Earlier this week, Justin bought a big bag of special offer carrots… and then, couple of days later, his mum gave us half a bag of her bulk buy special offer carrots. We had a sudden glut!
So this week’s cake baking had to utilise some!
Fortunately we do love a good carrot cake, but decided on a little twist by making some carrot muffins with spiced Quark topping.
Cinnamon and pineapple are the dominant flavours – there’s a hint of ginger in there too.
Quark a fairly unusual ingredient with a taste and consistency somewhere between crème fraîche and cream cheese. We think it worked really well.
The resulting muffins are moist and full of flavour – and just a little bit different.
It’s an easy recipe, so a batch can be knocked up quickly.
They’re a great partner for that afternoon cup of tea we talked about recently.
- 40g/1½oz butter
- 150g/5oz ground almonds
- 30g/1oz caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 500g/1lb 2oz ricotta cheese
- 150g/5oz caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- juice from ½ lemon
- 25g/1oz plain flour
- 15g/½oz flaked almonds, toasted (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF
- Grease an 18cm/7-inch loose-bottomed cake tin
- In a medium saucepan, add the butter and put over a low heat until melted
- Remove from the heat add the almonds and sugar and combine well
- Tip the mix out into the cake tin and press uniformly into the base using the back of a spoon
- Bake the base for 10 minutes, set aside and allow to cool
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta and caster sugar until smooth
- Gently beat the eggs in a measuring jug before adding gradually to the cheese & sugar mix. Stir well after each addition
- Mix in the vanilla extract and then the lemon juice
- Sift the flour into the mix and combine well
- Pour the mixture on to the almond crumb base and bake for a hour
- After the hour, turn the oven off and leave the door ajar allowing the cake to cool in the oven
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the toasted flaked almonds over the top
- Allow to cool in the tin completely before removing
Often when we visit Justin’s parents, we’re waved off with a food parcel. It usually consists of chocolate, biscuits and fruit & veg. Sometimes they’re items that were part of multi-buy offers which would be too much for them to consume before going off.
Last week, said goody bag included half a dozen sweet potatoes. Strange, we know. We didn’t have them down as sweet potato fans; we don’t buy them too often ourselves either.
I’ve used some of them this week to make a batch of sweet potato muffins. I’d never tried making them before and I didn’t know what to expect.
I thought they’d be quite heavy and filling, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The addition of both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda meant they were light and airy.
A little sprinkling of demerara sugar just before they went into the oven gave them a nice, crunchy top.
Just the right size for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up with a brew!
Now, what to do with the rest of the bag of sweet potatoes… any suggestions?
If you’d like to save this recipe for later, you can pin it from here.
- 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 200g/7oz flaked almonds
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120ml/4 fl oz vegetable oil
- 80ml/3 fl oz water
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½tsp baking powder
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- ½tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease a 12-hole muffin tray or two 6-hole muffin tins or line with paper muffin cases
- Bake the sweet potatoes, skin on, for about 20 minutes until soft and cooked. Allow to cool before scraping the flesh out of the skins and mashing until all the lumps are removed
- Toast the flaked almonds, shaking a couple of times to get a uniform colour. This takes 5-8 minutes
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil and water until the sugar has dissolved
- Add the cooled, puréed sweet potato
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the centre
- Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry and combine well
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top of each and put in the oven
- Bake for 20 minutes before allowing to cool on a wire rack
- They can be eaten warm or cold and can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days
So far on our allotment, the only things that have come to fruition are the currant bushes that we inherited. The last time we were there we did a little bit of weeding but we spent the vast majority of our time picking shiny, jewel-like blackcurrants and redcurrants. We harvested almost a kilo of the latter – that’s over £10-worth from a supermarket! 125 grams of it was put towards making a batch of redcurrant muffins.
We acquired a silicon muffin tray in a boxed lot at an auction many moons ago that we surprisingly, have never used. Fished out, dusted down and washed; it turned out 6 big, beautiful muffin specimens! Silicon is a revelation – baked goods ease out of it with no cajoling whatsoever! If you’ve not tried it before, Lakeland does a good range of affordable silicon baking tins, pans and trays.
The redcurrant muffin recipe used here was found on the Abel & Cole website. The rest of the redcurrants have been put into the freezer temporarily, waiting to be turned into jam, jelly and relish; so keep a watch out for some more redcurrant recipes to follow!
It’s National Cupcake Week this week so I may just have to oblige and make a batch.
Justin’s very particular about his ‘buns’ (as he refers to them). He likes his cupcakes without the tooth-aching icing on top. To me, that makes it just a muffin! What do you think? What’s the difference between a cupcake, bun and a muffin? Are you a fan of the current cupcake fad sweeping the world?