Blueberry cheesecake muffin

Apologies for the silence and lack of muffin last Monday. My excuse is that I was on holiday. That’s right I actually had some proper time out and a complete rest and I’m feeling a whole lot better for it. The holiday was partly to celebrate a birthday so I will have a birthday cake to share with you soon but my week has been muffin free…well almost…

cheesecake muffinEven although our holiday destination was only a 30 minute drive from home we still had a stop off on the way. We managed a little bit of creativity and a bite to eat including this blueberry cheesecake muffin. It had been heated in the microwave for just a few seconds which left the centre deliciously gooey. I may just have to recreate this effect in a muffin at some point soon.

Cheesecake

 

Sweet Tooth

I confess I’ve had my copy of Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth: Recipes and Tips from a Modern Artisan Bakery for quite a while now but have yet to make anything substantial from it. That’s definitely not to say that I don’t like the book. Quite the opposite. It’s a great resource for all bakers, new and experienced. The descriptions of the types of ingredients i.e. different flours and sugars are a valuable resource along with lists of useful tools. Each basic recipe provides variations for readers showing that one simple cake can be made in so many ways. It in no way suggests that this list is complete but rather provides a spring board for inspiration.

My bucket list has grown enormously just by looking through it. Given my current little pause in baking I’ve had time to reflect. A note of my must makes seemed like a good idea and where better to make my list but on here. So when I have time I would like to make the following (in no particular order):

  • Apple and rosemary olive oil cake
  • Chocolate avocado cake
  • Pear, parsnip and ginger cake
  • Hazelnut and pineapple upside-down cake
  • Spiced apple custard tarts
  • Wholegrain spelt scones

I’m going to be one very busy lady and this doesn’t even include all the added extras at the back of the book like pecan brittle and honeycomb.

Pear and ginger muffin

pear and ginger muffin

So here’s a thing about me, I suffer from eczema. It might not seem like a big deal but a recent flare up has made me pretty ill with head to toe yucky skin and swollen glands to boot.

There’s many a story I could tell about doctor’s advice but my personal favourite was when I was told that the drug (for a completely unrelated issue) I was yet to take would not be affecting my current skin condition. Thanks very much for pointing out the obvious, I thought that as soon as a doctor prescribes something it mysteriously makes its way into my blood…

I’m not really one to feel sorry for myself but instead I wanted to know more about my condition. After all knowledge is power. I’ve experimented a little on here with muffins for different diets. This was sparked in part by my own “feeling” that dairy or wheat could be affecting me. I started reading The Eczema Diet: Eczema-Safe Food to Stop the Itch and Prevent Eczema for Life and it turned my whole understanding on its head. For example, I’ve been drinking almond milk thinking those particular nuts are good for my skin but she believes that they are not eczema safe.

I’m still trying to get my head round all the different foods that I “should” be eating and what I “should not”. And trying to work out whether this is a workable solution when I am responsible for feeding my family. I don’t doubt that it’s a very healthy diet and we could perhaps benefit from it but as a working mum do I really have time to make so much from scratch? And will limiting my little one’s diet so severely (albeit for a short time) be good for her?pear

Anyway, these are some of the issues that I’m tackling at the moment. Now onto muffins, the diet advocates pears instead of apples. I’ve never been very keen on eating pears as they are only perfectly ripe for such a short time. So this is my small attempt to adopt pears into my life. And I must say I even rather enjoyed both the muffin and the pear.

Half eaten pear and muffin

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When do you eat yours?

There’s nothing like eating a savoury muffin alongside a bowl of hot steaming root vegetable soup on a rainy autumnal day. At least in my opinion there is nothing better. Muffins are also pretty tasty for breakfast, afterall who doesn’t like cake for breakfast? They also make a pretty good portable snack for the more adventurous among us who spend their weekends in outdoor pursuits. And then who can say no to a glazed treat with their afternoon coffee?

So my question to you is when is the best time to eat a muffin?

Fruit, veg and attempts to exercise

Thanks to you everyone who completely my poll on what else should be included on Much ado about muffin. If you haven’t had a chance to fill it out you can find it here and I’d love for you to tell me what you think in the comments too.

Meanwhile I think I’ll give all my ideas plus your suggestions a whirl and see where they take me. Watch this space for huge amounts of information on fruits, vegetables, special diets and even my attempts to exercise…

only half the story

It occurred to me today that this blog is only covering half the story. My desire to bake and eat cake is so strong that I want to make things that are both a treat but also a little bit healthier. It’s been said for a while that cupcakes with mountains of buttercream are dead. They may be pretty but the quantity of sugar is really unjustified. I prefer to use fresh produce and fruit and nuts feature highly. I’ve also been trying to use different flours particularly wholemeal and brown rather than white sugar.

Even so there has to be a balance. In order to be able to eat muffins regularly I have to be able to burn the calories. I do a pretty good job at maintaining my weight but now I want to lose it. So that I don’t have to give up making delicious muffins to share with you I have to do a whole lot of exercise. With good access to sporting facilities I’ve tried my hand at many different forms of exercise, but still I’m a sporadic exerciser at best. While jumping around in Zumba class today I realised that this might be something you’d be interested to hear about?

I really like, and I’m sure most of you do too, looking at delicious photographs of muffins but the majority of us want to know how to balance it all. I will definitely not be stopping my development of muffin recipes and sharing them but I do have a few ideas of what  I could write about to try to address the issue. These are just my ideas, I’d love to know what you think? What would you like to read about? I’ve made it easy for you with a little poll (I’ve been wanting to do a poll for a while now) but if you have any other suggestions it’d be great if you could leave a comment. Thanks for your help!

Research

A great part of researching muffins is getting to try a whole host of them. This week I visited Mhor Bread in Callander where I tasted a custard muffin and a raspberry muffin. They were good but perhaps a little more cakey than I have liked. Today I had a banofee muffin. The gooey toffee centre was delicious.

The downside of creating muffins is having them critiqued. After some comments on the strawberry almond muffins (photo to follow) I baked tonight I went in search of some tips to improve the texture. I found this article on Simple Bites via Pinterest on how to make the best muffins ever.  I will definitely be trying out some of the top tips next time I bake. If this doesn’t work it might be back to the drawing board with the basic recipe.