Weekends are perfect for baking & I especially adore Sunday mornings! It’s as if time stands still, those precious couple of hours when it’s just you, your cup of coffee calmness & the birds singing outside. Although I do love baking anytime, there’s a ravishingly relaxing appeal about weekend baking – up & at ’em early, whipping up a batch of bakes, their heavenly scent perfuming the whole house while everyone sleeps. Plus, we all have those days where only cake will do, even for breakfast. This is one of my favourite family “weekend baking” recipes & it fills that cake-shaped gap we sometimes have.
When I wrote this recipe, I wanted the fluffiness of a cupcake combined with the moist fruitiness of a muffin, so I created my brown sugar cuffins – no, that’s not a spelling error! My cuffins are just what Sunday mornings need – a delicious cupcake-muffin hybrid that’s a little bit lazy & fabulously faff-free. There’s not a drop of oil in sight, definitely no buttercream & there’s more whisking than stirring (electric whisking too, so very little effort required). They’re not going to win any awards for their supermodel looks either – cuffins are meant to be gloriously rustic homemade fayre, rather than delicate dainty perfection. Over the years, I’ve used different fillings (raspberry & white chocolate is always popular), but these are my favourite version. I’ll admit, they’re not the healthiest option, but they are exquisitely satisfying & if you do eat them for breakfast, you’ve got the whole day to burn off those calories!
The recipe below makes a dozen cuffins, although I like to bake double this amount & freeze some for future cuffin cravings (it’s real, trust me!). Ready to bake it happen? Hands washed, aprons on & here we go!
What you need:
4oz Self Raising Flour
4oz Salted Butter (room temp, slightly softened)
2 large Free Range Eggs
3oz Light Soft Brown Sugar (Muscovado)
1oz Caster Sugar*
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (the real stuff, not “essence”)
1 dessertspoon Greek Yoghurt (overflowing a little, not very precise)
Tip of a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder
Approx 150g fresh Blueberries, washed
Zest of a whole Lemon (wash & dry it first)
1 heaped teaspoon of Self-Raising Flour for the fruit
For the syrup:
Juice of a whole lemon
2 tablespoons Caster Sugar*
(*If you don’t have caster sugar, which I rarely ever do, you can use regular granulated sugar & whizz it up in a coffee grinder/blender to make it finer).
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 175*C (fan oven) & line muffin trays with paper cases (I used paper cupcake cases, which work perfectly).
Pat the washed blueberries on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper, then tip them onto a shallow plate or casserole dish lid & add the lemon zest. Sprinkle with the teaspoon of flour (you don’t need much) & give everything a good shake around, until the blueberries are completely coated. The zest may fall to the bottom of the dish, but there should be hardly any flour left (if there is, don’t worry, just tip everything into a sieve to shake off the excess). Set aside on the plate for later.
Using an electric whisk, cream the butter, sugars & vanilla extract together until it becomes a fluffy, spun gold colour.
Add one egg at a time to the creamed butter & sugar mixture, then whisk thoroughly, repeating until all the eggs are combined.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate & baking powder into the mixture & then using a spatula, fold into the wet ingredients completely so you are left with a pale golden batter.
Add the Greek yoghurt & give it a good swish around with the spatula, before sprinkling in approximately three quarters of the blueberries & lemon zest (save some for pre-baking topping). Stir them into the mixture & you’re done!
Scoop little mounds of the mixture into your prepared muffin tins (carefully, so you don’t burst any blueberries), using either an ice-cream scoop or two large dessert spoons (they don’t need to be exact).
Once they’re all full, plop a few of the leftover blueberries on top of each cake with a few strands of lemon zest.
Bake on the lower shelf of the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the cuffins have risen & are a deep gold – the plopped on blueberries will have half-disappeared into the tops.
To check they are cooked, poke a strand of dry spaghetti in the centre of a cuffin & if it comes out clean, they’re ready!
Carefully place onto a cooling rack & leave to cool slightly, while you make the zesty lemon syrup.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon into a jug (I usually stick a fork in the centre of each half, then squish it around firmly over the jug). Add a couple of tablespoons of sugar & heat either in the microwave or in a small pan, until the sugar has dissolved into the lemon juice. Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
Get the spaghetti strand again & poke a few holes in the top of each cake while they’re still warm. Spoon a little of the lemon syrup onto the cakes, drizzling sparingly (you can save any leftover syrup in an ice-cube tray in the freezer).
Leave them for a couple of minutes, until the syrup has soaked nicely into the top of each cuffin. If you allow to cool completely, you can freeze them in small batches using a bag or air-tight container. They take a few minutes to defrost on a cooling rack & will still be as moist & fluffy as when you first baked them – perfect for when you crave a cake, but don’t want to bake!
Before the rest of the family get up, go pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, grab a cuffin or two & indulge in a little cakely goodness before you start your day! Stay hungry! Aimee 😉 x