Rhubarb mania part 1: rhubarb crumble muffins

Rhubarb crumble muffinsThere is a lot to be happy about today: first of all, the sun came out (I nearly forgot what it looked like by now) – history (aka the last couple of months) has taught us not to immediately assume that summer is now here to stay, but still, it’s a good day. Secondly, it’s a Sunday followed by a bank holiday, so you can properly enjoy it, old school style, and be totally lazy about it. The third reason is that today is World Baking Day (yes, there really is a day for everything, your day will come soon too) so I’m putting on some aptly named “tart deco” nail polish to mark the occasion. And finally: rhubarb season is here! I had some trouble to get hold of any: in Belgium, everyone has some in their garden, so shops don’t bother selling it. As I don’t have a garden and my parents don’t have enough for the whole family, I had to order a whole crate of it, hence the “part 1” in the title. I’ve been slicing and dicing it all week, so lots more rhubarb recipes will follow in the coming weeks! These rhubarb crumble muffins from one of my trusted GoodFood magazines are a great and easy way to get started. Here’s how to make them:

Heat the oven to 200 C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases. Halve 175 g rhubarb lengthways and dice it. Put it in a large bowl and stir with 175 g  sugar. Set aside while you make the crumble topping: in a separate bowl, mix together 50 g light muscovado sugar with 50 g plain flour, 25 g porridge oats (or rolled oats) and 1 tsp cinnamon, then rub in 50 g butter with your fingertips until clumpy.

Back to your sugary rhubarb (don’t worry if it became a little bit juicy). Stir in 2 tbsp sunflower oil1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 125 ml buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, just add regular milk and a squeeze of lemon juice instead). Now, add 2oo g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and stir well.

Quickly spoon into the cases, then scatter each with a thick layer of the crumble mixture. Bake for 15-18 min until golden and a cocktail stick poked into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 min before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If you don’t plan to eat them all in a matter of days (perfectly feasible though), you can wrap them one by one in tin foil and freeze them. Just take one straight from the freezer in the morning to take to work for example and it will be ready to eat by lunchtime. Enjoy!

Fast, fresh and simple: blueberry muffins

Blueberry muffinsI absolutely love blueberry muffins, so I have already tried several recipes to get that moist texture full of blueberries. I firmly believe it should not be a nice cake with some blue dots here and there were the berries are, it should be blue all the way. And I finally found a recipe that delivers on that and it’s fast and simple as well! I’ve been watching some episodes of Donna Hay‘s Fast, Fresh and Simple, which is were I saw her make this recipe. As an Australian, she cooks using cups. I’ve translated it in European weights, but I’m adding the cup indications as well as it’s even easier for those who use them. Finally, this really is a store cupboard recipe as well, so it’s great for a lazy Sunday, like mine!

First, preheat the oven to 180 C and line a muffin tin with paper cases. In a bowl, mix 375 g self-raising flour (2 and 1/2 cups) with 220 g caster sugar (1 cup)  and 1 tsp baking powder. As usual, don’t bother sieving it. Make a well in the center and add 125 ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup) – you can use sunflower oil for example, if using olive oil, use one with a neutral taste otherwise it will taste through in your muffins – 125 ml milk (1/2 cup – I always use semi-skimmed, but you can use whole milk as well, just take what’s in your fridge), 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract (or the seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod). Give the liquids a good stir to break up the egg yolk and bring the dough together in a few stirs. Now add 300 g frozen blueberries and stir again to disperse them evenly. Distribute the dough over the 12 muffin cases and give them a good sprinkle of granulated sugar for that extra crunchy top layer. Put in the oven for 30-35 min until golden brown and springy to the touch. Enjoy!