Raspberry and yoghurt muffins









Some cakes shouldn’t pretend to be useful. This isn’t one of them. Bert pressed two to his face and digested them like a fly, innocent to the fact they contain spelt flour, yoghurt, almonds and not a huge amount of sugar.

Makes 6 muffins

90g plain flour

30g spelt (or plain brown) flour

70g sunflower oil

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

80g golden caster sugar

100g frozen or fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons plain yoghurt

Flaked almonds to scatter on top

Pre hear the oven to 190/ 180 fan.

Beat all the ingredients except the raspberries and almonds together. Fold through the raspberries then spoon the mixture into a case-lined muffin tin. Scatter each muffin with almonds then bake for 20-25 minutes, till firm to the touch.

The oil gives them a more delicate crumb than butter, and they’re not too sweet. I think frozen raspberries are less prone to sinking, but both work.


Raspberry, almond and yoghurt cake


I strapped Bert into his car seat as he picked his nose and… ‘Are you eating your snot?’ I said. ‘That’s disgusting.’

‘No,’ he corrected me. ‘It’s delicious.’

He then swiped the back of his hand across his nose and held it out to me. ‘You try it,’ he said.

This cake was moist, just sweet enough and delicious. But its not the most delicious thing we’ve eaten this week.

Makes a small loaf

125g soft butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

125g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

45g ground almonds

125ml Greek yoghurt (or other plain yoghurt)

125g raspberries

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees.

Beat the sugar and butter together till light and creamy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla with the last egg. Fold through the flour, baking powder, almonds and yoghurt, then finally stir through the raspberries, gently. Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin or 20cm round tin. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, till golden and firm on top. We had ours warm with a dollop of yoghurt, and now I’m thinking that that’s practically a balanced breakfast tomorrow.


Storecupboard bakewell muffins


Today, as on many days when I’m alone with Bert, we’re busy in the morning then have to fit in a dog walk after Bert’s luxuriously long lunchtime nap and before it gets dark. As a result, I bribe him into it by taking the pram and iPad, along with dummy, blanket and John.

So today at 4pm a maudlin Bert was dressed in his oversized fake fur deerstalker hat and only-just-big-enough green parka, dummy in, looking like a Russian gangster who was no less sinister for being tiny. Meet Sweet Cheeks – happy to sell you a sawn off shot gun for the right price.

Me: Look at the beautiful sunset!

Bert: [taps away at Dinosaur Trucks with very cold hands]

Me: It’s like Christmas lights in the sky!

Bert: [taps away at Dinosaur Trucks]

[Ten minutes’ silent trudging]

Me: Look, a digger.

Bert: [glances up, agrees] Yellow digger. [Back to tapping at Dinosaur Trucks]

In my pre-child fantasies there was more Boden knitwear, stamping through crisp leaves and collecting of acorns involved.

Makes 6 muffins

150g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

150g sunflower oil

150g self raising flour

100g ground almonds

100g frozen cherries, dusted in flour

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180. Beat together all of the ingredients, except the cherries, till smooth, then stir the fruit gently into the batter. The flour dusting helps stop them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins. Divide the mixture between six muffin holes, making sure there are cherries in each. Bake for about 30 minutes, till golden and risen.

Mini marmalade bakewells


Though Bert often greets my offerings of food by saying ‘bleurgh!’, pushing them away or even crying (‘no mummy, please no. Pleeasse! Not nice, Bert not like’), he does just as often eat them greedily or say ‘mmm, Bert like – very nice.’ Substitute, in almost anything he says, the word ‘Bert’ for ‘Gollum’ and you see the true reality of what I’m living with. But anyway, at least he likes his food.

There are some people whose cooking is motivated by the desire to learn how to do something properly and accurately, those who want to feed their family frugally or easily and those who are greedily thinking about food most of the time and invent recipes out of sheer gluttony.

I think it’s clear which camp I belong to, and I hope very much that Bert follows me down the path of taking pleasure in his precious food.

Makes 8-10

200g shortcrust pastry (shop bought unless you’re feeling worthy – there is an upper limit on how much cooking I’m up for in a day and this almost always rules out making pastry)

8-10 teaspoons marmalade

75g ground almonds

75g self raising flour

150g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

Finely grated zest of two oranges

150g soft butter

Flaked almonds to top

Roll the pastry out thinly and cut circles to fit a muffin tray – I make the pastry slightly bigger than the hole since it shrinks in the oven. You can always snap off any over hang when it comes out. Put the pastry cases in the freezer for an hour or so – this prevents the soggy bottom issue without the hassle of blind baking.

Beat together the ground almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, orange zest and butter to make the frangipane.

Spread a teaspoon of marmalade onto each pastry case, then top with a generous desertspoon of frangipane. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and cook at 180/ gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes, till the frangipane is risen and golden brown and firm to the touch.

Swap the orange zest for a teaspoon of vanilla essence and the marmalade for a scattering of frozen cherries for mini cherry bakewells. The same quantities also make a single 25cm tart of either type (cook this bigger version for 30-40 minutes).

Orange cake


So winter has started in earnest, and so have the terrible twos. It’s howling inside and out. In an attempt to warm stomachs and sedate a toddler’s fury that he can’t scribble on my books while being spoon fed dinner from the comfort of a tiny red car, it’s beef stew and warm orange cake for dinner tonight.

In the picture he’s actually eating a hot cross bun as I daren’t take a phone to the table at the moment for fear I’ll end the meal by shouting ‘no bloody Peppa Pig!’ and throwing it across the room.

Makes a 21cm cake

Two large oranges, about 375g in total when pureed

6 eggs

225g golden caster sugar

250g ground almonds

A heaped teaspoon of baking powder

Cover the oranges with cold water, bring to the boil, put a lid on and simmer for 2-2.5 hours. Then remove from the water and blitz to a pulp. Weigh out 375g of it and beat with the other ingredients, cooking in a greased 21cm springform tin at 190 for an hour (or on a gridrack on the bottom of the Aga roasting oven).

We had ours warm with yoghurt or double cream.

Almond and nectarine cake

nec almond

Made a large cake that didn’t last very long

180g self raising flour

180g soft butter

180g golden caster sugar

100g ground almonds

3 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 nectarines, sliced

More butter to line the tin

Beat all the ingredients except the nectarine together till fluffy. While your toddler beats his father over the head with a plastic hammer, butter a loaf tin then layer the nectarines on the bottom and spread the batter over. Cook at 180 (or on the grid shelf on the bottom of the Aga roasting oven with the cool shelf two rungs above) for 30 minutes. We had ours warm with creme fraiche and a headache.

When Bert went to bed we had some more.

Little apple frangipane tarts


Makes two little tarts

1/2 sheet of puff pastry

1 eating apple, finely sliced

1 egg

40g golden caster sugar

40g ground almonds

40g softened butter

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Beat together the egg, almonds, butter, sugar and vanilla essence. Cut two circles out of the puff pastry (mine were about 12 centimetres in diameter). Press a smaller circle into each with the top of a glass and spread a dessert spoon or so of the frangipane mixture over each, keeping within the smaller circle – I’m not entirely sure if you need to bother with this, but I was in a neat-freak mood. Maybe because Bert’s started shaming me by tidying up after me.

Meanwhile, watch your todder finally master the art of forward motion on a wheelybug. (Finally, he won’t back himself into corners and squeal! Oh, he just backed himself into a corner and squealed.) Using the frangipane as a glue, press the apple in each in a spiralling circle (if you can be bothered to be neat) then top with another blob of frangipane to make a kind of frangipane sandwich.

Bake on a lined sheet at 190 or near the middle ish of the Aga roasting oven for about 15 minutes.