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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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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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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Jenny’s Famous Carrot Cake

Kate – Uma’s mom- captioned her e-mail quite aptly when she sent me the recipe for this carrot cake that Indira so loves.

I first heard about it when Jenny baked it for school some months ago (her granddaughter Dylan was in Indira and Uma’s class till she moved away recently).

Then Kate made it too, a few weeks ago, and Indira told me again how much she liked it, after Uma shared some with her on the bus coming back to school from their weekly swimming trip.

So yesterday she was really thrilled when I told her she could help me bake it for their gouter.

Noor, let it be noted, pitched in too, fetching and clearing things, stirring the mix a bit, and was delighted to be allowed to use the the new electric whisk.

Jenny’s Famous Carrot Cake

4 eggs

2 cups of flour (I use a mix of whole wheat and plain white flour)

1 cup of melted butter or cooking oil

2 cups of sugar

3 cups of grated carrot

1 tsp each of baking soda,baking powder,cinnamon and salt, mixed in to the flour

1/2 tsp of vanilla essence (optional; I added it, though the original recipe does not mention it)

For the icing:

75g cream cheese, 50 g butter,1 tsp of vanilla essence and icing sugar(to taste), all well-blended

To make the cake:

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and the butter, and blend well. Now add the carrots, stir just to blend, then add the flour mixture. Mix this in well, and pour in to a cake tin (use one tin if you are not going to ice the cake, or two equal-sized round tins if you do intend to make the icing too) and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour at 175 degrees C.

To ice the cake, layer the two rounds with it, and also put some on the top.

I have it on good authority that the icing is delicious, so you may want to try and make that extra effort.

I skipped this part but Indira said “Oh but it’s exactly the same !!!” anyway, thank goodness 🙂

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Date Cake

Loaded with soft dates, this cake has a special, really delectable taste.

I almost did not buy the creme anglaise to go with it, when I decided to make it for dessert last Saturday, but then I was glad I did because everyone seemed to enjoy the combination !

Date Cake

1 egg

1 and ¼ cups of chopped dates

½ cup of chopped walnuts (optional but a nice touch)

¾ cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of melted butter

1 and a ½ cups of any flour (refined is probably ideal, though I often bake with even whole wheat flour)

1 and a 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

½ tsp of salt

1 tsp of baking soda

1 tsp of baking powder

Soak the dates in 1 cup of boiling hot water, after adding the baking soda and leave them aside to cool. In the meanwhile, beat together the egg and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla to this mixture.

In another bowl, combine the flour, the salt, and the nuts.

Add the dates once they have cooled to the first mixture, then add in the flour mixture.

Now stir in the melted butter and combine well.

Put this cake batter in to a cake mould, and leave it to stand for 15-20 minutes.

Then bake in a preheated oven at 180degreesC for 1 hour, or till a table knife inserted in to the middle comes out clean and dry.

Like the chocolate and date loaf, this cake makes for quite a fancy dessert, eaten with crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream 🙂

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Carrot Cake

A few days ago Uma, one of Indira’s classmates, brought carrot cake to school for her snack and she shared some with Indira, who loved it and has asked me several times since then to try and make one.

So this afternoon, I decided to try out a recipe I have for carrot cake (from Jean Pare’s fantastic “Muffins and More”) and this is what the girls had for their gouter today, with a glass of milk. Noor liked it a lot, and asked for and finished a second piece. Indira, though, said she preferred the one that Uma’s mom made. Oh well…

I liked it a lot too; it just bursts with flavor and taste, thanks to the carrot and the spices.

Noor stayed home this afternoon for her nap instead of going back to school after lunch, and helped a lot with fetching and putting the ingredients together, breaking the eggs, mixing the batter, etc.

Well done, Noor, and thank you !!

Carrot Cake

This recipe has a few changes from the original, but still works well.

2 eggs

1/2 cup of melted butter (a cup of 200 ml measure)

1 and 3/4 cups of flour

1 cup of brown sugar

1 cup of finely grated carrots (you will need 3-4 carrots for this quantity)

2 and a 1/2 tsps of baking powder

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of freshly grated/powdered nutmeg

1/4 tsp of freshly powdered cloves

1/4 tsp of ginger powder

walnuts – 1/4 or 1/2 cup

Blend together the sugar, the eggs and the butter. Stir in the carrots.

Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl. Add to the previous mixture, and gently stir together till everything is well-blended.

Pour in to a loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes at 180 degrees C.

Remove the cake from the pan only after it has cooled down, to keep it from breaking.

This is definitely one to make again.

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Their favorite Cake – Chocolate and Date Loaf

As I put together the ingredients, earlier today, for the cake that I took as dessert to the home of friends that we ate with this evening, I realized that this is the third time this month that I am baking the same cake. I made it for Indira’s birthday when we invited all our family friends to a picnic, and it is the one that I sent to school too, for her class.

But this is the cake that she and Noor love best, of all the various recipes I have tried over the years.

This recipe makes a large-ish cake (12- 16 quite big pieces) so tonight it was very gratifying to see it go quite quickly though we were only 5 adults, Indira, Noor, and our hosts’ 14 year old son 🙂

Chocolate and Date Loaf:

2 eggs

3/4 cup melted butter ( I use a cup that is a 200 ml measure)

1 cup sugar

2 cups of wheat (whole or refined) flour

1/2 cup of cocoa

1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1 cup of soft dates,finely chopped

1 cup of boiling water

1 tsp of baking soda

1 and a 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

Combine the last 4 ingredients in a bowl and set aside to cool.

Best the first three ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl.

Add the date mixture after it has cooled down to the eggs,butter and sugar mixture. Now stir in the rest of the ingredients, and pour in to a cake tin (if it is not the non-stick variety then of course the tin will need a light coat of melted butter and then a sprinkling of flour over that).

Bake at 180 degrees C for 50-60 minutes till a knitting needle/table knife comes out clean.

This cake goes really well with some creme anglaise or vanilla ice cream served on the side . It makes quite a fancy dessert at parties 🙂

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Indira’s Favorite Date Muffins

This afternoon, the school mums group had organized a little gouter (as the afternoon snack is called) in the primary school canteen.

This is an annual end-of-the-school-year event, at which the children in the various classes gift the collective presents from their families to their teachers.

It is the mums who usually provide the snacks and drinks and I took along Indira’s favorite after-school snack, which is date muffins.

When she was much younger, she assumed that any brown colored food was chocolate.  I was happy to exploit this misconception, and routinely made cakes and muffins with dates instead of chocolate.

This is not to say that she has been spared a fondness for chocolate. But she does love dates too, in any form, which I consider an adequate reward for my efforts.

At the gouter today, too, I was glad to see that the muffins were well-liked.

This is my recipe –

Date Muffins (or “muff-uns”, as Noor calls them)

(makes around 16)

1 and a 1/2 cups of finely chopped soft dates

3/4 cup of very hot water (just boiled)

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1/4 cup (a 160 ml cup) unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 and 3/4 cup refined or wholewheat flour (I use the latter when baking for the girls, but you may want to use white flour. The difference in taste is not very significant, to my mind, and hence I stick with wholewheat flour since that packs more nutrition)

1tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Mix the first 3 ingredients and leave to cool. Next, mix the last 3 ingredients in a bowl and keep aside.

Beat the eggs till they are frothy, then add melted butter and sugar, and beat again till these 3 things are well-blended.

Once the date mixture has cooled, add it to the eggs-butter-sugar mixture and mix a couple of times to blend. Now add the flour mixture, and mix everything together so the flour is well-blended.

While you mix everything together as described above, remember to switch your oven on, so as to pre-heat it for 5-8 minutes, to 180°C.

Fill the muffin moulds 1/2 to 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

These muffins are extra nice with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side, if you really want to make this in to a fancy dessert or really indulge the kids.

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