Monday, 30 April 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Lemon Muffins

Time really does fly when you are having fun! I can't believe it's Secret Recipe Club reveal day again for Group D. If you don't already know, secret recipe club is a fun online challenge where you  are assigned a blog each month and you must choose something to make from that blog without their knowledge until reveal day hence the secret! It was started by Amanda from Amanda's Cookin' and has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. 

This month I was assigned The Adventures of an Epic Baker. I'm always excited when my blog assignment is related to baking as I really don't cook all that much. Plus this blog is mainly about baking.  There is a nice section that tells you all about the epic baker, a self-taught home baker/cook. Her blog is very easy to read with lots of lovely pictures. There's a very helpful recipe index grouped into categories which made it easier to choose a recipe but there were so many good ones, it was a difficult choice! I had quite a few bookmarked but in the end I decided to make these lovely lemon muffins. I love lemons in baking and these muffins are full of lemony goodness. They were light, refreshing, moist and delicious and didn't last long at work! I made slight modifications to the recipe - adding yoghurt and using self raising flour instead of cake flour. 

Other recipes that caught my eye and are going on my to bake list are black cocoa brownies, strawberry shortcake cupcakes, lemon custard creams and gluten free chocolate tortes/tarts. I would highly recommend a visit to her blog if you've never visited before. 

 my new lemon juicer from Williams-Sonoma - best I've ever used! 

 adding lots of lovely lemon zest 

 just couldn't resist using my Russian doll measuring cups again 

 ready to go in the oven


Recipe adapted from the adventures of an epic baker

Makes approximately 22 muffins

250g self raising flour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
113g butter
180g caster sugar (recommend more if you prefer a sweeter bake)
2 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup natural yoghurt

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing fully.
  • Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and yoghurt. 
  • Finally sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  • Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 12-15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • You can make an optional glaze - sift 250g icing sugar and add drops of lemon juice until you get the consistency required.  

Sunday, 29 April 2012

AlphaBakes: "B" Round Up

Welcome to the AlphaBakes "B" round up. Make yourself a mug of tea/coffee, get comfortable and enjoy these stunning entries as there are almost 50 of them! Everyone did a brilliant job so thank you for baking with us :) There were quite a lot of bananas and blueberries as expected but also a few unsual ones which you will see below. Ready? 

First off the mark is Caroline's mum Jacqueline with a blueberry sponge with blueberry buttercream and blueberry icing! That's a lot of blueberries and I'm sure you'll agree that it looks amazing!

Next is a Black Bread baked by Caroline from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking. This is a Dan Lepard recipe made from rye flour, black treacle, cocoa powder, instant coffee and caraway seeds. In her words, "a stunning loaf - visually, texturally and flavourwise" I don't think I need more persuasion - a slice please :)

Next a banana oatmeal cake from Vivian of Vivian Pang Kitchen - a lovely, healthy bake made with egg whites and vegetable oil.

Susie@Foldintheflour brings us this Lemon Drizzle Blueberry Loaf - the antidote to too much chocolate, a concept I'm not familiar with but would be happy to eat this loaf everyday! Susie says its the perfect balance of sweetness and sharpness - there's a triple hit of lemon - yes please :) 

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen was not very satisfied with her hot cross buns at Easter so decided to make something different and gave us these sticky Easter buns. There is a very helpful instructional video on her site so check it out if you want to make these for yourself at home. 

Phil from As Strong as Soup sent us these "Sort of Biarritz Biscuits' - he used hazelnuts and some chocolate coating - traditionally it is coated in chocolate and coconut. Click to his site as there is an interesting tale of Phil in a band in the 70's :)

Mike from Mike's Baking made a banana monkey bread - something I've always wanted to make but have not gotten round to yet. It's banana and cinnamon filled parcels all baked together in a bundt pan. Check out his blog for more beautiful pictures and instructions.

Corina from Searching for Spice baked these blondies which have white chocolate chips in them. Fun fact: traditional blondies do not contain any chocolate at all but get their flavour from the brown sugar. As they look like brownies but are lighter in colour, they are called blondies!

 Next up is my own Baileys and Guinness Layer Cake which contains a whole bottle of Baileys! It's a very rich cake and you can definitely taste the Baileys in there. A great celebratory cake :)

Laura from Lauralovescakes made her own baklava for AlphaBakes. I always thought it was very difficult to make but Laura makes it look easy. Her version has cardamom and orange blossom water in it. 

Olivia from Liv a little Bakery made us these cute Birthday Cake Batter Bark which comes with a warning that it's very addictive and I can see why! The possibilites are endless, definitely going on my to bake list :)

Kelly from An American Cupcake in London made these delicious Banana Caramel Nut Muffins. She has a new breakfast ritual of staying in and having breakfast together on Sundays. They are served with her homemade vanilla spice latte. I wish I could invite myself over for breakfast :)

Laura from Lauralovescakes is back with a second entry, something else I'd love to have for breakfast or anytime really. They are brioche french toast with warm blueberry compote. You'd never believe it's her first foray into bread making as it looks amazing! 

I'm back again with a triple "B" entry - Banana Butterscotch Bundt Cake. I'm a huge fan of banana bread/cake and this is definitely in my top 5 banana breads. The butterscotch and pecans really elevate the cake and it smelt really good too :) 

Next my co-host for AlphaBakes Caroline from Caroline Makes made these Nigella Bacon Brownies.
This is a Nigella Lawson recipe who wrote an article about sweet and savoury combinations in a recent edition of the Sytlist Magazine. There were mixed responses - her boyfriend's response was "wrong, just wrong!" I had a chance to sample these brownies and I have to say I didn't mind them too much. I could taste the bacon bits and it was salty and sweet at the same time. Definitely not for everyone!

Still on the bacon theme, we have bacon and blue cheese muffins from Susie@FoldintheFlour. These sound much more conventional to me! According to Susie, perfect for a weekend brunch or if you happen to be lucky and are having a lazy day during the week.

Lauren from Around the World in 80 Bakes has been experimenting in her kitchen and loves making odd adaptations of recipes. She decided to make brownies in a madeleine pan and they turned out beautifully. Perfect for a wedding :)

My mum has also decided to join in AlphaBakes each month and made a Baileys Chocolate Cake decorated with curled coloured chocolate. She used a special edition of Baileys which had a hint of mint and chocolate - yum. Ps we are not alcoholics :)

Mel from Sharky Oven Gloves delights us with Boterkoek - something I've not heard of before but would love to try. It's a Dutch cake which translates to "Butter Cake" as there's a lot of butter in there! Definitely not for those on a diet but life's too short, right? :) 

An unusual recipe from Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog with Cheecolates. "What's that I hear you ask? Cheeky little cheesy chocolate biscuits!" Choclette co-hosts We Should Cocoa which challenges us to bake with chocolate and a special ingredient each month. This month it was cheese but as these biscuits were not chocolatey enough, she sent them to us and made something else for We Should Cocoa. I'm glad she did as I like the sound of them and would love to try one.

More chocolate but no cheese this time, Suelle from Mainly Baking made these chocolate chip and blueberry oat bars - a delightful tray bake for busy days. From start to finish in 30 minutes - I like the sound of that!

Fleur from Homemade by Fleur turned her kitchen into a brownie experimentation lab and came up with these 'Cute as a button Frownies'. Frownies are a combination of flapjacks and brownies. The button on top is definitely very cute which is sure to turn your frown upside down!

How gorgeous are these black sesame and cream cheese macarons? Made by Anuja from Simple Baking a very talented baker. I'd never have thought to use black sesame in baking but clearly it works!

Another slightly unusual B entry in the form of beetroot, chocolate and hazelnut brownies made by Lucy from Vanilla Frost Cakes. A much healthier alternative to traditional brownies which taste good too! She adapted it from a recipe in Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood where almost every recipe uses a vegetable as the main ingredient. Adding to my wishlist :)

Laura from Credit Munched baked these Chocolate Orange Biscotti for an Italian Murder Mystery evening which sounds like a lot of fun! She helpfully tells us that biscotti is specifically named to reflect the method of cooking, ‘bis’ means ‘twice’ and ‘cotto’ means ‘baked’ in Italian.

Ren from Fabulicious Food! sent us these gorgeous Nigella's Everyday Brownies with leftover Mini Eggs. I've tried this brownie recipe myself so I know it's really good but I'm sure the addition of mini eggs made it even better! I particularly like this photo with the little hand sneaking in :)

Miss CakeBaker from What I Baked this Weekend made these healthy barley and banana muffins using barley flour she found whilst spring cleaning her cupboard. Perfect for breakfast!

Speaking of breakfast, Sadia from Baking elements made these homemade bagels for us. Did you know that bagels are boiled before baking to give it a protective sheen? She has lovely step by step photos on her blog and a link to a short history of the bagel so pop on over if you are interested. 

The most unusual B entry in my book goes to Urvashi from the Botanical Baker who made Black Garlic, Carrot and Thyme Oat Cookies. They look very tempting and I wish I could try some. According to Urvashi "great with a slice of cheddar cheese and a strong cup of Darjeeling" - yum! 

Back to bananas again as I just can't stop baking with them is my own Banana Nut bread. The recipe came with the tin which is amazing but sadly the bread was a little on the dry side. 

Continuing the banana theme, we have a White Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread by Cupcake Crazy Gem. Strangely the white chocolate disappeared after baking but Gem spread some chocolate frosting on it and I'm sure you'll agree that it looks delicious! 

Yet another banana offering with a quadruple "B" - Baked Banana Cheesecake with Bourbon Soaked Sultanas and a Boozy Toffee Sauce" Phew what a mouthful - can I please have a slice now? :) Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree collated recipes from 3 well known chefs and came up with this gorgeous creation.

Look at these blueberry muffins bursting with blueberries! Yes please :) Baked by Kristina from With a Cherry On Top Cakes 

She also made a moist and light old fashioned Banana Walnut Bread 

Something I've never heard of before - buttercream bikkets of ginger and white pepper made by Lucas from There is a brilliant video with a great soundtrack showing you how to make these beauties.

A second entry from my co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes is this Baby celebration cake. She signed up for an 8 week cake decorating class and this was class #4. How cute are those booties? :)

Javelin Warrior's Cookin' w/ Luv sent us these beautiful homemade brioche bread. There's a very informative post about brioche bread with beautiful step by step photos. I wish I could bake bread like this!

To add to my bread envy, Lottie from Lottie's world of Cakes & Bakes tempts us with this Osterzopf, a German Easter Bread similar to brioche with a subtle hint of lemon. She also made some hot cross buns - definitely a lot of easter bread baking! 

Clearly baking runs in the family as Caroline's sister Clare sent us this Black Forest Chocolate Cake made with chocolate chips and sour black cherries served with cream. Actually her boyfriend made this - lucky her :) 

One of my favourite desserts - banofee pies but look how cute these bite sized versions are! Sarah from Maison Cupcake delighted me with these beauties. The base is made from Speculoos or Lotus Biscuits, something I've not tried before. 

 Choclette from Chocolate Log blog dazzles us with her second entry - Wild Blueberry Cupcakes. They are decorated with coloured letters she won from a competition - congratulations! She used a wild blueberry spread which gave it this amazing colour.

Next is a very creative entry from I-Lost in Austen. She made a butter squash honey roll made from butter squash! I'd never have thought to bake a cake with it but clearly it works. It was a very successful experiment as her family loved it! 

Sarah from Sarah Bakes sent us this Birthday Cake in the shape of a stegosaurus for her son. How cute! It is a sculpted Madeira Cake filled with vanilla buttercream and rice krispie squares for the head and limbs.

If you are faint hearted, look away now as this is quite a gruesome yet gorgeous cake. Nom from Nom!The Indulgent Baking Blog sent us this bleeding heart cake which she made for her brother's birthday. It's top 3 of her most visited posts and you can see why. This looks so realistic, I'm not sure I could eat the heart but yes to a slice of cake please :)

Just when you thought we were safe from bacon, we have a bacon and chocolate cake from The Mixing Bowl. The inspiration is her favourite breakfast of eggy bread with bacon and maple syrup. There was controversy in the house but it turned out to be a huge success!

The Nerdy Baker has made something with 2 of my favourite ingredients - Nutella Banana Cream Pie. The title of her blog also says "and my secret shame" - click over to read what it is :) This pie looks really indulgent with layers of nutella, banana, whipped cream and hazelnuts!

If you need another cup of tea/coffee, you'll want some of this polenta biscotti to go with it. Made by Gloria from Canela Kitchen it clocks it at only 58 calories each - bonus!

The Cookie Sleuth made this Banana, Chocolate Cookie bars from my favourite combination of ingredients - banana, peanut butter and chocolate. She describes it as a chocolate cookie base with a banana bread like layer on top - delicious!

Another triple B entry: Brilliantly Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Tart made by Dawn from Wild About Baking. Another successful Dan Lepard recipe, its a chocolatey pecan pie crust filled with a cream/bourbon/chocolate filling. I have to agree with Dawn "Phwarh" indeed :)

Last but not least my favourite dessert - banoffee pie made by Daisy from nevertoosweet. She has just moved house (check out the pic of her new kitchen) and was kind enough to make us this delicious tart even though she hasn't fully unpacked! Pie with bananas, caramel and cream - what's not to like?

Make sure you check out Caroline's blog on 1st May to find out what letter we are baking with in May.