Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins

1970-01-01 01.00.00 2.jpg

Oh hey, would you look at that, Monday swung back around.  *eyeroll*  Although actually, I’m kind of relieved.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Cwtch household; Sunny’s been travelling non-stop with his work, I’ve pretty much been chained to the computer and then last Friday, Bungle went into the vets for an “operation” – if y’know what I mean – which meant a whole weekend of staying in and keeping his head out of his crotch.  Fun times!  So, needless to say, we’ve been kind of running on empty – as have a lot of people I’ve spoken to.  It’s funny; it seems like the crossover between March and April’s been a little manic for everyone.

I had one of those blue days last week where everything just got on top of me and I needed to take ten.  Usually when that happens I like to do a little baking to de-stress, but I wasn’t in the mood to do anything too complicated.  Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to the basics and bake something easy but satisfying.  Turns out we had a whole punnet of blueberries sitting in the fridge (they were supposed to be for porridge, but it had been Frosties kinda week…) and so I thought I’d whip up some Blueberry Muffins to see me through the rest of the week!  They’re stupidly simple and adapted from a recipe I found on the Red Magazine website just before Christmas – except that my batch have a little cinnamon and some extra crunch with the added granola and demerara sugar topping.  Yum!

DSC_0011

Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g blueberries
  • 50g granola (click here for my recipe)
  • 50g demerara sugar
  1. Set your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with lightly greased cases (I like to use the 1 calorie spray because it makes things easier 😉 ).
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar – then beat in the eggs until the mix is nice and fluffy.
  3. Next, gently fold in the flour little by little – alternating with the milk.  Finally, stir in the blueberries (I like my muffins gooey and full of fruit, so I used a loooooot of blueberries, but feel free to dial it back a little if that’s not your jam), cinnamon and salt.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, then sprinkle each one with a generous helping of granola and demerara sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes.

DSC_0012

Have a great week! 🙂

 

Pineapple and Coconut Tray-bake

DSC_0025.JPG

Happy Mother’s Day – for Sunday!  It’s honestly one of my favourite days of the year, because not only do I get to celebrate the fabulous Mama Cwtch (more on her in a sec…), but it’s also kind of a Spring milestone, isn’t it?  Once Mother’s Day swings around (in the UK at least – I know you American lot celebrate it a little bit later) there’s usually blossom on the trees and the weather is hopefully (finger’s crossed!) starting to turn towards summer.  It’s been warm and sunny all week here in Cardiff, and it’s been bloody lush!  LONG MAY IT REIGN.

I owe a lot of things to my lovely Mama – my massive boat feet and sensitive skin for one (thanks Mum!), as well as my impulsive nature (let’s do this right now!!!) and love of photography.  But also my sweet tooth and love of baking (I’m always the first person to suggest stopping for tea and a cake – if my Mum doesn’t get in there first!).  The first cake I ever made was a simple Victoria Sponge with my Mum standing on a stool in our kitchen, and boy how far I’ve come since then. 🙂

This pineapple and coconut tray bake is nothing special to look at fresh out of the oven, but is totally transformed with a layer of coconut buttercream and a scattering of flowers made from dried out pineapple rounds.  I saw the idea in this month’s Tesco Food Magazine and I think the Hummingbird Bakery do something similar – and it’s such simple but genius way to finish off a cake!  Sweet!

DSC_0016.JPG

Pineapple and Coconut Tray-bake

Ingredients

  • 125g Butter
  • 100g Self-raising Flour
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50g Desiccated Coconut
  • 150ml Buttermilk
  • 1 fresh Pineapple
  • Poppy Seeds

for the buttercream:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  1. Give yourself a little bit of time and make the pineapple flowers a day ahead.  Slice the leaves and prickly outer layer of your pineapple off, and then use a teaspoon to core out those spikes.  Turn the pineapple on its side and very carefully thinly slice half of the pineapple into rounds (save the other half, you’re going to use it later!).  Next, set your oven to a low heat (around 100°C) and grab a muffin tray.  Turn it over, and place the pineapple slices over the cups – then pop them in the oven.  It’ll take them about an hour an a half to dry out fully and curl at the edges.
  2. To make the cake – set your oven to 170°C and then grease and line a rectangular baking tray.
  3. Cream together the caster sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Then, beat in egg.
  4. Sift together the dry ingredients (the flour, baking powder and desiccated coconut) and then fold into the buttercream and egg mix.
  5. Gently stir in the buttermilk, then pour the mixture into the baking tray.
  6. Remember the leftover half a pineapple?  Slice it neatly into rectangles, then arrange over the surface of the cake, making sure to overlap them as the cake will rise and expand as it bakes.  Bake in the oven for 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave the cake to cool.
  7. While the cake is cooling, whip up your buttercream by creaming together the butter, icing sugar and coconut cream.  Once the cake has cooled, spoon it over the surface.
  8. Arrange the pineapple flowers over the top, then spoon a little bit of buttercream into the centre of each.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds, then serve! 🙂

DSC_0012.JPG

You can see a video of me making this cake on IGTV.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mamas out there! 💛

Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake

DSC_0010.JPG

Firmly on the Blood Orange bandwagon and no sign of jumping off.  Sorry not sorry.  How was your Valentine’s Day?  Did you celebrate?  Do you celebrate?  I didn’t even get a card, you guys.  Sunny was really busy working in London all day, and to be honest we don’t really celebrate it.  Doesn’t mean I wasn’t just a teeny bit jealous when I watched one of my lovely neighbours squealing over the massive bouquet that turned up on her doorstep… but whatever!  Although, to be fair, Sunny did take me to the opera over the weekend, and since he was willing to sit next to me and endure three hours of Mozart being screamed at him, I think we can call it even… Also, he never gets a chance to buy me flowers because I’m always buying them for myself! 😉

I guess it’s those little gestures all year round that really count, right?  Like, Sunny always walks Bungle on a Saturday morning so I can have a lie in.  He always lets me have the extra cream egg when we buy three (not that he’d really have much choice on that one…).  He de-ices my car and fills up the screen-wash when it’s running low, and he knows how to pull me out of a rut.  My little gestures tend to be food-related; I’m a total feeder.  Last week I made this really easy upside down cake and topped it with blood oranges.  It’s sticky and sweet, and if you choose the juiciest blood oranges then you’ll get the prettiest topping.  The hardest part is making the caramel – but really, as long as you’re not tempted to stir, it’s a doddle. 🙂

DSC_0029

Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Ripe Blood Oranges, thinly sliced
  • 125g Butter
  • 125g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • 100ml Buttermilk

For the Caramel:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 75g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 100ml of water
  1. Set your oven to 170° and grease a silicon baking tin (I used a heart shaped one because, Valentines Day!) – it’ll make things easier when it comes to flipping the cake.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
  2. Make the caramel by putting your caster sugar in a saucepan with water.  Bring it to the boil on a medium heat without stirring (don’t be tempted!).  Once the sugar has all dissolved and the mixture has started to turn a lovely tawny, amber colour – stir in your butter.  As soon as the butter has melted in, pour the caramel into the bottom of your cake tin.  Now, evenly layer your orange segments on top.
  3. Hard part’s over!  Now to make the cake, you’re going to cream together the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl.  Stir in the egg.
  4. Now, in a separate bowl sift together most of your dry ingredients; that’s the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.  Combine with the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in the buttermilk to make a light batter, and then pour it into the tin over the orange and caramel base.  Smooth over the top, then bake for 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).  Leave to cool.
  6. When you’re ready to serve, flip your cake so the caramel and orange base is on top.  Serve with cream… 🙂

Have a great week!

Mini Nutella Palmiers

Nutella Palmiers

Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day!  Or, for the uninitiated, Welsh Valentines Day!  I went into a little bit more detail on why exactly we celebrate Valentines Day a little earlier than the rest of the world here in Wales in this post (along with a little recipe for Blood Orange Doughnuts 🙂 ) – but it’s basically a Game of Thrones-esque story about a time when Kings had 24 daughters and princesses routinely ran off into the woods and turned their lovers into blocks of ice.  As you do.  😉

For me, I celebrate it in much the same way I’d celebrate Valentines Day; I hunt down a non-soppy card and hand it to him first thing in the morning along with something sweet that I’ve baked.  This year we’re heading off on a little road trip for the weekend so I wanted to make something bite-sized that we can scoff in the car – so I made these sweet little Palmiers filled with Nutella.  They’re as easy to make as rolling some puff pastry and cracking open a jar of Nutella (something I’m very, very good at…) and almost look like hearts… well, I tried! 🙂

dsc_0025

Mini Nutella Palmiers

Ingredients

  • Ready-made Puff Pastry
  • Plenty of Nutella
  • Icing Sugar
  1. Roll out your puff pastry until it’s about half a centimeter thick and then cut off the rough edges so your sheet is shaped like a rectangle.  Thinly spread (and rarely do I use the word “thinly spread” when Nutella is concerned…) your Nutella over the sheet, making sure you go right up to the edges.
  2. To roll your palmiers, think scroll; carefully roll each end into the middle until you’ve got what looks like a rolled up scroll.  Pop it in the fridge to chill for an hour, and then cut it into rounds about a centimeter thick with a sharp knife.  
  3. Spread the palmiers out evenly on a baking tray and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 220°.
  4. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

Nutella Palmiers

Happy St Dwynwen’s Day!

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup

dsc_0049

I think 2018 will be remembered as the year I officially, head over heels fell in love with Thai food.  It’s fresh and filling and colourful (I don’t know about you, but colourful food cheers me up this time of year); more importantly, it’s so quick and easy to make!  Pad Thai (♡♡♡) and Massaman Curry are my midweek meal saviours, and even though that’s not about to change, I’ve been feeling like branching out a little and adding a few more Thai recipes to my arsenal.

I threw this soup together just before Christmas.  I had some Thai Green Curry paste in my cupboard and a can of coconut milk going spare, and, when I reached right to the back I found an old pack of instant noodles.  The filthy kind.  You know the ones, they cost about 30p (or at least they did when I used to buy them on the way back home from High School) and come with a flavour sachet.  So wrong and yet so, so right.  I was just going to whip up the curry and have the noodles with it instead of rice, but then as they were boiling away it occurred to me that the flavoured water they were bubbling in would make a pretty good stock.  So I poured one pot into the other and wham-bam, here’s your Noodle Soup, maam.  It’s vegetarian (as long as you make sure you use vegetable-flavoured noodles instead of the chicken ones, obviously) and perfect for cold and gloomy January nights at home in front of the box.  Just make sure you only add the noodles when you’re ready to eat, because they’ll start slurping up that soup before you get a chance to! 🙂

dsc_0066

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • Thai Green Curry Paste
  • 400ml can of Coconut Milk
  • 2 packs of vegetable-flavoured instant noodles (cheaper the better!)
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Sliced Chestnut Mushrooms
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Sliced Spring Onions
  • Sprinkle of black pepper and sesame seeds
  1. Heat up a deep saucepan with the vegetable oil, then add most of your vegetables – holding some spring onion slices back to garnish with later. 
  2. Stir in the green curry paste until it coats the veg, then pour in the coconut oil – stirring until it turns green. 🙂  Bring the boil, then simmer.
  3. Break the noodle block into a separate saucepan, sprinkle in the flavour sachet and then add boiling water.  Leave the noodles to bubble until they soften.
  4. Once the noodles are soft, pour the stock into the curry to create your soup.  The noodles will soak everything up quickly, so only add them to the soup once you’re ready to eat!  
  5. Garnish with the remaining spring onions, black pepper and sesame seeds – then slurp! 😉

dsc_0056

Happy weekend! 🍜