Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppyseed Icing

One of the best things about going back to America is our visit to Maine. Our house is absolutely tiny- it was once a chicken coup that was bought over on a boat from an island. My father inherited it from his grandmother, and it’s certainly not without its quirks, but we love it. It’s tiny, there’s no wifi or phone signal so it’s a perfect break from the real world.

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We spend our time hiking and walking on beaches and swimming in quarries. It’s pretty idyllic.

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Up the road from our house is a wild blueberry baron, so blueberries feature pretty heavily in our Maine diet, from blueberry pancakes to cornbread to pie. The kitchen in our camp (‘camp’ in Maine terms refers to a small summer house, usually on the coast) is tiny and very old, and well stocked with things we inherited from my great grandmother. My dad swears that the spatula we have there is the best spatula in the world, wafer thin and perfectly pliable- the ideal utensil for blueberry pancake making.

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Wild blueberries are completely different to blueberries you buy- they’re much much smaller, for a start, but also much tastier. My great grandmother (who left us the house) was a Mainiac through and through, and she lived to the ripe old age of 95. She lived off a diet of fresh lobster and wild bluebs and we are quite sure that was the secret to her longevity, and she continued to hand pick blueberries herself right up until her death.

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This cake is a celebration of the blueberry. It’s maybe a tiny bit more refined than the usual baked goods we eat in Maine, but it’s all Maine in spirit.

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Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppyseed Icing

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190g butter

190g caster sugar

190g plain flour

3 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

25ml plain yoghurt

blueberries

zest of 1 lemon

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Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure you beat well after each egg. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then fold into the mixture. Add the yoghurt, then fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Spoon into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at 170 degrees Celcius for about 1 hour.

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For the icing:

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140g butter

280g icing sugar

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

juice of 1 lemon

Beat together the butter and icing sugar until pale, then add the milk to loosen the mixture. Mix in the poppy seeds and lemon juice.

When the cake is baked and cooled, cut in half and spread the icing in the middle. Decorate with a few more blueberries on top, then eat immediately and dream of the Maine coast.

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xxR

Lemonade Stand Chocolate Chip and Almond Cookies

I’ve been away for the last few weeks (did you miss me?) I was back in America, visiting friends where I grew up in Connecticut and where they live now, dotted across the states. I also spent some time with my family at our tiny little house on the Maine coast, a good contender for my favourite place in the world. The trip was lovely, and I’m still slightly in that post holiday daze, where I cant quite believe that I have to start back at university (and my master’s degree!) next week.

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I’m also in one of those post holiday dazes where all I can seem to talk about is my trip. So, sorry, but I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it quite a bit over the next few weeks, as I share some of the recipes and stories from my visit.

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I’m starting with a basic. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here’s the story (I’ll be quick (Mum, that was aimed at you (I’m always nagged about my too long stories!))) While we were in Connecticut, my friend, whose house we stay at, had a tag sale. If you’re American you’ll know exactly what that is, and you’ll probably get as excited about the prospect of one as me. If you’re not American, you might be thinking what the heck. A tag sale is pretty straightforward: it’s basically a big sale in the garden of whoever is doing the selling. They are very common where I used to live, with lots happening every weekend of the summer.

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At this tag sale, we tried to rope in business by offering lemonade at 50 cents a cup. This was also a nod at our childhood, when we would hold lemonade stands selling lemonade and cookies to passersby. When we were little the stands seemed hugely successful- I mean, back then $10 was a lot of profit for a day of squeezing, baking and selling.

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These cookies are the ultimate in lemonade stand treats, mainly because they are so sweet that tart lemonade is essential to wash them down!

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Now, I need to make a confession. I’m bad at cookies. They never come out how I want them too- either over cooked or uneven or, worst of all, I am left with one big one. I never make cookies, so I think this is a good time to start.

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Chocolate Chip and Almond Cookies

250g butter

300g brown sugar

150g caster sugar

2 eggs

300g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground almonds

400g chocolate chips

250g flaked almonds, plus extra for sprinkling

pinch of sea salt

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Cream together the butter and sugars. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, then mix in the ground almonds.

Pour the eggs and the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternatively. Then stir in the chocolate chips and almond flakes.

Scoop small balls of the dough on a greased and lined baking tray, then sprinkle with a small handful of almond flakes and tiny pinch of sea salt.

Put in the fridge for at least an hour and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

Enjoy warm, with a big glass of lemonade! (Or milk!)

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xxR