Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blueberry White Chocolate Muffins

I make this recipe quite often since they are just about my consummate blueberry muffin...plus chocolate. This is really one of my favourite muffin recipes, although it is one that blurs the line berween muffin and cake. It has juicy sweet blueberries, creamy white chocolate, and ground almonds in the batter. I like to add lemon zest because it enhances the blueberries while cutting through the sweetness of the white chocolate but this is optional. The ground almonds in the batter add texture and a impart a subtle flavour to the finished muffin, although some or all of it can be substituted with flour. Use chunks of white chocolate because white chocolate chips often melt into the batter....not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but the texture will be different. I also love the appearance of these muffins. Topped with sliced almonds, they form perfect little domes when baked, and practically scream "Eat me!" Nobody ever seems to refuse.

Blueberry White Chocolate Muffins

notes: These muffins are best served warm. It is important to sift the dry ingredients to get a light texture.

Prep time: 20 minutes Bake time: 20-25 minutes

Makes 12-16

• 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
• 1/3 cup ground almonds
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup milk
• 3 eggs, beaten
• ½ cup butter, melted
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup fresh blueberries
• ½ cup white chocolate chips or chunks
• sliced almonds, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups.
2. Sift the flour, ground almonds, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar (You can add about a 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest if desired, optional). Lightly beat together the milk, eggs, and butter, then gently fold into the flour with the vanilla extract.
3. Mix in the blueberries and white chocolate- the mixture should be quite lumpy so don’t be tempted to beat it.
4. Spoon the mixture into the paper baking cups until they are three-quarters full. Top each one with some sliced almonds then bake until well-risen and golden, 20-25 minutes.
5. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

From: Piece of Cake by Maggie Mayhew

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I adore old fashioned recipes especially those from the 40's and 50's. and this recipe, a pineapple upside down cake is about as retro as they get. Pineapple slices and maraschino cherries seem to be de riguer for a homemade dessert in the 50's and this recipe uses both of those ingredients to grand effect yet it is a delicious and fanciful dessert.

I used fresh thinly sliced pineapple rather than canned pineapple slices which would work as well and I like to add pecans to my topping because I love the way the buttery crunch enhances the sweet taste of the caramelized pineapple and because I am a southern belle in spirit if not in geography and pecans are just so southern. The maraschino cherries are absolutely necessary to this recipe for authenticity's sake. They add a burst of red to the finished cake.

I like to arrange my pineapple slices in an artful pattern with the maraschino cherries inside the rings and pecans to fill in the open spaces left between the rounds of pineapple.

The cake batter itself is thick and biscuit-like which enables it to stand up to the pineapple. The finished cake is a sturdy tender cake, with a caramel glaze running over the top, fragrant with leaky pineapple and cherry juices. It is tropical and sweet and a tasty reminder of when women used to bake in pearls and high heels.

other vintage recipes:

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Time: 50 minutes Bake Time: 35 minutes dairy

Makes: One 9-inch square cake


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 slices pineapple, or 1 can of drained pineapple chunks
  • maraschino cherries
  • pecan halves


  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk

    1. In a 9-inch square cake pan, melt butter; sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange pineapple and cherries and nut halves on sugar, making a design.
    2. Make cake batter: Cream ½ cup butter; gradually add ½ cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk; beat until smooth, ending with dry ingredients. Pour over pineapple design. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 35 minutes. Let cake cool before turning out onto a serving plate. Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.

From: About.com

Friday, August 27, 2010

Walnut Soda Bread

For a really long time this recipe has been one of my baking standards. I make it quite often and keep slices of it in my freezer for lunches. This is not necessarily a traditional Irish soda bread because it is baked in a loaf pan, but what it has in common with the original is a dense texture, a crisp outer crust and the use of buttermilk and baking soda as leavening agents. The batter comes together in minutes thanks to its use of baking soda instead of yeast and it tastes hearty and wholesome because of the wholewheat flour. Raisins and walnuts add moisture and texture to this loaf. I like to serve soda bread with cheese as the hearty texture stands up to strong flavours, but it is also delicious for breakfast with butter and jam.

Walnut Soda Bread

Makes 1 loaf

• 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• ¾ cup chopped walnut halves
• ¼ cup diced dried figs or raisins (optional)
• 1 tbsp baking powder
• 2 tsp granulated sugar
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 cups buttermilk


1. Grease 9 x 5 inch loaf pan; set aside.
2. In large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, walnuts, figs/raisins, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
3. Make a well in centre; pour in buttermilk and stir to form sticky ball (you may need to add extra buttermilk). Scrape into prepared pan; pushing dough into corners.
4. With a sharp knife, cut shallow slit lengthwise through centre of loaf. Dust with 1 tbsp more all-purpose flour. Bake in centre of 400 degree F oven until golden and cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 55 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on rack. (Make-ahead: wrap in plastic wrap and store for up to three days or wrap in heavy duty foil and freeze for up to one month)

Per slice: about 192 cal, 7 g protein, 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 29 g carb, 3 g fibre, 3 mg cholesterol, 408 mg sodium. % RDI: 10 % calcium, 12% iron, 1% vit C, 21% folate.

Time: about 1-1/2 hours.

From Canadian Living: Holiday Celebrations 2007