December 15, 2011


choc muffins1It was my birthday last weekend and it is customary for any birthday girl to take cakes to work.  I fully intended to make my own but ran out of time so bought some cupcakes for Sainsbury’s. 

They were disappointing.  The sponge was uninteresting and there was a huge pile of glurpy icing on top which tasted too much of artificial flavouring.  Maybe I’m getting picky, eating so much home-made cake these days.  Luckily there were only three of us in that day to eat them so for the next day (and a different set of colleagues) I decided to make some muffins.

I had found a recipe for chocolate and orange muffins that I thought would do fine for this month’s “We Should Cocoa” challenge hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog.  Because of my birthday and lack of time I had the perfect reason for baking them.

(Excuse for baking number 24c!)

Muffins are quick and easy to make but usually best eaten on the day they are baked.  So I got all the ingredients measured out and put on one side before going to bed.  Then in the morning, in between taking Nick to the station for the 7.30am train and taking Lulu for her morning walk, I mixed them up and popped them in the oven.

choc muffins2 choc muffins3

As it’s Christmas time I decided to perk them up by sprinkling some crushed sugar pieces on top.  I found these in a French supermarket ages ago and brought them home – I don’t know if you can get them here in the UK – I haven’t looked.

choc muffins4 They were baked in 25  minutes and the kitchen smelled wonderful when I came back from the fields with the dog – in fact she wouldn’t eat her breakfast, nose twitching and hoping for something more interesting.

choc muffins5

She was unlucky this time !!  I packed some in a small box to drop off at my dad’s on the way to work and took the remaining ones with me for us to enjoy with morning coffee and afternoon tea……..well they’re never as good the next day !!

choc muffins6 They were a success, nice and chocolatey and not too sweet.  In fact next time I make them I would be tempted to add a little more sugar……..there’s always the possibility that I forgot to put any in at all…….but I don’t think so.  But if so - it’s my age !!


125g self raising flour

125g self raising wholemeal flour

25g ground almonds

55g soft brown sugar

rind and juice of 1 orange

175g cream cheese

2 eggs

55g plain chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 190°C/180°fan.  Put 10 muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Sift the flours into a large bowl.  Add the ground almonds and sugar and mix together.  Make a well in the centre.

In another bowl, beat together the orange rind, juice, cheese and eggs.

Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.  Add the chocolate chips and mix together, avoiding over-mixing.  (I found the mixture very dry and stiff so I added a splash of milk here to loosen it.)

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen and brown.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack.

Makes 10 muffins.  (My mixture made 11.)  Best eaten the same day !!

December 6, 2011


I was sorting through some old magazines the other day and came across a nice idea for a Christmas present.

The magazine was actually issued last spring but the idea is perfect for Christmas.

muffin mix1  muffin mix3

Basically, you put all the dry ingredients for a batch of spiced muffins in a jar, with instructions, and parcel it up prettily with a  wooden spoon to give as a gift.

muffin mix2

I decided to give this to a couple of my friends who love to bake but don’t always have the time – the part that usually takes most of the time in making muffins is gathering together and weighing out all the ingredients.  With this gift they just tip all the contents into a bowl, add egg, milk and melted butter and bake.

To make it even easier to bake I also included 12 muffin cases and 2 six-hole muffin tins which were only 99p each from the local factory shop.  Everything fits neatly into a gift bag with the perfect Christmas design on it.

The recipe uses “tropical dried fruit mixture” which I couldn’t find locally, so I used a luxury dried fruit mixture and added some dried mango, pineapple, papaya, apricots and a little glacé ginger.

muffin mix9bI got my Kilner jars from the local hardware shop for £2.25 each and the ingredients just fitted in if I pressed them down a bit.

muffin mix4  muffin mix6 muffin mix7 muffin mix8

I thought it was wise to test the recipe by baking a batch myself, just to make sure it worked and tastes ok.

(Excuse for baking number 24b !!)

It was indeed very quick and easy and they tasted deliciously spicy, exactly right for Christmas.

muffin mix9 muffin mix9aI’m sure if someone gave me a muffin kit as easy to bake as this for Christmas I would love it, so I hope my friends do too !!

(I am 99.9% sure none of them read this blog !!)

I looked at the BBC Good Food website and sure enough, although it actually appeared in a Spring magazine, you can see it here, presented as a Christmas recipe !!  I have noticed before that a lot of the Good Food magazine recipes are regularly recycled and will turn up in books and magazines time and again, often using the same picture.



300g self-raising flour

2tsp baking powder

2tsp ground cinnamon

2tsp mixed spice

100g chopped pecans or walnuts

140g tropical dried fruit mixture

100g light muscovado sugar


Layer all the ingredients in the order listed in a 1 litre glass or plastic preserving jar.

Write the following instructions on a gift tag:

“Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°fan/gas mark 5.  Put the muffin cases in the tins.  Tip the contents into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add two beaten eggs, 300ml milk and 100g melted butter.  Mix quickly until just combined.  Divide between the muffin cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Best eaten within 24 hours and use within one month.”

Attach the label and wooden spoon to the jar with pretty ribbon or raffia.