Easy Pear & Chocolate Cupcakes

Hi there!  I’ve been playing with my camera this week and had a hankering for a spot of baking so made a wee video of my favourite fail safe bakes.  You literally cannot go wrong with these wee buns – even if you overfill the cases or cook them for a little too long (as I did!)

The secret to keeping them deliciously moist is to glaze them with a drop of warm honey when they are just out of the oven. The honey seals in the moisture so that they don’t turn into frisbees on day two.  Hurrah!

Here are the ingredients you need to make 12 cupcakes:

115g / 4oz soft tub margarine

115g / 4oz light soft brown sugar

2 eggs

100g / 3 1/2oz self-raising flour, sifted

1/2tsp baking powder

2tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

4 canned pear halves, drained and sliced

2tbsp runny honey, warmed

(*I also add 1tsp vanilla extract.  I think it enhances the flavour – let me know if you agree!)

Method

* Preheat your oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.  Put your bun cases in your bun tray.

* Put your margarine, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, cocoa powder (and vanilla extract) into a large bowl and beat together with an electric whisk until just smooth, (ie. a minute or two.)

* Spoon the mixture into your bun cases and smooth the tops.  Try not to overfill – ideally you want to be able to see the pear sitting on top after baking but it’s not a disaster if they slide down into the mixture.

* Arrange two pear slices on top of each cupcake.

* Bake in your preheated oven until cooked, (around 20 minutes), before transferring to a wire rack.

* I put a bread board under the rack as the next stage can get a bit dribbly!

If you have a pastry brush use it to glaze each bun with a little of your warmed honey.  (I warmed mine in the microwave in 10 second bursts – careful not to boil it by leaving it in too long).  If you don’t have a pastry brush a teaspoon will do rightly.  Allow to cool.

* Pop the kettle on and make a nice cuppa.

* Enjoy the fruits of your labour.  Quality control is very important in baking!

Don’t forget you can win some delicious Titanic Tea and a whole host of other prizes by following my blog via WordPress or Bloglovin’ – both buttons are at the top, right hand side of this post.  The giveaway closes this Sunday 25th January and the winner will be picked at random and announced here on the blog so make sure you check back to see if you’re a winner!

What are your favourite bakes?  Why not share them in the comments below – the easier the better!

Have a great start to your week!
L xx

A nod to The Great British Bake Off

It’s that time of year again when we shun the last of the early evening sunshine in favour of snuggling up on the sofa and willfully thigh-expanding in front of the television.  There’s a hint of cinammon in the air, a floury residue on counter tops and a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing when it comes to sampling the fruits of your labour.  I am of course talking about The Great British Bake Off.  It started from its new, prime time home of BBC 1 last night.  Sadly I missed it but my lovely flatmate series linked it so we can all enjoy a weekend Bake Off binge in the not too distant future. If you’ve never seen it before, take a peek at the trailer below.  If you’re an emotional eater like me you need to watch this programme!  There are highs, lows and tastings laced with salty tears of some of the UK’s finest amateur bakers.  I love it and judging by the hysteria on my Facebook newsfeed yesterday I’m not alone.

 

 

Now I know my limitations in the kitchen,  (don’t expect too many breathtaking bake pics from me on this blog) but I am good with flavours.  This week I had some over-ripe bananas that needed using up and my flatmate sent me this great Sophie Dahl recipe to try.  I adapted it a little and chucked in walnuts, chia seeds, 2 tbsp raw cacao powder and a good tsp of cinammon at the very end and it turned out to be totally delicious!

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I also swapped the flour for gluten free self-raising flour and topped it off with little pearl sugars I bought in Scandinavian Kitchen.  I’m working my way up to using them on cinnamon buns I hope to make when the weather cools a little.

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The results speak for themselves: perfectly moist, even a couple of days after baking.  If you find that your bread is baking too fast on the outside but taking a little longer to catch up inside then cover with some tin foil in the last 5 or 10 minutes of baking to the stop from burning and ensure the inside bakes properly.

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Best enjoyed warm with a slather of butter and a cup of tea.xx

 

Festive baking with a savoury twist

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All this running around ahead of Christmas works up quite an appetite. Pair that will the natural gluttony of the season and it can be handy to just reach for something sweet to give me a quick boost. I never thought I’d say this but I think I may have peaked too soon on the chocolate front and am starting to flag! I came across a recipe for cheddar and cranberry cupcakes I thought I’d give it a go. I’m glad I did!

Cranberries are everywhere at the moment and if you are a regular baker you’ll probably have the rest of the ingredients already in your larder or fridge. My first attempt came out pretty well so I’m hoping they’ll taste even better the more I make them. If you can’t find fresh cranberries you can use frozen ones – no need to thaw them first – although you’ll probably come across these easier once the season ends. The festive jewels add a tartness to this normally sweet treat and the cheese comes through more and more with each bite. Really tasty for a weekend breakfast or when you’re just craving something savoury.

Here’s how to make them. You’ll need:

2 cups / 300g plain flour
2/3 cup / 155g firmly packed soft brown sugar – I used light brown
1/2 cup / 60g finally grated cheddar (Tip: Make sure your cheese is really cold. This will make it easier to grate. If you’ve got room, stick it in the freezer for about 15-20 mins before you want to use it. I didn’t do this and it was a real pain in the bum!)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp all spice
pinch of ground cayenne pepper – I totally forgot this and it still tasted lovely so if you’re not a spice fan just leave this out
1 1/4 cup / 310ml buttermilk or natural yogurt
1/4 cup / 60g butter, melted
1 egg, separated
1 cup / 155g washed fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries

How to:

* Preheat your oven to 200°C / Gas Mark 6 / 400°F. Lightly grease a standard 12-hole bun tin or line with paper cases. ( NB: I found the mixture actually stretched to make 22 buns)

* In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients – flour, sugar, cheese, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices. Stir until well blended and make a well in the middle.

* In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt and egg yolk. In another small bowl beat the egg white until soft peaks form.

* Pour the buttermilk mixture into the well and, using a fork, stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t overmix it – you ought to have a lumpy mixture. Then fold in the egg white and cranberries. You are best using a spoon or plastic spatula for this rather than the fork.

* Spoon the batter into the holes or paper cases until each one is about 2/3 full, allowing the buns space to rise. Bake for around 20mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Another way to test if they are ready is by gently pressing your finger in on the middle of the bun. Your bun should bounce back. If it sinks they need to go back in the oven.

* Transfer your buns to a wire rack and allow them to cool. Enjoy warm or cold.

If you’ve cranberries left over why not make yourself a festive liqueur? Admittedly you can’t drink it straight away but if you’re planning to give up alcohol for January you can look forward to this tipple in February. All you need is 500g cranberries, 1 bottle of vodka, 2 cinnamon sticks, 500g sugar and this recipe.

Cheers!xx

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