Great Granny’s Blueberry Gingerbread Muffins

One of my most cherished childhood memories is going to visit my great grandmother- Great Granny- in Maine. We would get up at the crack of dawn, and creep away from the sleepy Connecticut town where we lived, then drive all day through the New England countryside. Great Granny’s house was a huge, white farmhouse standing alone on top of a hill, surrounded by acres of woodland and meadows. We would make this trip two of three times a year, and we all always enjoyed it immensely. Maine is absolutely beautiful- thick dense forests of evergreen trees with skinny paths leading down to rocky beaches.

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Great Granny was old- she was well into her 90s before my memory started documenting her- her smell, her house, the wild blueberries she continued to pick up until her death, her blueberry gingerbread muffins, lobster fresh off the boat, blueberry gingerbread muffins…

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There really is nothing like a wild Maine blueberry- they are tiny but the tastiest thing you will ever eat. Great Granny, age 94, was still picking blueberries. Taking a folding chair out onto the blueberry baron, she would still for hours, folded over, picking every blueberry she could reach, before moving her chair a few feet to the side to empty out another patch. One of our favourite blueberry based treats were these Blueberry Gingerbread Muffins.

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Great Granny’s house was a huge rambling farmhouse, full to the brim of ancient everythings. From horse bridles that have seen better days to pieces of furniture a hundred years old. When she died, my family was left with the task of emptying this enormous house of its contents. So much of what we uncovered, her diaries, which she wrote everyday, her box of handwritten recipes, a miniature chest of drawers which contains a note, in her small, neat handwriting: ‘my grandmother gave me this when I was a little girl.’

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Yesterday, I stumbled across the recipe box, containing recipes for everything from Blueberry Muffins, Apple Bread, Molasses Cake to the infamous (in my family anyway) Gingerbread! I simply couldn’t resist making a batch! The instructions are sparse- the cards are mainly just lists of ingredients, so it is up the baker to decipher them how they will. I suspect this is because she used these recipes so many times that she knew them inside out anyway. At the end of each recipe, it says ‘salt and spice’- no measurements, no indications of which spice! (In gingerbread muffins I think it is safe to assume that ginger is the main spice!)

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Blueberry Gingerbread Muffins

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup molasses

1 2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup blueberries

salt and spice (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of ginger, however I think they could have done with a bit more. Add the spice to taste- this is also a really good excuse to keep trying the mixture, which is, after all, the best thing about baking!)

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Cream together butter and sugar, then add egg. Mix in the molasses and milk.

Sift together the dry ingredients, then add to the mixture.

Mix in the blueberries.

Bake in a 180 degree Celsius oven or 350 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes. They can be baked in muffin cases, or as one cake or loaf.

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They are best eaten warm and spread with butter!

xxR

Strawberry and Lime Stuffed Whoopie Pies

So, these aren’t technically whoopie pies. Whoopie pies are meant to have marshmallowy creamy fluff in the middle. These don’t. I don’t really love marshmallow so instead these just have tasty lime frosting and strawberry slivers in the middle.

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They aren’t whoopie pies. They are sorta oversized macaroons but made of cake with lime icing and strawberry in the middle so also sort of mini victoria sponges. But whatever.Either way they are delish!

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Also- as you UK readers will know- today is Father’s Day here in England. My dad is American, as, in fact, am I. And my mother is English. So I am a sort of hybrid mixture of the UK and USA. I was born and raised in Connecticut, USA and my family moved to Essex, UK, when I was eleven. So these are a Happy Father’s Day hybrid of a US classic- the great whoopie pie! (with a slight English twist- whoopie meets victoria sponge!) I hope you enjoy!

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Strawberry and Lime Whoopie Pies (the whoopie pie recipe I took from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (Cake Days) and adapted the filling!)

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2 large eggs

300g caster sugar

250g plain yoghurt

50ml milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

150g butter, melted

400g plain flour

160g cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

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Cream the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Then add the yoghurt, vanilla and milk and mix well.

Sift the remaining ingredients together and add to the mixture- mix well.

Put the batter in the fridge to cool and set for 20 minutes.

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Using a dessert spoon, drop dollops of the mixture onto a baking sheet. (I may have made mine a tiny bit too big- but its completely up to you how much whoopie you want in yo pie! (I’m sorry, that doesn’t even make any sense!))

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Bake in a 170 degree celsius oven for 10- 13 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

Allow to cool before filling with icing and strawberry slices and sandwiching together.

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Lime Icing

140g butter

280 icing sugar

the juice and zest of one lime

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the lime juice and zest. Mix until it is a smooth and spreadable consistency, then apply to the pies!

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xxR

Sunday Morning Houseguest Pancakes (with blueberries and banana) (and love)

Moving is absolutely the worst. On Friday, we had to move out of our uni house, where we (me and seven lovely ladies) have lived (happily) for the last year. It was the worst for a couple of reasons:

1. CLEANING. Oh my gosh. We spent two whole days scrubbing, mopping, dusting, washing, re-painting, scrutinising and repeating the whole house (eight bedrooms, three bathrooms and a very very large kitchen.) It’s seriously amazing how filthy a fridge can get in just one year. Trust me. I got very down and dirty with the fridge and a large bottle of Mr Muscle. Yuck.

2. It was just sad! We’ve had such good memories in that house that all of us were definitely sad to leave. It has been pretty special. And, while five of us are living together again next year, some are going abroad to have further foreign adventures. It definitely won’t be the same. At our final supper, we reminisced about the memories of number 134- particularly the food! Thanksgiving, Pancake Day, Christmas, were named as some truly wonderful culinary occasions, my Rainbow Cake was named favourite cake of the year (which I’m extremely proud of because cake is the one thing the 134 gals do a lot and well!)

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The other thing about moving out is that all my junk (and I have a surprising amount of it) is now all just in a huge pile on my boyfriend’s floor, which I am extremely grateful for! Being a houseguest (especially one with this much baggage) is always tricky- you’re always sort of in the way, making a mess in the kitchen, using up all the hot water, leaving your empty mugs of tea all over the house…

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My advice in this sort of situation is always PANCAKES. Pancakes will win over the favour of almost anybody and make them forgive your mountain of luggage, the cold showers and empty mugs.

These pancakes are also a homage to my dear friend and co-134 resident Ella, who turned me onto banana pancakes (which we ate for dinner more times that I would care to admit!

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Banana and Blueberry Pancakes

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170g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons caster sugar

280ml milk

2 eggs

4 tablespoons melted butter

a punnet of blueberries

one good sized banana

maple syrup to serve (golden syrup is just as good if you can’t get any maple)

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Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and eggs, then add the butter.

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a fork- any lumps will soon disappear with mixing.

Leave the mixture to stand for a few minutes. In this time, get a frying pan on a medium heat with a knob of butter in it. When the butter has melted, pour in a ladle of batter. It may seem very thick (especially if you are used to crepes, but don’t worry! That’s what you want!) When the top of the pancake begins to bubble, it is ready to be flipped. Turn it over and cook until both sides are a nice golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

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Drown in syrup and enjoy!

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xxR