Tag Archives: Blueberry

Blueberry & almond tart

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking whilst I was in Edinburgh – I took full advantage of my mum’s excellent cooking and effectively enjoyed a whole month of being spoilt.  It was awesome.  One of the few things I produced was when Kat came down and we went over to Craig’s for dinner and an evening which revolved around gin, wine, James Bond and much laughter with a healthy dose of immaturity, reminiscent of many evenings spent together in St Andrews.  The only thing missing were my shark-shaped oven gloves (they were busy guarding the house back in NZ).

Blueberry & almond tart 1

Oven gloves or not, we obviously weren’t about to turn up empty-handed, so we raided my mum’s recipe collection and decided to make a blueberry and almond tart.  I was super excited about being able to bake with summer berries.  Because yay, summer!  And yay, blueberries!  And yay, baking with Kat!  We ate a lot of blueberries that day.  We bought rather more than we needed for the tart, so we ate all the evidence whilst it was baking.  Healthy baking!  (That’s totally how it works, right?)

Blueberry & almond tart 2

The tart came out all purple and moist and delicious, all courtesy of the juices of the blueberries.  As well as looking pretty, it packs a marvellous blueberry flavour punch, wonderfully complemented by the ground almonds which also shine through.  I can’t wait for summer to roll around in NZ and blueberries to come into season so that I can make it again.  That said, frozen blueberries would work perfectly well, but a fruit tart in winter just seems rather anachronistic to me – anybody feel the same?

Blueberry & almond tart 3

Blueberry & almond tart

Serves 6-8
Adapted from a random recipe cutting

You can use either fresh or frozen blueberries – if using frozen then just bake them slightly longer before adding the filling.  I know the oven temperatures seem pretty hot.  The tart is best eaten at room temperature and the day it is made as the pastry will start to go a little soft if kept too long.

Ingredients

1 portion of tart pastry (recipe makes 2 portions)
5-6 heaped tbsp ground almonds
500g blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 eggs
100g crème fraîche
75g caster sugar
Handful flaked almonds, to decorate

Directions

1.  Butter and flour a 24 or 26cm tart tin.  Make the tart pastry, roll it out, transfer to the tart tin and refrigerate for 30 mins.

2.  Pre-heat the oven to 230°C/fan oven 210°C.

3.  Prick the pastry with a fork, sprinkle the ground almonds evenly over it and cover with the blueberries.  Bake for 10 mins.

4.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a medium bowl.  Add the crème fraîche and sugar and whisk together.  Pour evenly over the blueberries, reduce the oven temperature to 200°C/fan oven 180°C and bake for a further 30 mins until golden.  Ten minutes before the end, sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top.  Allow the tart to cool in the tin for about 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

Blueberry & almond tart 4

I’m submitting this recipe to Made with Love Mondays which is hosted by Javelin Warrior and is all about making food from scratch.

Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior

 

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Leftover champagne? Say what?

Woah, 2013 needs to slow down.  I can’t quite believe that it’s already been a whole two weeks since Kat and I opened the fridge on New Year’s Day and were greeted by a rather astonishing sight: an unfinished bottle of champagne.  The concept of leftover champagne may well be foreign to you – indeed it’s an incredibly rare event when I’m involved (assuming it isn’t a case (badum-tschhhh!) of bad champagne…).  So.  What does one do with champagne leftovers?  Despite the teaspoon trick (popping a teaspoon handle down in the bottle which is magically supposed to keep most of the bubbles in, though I’m not sure how), it wasn’t in the bubbliest state so drinking it wasn’t going to be ideal.

This.  This is what you do with leftover champagne…

Baking with SpiritLuckily, the alcohol of choice for this month’s Baking with Spirit challenge is “champagne” – perfect, although that doesn’t really help in choose what exactly to make.  I feel a little guilty for missing last month’s Baking with Spirit challenge (here’s the round-up) since I went on holiday and generally ran out of time, so I wanted to make something awesome to make up for it, plus it’s also Janine’s birthday month.  That plan failed a little because after much deliberation, we settled on something not particularly original and which may seem a bit of a cop-out, but it’s so delicious that I do hope Janine will forgive me…

Oh look, a champagne cork crept into the photo and everything…

It is, of course, summer here in NZ, and summer means summer berries.  Yay!  Originally we wanted to honour the Kir Royale by poaching some blackcurrants in a champagne syrup (in case you’re not familiar with Kir Royale, it consists of crème de cassis – blackcurrant liqueur – and champagne).  However, we couldn’t find any blackcurrants – I wonder if they’re only available at farmers’ markets or at pick-your-owns.  So our idea morphed into poaching a combination of summer berries in a Kir Royale syrup.  Oh hey there decadence, how you doing?  The champagne is quite a subtle taste, coming through at the start and then turning into a deliciously fruity flavour.

Looks like decadence invited itself to this party

Simple and in SeasonI have a little confession though.  Even though summer berries are in season, we actually used a frozen summer berry mix.  Shock horror, I know, but let me explain.  For a start, I needed to create a bit of space in my freezer, but more importantly, not all of the summer berries in the mix are readily available to buy fresh – as well as the mysterious lack of blackcurrants, I’ve never seen fresh boysenberries, for example.  I’m not sure why that is because the berry mix is from a NZ farm, so they are definitely grown here.  Luckily this dessert works perfectly whether you use fresh or frozen berries.  I’m going to be cheeky and still submit this to Simple and in Season, hosted by Lavender and Lovage this month, since the berries are in season, and I’d have used fresh if I could find them all.  I might be bending the rules a little bit, so I’m just going to smile, wave and move on swiftly to the actual recipe.

Langues de chat make the perfect accompaniment for this general deliciousness

Kir Royale-poached summer berries

Serves 2
Recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

You can use fresh or frozen berries for this dessert, but if using frozen berries, defrost them in advance and make sure to keep the juice.  You can use berries in whatever combination you like – although definitely make sure to try and get blackcurrants in there.  The dessert is best served with little biscuits to nibble on alongside (although it won’t necessarily be dairy-, egg- and gluten-free anymore) – langues de chat would work perfectly – and serving it in fancy glasses such as champagne saucers or martini glasses really dresses it up.  I sprinkled a bit of raw sugar crystals over the top but most of them ended up dissolving into the poaching liquid, so that ended up being a bit pointless.  If you have any leftover syrup, keep it in the fridge and use it to drizzle over icecream or sorbets.

Ingredients

250g mixed summer berries (blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
250g caster sugar
250ml champagne
1 tsp crème de cassis
Langues de chat or other little biscuits, to serve

Directions

1.  Add the sugar, champagne, crème de cassis and 350ml water to a medium saucepan (make sure that it’ll be large enough to fit all the fruit as well) and bring to the boil.

2.  Turn down the heat, and add the fruit (and any juice if using defrosted fruit).  Simmer for about 10-15 mins.

3.  Remove the fruit into a serving bowls or individual dishes or glasses.  Return the poaching liquid to the heat and simmer down until syrupy and reduced by half.  Spoon over the top of the fruit and serve with little biscuits on the side.

Enjoy!

Always a good sign.

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Blueberries, polenta and wine. In a cake.

This month’s Random Recipes challenge has been combined with Tea Time Treats, a blog challenge hosted by Kate at What Cake Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and the theme is (you guessed it!) “tea time random recipes” – a recipe either from a book or the section of a book that covers tea time treats.  I decided to use randomly pick a recipe from my A Treasury of New Zealand Baking book, which is full of baking recipes (shocking, I know) that are definitely tea time appropriate.  The random number generator on my calculator directed me to page 216, a recipe for blueberry polenta upside-down cake, which also calls for white wine and olive oil in the ingredients list.  Polenta, white wine, olive oil and blueberries?  In a cake?  Intriguing.  And an excellent excuse to clear out some of the frozen blueberry reserves currently taking up space in my freezer.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too convinced and wasn’t sure what to expect.  As curious as I was, if it hadn’t been for Random Recipes, I might not have tried it at all and gone for a “safer” cake option.  By “safer” I mean a recipe that I was fairly sure what the results would be.  You see, I’ve never cooked with polenta before (never mind baked), so I really wasn’t too sure.  But rules are rules.  So off I went on a mission to find some instant polenta.  I wasn’t expecting it to be particularly difficult since after all the recipe book was written in NZ by Kiwi chefs, so all the ingredients must be available here…  But it turned out that my mission required a trip to the big slightly-out-of-the-way supermarket, which (thankfully) did have instant polenta squirrelled away in the international food section.

So, with all the ingredients assembled, time to try out the actual recipe…  I really wasn’t too sure about the whole cake until I was able to try some.  But thankfully my doubts were misplaced.  The top of the cake has a little crunch from the sugar that started off underneath the blueberries (it’s an upside-down cake remember), the blueberries come out slightly mushy and all juicy since they’ve been cooked, and as for the actual cake part, I’d describe it as slightly denser than a sponge cake in texture, which I guess probably comes from the polenta, but not particularly heavy.  The citrus zest, white wine and the olive oil add a distinct fruity flavour which goes wonderfully with the blueberries, although one might not necessarily be able to fully pin down the flavour combination if you didn’t know that wine is one of the ingredients.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to guess.  So if you’re looking for something a little different (and there aren’t any kids involved) I’d definitely suggest giving this a whirl.

Blueberry polenta upside-down cake

Makes 16 slices
Adapted from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking

Since blueberries are out of season at the moment I used frozen ones, which worked wonderfully, but fresh will also work (just be sure to pat them dry after rinsing).  If using frozen blueberries, there’s no need to thaw them first.  I used a very fruity NZ Sauvignon Blanc.  The cake will keep for up to three days if stored in the fridge, but make sure to bring to room temperature before serving.

Ingredients

75g light brown sugar
300g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
185g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
85g instant polenta
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
165 ml fruity dry white wine
165 ml olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1.  Line a 28 x 18 cm rectangular baking tin with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C.

2.  Sprinkle the light brown sugar evenly across the lined baking tin.  Evenly cover with the blueberries.

3.  Sift the flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl.  Add the polenta, stir together and set aside.

4.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the caster sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zests using an electric whisk until pale and very thick.  Gently whisk in the wine, oil and vanilla.  Fold in the flour and polenta mixture and then gently pour over the blueberries in the prepared cake tin (trying to avoid dislodging the blueberries).  Carefully smooth the top if necessary.

5.  Bake in the oven for 60-70 mins until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 mins before inverting onto a serving plate.  Carefully peel off the baking paper, taking care to leave the blueberry topping undisturbed.  Allow to cool fully before slicing into 16 pieces and serving.

Enjoy!

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Last blueberries of the season? I’ll take 1kg please!

Fun fact: I arrived in Auckland two months today.  Part of me feels like it can’t possibly have been that long already – there are still plenty of things that I’m not sure how they work (I only cracked the bus system the other week) or where to find certain things.  But then part of me feels I’ve been here so much longer, probably because I’ve finally more or less got a routine going and am feeling more settled.  Part of my routine involves going to the farmers’ market on Saturday mornings.  There are several farmers’ markets across Auckland, and when I first arrived, I tried the one in the centre of town (and closest to me) a few times, but I was distinctly disappointed.  Plenty of food to eat on the spot but not much in the way of produce, which for me is the whole point of a farmers’ market.  A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to trying the Parnell Farmer’s Market, which I’d heard was much better.  And indeed it was, although there didn’t seem to be much meat for sale.  There were plenty of fruit and vegetables though, including a whole blueberry stand.  I hadn’t really planned on buying any, but on being told that they were the very last blueberries of the season, I happily trotted off with 1kg of blueberries.

You might think that 1kg is a little excessive, especially since I hadn’t actually planned on buying any… but I had a very specific plan for these very-last-of-the-season blueberries.  I’m still struggling with the seasons being six months out of sync, so I know that come June and July when the Northern hemisphere (and many of the food blogs that I follow) will be full of summer berries, I’ll be really jealous, because it’ll be the middle of winter here.  But I can still have blueberries this winter, because I made blueberry jam.  Actually, if I’d been really smart, I’d have bought 2kg, used half for jam and frozen the other half for baking throughout winter.  Didn’t think of that at the time though…  Never mind.

I love home-made jam – it always makes me think of France.  Making jam has to be one of the easiest things in the world.  I know in my last post I said that tarts are super easy, but jam is even more straightforward.  It is literally just fruit and sugar.  And you only need 1 pot (granted, a big one), so it’s not a particularly space-intensive thing to make (which is excellent when you have a small kitchen without much counter space), and it also means minimal washing up (always a bonus).  Many jam recipes call for a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, but I find that these jams often tend to be far too sweet, particularly for a fruit like blueberries which aren’t particularly bitter to start with.  None of my recipe books had a blueberry jam recipe, which surprised me a little, and the internet wasn’t terribly helpful either.  Is blueberry jam a really uncommon thing?  Why?  Do people just not like it?  So I asked my mum, and none of her recipe books were much help either.  Even the one specifically about jams.  We decided that I should go for 750g of jam sugar to 1kg of fruit and just see how it turned out.  Thankfully, it turned out rather well.  Terrific in fact.  There’s an intense blueberry flavour, it’s a beautiful colour, and it’s not too sweet.  Hurrah!  So now I can have blueberries in winter…

Blueberry jam

Makes about 3 x 375ml jars
Very loosely based on BBC Good Food (June 2011)

This jam is wonderful for breakfast, but would also be delicious on scones with afternoon tea.  To sterilise the jam jars, wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water before placing on a baking tray and placing in an oven on low heat until fully dried (about 10 mins or so).  I tend to like my jam without too many whole berries in so I mashed them quite a bit at the end, but that’s entirely up to you.  You could probably reduce the jam sugar down to 700g (maybe even 650g), but will probably have to boil the jam a little longer.

Ingredients

1 kg blueberries
750g jam sugar
1 lemon

Directions

1.  Pop a few saucers in the freezer to be used later (I ended up using 2).

2.  Place the blueberries in a preserving pan or large pot (remember that the jam will increase in volume when bubbling away, so make sure the pot is large enough).  Stir in the sugar and place the pan over a low heat, stirring regularly (the sugar will slowly turn pink and liquify), and taking care that the jam does not boil.

3.  Once all the sugar has dissolved, stir in the juice from the lemon and turn up the heat.  Once a fast boil – 105°C on a preserving thermometer – has been reached, time the jam for 8 mins.  After 8 mins, place 1 tsp of jam onto one of the frozen saucers and place in the fridge (allow the jam to continue on fast boil in the meantime).  After 1 min in the fridge, push your finger through the jam on the saucer.  If the jam wrinkles (this may sound strange, but you’ll be able to tell exactly what I mean when it happens), then it is ready.  If not, allow the jam to continue on fast boil for a further 2 mins before testing again.  As soon as the jam is ready, remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Allow to cool for 20 mins, then skim away any scum from the top of the jam.  Using a potato masher, mash the jam as necessary (this depends entirely on your taste – I tend to mash it quite a bit, but you may find that you don’t want to mash it all).  Ladle the jam into sterilised jars (a jam funnel helps considerably).

Enjoy!

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How NOT to reheat a summer fruits crumble…

We were invited to dinner at my Scottish grandma’s on Sunday, so we offered to bring dessert.  You might think we’re lovely people, but actually we just wanted to be sure that at least part of the meal would be edible (my grandma isn’t exactly renowned for her wonderful cooking).  We needed a dessert that could be made in advance and was easy to transport.  There are, of course, plenty of options, particularly with all the different fruit that are in season at the moment.  The last time we brought dessert (this is quite a regular occurrence), we’d made a rhubarb clafoutis and the time before was a tart of some description, so we decided to make a summer fruit crumble, which I’ll be submitting to this month’s Simple and in Season blog challenge.

This was an excellent occasion to make use of my awesome new Joseph Joseph mixing bowls that I won after the June Simple and in Season challenge (thanks again Ren!), and their colourfulness definitely brightened up the day.  I was actually feeling rather rotten on Sunday, and my mum did suggest that I just stay home, but I really wanted some of the delicious-looking crumble so I went along anyway (priorities and all that…).  Considering that I’ve spent most of the last three days stuck in bed with severe tonsillitis (and the reason it’s taken me so long to get this post up), that probably wasn’t the best plan, particularly considering the fate of the crumble…

We’d taken the crumble out of the oven about ten minutes or so before the end of cooking so that we could just heat it up gently once at my grandma’s and serve it warm.  What could possibly go wrong?  (Famous last words…)  About four minutes after going in the oven, a distinct smell of burning suddenly filled the air and the fire alarm went off.  Hardly a good sign.  My mum rapidly removed a heavily singed crumble from the oven and discovered that my grandma had accidentally managed to set the oven to the highest grill setting…  Not the ideal way to reheat a crumble.  Once the burnt bits were scraped off though, it still tasted delicious, so the plan to make sure that at least something was edible still worked.  For obvious reasons, I don’t have any photos of the fully singed cooked crumble, but I did take this one before we left, so just imagine it slightly more golden on top and that’s how it should have looked…

Summer fruit crumble

Serves 6
Adapted from one of my mum’s recipes

You can use any combination of fresh summer fruits depending on what is available.  Having said that, I seem to remember that we tried adding strawberries once and that didn’t actually work all that well.  I know of some people who make their crumble in a blender, but making it by hand is much better (and loads more fun!).  If you’re preparing this crumble in advance, remove it from the oven after about 20-25 mins and then just gently reheat it in the oven for about 10 mins, just before serving.

Ingredients

For the crumble:
125g unsalted butter, cubed
200g flour
125g granulated sugar
2 tbsp ground almonds
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
200g fresh blackberries
200g fresh blueberries
200g fresh raspberries
175g fresh red currants
6-8 tbsp granulated sugar

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

2.  Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a large bowl.  Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and rub together with your fingers to form crumbs, making sure that the butter is properly broken down.

3.  Wash the fruit and pat dry.  In a large bowl, mix the fruit with the sugar until evenly coated, then transfer the fruit to an oven-proof dish (make sure the fruit come quite high up the sides of the dish).

4.  Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the top of the fruit mixture (but don’t pat it down) and bake for 30 mins until golden.  Serve with pouring cream or ice-cream.

Enjoy!

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Breakfast Club #12: Berry crumble bars

I was super-enthusiastic about the theme for this month’s Breakfast Club challenge, which is “Berries,” chosen by Nayna at simply.food.  Along with warm sunshine, summer berries have to be one of my favourite things about summer.  Fife seems to have a lot berry farms, and I think it might be one of the main raspberry-producing areas in the UK – with good reason, because the local raspberries are absolutely scrumptious.  So that’s one of my favourite summer things sorted.  As for sunshine, well, although St Andrews is apparently one of the sunniest spots in the UK, I still feel that the heat of a proper summer is distinctly lacking.  I suppose you can’t have  everything, and it would seem that local, tasty summer berries and a hot, sunny summer are too much to ask for.  So, as a whole bunch of clouds appear out of nowhere and the temperature drops to prove my point, let’s focus on the fruit.

There are so many breakfast possibilities involving berries, and the first that sprang to mind were granola, pancakes or muffins.  I decided that I wanted to try something a little less obvious, particularly since I have time to try things out at the moment (and all those baking supplies that I need to work my way through).  I happened across a recipe for some fruity crumble bars the other day, and not only did they look super tasty but the recipe was easy to adapt depending on whatever fruit you want to use.  So I decided to try the recipe out last night, ready for breakfast this morning.

Since Tesco (my local supermarket) conveniently had a whole bunch of locally-grown berries at half price, I decided to make the crumble bars with a selection of berries.  I picked up some raspberries, blueberries and strawberries (they didn’t have any blackberries sadly) and headed home to attempt the bars.  In a vague attempt to make this slightly healthier, I added some porridge oats to the crumble mixture, which worked nicely, adding a little bit of subtle crunch.  I actually really enjoyed having these for breakfast, they’re filling and tasty and a little different from what I usually tend to eat for breakfast, but they would also work as a post-lunch or mid-afternoon snack if cut into smaller squares, although they’re quite crumbly and not necessarily all that transportable unless in a box.

Berry crumble bars

Makes 12 squares
Adapted from Shop.Cook.Make

You can easily adapt these depending on which fruits you have at home or are in season.  You can also use whichever type of jam you want, and if you really like marmalade, you can also use that (I did, and it was yummy, though make sure to spread it thinly so the bitterness of the peel doesn’t overpower the rest of the bar too much!).  I was worried that keeping them overnight in an air-tight box would make them go a bit soft, but they were absolutely fine.

Ingredients

230g all-purpose flour
50g porridge oats
150g demerrera sugar
225g unsalted butter
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
Pinch salt
Jam of your choice, to spread
200g of mixed fresh berries or fruit

Directions

1.  Line a 19 x 25 cm baking tin with baking parchment (this will make it easier to lift out of the tin when cooled so that it can be cut into squares).  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg.  Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a large bowl with the flour, oats, sugar, beaten egg, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt.  Work the ingredients together using your hands to make a lumpy crumbly mixture (don’t worry if you think that the mixture is unlikely to turn into anything resembling the end product, or is a lot more buttery than a normal crumble mixture – this is normal).

3.  Gently press about half of the crumble mixture into the baking tin.  Spread a thin layer of jam/marmalade over the top of the crumble mix, leaving an edge of about 1cm.  Spread the washed and dried fruit (if using strawberries, do chop them up, and rip raspberries or blackberries in half as well) over the top of the jam, and then crumble the rest of the crumble mixture over the top of the fruit.  Don’t press the mixture down, but make sure that it’s more or less evenly spread across the bars.

4.  Bake for about 45 mins, until golden on top.  Allow to cool fully (it will harden up as it cools, which should take about 40-50 mins or so) before lifting out of the tin and slicing into squares.

Enjoy!

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Blueberry, gin, gin & more gin cupcakes

We made these on the same evening that we tasted the blueberry gin, to use up the gin-soaked blueberries.  Our original intention had been to make blueberry and lime cupcakes and add a tiny drop of gin to the icing as we thought it would pair them up quite well with the Blueberry G&Ts that we were planning to eat them with.  All very reasonable-sounding so far…

Now, the blueberries had been soaking for over two weeks – hardly surprising then that they were very gin-y.  In fact, they were more like little solidified bubbles of gin than anything else.  For some obscure reason, I was put in charge of dosing the gin into the icing and, as usual, I got slightly over-enthusiastic – let’s just say that even after an hour-long stint in the freezer, the icing had not set into anything remotely resembling buttercream consistency.  No big deal though – we just spooned it all over the cupcakes, scattered the remaining blueberries over the top, and enthusiastically made a thorough mess eating our blueberry and lime gin cupcakes (I’m serious – there was gin icing all over the place: the kitchen, the coffee table, the carpet, the DVD remote, ourselves).  Proof that minor baking disasters can actually turn out to be strokes of genius…  Or should that be “ginius”?  (Oh aren’t I witty?)

Blueberry & gin cupcakes

Makes 12
Slightly adapted from Butcher, Baker

These were super easy to make (aside from the minor fail regarding the buttercream icing, which was entirely my own fault, and wasn’t such a fail in the end).  If you want to make an actual buttercream icing that you can pipe onto the cupcakes, then just use ½ tbsp of lime juice and perhaps 1 tbsp of gin instead of the quantities given here, but use the same method.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
100g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g gin-soaked blueberries (if you don’t want to make blueberry gin, soak the blueberries overnight in just enough gin to cover them)
Zest of 1 lime

For the gin “glaze”:
90g unsalted butter
180g icing sugar
1 tbsp lime juice (use the juice from the lime that you zested for the cupcakes)
5-8 tbsp gin (depends how gin-y you would like your glaze)
Some blueberries to decorate (optional)

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases, or set out 12 silicone muffin moulds.

2.  Beat the softened butter and caster sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Mix in the eggs one at time, followed by the vanilla extract.  Carefully fold in the flour, then the lime zest and the (drained) blueberries.

3.  Spoon the batter into the prepared liners, filling each about ⅔.  Bake for 15-20 mins until golden and risen.  Allow to cool on a wire rack (if using silicone moulds, leave them in for a couple of minutes so they can set before removing them from the moulds).

4.  Prepare the “glaze” whilst the cupcakes are cooling.  Beat the softened butter, icing sugar (it’s easier if you sift it first), lime juice and gin in a bowl until well blended.  Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, arrange them on a plate, spoon (or pipe) the icing over the top, and scatter with blueberries to decorate.

Enjoy!

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Patience is a virtue: Blueberry gin

Not to conform to the St Andrews student stereotype or anything, but I have a lot of love for gin.  I have a friend who once made Gin & Tonic in a Thermos and brought it to the library for us to share because we were both craving G&Ts but had too much work to go to the pub.  Now that’s true gin love (some might describe it as alcoholism, however, I am rather inclined to disagree).  Oh and in case you were wondering, we both got our work done and met the deadline.

I came across a recipe for blueberry gin in December.  As soon as I saw it, I knew that I just had to try it – the only question was when?  It takes two weeks to brew, and the Christmas holidays rather inconveniently got in the way, so this little experiment had to wait until I got back to university at the beginning of January.

Now, I’m not a particularly patient person, and two weeks is a long time to have to look at something every day knowing you can’t taste it yet, but this was well worth the wait.  And the resulting pink gin is just so pretty!  It was finally ready at the end of last week, so I had an inaugural tasting with a couple of gin-loving friends.  We made Blueberry G&Ts, and they were rather amazing – fruity and slightly sweet.  We used the blueberries (“ginberries” might be a more appropriate description) to make cupcakes – I’ll blog about those soon.

Blueberry gin

Makes about 500ml
Adapted from Island Vittles

You can use fresh or frozen blueberries – the only frozen blueberries I could find were part of a frozen summer fruit mix so I used fresh ones (in January, I know).  Once the gin is done, use the leftover blueberries instead of normal blueberries to make muffins or cupcakes (or anything really).  For the gin, I used Bombay Sapphire because I happened to have Tesco vouchers for a discounted bottle, but any decent gin (so not supermarket brand) would work.

Ingredients

175g blueberries
60g sugar
500ml gin

Directions

1.  Mix the blueberries, sugar and gin in a glass preserving jar or similar container, seal and shake well.

2.  Store in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks and up to two months, making sure to shake every few days (or, out of sheer enthusiasm, every day in my case).

3.  Once the gin has turned a lovely dark pink colour, strain it through cheesecloth (or kitchen roll) into clean glass bottles.  Serve cold over ice with tonic for G&Ts with a difference!

Enjoy!  (Responsibly, of course…  Ahem)

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