Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

At the beginning of the year I had a target in mind about what I wanted to achieve this year regarding my blog and how it can grow. The number one target for me was the consistency of blog entries after realising the number of entries dropped off last year and I want to aim to at least equal the number of posts from 2011. My second target is to include more recipes and tutorials or at least share my experiences and how I go there so others can try them out too. I realised today is the last day of the month and I could easily squeeze in another entry in for January…. Go me!

I love rhubarb and I never use it as much as I like (though at £3 for a 400g bunch at Sainsbury’s, it is not the cheapest ingredient), so when I saw this recipe on BBC Good Food claiming it was only 213 calories per muffin it seemed to good to be true. I also decided to check the calories on the Calorie Count Recipe Analyser to see how many calories it amounted to on their data and as I had made 16 instead of 12, the calorie total came to 166! Amazing - a perfect January treat.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins 

Makes 12

  175g caster sugar
    175g rhubarb, halved lengthways then diced
    2 tbsp sunflower oil
    1 free range egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    125ml buttermilk
    200g plain flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Crumble Topping
    50g light muscovado sugar
    50g plain flour
    25g porridge oats
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    50g butter

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases. Or I used slighty smaller cases, i.e. fairy cake size to make 16.

Stir the sugar and rhubarb together and set aside while you make the crumble topping.

Mix together the muscovado sugar with the flour, oats and cinnamon, then rub in the butter until clumpy with your fingertips.

Stir the oil and egg, vanilla and buttermilk into the sugary rhubarb (don't worry if it's a little bit juicy). Now, add the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and stir well.

Quickly spoon into the cases, then scatter each with a thick layer of the crumble mixture. Bake for 15-18 mins until golden and a cocktail stick poked into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Happy Baking x

Hazelnut Praline Muffins

For Lulu my bestie, she requested a selection of muffins for her workmates to enjoy on her birthday in December. I was tasked with three types of muffins and Lulu came over and helped me baked them. I haven't made muffins for a very long time so it was fun to finally make some. They are also quicker to make, as you don't have to make icing and decorate them, which was a nice change. I thought I had taken pictures off all three flavours, but I seemed to have misplaced them.

The recipe by name is a little misleading, as you don't actually make praline. I always thought praline was a process of making sugar syrup and then adding nuts and after a quick look on Wiki I was right. However, I guess the name is loosely tied into the fact that some of the sugar is sprinkled on top of the muffins right before baking along with chopped hazelnuts, which does give a lovely crunch to the top of the muffin and we all love a good muffin top... on our cakes of course!

Hazelnut Praline Muffins
  recipe by The Hummingbird Bakery - Cake Days

Makes about 10-12

300g plain flour
145g caster sugar (split into 115g & 30g)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large free range eggs
85g unsalted butter, melted
150g chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
30g hazelnuts, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line muffin tin with paper cases.
In your mixer or a large bowl, sift together flour, 115g (4 oz) of caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In a separate jug, pour in the milk, vanilla extract and eggs and whisk by hand with a balloon whisk.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid into the well and mix together on a slow speed until combined and then add in the melted butter and mix again until all incorporated.

Finally add 80g of the chocolate spread and mix thoroughly.

Spoon this batter into muffin cases so that they are about a quarter full. Then add a teaspoon of chocolate spread to each muffin case, then top up the remaining batter so that each muffin case is about 2/3 full.

Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts and remaining sugar over the top of the muffin batter. It will seem like a LOT of sugar, but as the recipe says, it does give it a nice crunchy top.

Bake for about 25-30 mins, or until muffins are well risen and bounce back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool slightly in tin before transferring to a wire rack.

Happy Baking x

Triple Chocolate Fantasy Cake

Lately I have been getting a few more cake orders which I really love as I find them much more of a challenge than cupcakes (though I can't seem to master red velvet.. grrr). This order was for the sister of my friend Emma for her birthday in December. The order was for a chocolate cake and I decided to try and find a recipe in one of my many recipe books that I had not tried before and this cake from the Leon: Baking & Puddings recipe book was the winner.

Triple Chocolate Fantasy Cake

 Serves 12-25
200g vegetable oil
400g light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 free range eggs
125ml natural yoghurt
80g cocoa powder
100ml boiling water
280g plain flour
1 1/5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar
4-5 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g cocoa powder

4 tablespoons apricot jam
2 Crunchie bars, crumbled
Edible glitter

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease two 23cm cake tins and line with baking paper.

Whisk together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the yoghurt and mix well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth.

Scrape the cocoa paste into the egg mixture and combine into a smooth batter.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and beat into the cake mixture just until incorporated.

Pour equal amounts into the cake tins and bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.

To make the icing. Beat the butter until fluffy, and then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add the boiling water and vanilla extract and beat for 3 minutes.

Add the cocoa powder and beat until fluffy.

To assemble, split the cakes into 2 layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate and spread it with some of the apricot jam. Cover with a tablespoon of chocolate icing and** follow with another layer of sponge. Repeat with the remaining layers then ice the top and sides with the rest of the icing.

Decorate with crumbled Crunchie bars and edible glitter.

**you could also add some of the crushed Crunchie Bar at this point between the layers.

From all reports the cake went down well, my only comment would be that the recipe calls for 2 Crunchie bars which are intended for the top of the cake for decoration. If you have a look at my picture you can see the top is completely covered which only required 1 Crunchie bar. 

 It was until I had finished that I read the tips at the end which say you can also put bits of crumbled Crunchie in between the layers which I would love to do if I make this cake again. Also it would have saved me from munching on the "left over bar" and then feeling slightly ill. I'll never learn. 

Happy Baking x 

Maple Pecan Cupcakes

It appears we a right in the middle of winter now with the promise of more snow this weekend in London which I am very excited about. Ever since I moved close to Regents Park I have been excited by the thought of seeing it covered in snow. Its such a beautiful park in the summer and I bet its even more beautiful covered in the winter, covered in snow.


he last couple of months most of my baking orders have consisted of carrot cake cupcakes, chocolate Guinness cupcakes, carrot cupcakes, chocolate Guinness cupcakes... you get the picture. So it was a
nice change to be asked to bake some Maple and Pecan Cupcakes. I had a look around the interwebs at a few baking websites and the recipes all seemed to stem from this original website by Paula Deen and I just loved the idea of actually having some on the chopped pecans in the icing.

Maple Pecan Cupcakes

adapted from Paula Deen 

Makes 16

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely crushed pecans
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup roughly chopped pecans

1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
Pinch salt
3 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a stand mixer combine together flour, crushed pecans, baking powder,
bicarbonate of soda, and salt.

in the sugar and maple syrup and mix until fully combined.

Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed for three minutes. 


Add in the eggs and vanilla and stir. And then add the milk until just combined.


Fold in the chopped pecans.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.

To make the icing:

elt two tablespoons of butter in a small frying pan over medium-low heat.

Add pecans and salt to the pan and cook for six to eight minutes, stirring periodically, until almost all of the butter is absorbed. Remove from heat, but leave in the pan.

In your mixer, add the remaining one cup of butter on medium-low speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy.

Slowly mix in the icing sugar and vanilla an beat until fully combined.

Scrape the cooled pecans and any butter left in the pan and add to the icing and fold in.

Spread onto cooled cupcakes with a pallet knife.

Luckily they made 16 cupcakes which left me (and Pete) one to enjoy the next day for afternoon tea.

Happy Baking x

Pinwheel Cupcakes

Winter has finally arrived in London, its down to 2/3 degrees and yesterday it finally snowed! Despite living in London for nearly 6 years now, I still get excited when it snows, much to the amusement of my work colleagues. How can you not love it; it’s so pretty. However within about an hour it did warm up slightly, the snow was now rain, and it was a little less fun to be outside. I don't care, I still love it.

After attending the Cake Pop and Christmas Cookie Decorating classes at the Make Lounge last year, I have been trying to expand my decorating skills. So when I saw these cute sugar paste pinwheels by A Baked Creation I really wanted to give it a go. A year ago, I would not have even tried, but the instructions didn't seem that hard at all, and I was right.

How cute are they?

Happy Baking x

Coffee & Walnut Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing

Today is the first 'official' day of New Years Resolutions as everyone is generally too hungover to think about eating green salad on the 1st January (unless its on a KFC burger). So how are they coming along?

I myself don't have any big goals this year, only to put more recipes on the blog as in the past I've generally been too lazy. However I did risk going to the gym today on my lunch break and just as I thought not a single treadmill/cross trainer/bike was free. It was a far cry from the gym this time last week, but luckily (for me) most people will give up next week and I can go back to my normal gym routine.

In the meantime, here are some cupcakes I made over the Christmas period which I had not got around to blogging about, complete with recipe ;). These are great for anyone who loves coffee cake and you can adjust the amount of coffee essence you use to make it to your liking.

Coffee & Walnut Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing

Makes 12

Prep 10 mins + Cook 20 mins

100g butter, softened
100g light muscovado sugar
100g self-raising flour
2 large free range eggs
3 tsp Camp coffee essence
25g walnut halves, chopped

200ml tub mascarpone
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
12 walnut halves
1 tsp Camp coffee essence

Heat oven to 180C and line a 12 hole tin with fairy cake cases.

Beat together the butter, sugar, flour and eggs with the Camp coffee essence and a pinch of salt until creamy.


Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Spoon the mix into the cases and bake for 18-20 mins until light golden and springy.

Cool for a few minutes in the tin and then cool completely on a rack.

To make the icing; put the mascarpone, Camp coffee essence and the sugar into a large bowl and beat together.

Once cooled, spread a dollop of the coffee cream onto the top of each cake, then finish with a walnut half.

Happy Baking x

New Years Day Cleansing Juice

Happy New Years Day everyone!!!

I bet there are some sore heads this morning. Not sure how it happened, but Pete and I managed to stay at home for NYE and have a quiet one... with no booze. Though I did find a whisky bottle open on the coffee table  this morning so I think Pete must have been sleep drinking again.

We did spend the morning of New Years Eve feeling a bit hungover from the party the night before at Buttoned Down Disco's F**K NYE party and decided a hangover juice with Pete's new juicer would do the trick. 

First, you need a juicer.

Then add 4 apples, 230g peeled honeydew melon, half a cucumber and 75g watercress. 

And your done... hangover cured! Well not completely but it does give you back  some of those essential vitamins you are probably lacking from all the booze the night before. 

Happy (Juicing) Baking and all the best for 2013 x