my first post about something I’ve baked in well over a month… crazy! I got back on to the baking wagon in fine style the other week with this strawberry yoghurt cake with lemon drizzle icing, which I decided to make thanks to some leftover strawberries that were practically begging me to bake with them.

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

I decided to use this recipe because I’m a sucker for a cake recipe that has that something extra to create a lovely, rich texture – it was yoghurt in this case, but buttermilk and soured cream are just as fantastic. I made sure to use full-fat yoghurt here, as low-fat yoghurt lacks the richness that makes a cake truly special.

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

The cake was brilliantly easy to make, although I did have to leave it in the oven for a bit longer than the recipe said. I also added a little lemon zest to the cake mix to add some extra tang. And you can never have too much lemon!

Strawberry yogurt cake with lemon drizzle icing

The texture of this cake was BEAUTIFUL – soft, moist and oh so addictive. I’m slightly ashamed to say that two of us demolished the cake in just two days (although I only had a quarter of it!). We just couldn’t stop eating it.

I’d highly recommend making this cake if you want a teatime treat that makes the most of our wonderful British strawberries while they’re in season. You won’t regret it!

The recipe

Can be found on Cider With Rosie here: http://www.ciderwithrosie.com/2014/05/fresh-strawberry-yoghurt-cake-with-lemon-glaze/

Ultimate Victoria sponge AKA why the WI is wrong

Victoria sponge with fresh strawberries

I’m the kind of person who easily gets a bee in her bonnet about seemingly small things. People walking slightly too slowly in front of me, misplaced apostrophes, sales assistants who place my change directly on top of the receipt before handing it to me instead of giving me the change and receipt separately… they all annoy me. However, I’m sure we can all agree that cake is NOT a small thing. Especially the matter of how to make a Victoria sponge ‘properly’.

I’ve always made it in what I firmly believe to be the only way you should – two airy sponges sandwiched with something creamy and something fruity (ideally buttercream and strawberry jam respectively, but anything else that’s creamy and fruity is fine). So I was aghast when I learned that the Women’s Institute, that veritable paragon of ‘proper’ baking, tells impressionable bakers who may not know any better to forgo the ‘something creamy’.

I hasten to add that they do this as standard in their recipe, but then add a note saying to use cream on a “special luxurious occasion”. My response to this is…. NO. A Victoria sponge without a lovely layer of creaminess isn’t worth having, special occasion or not. What on earth is meant to offset the airy sponge and sweet fruit if not something creamy? Where’s the FUN?

Victoria sponge with fresh strawberries

Butter. Cream.

I’m not the only one who feels this way – I was heartened to read that Felicity Cloake of the Guardian also agrees with me (and in fact she pretty much sticks her tongue out at the WI by adding double cream to her buttercream), as does Great British Bake Off series 2 winner Edd Kimber. Unfortunately, the unofficial patron saint of British bakers Mary Berry confuses things by posting a cream-free recipe on her website along with a photo of a cake bursting quite rudely with cream.

If anyone has an argument for doing it the WI way, other than the frankly rubbish argument that you consume fewer calories, I’m all ears. But I’ll still do it the right way.

Victoria sponge with fresh strawberries

JUST LOOK AT THE CREAMY JOY

Now that I have my rant out of the way, here’s a Victoria sponge I made recently. I gave it a little twist by adding sliced fresh strawberries to the filling of buttercream and not as much strawberry jam as usual, and it was bloody lovely, even if I do say so myself. It’s just the perfect summer cake and one that’s quite timely if you’re planning to bake it in the next few days, as it just so happens to be National Afternoon Tea Week. That obviously doesn’t matter if you don’t need an excuse to take afternoon tea, like the Queen, who has it daily. And why the hell not?

The recipe

Adapted from this BBC Good Food recipe.

Makes 1 cake that can be cut into 8 or 10 pieces

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the buttercream filling (or use whipped double cream):

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 110g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 drops vanilla extract

For the fruit:

  • handful of sliced strawberries (or any other summer berries)
  • 1 tbsp strawberry jam (or any other berry jam)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 5/190C/fan 170C. Grease and line the bases of two 20cm round cake tins.
  2. Put all of the cake ingredients into a big bowl and beat until smooth. That’s it!
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and level the tops.
  4. Bake the cakes on the same shelf of the oven, if possible, for 20 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch. Cool the cakes on a wire rack.
  5. Make the buttercream (if using) by beating the icing sugar into the butter a bit at a time, before stirring in the vanilla extract.
  6. Spread half of the buttercream on one side of one of the cooled sponges and press the sliced strawberries into the buttercream.
  7. Spread one side of the other sponge with the jam and top with the remaining buttercream.
  8. Sandwich the two cakes together so that the filling is all in the middle. Sift icing sugar over the top to decorate.

First bake: strawberry layer cake

Strawberry layer cakeI absolutely love fresh strawberries, but have never really baked with them that often. I decided to rectify that recently by making this tempting strawberry layer cake – the perfect summer bake for those rare occasions when the sun’s out!

I adapted a recipe I found elsewhere on the web for strawberry and vanilla cake to make this. I replaced the vanilla bean paste with vanilla extract and didn’t cover the entire cake in the icing, as I didn’t have the time or the fridge space for it! I also swapped the cream cheese in the icing for mascarpone, as that’s all I had (annoyingly, it was the other way round for the citrus poppy seed cake I made a few weeks ago!).

Strawberry layer cakeI loved the resulting cake – the almonds worked really well in the sponge and the fresh strawberries in the middle were lovely. I was a bit dubious about including jam in the middle, but it actually worked well by adding some extra sweetness.

This is a fairly similar recipe to the raspberry and lemon layer cake I made last month – both are perfect for the summer and you can swap the berries for pretty much any other fresh summer fruit if you don’t have strawberries or raspberries to hand!

The recipe

From the Roswensian blog – http://roswensian.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/vanilla-strawberry-cake/