It’s been a while. To be honest I’ve been a bit stuck on ideas, and a bit short of time, and it’s been a bit hot for sitting at the computer toiling away! (And then I lost half of what I’d written in a computer malfunction. Doh!). Not to say I haven’t been baking – last week I made some blueberry muffins. The great thing about baking individual things like muffins and scones is that you can freeze them. And then when you feel like a a little snack it’s quick and easy to have a delicious home made treat, without firing up a hot oven on an already boiling day. The scones I made a couple of weeks ago came in handy on Sunday when friends came for an impromptu and last minute tea. And same goes for the muffins – there are still 2 in the freezer – weekend breakfast maybe?
Until fairly recently it was not that easy to find blueberries grown in the UK. Mostly they seemed to come from far flung places like Peru. Now in the summer it is quite easy to find lovely juicy blueberries grown in the garden of England aka Kent. In fact blueberries grow in many places in the UK, including Scotland, although sometimes a polytunnel might be required to protect them from the notoriously changeable weather. Originally blueberries came from North America, but they are relation of the native bilberry found in many parts of the UK. Bilberries are smaller and more tart than blueberries. They are usually found in remote places – and if you lucky you might come across them on a hike in the highlands of Scotland, or on the moors in Devon.
Blueberries have become very popular in the last 10 years or so not least because of their promotion in the media as a ‘superfood’. What makes this little dark blue-purple berry so special? They are packed with Vitamins C and K and manganese. They are also a great source of antioxidants, which deal with the free radicals that can damage cells increasing the risk of cancer and heart disease. The colour is a key factor. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that give fruits and vegetables red, blue and purple colours. They are strongly associated with reducing oxidative stress.
And of course blueberries are a tasty, handy snack when eaten raw. Or they are easy to incorporate into pancakes, muffins and cakes.
I actually used frozen blueberries for my muffins, as they were a last minute bake before I went to work (another reason why it has taken a while to write it up!). I’m not going to reproduce the recipe because there are literally 100’s of recipes out there. Mine came from my trusty Joy of Cooking. The main thing about muffins is that you have 2 bowls – one of the dry mix (flour, raising agent etc), and one of the wet (eggs, melted butter/oil, sugar etc). Tip the wet into the dry and mix quickly and lightly until just about combined – there should still be some lumps, and then gently mix in the blueberries. I sprinkled the tops with a mixture of cinnamon and demerara sugar for a bit of extra flavour and crunch.
The hot oven makes the muffins rise up nicely, and brown on the top. they are really best enjoyed really fresh. If you can’t eat all of them that day freeze them and enjoy later!