Muffin Traybake

So I found the muffin tins eventually, they were in mother-in-law’s garage (long story). Going back to the last post though, I did make the blueberry muffins, in the baking tray I was raving about, and it turned out to be a brilliant idea! The all-in-one traybake format was much quicker and easier than faffing around with paper cases or greasing muffin cups, and it was easier to mark out different portion sizes – very helpful for people like not-so-small-boy, who being diabetic, has to carb count.

Ways to use your traybake muffin:

  • cut it into lots of small pieces for a party
  • serve with custard or cream for dessert
  • something a bit different for breakfast
  • elevenses

I suppose you could use any muffin recipe you liked, but here is the one I used, as usual based on a Susan Reimer recipe. The addition of buttermilk makes these muffins particularly soft and moreish.

Forgive the quality of the photos, I haven’t unpacked my props or digital camera yet!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

  • 8oz (240g) plain flour
  • 2oz (60g) oats
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 4oz (120g) golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3floz (85ml) olive oil
  • 9floz (260ml) buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • small punnet of blueberries (typically 150g)

Optional glaze:

  • 3oz (90g) sifted icing sugar
  • around 3tbsp double cream (you could use milk instead)

Grease and line either a 30×20 cm traybake tin or a 12 cup muffin tray. Preheat the oven to 190°c / gas mark 5.

Wash the blueberries and cut in half, I know it’s fiddly but you’ll get a better result than leaving them whole.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, beat together the egg, oil, vanilla and buttermilk. Add the blueberries to the wet ingredients.

Tip the wet stuff into the dry and stir (NOT beat) until combined. Pour the mixture into the baking tray or divide between the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins, untill the top is golden brown. If you used a baking tray, allow to cool in the tray for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack, otherwise you risk it splitting into lots of hot, steaming chunks.

Make the glaze by gradually adding the cream to the icing sugar and mixing till smooth and spreadable. It’s hard to be accurate with the liquid measurement, depending on how runny the cream is, you might need a bit more or a bit less. Spread over the muffins while hot. Cut into slices once cool.
Blueberries need to be grown in an acid rather than alkaline soil.

Fast Food

Why are all the spam comments I get, about “cheap football jerseys”? Why would a thirty something English woman blogging about food be remotely interested in or inclined to approve dodgy websites selling knock off American Football shirts? Weird.

Still, supposing you want to watch some mind numbingly dull sporting event on telly, and it happens to be tea time. Maybe you’ve invited a few chums over to join you? Here’s a couple of quick, easy and not too healthy treats that are sure to go down well.

“Hamburger” With Tomato and Gherkin Relish

ham burger

  • a ham or gammon joint
  • a burger bun, fried egg and slice of pineapple for each person
  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 5 to 10 gherkins depending on how big they are, chopped into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning

Cook the ham. I prefer to slow cook, using cola/ Dr Pepper/ rootbeer as the cooking liquid.

To make the relish, cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and put into a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar, a generous pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Mix well, then add the olive oil, gherkins and chives.

Fry the eggs, toast the buns and cut a generous slice of ham for each person. Fill each bun with a slice of ham, a pineapple ring and a fried egg. Serve the relish on the side.

gerkin salsaSadly, I forgot to take any proper photos of this next one, we were too busy eating!

Bacon Cheeseburger Bomb

burger bomb

Makes about 8

  • a batch of pizza dough ( )
  • 500g beef mince
  • streaky bacon
  • Swiss cheese or mild cheddar or processed cheese slices
  • gherkin slices
  • tomato sauce or a tomato burger relish
  • a beaten egg
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling

Make the dough.

Gently fry the mince with a little oil, until cooked. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of Worcestershire or Tobasco sauce. Allow to cool.

Cook the bacon until crispy. Preheat the oven to 190ºc/ 170 fan/ gas mark 4

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a  6 inch/ 15cm disc.

Put a heaped spoonful of beef, a slice of cheese, a slice of bacon (cut in half), a few slices of gherkin and a blob of sauce inthe centre of each disc.

Wet the edges of the dough and bring them together, squeezing the edges until sealed. Pop the burger bombs on a baking sheet. Brush with beaten eggs and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the oven until nicely browned on top. I can’t remember how long it took, so keep an eye on them!

Get your mates to bring the brewskies. Go team!



Afternoon Tea – How much to serve

So how much food do you need to prepare?

First of all, is your tea party replacing a meal or is it just an afternoon event? If you are replacing lunch or having an early tea then you will need savouries, if just an afternoon event you can leave then out if you want to.

I advise keeping it simple. For a family of 2-4 I would suggest 1 plate of sandwiches or other savoury, 1 cake and 1 plate of scones or pastries. There will be plenty of leftovers for snacks or lunchboxes the next day.

For 5-8 people make two types of sandwiches and two cakes. Remember that the more people there are the more likely it is that somebody will not like something (my eldest son does not like raisins for example) so it makes sense to have a choice.

9+ I suggest two lots of sandwiches, a savoury pastry, two types of cake, an extra sweet and enough scones to allow at least one per person, though two would be better. A lot depends on who you are inviting, small children and the elderly tend not to eat much, teenagers and husbands tend to eat a lot. So you may want to add or take away from this suggestion depending on who expect to attend.

Our last large tea party included three elderly ladies, three teenagers and four small children in addition to five adults. I served 2 large cakes, 2 large plates of sandwiches, sausage rolls, 2 plates of scones and a plate of macarons. The savouries were all eaten but there was some cake and a few scones left at the end.

Why Afternoon Tea?

Why not??!! We could just leave it there…but

  • It doesn’t take the preparation that a dinner party does.
  • It’s in the afternoon, when everyone has gone home you still have the evening for other stuff.
  • If you’re not keen on cooking you can always buy cakes and pastries or get guests to bring a contribution.
  • As a relaxed and informal way of entertaining it’s great for getting to know people such as neighbours or mums at the school gate. It’s also ideal for children and the elderly who may not have the energy for an evening meal or who need to be in bed early. Also elderly ones are usually not invited out very often so they really appreciate a social invitation they can manage.
  • All of the food can be prepared in advance leaving the host/hostess time to chat to guests.
  • CAKE
  • Its fun to make your own family traditions.
  • More cake etc.

Why not start planning your tea party today?

The June 2010 issue of Country Living magazine featured the “Bring Back Tea Time” campaign (really worth reading if you can get a copy). The article “Make Time For Tea” summed up nicely the reasons why we as a family had decided to host an annual spring cream tea (now in it’s 8th year) Here is a link to the online version of the bring back tea time campaign:

BCBO: Chocolate party showstopper

Following small boy’s brief that a chocolate party cake should have “booze in it and be covered in sweets” (which caused eldest son great annoyance, as he disapproves of small boy using the word booze) I present you with the Irish cream chocolate fudge cake. Topped with handmade boozy truffles, sprinkles and flaky chocolate:creamfudge1I simply replaced the sour cream in my favourite chocolate fudge cake with a budget brand of Irish Cream liqueur. You could use good quality bought truffles on top, but don’t forget the sprinkles for the right level of kitsch-chic!

My Little Brony

Brony: A fan of My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic who is outside of the “target demographic” (i.e. not an eight year old girl) Usually male aged 15-30.

Do you know a brony? Are you related to one? Maybe YOU are the kind of pony every pony should know? Some find an adult obsessed with a program for little girls creepy or disturbing (and let’s face it some of them are) but if you think about it there are worse obsessions for a young man to have, drugs/guns/pornography/famous serial killers. I knew a guy at college who was totally obsessed with Jack the Ripper, surely pastel coloured ponies giving lessons on friendship and being nice are the healthier option. I was skeptical to begin with having never been into “soppy girly stuff” as a child, but the revamped program is actually very good. The makers wanted to make sure that parents were entertained as well, as watching some programs with your child can be a chore (I can’t be in the same room as Mr Tumble) They made it so good though, it has spawned a whole sub culture based on the program.

Why not throw a party for your favourite brony, there is so much scope for invention!

I have a brony, sometimes I kinda am one too. Taking inspiration from the “mane six” (Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Twilight Sparkle) and their colours, we arranged a surprise tea party for Eldest Son.

*Rainbow Dash Salad: mixed leaves, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, grated carrot, and yellow pepper.rainbow dash saladSweet Apple Acres punch: Fill a large glass jug one third full with a mango based smoothie, add another third of cloudy apple juice, top up with strong cider (or a fizzy apple drink such as Tango). At the last minute add a swirl of grenadine syrup.

Fluttershy’s Cupcakes: A lemon cupcake iced with yellow buttercream and butterfly sprinkles.fluttershy cupcakesPinkie Pie’s: Individual tartlets filled with a pink grasshopper pie fillingpinkie pie piesRarity’s jewel biscuits: Diamond shaped biscuits with a center made from boiled sweets (like a stained glass cookie)rarityTwilight’s healthy muffins: An oatmeal muffin with a blueberry cheesecake filling and topping.blueberry muff

And some very special guests: Madame Le Fleur, Mr Turnip, Rocky and Sir Lintsalotbrony guest

*All recipes also suitable for eight year old girls (minus the cider)