Saturday, 4 October 2014

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are my favourite treats at the moment; they are simple to make, perfectly sized portions, and fun to customise with different flavours. This recipe creates a really soft and moist muffin which tastes fresh with subtle lemon and sweet-and-sour blueberries. It feels almost cleansing to eat a muffin compared with say a brownie, and while I love a gooey brownie, these are for the days when you want need something quick, simple and refreshing.
You don't need to worry about over mixing as with most muffin recipes, the batter is beaten for a few minutes to create a light texture. I actually adapted the recipe from a chocolate cake recipe which I like to use for muffins, and one day I started to make some and found I had to no cocoa powder. I decided to add lemon rind and blueberries and everyone really enjoyed them!

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 regular muffins
125g butter, softened
220g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
160ml water
250g self-raising flour
1 lemon, zest only
150g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
Making the muffins is quick and easy using an electric mixer: just weigh out the butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, water, flour and lemon zest and beat on slow until smooth, then turn the mixer to medium and beat until it has increased in volume and is light and fluffy. Wash the blueberries and toss in flour, to stop them sinking when baked, then stir into the mixture. Spoon even amounts of batter into the cupcake cases; I use an ice cream scoop for this. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. A good way to check if they're done is if a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Enjoy your delicious muffins fresh from the oven! Most muffins are best eaten on the day... but these are surprisingly still good on the next day.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Visit to National Trust Standen

First of all, I apologise (to any reader that has stuck around this long!) for the lack of posts. I'm planning to do a summer sewing review post so you can see what been keeping me so busy! And now...
This week we visited Standen, which is a beautiful late Victorian house and gardens in Sussex. (Yes, on a weekday... the joys of homeschooling!) I used to quite dislike trailing around old houses and gardens which all looked the same to me, but in recent years I've come to love visiting National Trust properties. I hadn't used my camera for a while so decided to bring it along and I was pleased because there were lots of lovely photo opportunities. The sun was shining and I was able to learn a bit more about using manual setting on the camera. First we went to the kitchen garden, which was full of produce and beautiful flowers.

Flowers in the kitchen garden, it was fun to experiment with focus.

I was really pleased to take photos of the large white butterfly and wasp because I've been trying to get a close-ups like this for ages and never succeeded!

We went for a walk to other parts of the garden, including the orchard which had beehives, and my sister pointed this beautiful butterfly out to me. I'm trying to work out what species it is.

Fresh flowers and vegetables from the kitchen garden for sale.

We had a guided 'taster' tour of the house which was very interesting as we learnt about the Beale family who lived here, Philip Webb the architect who designed much of the interior as well, and Morris & Co. which designed much of the wallpapers and other furnishings. I really liked to rather unusual style from the Arts & Crafts movement combined with the feeling that it was a family home. I went back to take some pictures:

The billiard room, where the men got together on wet days.

Some of the crockery on display in the dining room.

All the bedrooms we saw had their own dressing rooms.

I liked the colours of this bathroom. There were only two bathrooms in the house, most people used a tin bath in their bedrooms.

Mrs. Beale and her daughters embroidered this fine screen from a Morris & Co. kit.

An example of the wallpapers in the house.

After a picnic we relaxed in the garden. This is the back of the house, and you can see the sandstone blocks which came from a quarry on the large estate. Also the lovely flowers everywhere!

As you can tell I really enjoyed the day out and loved the house and gardens, especially learning about the design element. Please comment if you enjoyed reading, and let me know what you think the red butterfly is!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Chocolate and Cranberry Bunt Cake {recommended recipe}

Recently I was pleased to receive a bunt cake tin from a friend, especially as I've seen so many beautiful ideas on pinterest. I found this recipe from All recipes UK but as it makes such a large cake I saved the idea until I had a crowd to feed! The recipe uses a lot of ingredients... 6 eggs in fact, but makes a very soft, moist chocolate cake which looks very impressive. I think the tin is this one from lakeland, it's very large, sturdy, and the cake came out well.

Mum suggested I add dried cranberries when we saw them in the shop, and I really liked the sweetness and texture pop that they added. I used all of an 150g bag of dried cranberries and drizzled 150g white chocolate over the top. Next time I'll try to use a better quality chocolate, and improve my drizzling. The cake stayed warm for quite a while, which made it even more pleasurable to eat but a bit more crumbly to slice. Everyone really liked the taste of the cake, and it looks pretty impressive so if you are making cake for a crowd, I would recommend the Chocolate Bunt Cake recipe.