Ten baby mallard chicks! Yes, ten cute bundles of fluff, well cute bundles of feathers actually! We just hope that most of them survive the coming days and weeks to be able to reach adulthood.
|Image Courtesy of Pixabay|
Now, given the fact that spring seems to have sprung into action, I thought I'd share with you a lovely cupcake recipe that is jam-packed with flavour. The inclusion of the blueberries bursting with blueberryness (Yeah, I realise it's not a word, but you know what I mean) does make them seem as though summer is almost upon us.
I made these gorgeous buns especially for my in-laws who we were visiting last weekend and specifically for a young family member who reached the dizzying age of four years old! Happy birthday young man! He was very keen to try one!
The inspiration for these buns came from a recipe featured on the lovely Kerry's blog, 'Kerry Cooks'. She's recently made some blueberry scones using frozen blueberries, and I realised it was a fantastic idea. Fresh berries are more inclined to break-up when mixed into a sponge batter or scone mixture; using frozen simply means the berries are more inclined to hold their shape better. And of course the blueberries are jam packed full of goodness; so a little bit of naughty and nice for you here. They also work out far cheaper - a 350g box of frozen blueberries from Asda only cost me £2.00 which is far cheaper than fresh (and just as healthy). So what's not to like!
The sponge is an easy Victoria mixture, so nothing elaborate. And hidden within is a hit of intense 'blueberryness' with the inclusion of blueberry jam (unfortunately shop bought). The rippling is straight forward to do, though do try to remember to use your piping nozzles unlike me who completely forgot to pop it into the piping bag! Duh! That said, I'm still happy with the outcome.
As a side note regarding the colouring (and a rather important one as far as vegetarians are concerned); the colouring I used was from Dr Oekter's range of Gel Food colours. Clearly I bought blue to work with the blueberry theme, this being vegetarian so suitable for Mr E. But it is worth being aware that the red, pink and purple are not vegetarian friendly.
And finally, regarding the sugar. I do like to use a little light brown or golden caster sugar in my buns. I just feel it adds that something 'extra' to the flavour. Though, of course, if you prefer using all white sugar your creations will be just as scrumptious.
Blueberry and Lemon Cupcakes, with a rippled cream cheese frosting. Yum
Yield: 11 large cupcakes
Cost: £4.34; that 's 39.5p each
Freezable: Yes (without decoration)
Time: about 25 minutes prep, plus 20-25 minutes baking time, plus cooling time.
Inspiration from: Blueberry Scones made by Kerry Cooks
You will need
For the cupcakes
170g soft unsalted butter / margarine
50g light brown sugar
120g caster sugar
1 lemon, zest of
170g SR flour
75g - 100g frozen blueberries
splash of milk
For the decoration
50g soft unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
150g full fat cream cheese
Gel food colouring
Piping bag & nozzle
How to make them
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190c / Fan 170c / Gas 5
2. You can either make the cupcakes with the aid of a stand mixer or hand held electric beater, though I went down the traditional route of using the good old wooden spoon. In a large bowl beat the butter/margarine. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. If the mixture begins to curdles add a spoonful of the weighed flour and beat in.
4. Add the lemon zest and frozen blueberries. Mix gently to combine.
5. Sift the flour into the batter. With a metal spoon or spatula, fold in the flour gently. Pay particular attention to the bottom of the bowl where flour can get trapped. Gently mix in a splash of milk if you find the mixture a little dry.
6. Place the muffin cases into the muffin tray. Using a dessert spoon, (or ice cream scoop) place a spoonful of the mixture into the cases. The cases should be between half to three-quarter full.
7. Pop in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. You may need to rotate your tin three-quarter of the way through cooking. You're aiming for the sponge to be browned nicely and for it to spring back when gently prodded.
8. Place the buns on a cooling tray and leave until completely cold.
9. In the meantime make the frosting. Ideally, you will need the use of either a stand mixer or a hand-held electric beater for this. Beat the butter until ultra soft. Sift the icing sugar into the butter and beat on the slowest setting (perhaps covering the bowl with a clean cloth to avoid getting icing sugar everywhere!) Add all of the cream cheese and beat again. Continue beating for about 4 or 5 minutes to get a lovely creamy consistency. Though don't over beat as the mixture an become runny.
10. Once the buns are cold, use a sharp knife to remove a cone from the centre of the muffin. Place a half teaspoon of jam into the hole and replace the sponge 'plug'.
11. Cut off the end of the piping bag and fit the nozzle inside. Lay the bag flat onto the work surface and 'paint' a line of gel colouring up the inside. Fill the bag with the cream cheese frosting. Encourage the frosting down the bag. Test pipe a small amount onto the work surface.
12. Pipe a generous swirl onto each cupcake.
Enjoy with your favourite pot of tea.