Tag Archives: Something To Bake

Something to bake (with kids): strawberry cheesecake muffins

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Sometimes you bake with kids and it’s a dream. They get on well, they take turns, everyone’s laughing and just a little flour-smudged in a photogenic way, like you’re in a Cath Kidston advert and someone’s about to present you with a lifetime supply of floral patterns.

Then other times you bake with kids and they screech and elbow each other and drop eggs and poke dirty fingers into the mixture and throw flour around by the bucketload. Generally speaking, if I post something about baking and the boys are in the photos from the start, we’ve had the Cath Kidston scenario. If they’re only in the last photo, eating the cake, then…it was a crapocolypse.

You may draw your own conclusions from the photos below.

Still! Flour-flinging aside, these strawberry cheesecake muffins are great to make with little ones. Like most muffins, the method is simple enough; the assembly involves enough detail to be interesting but not so much that they can get it wrong. I will defend my lacklustre Muffin Feelings to the death: they give you a sky-high calorie hit for what is, let’s face it, a pretty uninteresting mouthful of crumbs. I’d rather have proper squishy cake or pie any old day of the week. But these are delicious, and less stodgy than they should be because of the surprise strawberry-and-cheesecake filling baked into the middle.

The recipe is here (weirdly, this sad little misspelled page is the only version of it I can find online, but it must be an official BBC Good Food bake, since it’s in my book). Mix your wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine. Apparently you should mix sparingly after that, because the less you touch it the lighter the muffins will be. I always find it difficult to overcome my fear of leaving lumps in things – a hangover from a lifetime of making Yorkshire puddings, I reckon – but in this case you have the universe’s permission to leave the lumps just chilling in there. Outrageous.

Then comes the assembly: fill half the case with batter, then get your willing children to push in strawberry halves with chubby fingers. Tell them every time not to push the strawberry to the bottom, then watch as they push the strawberry to the bottom. Add a spoonful of the cheesecake mixture, then top with more muffin batter.

They take fifteen minutes in a hot oven and come out as proud and glorious golden mounds. You’ll be tempted to eat them immediately, but remember that there’s a boiled strawberry lurking in the middle somewhere, and it’ll be like sticking your tongue into a volcano. Wait ten minutes. Then eat with caution, and many ‘mmm’ noises.

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Something to bake: raspberry and hazelnut flapjack bars

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I bake for lots of reasons. Because I need to bring refreshments somewhere. Because I need to supply our cupboards more conveniently with emergency cake. And for comfort, of course, always for comfort. In a week in which David Bowie and Alan Rickman have both passed on unexpectedly, plus that avalanche earlier in the week and the shootings and explosions that seem to be business as usual, it feels like comfort is in short supply.

Baking doesn’t fix anything, of course, not really. But I think that any good thing adds to your personal stock of good things, and that the world could always use more cake and more kindness.

This afternoon, then, I baked the BBC Good Food’s raspberry and pine nut bars (recipe when you follow the link). They’re buttery flapjacks made squishier and more exciting by fresh raspberries in the middle and chopped nuts on top. I didn’t have pine nuts so used some leftover hazelnuts. It worked fine. Our kitchen is a little warmer and we’re a little happier, which is what Thursday needed to feel a little warmer and happier too.

Start with flour, porridge oats and softened butter, and mix it all up by hand. The recipe said you should end up with coarse crumbs, and mine looked more like oaty frogspawn. It’s all fine.

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Put about two-thirds of the mixture at bottom of a 9″ square pan, and scatter raspberries on top. The raspberries don’t cover the whole thing, so I might chop or crush them a little next time. But you might prefer to keep them whole.

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Then the rest of the oaty mixture goes on top, filling in the gaps. Press down, gently, and bake for 35-40 mins. I found baking them at the shorter end of that time scale was better: they will seem too squishy when you first get them out, but cut them into bars immediately and then let them cool in the tin, and they’ll harden just enough to keep together and be delicious.

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Eat with a little clotted cream, if you like to live decadently. I always do.

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