Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins (makes 12)

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I like taking cakes into work. I think it’s nice to bring something tasty into the staff room for everyone to be able to enjoy when they’re on their tea breaks and lunch. I always think that there’s something warming and cosy about having some cake available for everyone to partake in, should they choose. Let’s be honest, very few people turn their nose up at a nice bit of cake.

I bought some pretty muffin cases the other day that I wanted to test and after some consideration I settled upon the idea of making carrot cake muffins, but it didn’t sound very exciting to me so I went back to the drawing board and decided to add more flavours to the cakes and so I made chocolate orange carrot muffins instead. I’m so glad I did because they are divine!

If you want a moist cake that’s not going to dry out in a hot environment, such as a very warm staff room, then I’d heartily recommend incorporating two components: a good oil and some sort of fruit or vegetable. You can never go wrong with basing a cake around carrots or courgette because their water content works fantastically to introduce and retain moisture in cake sponge. It’s also a bonus that you can’t even taste the vegetables in the cake once they’ve been baked.

Also, although most cakes tend to add fat to the sponge base by using butter, sadly as it cooks a lot of the water from the butter will evaporate. It will also continue to evaporate the longer the cake sits waiting to be eaten too, whereas using sunflower or vegetable oil (which does not evaporate) will ensure that the fat content (and therefore, moisture) remains present even after it’s been baked in a hot oven. It’s science, innit?

Although these chocolate orange carrot muffins are gluten-free you can easily make them standard muffins by using the same quantity of normal self-raising flour and omitting the xanthan gum and bicarbonate of soda, and only using 1 tsp of baking powder. Although why not give the gluten-free version a go? They’re really tasty and you honestly cannot tell the difference!

These chocolate orange carrot muffins are gorgeous. They’ve got an incredibly soft and bouncy texture, are infused with rich, deep cocoa and have a lovely fresh zing from the orange zest. Their whipped chocolate orange buttercream frosting also does the entire flavour combination justice. Quite frankly I think I’ve outdone myself. Now, I wonder if the boss will like them enough to give me a paid day off…

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

250g of grated carrots

250g brown sugar

250g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xantham gum

50g cocoa powder

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

The zest and juice of 1 orange (keep 2 tbsps of orange juice aside for the buttercream icing)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

For the buttercream icing:

175g icing sugar

25g cocoa powder

50g butter (use dairy-free, if necessary)

2 tbsps orange juice

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay 12 muffin cases out into a muffin tray.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Quickly mix all of the ingredients together using an electric whisk and spoon the mixture equally into the muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Freshly Baked Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Leave to cool and make the buttercream by placing all of the icing ingredients into a jug and whisking until light and whipped.

Once the cakes are completely cold decorate with the buttercream icing and enjoy.

Chocolate Orange Carrot Muffins by The Fat Foodie

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Lemon Tarts

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Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

The other day my Mum was lucky enough to get a huge tray of strawberries at a massively reduced price and after we’d eaten our fill of them accompanied by the outstanding dairy-free ice cream that is Booja-Booja, she very generously gave me the leftovers to use for my blog. I hummed and hawed for a while about what to do with them before settling on the idea of making summery strawberry cupcakes.

Strawberries aren’t usually used in cake mixes because they tend to become a very wet ingredient when added to cake batter, but because of the dry, absorbent nature of gluten-free flour strawberries are exactly the type of fruit ingredient that works well in a gluten-free cake. I thought there might have been a risk that the strawberry flavour wouldn’t come through very strongly, but I was wrong because it created a light, gluten-free sponge that was dotted with sweet little gems of jammy strawberries.

Sometimes I like my sponge cakes to be plain, but other times it’s nice to add a flavouring extract or spice that will complement the key ingredient in a cake and will enhance the overall flavour. Strawberries are well complemented by ginger, so I thought I would add a little bit of ground ginger to the cake batter just to add a subtle kick of heat and background spiciness to the fruity strawberry cupcakes.

This idea worked very well indeed, creating strawberry cupcakes that are comprised of a very soft, airy sponge cake with the delicate background spice of ginger that is generously infused with deliciously fruity jammy chunks of fresh strawberry and topped with creamy buttercream icing. I’d say it’s the perfect cupcake for a summer day.

Strawberry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

120g fine polenta meal

75g ground almonds

50g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsps xanthan gum

2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g sugar

120ml vegetable oil

120ml rice milk

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g strawberries (chopped into small pieces and reserving 12 small slices for the top of the cakes)

To make buttercream icing:

70g dairy-free butter

180g icing sugar

1 tbsp rice milk

1/2 tsp red food colouring

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay your cupcake cases into a couple of muffin trays.

Cut the strawberries into small pieces.

Measure the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and give it a good stir so that they’re all fully mixed.

Measure the wet ingredients into a jug or bowl.

Toss the strawberries in the dry ingredients and then add the wet mixture and stir really well.

Pour into your cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 mins or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool and in the meantime make the buttercream icing by simply whisking all of the icing ingredients together.

Serve the strawberry cupcakes either as they are or with the buttercream icing spread on top.

Strawberry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Banana Rhubarb Cakes (makes 12)

Banana Rhubarb Cakes by The Fat Foodie

Rhubarb is abundant at the moment, not just in our gardens, but in the supermarkets too so I couldn’t resist using it again to bake a sweet treat. The tart nature of rhubarb needs a very sweet counterweight ingredient that makes its natural tartness sing and I can’t think of a better fruit that is bursting with natural sugars than over-ripe bananas. At first I wasn’t quite sure whether the flavour combination would work, but it most certainly does, producing banana rhubarb cakes that are just the right level of sweet and sharp.

The banana rhubarb cakes are also enhanced by the inclusion of some chopped strawberries I had at hand that needed to be used up. The strawberry is a nice addition to the mixture because the fruit naturally breaks down during the cooking process to become soft, sweet and jammy fruity little nuggets that are peppered throughout the cake batter.

I thought I’d take these banana rhubarb cakes into work tomorrow and had originally planned to just bake one large cake in a standard cake tin, but I’ve noticed that when I take a whole cake into work my colleagues seem to be reluctant to cut a slice for themselves, whereas if I bring in individual cakes they get munched quickly. (Is it the politeness factor or do the cakes simply look more alluring as individual cupcakes?) Taking this into consideration, I baked my banana rhubarb cakes in my silicone bundt cases, but it’s not essential because they’d be fine baked in normal cupcakes cases too.

This is a fairly easy cake recipe to make. Aside from letting the chopped rhubarb and strawberries macerate in the sugar, cinnamon and ginger, it’s simply a case of mixing the wet and dry ingredients together and then spooning the mix into cupcake or bundt cases. Although it’s simple, it’s still a deliciously complex-flavoured cake though, seeing sharp rhubarb being tempered by the sugary-sweet over-ripe banana, moist little chunks of strawberry and a zingy lime icing drizzle. A perfect cake to celebrate early summer’s bounty.

Ingredients:

150g of gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xanthan gum

140g white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

2 small over-ripe bananas

125ml vegetable oil

50ml rice milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the rhubarb:

2 – 3 cups of rhubarb (chopped into pretty small chunks)

1 cup of chopped strawberries (chopped into pretty small chunks)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

100g white sugar

For the icing:

1 tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp green food colouring

6 heaped tbsps of icing sugar

Method:

Cut your rhubarb and strawberries into small chunks and place in a large bowl. Scatter the white sugar, cinnamon and ginger over the fruit, stir well and leave to one side.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay your cupcake cases into a muffin tray or place your silicone bundt cases onto a couple of baking trays.

Measure your bananas and wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and the fruit and mix well.

Spoon the cake mixture into the cake cases and bake for 30 -35 mins. (Ordinarily I’d say that when a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean it’s done, but the fruit will be very moist and will possibly give a false result, so just trust your instincts on this one!)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before drizzling with the lime icing.

Banana Rhubarb Cakes by The Fat Foodie

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Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core (makes 12)

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

A few days ago I fancied baking something to fill the kitchen cake tin because it was looking decidedly bare. After giving it some thought and having a good rifle through the kitchen cupboards I decided to make muffins. I had some brown bananas which needed used up soon, there was a peanut butter jar which had only a little bit left in it and I had half a pack of walnuts at hand, so I decided to bake some banana walnut muffins with a peanut butter core.

Muffins are incredibly easy to make because, to a large extent, they simply involve measuring out all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisking until it’s combined. There’s no creaming of separate ingredients involved or anything like that. I’ve never made muffins with an interior surprise, but the peanut butter worked really well. I’m not sure if smooth peanut butter would have been quite as successful because I think the crunchy peanut butter definitely helps keep the core together and the crunch of the peanuts goes well with the crunchy walnuts too.

A while ago my Mum treated me to a Jamie Oliver muffin tin and although I wouldn’t ordinarily buy something purely because it’s got celebrity endorsement, I have to admit that this muffin tin is fantastic due to the depth of the muffin sections which helps to keep the shape of the muffins as they rise. Well done, Mr Oliver.

This recipe makes a lovely soft, moist banana flavoured muffin with an inner core of crunchy peanut butter that’s complemented by the flavour of the walnuts. They’re ideal for accompanying a mid-morning cuppa or as a tasty after dinner treat. Actually, they’re pretty good at any time of the day!

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

150g dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

150ml vegetable oil

3 large bananas (my bananas weighed in at 320g)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

150g chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay out your 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk until it’s all combined.

Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffin cases and (if you like) top with a walnut half.

Bake for 30 to 35 mins and leave to cool before munching.

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

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