Blueberry muffins

Great news: our very dear friends Claire and Alex moved to our neighbourhood. Their (awesome) flat is literally 12 minutes from us. I’m very excited about them living so close and all that implies, especially impromptu get-togethers, unplanned weekend lunches, surprise afterwork drinks, etc! Chipmuncher is excited about having his best friend around and they have already organised a Saturday of football watching and crisps munching at our place… Sigh!

On the day they moved to the neighbourhood, Chipmuncher lent his strong arms and helped carry and install pieces of furniture, while I offered to meet everyone a little bit later and bring sweets to the brave. To each their strength, right? Everybody loves blueberry muffins, so I was certain not to go wrong with this one.

I think that most muffin recipes use buttermilk, but not this one. It’s still very soft and scrumptious though so give it a try!

Blueberry muffin2

INGREDIENTS (for about 12 muffins)

  • 110 grams of butter (for a modern twist: try salted butter!)
  • 250 grams of plain flour
  • 250 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml of milk
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt (not if you are using salted butter)
  • 225 grams of fresh blueberries

 METHOD

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (gas 4) and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt (if using any) together in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and beat until smooth, then the milk.
  • Add the flour mixture to your wet mix, little by little to avoid any lumps and beat well until all combined.
  • Stir in three quarters of the blueberries, taking care not to break them.
  • Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full (if you overfill them, the muffins won’t rise).
  • Place 2 of the remaining blueberries on top of the mix without pushing them in.
  • Bake at 180 C / gas 4 for 25-35 minutes depending on your oven.
  • When they are golden and a inserted skewer comes out clean, they’re ready! (even if the bottom feels a bit soft, it will all settle when cooled down).

Blueberry muffin4 Blueberry muffin5

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Fruit tart with crème pâtissière

First of all, please people, it is called crème pâtissière (pronounced /pa.ti.siehr/) and NOT crème pâtisserie! Hearing this always makes me cringe, because it doesn’t make sense and it sounds silly. It’s easy to remember, “pâtisserie” is a noun (that qualifies a pastry itself or the shop where you buy pastries) and “pâtissière” is the adjective that qualifies anything pastry-related. Here, we are specifying the type of the cream, hence we need to use the adjective. There, it’s said, let’s move on. No I’m not grumpy, I am just a grammar freak…

This fruit tart is a classical and all-time French favourite. It’s easy to make when you have friends visiting, especially as the crème pâtissière can be made the day before and keeps well in the fridge, and it’s sure to please everyone: all you have to do is pick their favourite fruit!

Strawberry and blackberry fruit tart

Strawberry and blackberry fruit tart

First, the pastry: normally for a fruit tart, you should use a sweet shortcrust pastry (90 grams softened butter, 65 grams caster sugar, 3 egg yolks, 200 grams plain flour) but I used a rough-puff instead this time (250 grams butter at room temperature but not softened, 250 grams plain flour, 150 ml cold water, 1 tsp sea salt). It worked ok, so I guess it’s really up to you! Line your tin, cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry for 10-15 minutes in a 190c pre-heated oven (until it’s cooked through but hasn’t turned  golden yet) and allow to cool.

While the baked pastry cools down, make the crème pâtissière. You need:

  • 250 ml full fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 60 grams caster sugar
  • 25 grams plain flour
  • optional: 2 tbsp kirsch

(1) Place the milk, vanilla seeds and pods into a large saucepan and warm through.

(2) In a mixing bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar and flour and whisk until mixture becomes pale.

(3) Gradually add the warm milk and vanilla to the egg mixture and, once well mixed together, return to the pan.

(4) Cook on a low heat, constantly whisking, until the mixture thickens and reaches the wanted consistency. You want it thick enough to be scooped with a spoon.

(5) As soon as it reaches the right consistency, pour the cream into a clean bowl and place a circle or greaseproof paper, or cling film, on top of the mixture, to prevent a skin forming at the surface.

(6) If you choose to add kirsch to your crème pâtissière, do it once it has cooled down completely.

Fruit is glazed with warm apricot jam

Fruit is glazed with warm apricot jam

We can now assemble the tart!

(1) Put 4 tbsp of apricot jam in a saucepan with a little bit of water and warm through until liquid. Carefully brush the inside of the pastry case (this will stop any leakage of cream or fruit juices through any small cracks).

(2) Spoon your crème pâtissière into the pastry case and make sure it is equally distributed around the tart.

(3) Top the cream with sliced fruit. Here, I used strawberries and blackberries, but you could also have kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, anything you fancy (see the other tart I made earlier this year). To give your tart a more ‘rustic’ look, just throw your fruit in. I am a bit OCDed so I always have to line my fruit perfectly, but there’s no rule here…

(4) With the rest of the warm apricot jam mix, lightly glaze the fruit. This will not only make your tart shiny and appetising, but it will also prevent any oxidation if you don’t eat it all on the same day. Clever stuff.

This is delicious with a cup of Earl Grey. Or, a sweet dessert wine…

A fruit tart I had made before, with a different selection of fruit.

A fruit tart I had made before, with a different selection of fruit.