Category Archives: Cakes and Muffins

Blueberry Muffins – A holiday memory

Yesterday, Indira asked if we could bake blueberry muffins today.

Never having noticed before that she is fond of this variety of muffins, I was curious as to the reason she wanted to make them.

She told me that she loves the muffins they serve for breakfast  on the flight from Nice to Zurich – we almost always  fly on Swiss, when we travel back each year to India – and that it is always a blueberry muffin.

So we picked up fresh blueberries in Carrefour yesterday and made these cupcakes today in the morning for breakfast.

Blueberry Muffins

125-150 g of fresh blueberries

1 and 3/4 cups of flour (all-purpose or whole wheat or semi-wholewheat)

1/2 a cup of sugar

1/4 cup of softened butter

1 tbsp of baking powder

3/4 cup of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Wash and dry the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, the baking powder and the salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and whisk everything together.

Add the milk and the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now pour in the flour mixture, stir it in well, then add the blueberries and mix them in lightly.

Put a tablespoon or so of the batter in to each of the cups of a muffin tray and bake at 200 degrees C for 25-40 minutes till the muffins are nicely browned.

While using  fresh blueberries as a baking ingredient does feel like a pity to me – the original recipe does say that frozen berries will do as well but the ones we buy here are too sour for my liking and I therefore tend to avoid them –  I have to say that these cupcakes are quite nice too, with the delicious taste of the berries spread through as the fruit softens on baking.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Cakes and Muffins, THE STUFF OF MEMORIES

Carrot Cake: a third recipe

2010 got off to a very pleasant start with the open house this afternoon at the home of Rick and Angela, the parents of Indira’s friend Nicola.

I took along a carrot cake which Indira liked very much, as did some of the parents.

This particular recipe (from “The Little Book of Baking Recipes”) – which makes for a large cake – has cinnamon, which seems typical for carrot cakes, but also powdered green cardamom and this latter adds a very special flavor.

This recipe is  heavy on the butter though, so I suppose it is one that’s best kept for special occasions.

Carrot Cake

2 eggs

180 grams of softened/melted butter

225 grams of flour

180 grams of  brown sugar

225 grams of grated carrots

1/4 teaspoon of freshly powdered green cardamom

1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon

90 grams of raisins

60 grams of chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons of honey

1 teaspoon of baking powder

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar thoroughly. Now crack the eggs in to the mixture and blend everything well. Then mix in the flour (with the spices and baking powder mixed in). Add the carrots next , as well as the raisins, the walnuts and the honey. Mix everything well and turn the batter in to a non-stick cake pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour  at 180degrees C. Check towards the end by inserting a knife to test if the mixture has set well. Take the pan out and leave the cake to cool completely before turning it out on to a cake tray.

The cake is rich enough already but it would be just perfect with some ice cream on the side, I think 🙂 Or, for an healthier option, a little Greek yogurt would be quite nice as well.

Maybe that’s why the original recipe suggests dredging the cake with icing sugar before serving?  Either way, it’s delicious.

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Lemon Loaf

This turned out to be so much nicer than I’d expected.

For some odd reason I have never tasted a cake before with a lemon flavor and therefore I have always instinctively chosen to bake ones with other flavors – cocoa, dates, pineapple, raisins, apricots and even poppy seeds, but never lemon.

But Indira has often said that children at school love lemon cake, which has often made me curious about it’s appeal.  So last weekend when I needed to bake some dessert in a hurry to take to the school picnic, I decided to try this recipe. I thought I’d keep one tiny piece for all of us to try as it would a good way to find out what lemon tasted like  in cake and whether the girls liked it enough for me to make again. And if they didn’t, I figured I luckily didn’t need to worry this once about how the the rest of it would be used up since it was to be eaten by all the other folks at the picnic !

Well as it turned out, Shri and Indira – Noor had left already for a birthday party – both said “hmmm!! nice !” after eating their little portion of that piece so I made it again yesterday for gouter.

Noor, especially, seems to like it a lot, just as she does the orange loaf.

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Lemon Loaf

2 eggs

1/2 a cup of softened butter

1 cup of sugar

1/2 a cup of milk

1 and 1/2 cups of flour (either white or a mixture of wholewheat and white) with the following mixed in –

zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon of baking powder

For Glazing –

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup of sugar

Blend the butter,eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir the  milk in. Now gradually fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter in to a loaf tin.

Pre-heat the over for 5 minutes to 18o degreesC, then place the loaf tin near the bottom shelf  and bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, till done.

A minute before the cake looks ready to come out, prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar and lemon juice, to combine them well,over moderate heat. Allow this mixture to simmer for 1/2 a minute (make sure not to let it get at all thick or syrupy) then take the cake out and pour the glaze all over, using a large spoon to spread it evenly.

When the cake has cooled completely, take it out very carefully as it will tend to stick a little to the sides because of the glaze.

This cake has a slightly moist softness because of the glaze and a beautifully even, mild hint of the lemon.

Simply yummy !

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Another win for Jenny’s Famous Carrot Cake !

Indira invited her class mates – and Elizabeth, from CM1 (the year after CE2), and petite Emilie, a little girl in Noor’s class who Indira loves and who loves Indira too – to La Petite Ferme for her birthday party on Sunday the 13th.

They provide a cake and drinks there in their restaurant and we’d asked for the chocolate cake which turned out to be really excellent.

But I had taken some carrot cake in any case, because Alicia, one of Indira’s classmates, is allergic to chocolate.

And I am glad I took enough so that each of them had a couple of pieces (though how I wished I had taken more, or larger pieces), because they  all enjoyed it so much more than the chocolate cake !!

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Filed under Cakes and Muffins, LE FUTTED BALLON-life with the girls

Poppy Seed Loaf

This is a cake that Shri really likes and which I I baked a lot before the kids began to have the first – and often the ruling – say over what we eat.

He is very fond of the slightly crunchy texture that this cake gets from the poppy seeds; and he loves the candied cherries that go in to it, too. So this year I decided I’d make it for his birthday, and never mind what the girls would say, for once.

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Poppy Seed Loaf

2 eggs

1/2 cup of butter

3/4 cup of sugar

1 and 1/4 tsps of lemon juice

2 cups of All purpose flour (I often mix all purpose and whole wheat flours, or add a tbsp of wheat germ to the all purpose flour)

2 and 1/2 tsps of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 cup of chopped candied cherries

1/4 cup of poppy seeds

3/4 cup of milk

Warm the milk very slightly and mix with the poppy seeds in a bowl. Leave this mixture to stand for 20-30 minutes.

In a second bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cherries so that the cherries are well-coated with the flour (this will keep them from sinking to the bottom).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the sugar, butter(softened a little; to do this, put the butter in the microwave for just a few seconds) and beat together until smooth.

Add the lemon juice, and then the poppy seeds mixture. Now add the flour mixture, and stir it in.

Bake for 45-60 minutes at 180degreesC. Leave the cake in the pan for half an hour after you take the pan out of the oven, then turn it out gently on to a cake plate.

As it turned out Noor seems to like the taste and has readily had a slice for gouter more than once since I made the cake last week; so one out of two is not too bad.

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Orange Cake

This afternoon, we had three of Indira’s and Noor’s friends/schoolmates come over for a play date.  I had planned to get some pain au chocolat for the girls’gouter, to go along with compote/fruit yoghurt/fruit.  But when I went to the local boulangerie I found that they had run out of pain au chocolat as well as croissants, the other French bakery classic that most children love.

So I decided that I’d bake an orange cake, instead.

I have been wanting to make one anyway, ever since I ate some a couple of weekends ago at the birthday party to which I took the crispy peanuts. One of the other guests had brought delicious orange cake, and I really like it because it was just full of lovely flavor.

I did get the recipe from the gentleman who had baked it, but when I went through it again today I realized that it uses rather a lot of butter -300 gms for a 4 egg cake, plus more for a glaze. So I started looking around for another recipe that might promise the same taste – after all, I reasoned, in an orange cake the dominant flavor would come from the juice and the zest of the fruit – without using quite so much fat.

And I was very pleased to find one such recipe sitting on a shelf in in my own kitchen- in Ms. Jean Pare’s excellent collection titled “Muffins and More” .

This recipe below- a slight variation on the original – uses a lot less butter but the cake tastes as nice, IMO.

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Orange Cake

For the cake:

2 eggs

1/2 cup (75 gms) of unsalted butter, melted

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp of salt

2 tsp of baking powder

Zest from one orange

Juice from one orange (plus a little water, if required, to make the specified quantity) 1/2 cup

For the glaze:

Juice from one orange

1/4 cup sugar

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder.

Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Now blend in the sugar and the butter. Stir the zest and the juice in, then gradually fold in the flour mixture taking care that no lumps form. Pour this mixture in to a non-stick baking tin, and bake at 180degreesC for 45-60 minutes.

In a small saucepan, prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar and the juice and heating until the sugar has dissolved completely. Pour the glaze over the cake as soon as you take it out from the oven, and then leave the cake to cool for about 20 minutes before taking it out gently from the tin.

Noor, Alicia, and Celine loved it and the older girls in fact asked for and finished a second piece each. Indira didn’t like it too much (though she says she really likes the crust with the glaze), and nor did Alicia’s little sister Flora.

This cake makes a great little snack with a cup of tea; it is not very heavy on the stomach, and has a wonderful flavor (which owes a lot to the glaze so don’t skip that bit).

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Carrot Muffins

Just before dinner tonight, Indira said “Mama, what can I take for gouter tomorrow?”

Tomorrow being Tuesday, they will be going swimming again from school , and I know she enjoys having a special gouter to eat on the bus coming back, rather than the usual clementine or apple slices.  So I suggested that I could make some carrot cake, since this is a current favorite with her.

She was quite pleased with the idea, but requested that I make muffins, instead of a cake, so that is what I did.

The recipe is the same as for the carrot cake that I wrote about recently, except that I put the mixture in to muffin trays, and the total baking time was around 15 minutes shorter than it would have been for the cake.

I don’t know what it is about muffins – but I do believe the ones I have made tonight taste nicer than the cake I made the last time with the same recipe (I have been eating the bits stuck to the muffin tray)

Two small changes that I made – I skipped the vanilla essence this time; and I used a wheat flour available here that is called “semi-complet” ; it is sort of halfway between the whole wheat and refined kind. it makes the muffins more prone to breaking if not handled carefully when you are taking them out of the tray-though they hold just fine after that- but I don’t like the idea of using refined flour too much because it is “empty” calories, as they say.

With half the quantities as in the recipe for the cake, I was able to make 12 muffins.

And now, I will need to try and resist a midnight snack !

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