Apricot & Nasturtium cupcakes

Ok so these aren’t strictly muffins but to me the lines between muffins and cupcakes are blurred anyway.  So please forgive me just this once.

Butterfly cake

As soon as I saw the idea of adding chopped nasturtium flowers to apricot jam on Butter, Sugar, Flowers I knew I had to make it. Each time I climb the steps into my house I see a cascade of beautiful nasturtiums with their bright orange heads peaking out in amongst a sea of green.

Nasturtium jam

Then, well timed I needed to bake a little something special for a play date/ cake date. Sadly with no butter in the house my options were limited. Good Food magazine came to my rescue with a recipe for olive oil and apricot cake. It seemed like it was meant to be, apricot cake and apricot nasturtium jam!

Now all I had to do was make it a child friendly activity for a morning of mummying. I was reminded how much I loved making butterfly cakes as a child by Liz at My Favourite Pastime. Now this idea definitely had wings!

Butterfly cake and nasturtium

How do you come up with your ideas for bakes?

Zumba fitness

Like many a housewife across the country I too have joined the Zumba craze. In case you’re not as ‘with it’ as I am Zumba is a dance based form of exercise inspired by Latin rhythms. I’ve never been much of a dancer. My flatmates from University will testify to that. When I was persuaded to join them for a good night out it always showed that I felt doomed to foot shuffling and awkwardness. Given the choice I would choose a quiet drink in the pub.

So it seems strange that recently I have been consistently getting up early on a Saturday morning to take not one but two classes! I even usually find that I’m dancing with a huge grin on my face. It’s difficult not to when you’re dancing like a “funky sexy chicken”.

The other people that take the class are fascinating. Coming from all walks of life they have very distinct characteristics. Jump around girl only has one move and spends her entire time just bouncing. I’m sure she tried to follow the instructor. At least she is getting a work out even if she’s not moving perfectly. The men who have braved the class (and there have been a couple) find themselves with similar co-ordination issues.

Then there’s the Zumba gang who come fully made up and kitted out ready to Zumba. In fact the instructor will sometimes look to them for support if she loses her place. And I’m always very impressed by the stamina of the lady who is old enough to be my granny. I can only hope that I’m as fit as she is when I’m her age.

So watch out, if I ever find myself reluctantly out clubbing I now have some moves! More likely though I’ll be able to dance with just enough style to embarrass my poor daughter when she’s a teen. Parental prerogative!

Anyway, Zumba is a really fun and enjoyable way to keep fit. Have you tried it? Were there any great characters in the class?

Sweet potato and chocolate muffin

An abundance of sweet potato led to these little beauties. Based on this pumpkin muffin recipe over on The Vanilla Bean blog these turned out really well (and proved very popular with my taste testers). Sweet potato chocolate muffin in muffin tin

Cacao nibs, dark chocolate and macadamia nuts add flecks of flavour and texture to this already full flavoured muffin. Macadamia nut in a sweet potato chocolate muffin

The sweetness in the muffin itself comes from maple syrup. With added wholemeal flour they make a filling breakfast or a nutritious snack while mountain biking in the Glens. Or they are even great just shared with friends on a rainy afternoon alongside a nice cup of tea.

Sweet potato chocolate muffin

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Courgette and bacon muffin

Autumn is clearly on it’s way. There may be some days when the sun still shines and it’s warm but the air is definitely cooler and the leaves are changing. I am a big fan of the colder seasons. I much prefer being bundled up in a big cosy jumper than wafting around in a floaty summer dress.

Courgette and bacon muffin with soupThe colder weather also lets me indulge in one of my most favourite meals. There’s nothing else quite like a big bowl of homemade vegetable soup served with a warm-from-the-oven savoury muffin when it’s cold and rainy outside. A friend gave me a big filled with marrows to use which was the starting point for these muffins. I was inspired by one of the soups I make regularly, courgette and cumin. For an added extra crunch and a little bit of extra protein for lunch I topped them with crispy grilled bacon bits but these could easily be left off for a vegetarian friendly version.

Bacon topped muffins

The cumin added some much needed flavour to the marrow but my decision to make these with only wholemeal flour was the downfall of these uber-filling muffins. My two-year old favoured the bacon bits and indeed refused to eat anything other than the bacon (she is definitely my harshest critic!)

With a second not so great attempt at courgette muffins under my belt can anyone suggest a really great recipe for me to try?

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Chocolate muffin (again)

This chocolate muffin recipe turned out so well I decided to make it again. But this time as well as egg-free I wanted to make it dairy free! Ambitious? Yes but also a great success. I substituted crunchy peanut butter for the normal butter and almond milk for the cow’s milk and the results were again delicious. The little morsels of peanut added an extra dimension to the softness of the muffin.

peanut morsel

Even the non-peanut fan in the family enjoyed them. I’m also pretty sure that you could use almond butter instead to keep the consistency with the almond milk.

Chocolate peanut muffinAnyway if you haven’t tried these yet what are you waiting for, give them a go!

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Blueberry banana muffins

As promised, it’s time for the most classic of all muffins, blueberry. With so many great recipes out there it was difficult to decide what to bake…

Blueberry in front of muffin

You’ll know by now that I’m not really into the classic so my blueberry muffins needed to have a twist. I really want to create healthier muffins and blueberries are a great way to do that. Also bananas. I had a few that turned brown while I was off celebrating the wedding of two friends. This recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction sounded delicious. I’m not quite ready to give up all my sugar just yet but this seemed to have a good balance between sugar and honey.

Straight from the oven they looked stunning! They were well risen and the blueberries were bursting through the cake tops in a burst of sticky fruity messiness. And I was right, the flavour was amazing! It was rich, fabulously fruity and not too sweet.

Blueberry muffin trio

But there was one problem, a soggy bottom! I struggled to get the majority of the muffins out of the tin in one piece. The batter may have been a little too runny so lots of blueberries sank. Next time I’d try them without the added yoghurt and perhaps with fewer blueberries.

Soggy blueberries

Since I made these I found another most delicious sounding blueberry banana muffin recipe over on Dinnerbysusan which is now on my bucket list of recipes to make.

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