Tag Archives: ethanol

Blackberry Muffins

14 Jan

In the interests of full disclosure, this recipe was originally supposed to be Raspberry and Apple Cupcakes (oh you would have found out eventually). But I didn’t have any apples. And, then when I got the bag of mixed berries out of the freezer I realised I didn’t have any raspberries either. *Insert comedy wah-wah* Not to worry! We’ll pick-up where we left-off last time with some more frankencooking.

This recipe is adapted taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking


125g butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup milk

150 fresh or frozen raspberries

1 large apple, peeled and chopped finely

150g frozen blackberries

2 tsps icing sugar

Method (makes 12):

1. Preheat oven to 180 oC. Line 12-hole muffin pan with cases.

2. Beat butter, extract, and sugar in a bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in sifted  flour and milk, in two batches. Stir in fruit.

3. Divide mixture between cases. Bake about 30 minutes. Stand cakes for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool. Dust with sifted icing sugar.


As I mentioned, I’ve replaced the apple and raspberries with frozen blackberries.

I’m also halving the recipe to make a smaller six-muffin batch. A “limited edition collection”, if you will.

The ceremonial disrobing of the butter. (If we can’t have fun with the butter part of this recipe, when can we have fun, eh?)

Our old friend ethanol (aka “vanilla extract”).

An unsuccessful first attempt at blending the butter and the sugar with the electric mixer.

And finally…

= Mashed potato?! Wha-?

After mixing in the egg. Good old spatula always gets the job done.

Sainsbury’s Basics berry mix. While it was a little disappointing in this recipe, I’m feeling more optimistic this time. I’ve got Basics Pride. It’s just so cheap!

How can you find fault with these?

Picking out the blackberries to have my wicked way with them.

In they go, before they start to thaw and bleed colour into the muffin mix.

Oops, too late! Must have been all that fondling.

It looks like tutti-frutti ice cream.

The blackberries are oozing when I take the cakes out of the oven – that’s what we like to see!

After a blitzkrieg of powdered sugar. They look pretty similar to the recipe picture.



Delicious. The berries have retained most of their shape, so have a satisfyingly gooey bite to them. Plus, the syrupy fruit-juices keep the cake moist.

Recipe cons:

The con of this recipe is that it’s for raspberry and apple muffins, when really it should be for blackberry muffins – because these are much better (probably).

Also, why do my cakes keep rising to domed peaks when the ones in the picture are flat on top? I measure and sift according exactly to the recipe, so what’s that about?

Recipe pros:

It couldn’t be simpler and the fruit is a nice way to add sweetness. You could probably eat these for breakfast and nobody could even say anything or give you a disapproving look.



Lady Grey Cupcakes with Knights in White Icing

12 Jan

I love a good cup of tea. Possibly more than is healthy. I get through about ten cups a day, from the spectrum of black through to white, from loose-leaf to bags. When it comes to tea I’m an equal opportunity drinker. A Saturday treat is buying a new variety from the supermarket. When I moved back to the UK from China, I left personal items behind so that I could pack my hand luggage with tea. Phew, it feels good to get that off my chest. I like tea.

This recipe was the result of a lack of other ingredients. The only recipe I was equipped for was basic cupcakes. I then adapted it to include tea. Seemples.

This recipe is adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking.


125g butter, softened

½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup caster sugar

3 eggs

2 cups self-raising flour

1/4 cup milk

6 Lady Grey teabags

Glace icing:

2 cups icing sugar

20g butter, melted

2 tbsp hot water

Method (makes 24):

1. Preheat oven to 180 oC. Line two 12-hole muffin pans with cases.

2. Warm the milk and add teabags. Allow to steep for 10 minutes.

3. Combine ingredients in medium bowl; beat with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium; beat about 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth.

4. Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture into each case; bake about 20 minutes. Stand cakes about 5 minutes, then cool on wire racks.

5. Top cakes with glace icing.

To make icing:

1. Place sifted icing sugar in small bowl; stir in butter and enough of the hot water to make a paste; spread atop cakes.


I’ve halved the recipe. As much as I might want them, I don’t need 24 cupcakes.

Steeping the teabags in milk. This is where it all went a bit off piste. Adapting a recipe is nerve-wracking. It could be great – resulting in glory and deliciousness, or it could be grit-biscuits all over again.

A close up of the tea-infusion. Looks enticing, no? In fact, it looks like the many cups of almost-finished tea that have ended up dotted around my flat. This particular specimen looks like one that’s been sitting there a few days – although the teabag would be crispier by now.

I am the Damien Hirst of butter.

A quarter tsp of vanilla essence. The back of the bottle says that it includes ethanol. Isn’t that like pure alcohol?

According to fount of knowledge that is Wikipedia:

Ethanol, also called ethyl alcoholpure alcoholgrain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatileflammable, colorless liquid. It is a powerful psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. It is best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and thermometers. In common usage, it is often referred to simply as alcohol or spirits.

And we’re putting this in cakes? Wowsa.

In it all goes. No sieving this time. Boo! It looks a lot like primary school cooking classes.

I always feel like it’s cheating to use the electric mixer. It makes it too easy. Where’s the sweat? The toil? And yet, my pathetic upper body strength rules out using a wooden spoon. I’ve also noticed a strong correlation between (a.) the using of the electric mixer and (b.) the getting of cake mixture in hair. Science.

From this…

To this. It’s pretty much exactly like Blue Peter here.

The original recipe was for 24 cakes. I halved the recipe, but then didn’t seem to have enough to make 12. So I made six big ones instead.

The error of my ways has become clear. There was too much mixture which (I think) is what has made them over-rise and crack on the top.

Poor little guy.

Making the glace icing. I can’t believe it requires a whole cup of icing sugar. Aren’t I sweet enough?

This icing lark couldn’t be any easier. I was pretty ambivalent with the spatula and it still formed icing in no time.

This is the baking equivalent of papering over the cracks – but better, because I can also eat the evidence.

This might be the ethanol talking, but I think the cake has almost an almost Von Trapp Family feel to it – all full-fat milk and girls in gingham.

Partners in crime.



Very good. While the cakes don’t smell of anything, the tea notes are subtle but definitely there in the taste. It adds a slight citrussy-spiciness. I’m glad I went with the icing – it  jazzes up the whole cake, and stops it becoming too bland.

Recipe cons:

I still can’t get my head around measurements. I thought by halving everything in the recipe, I’d end up with half the number of muffins. But perhaps I just overfilled the cases, and there should have been enough for 12.

Recipe pros:

It couldn’t be any quicker or simpler to make. It mostly involves ingredients you probably already have, and you could substitute any type of black tea for flavour.