Strawberry, lime & black pepper muffins
Outside, the sun is shining but it is cold! Mother Nature seems to tempt us with a few days of warmth before sending cold winds back to send us racing indoors in search of jumpers and warming cups of coffee. In spite of this weather rollercoaster, nature’s own bounty is plentiful and for that reason, May remains my favourite month of the year.
From the cherry blossom dressing the trees to the arrival of fresh Norfolk asparagus in the shops, there are signs everywhere that summer, is at last, unfurling herself and is ready to warm us in her soothing embrace. And with that, comes a glut of fresh fruit and vegetables. And my favourite local greengrocer, Giddens & Thompson in Bungay, has an abundance of tempting items in all the colours of the rainbow.
With such temptation of the very best kind all around, it is natural that I leave with boxes groaning full of fresh produce. And inevitably, I need to look for ways to use fruit, especially, up before it goes off.
This leads me nicely to today’s gluten-free baking delights – some incredibly light strawberry, lime and black pepper muffins. Pippa Kendrick, The Intolerant Gourmet, has a recipe in her book for strawberry muffins with buttercream icing. But I wanted to go a step further and infuse further flavour. I love black pepper with strawberries, and after #limegate on Twitter this week, and as they complement strawberries to well, I decided to go for a double whammy.
Bake one went very wrong. I have run out of gluten free self-raising flour so went to add some baking powder – 2 teaspoons per 150g – only to run out of that as well! In went bicarbonate of soda and salt, which can sometimes work, but the bicarb was overpowering. Definitely a batch for the many birds that visit our garden!
One visit to the local farm shop later – for baking powder – and it was take two.
Batch two is infinitely better – and this is how I did it:
First, pre-heat the oven to 180C and put some cupcake cases into a muffin tray. I ended up with 11 muffins but this recipe can make 12.
Into a bowl, I put 200g of chopped strawberries and crushed them with the flat end of a spurtle, something that is traditionally used to make porridge, but is also perfect for squishing the very best from soft fruit. To this I then added the juice of half a lime, and several good grinds of black pepper. And one more for luck. Naturally, you can adjust this for your own taste but I was aware that I wanted to be able to experience the pepper flavour after cooking.
Into the bowl then went 100ml of rapeseed oil, and stirred well. Then, 100g of golden caster sugar. Again, blend this together and taste for pepper – add more if needed!
Then, add two eggs, and once combined, it is time to sift in the flour – 180g of self-raising (or plain plus baking powder if, like me, you have run out) – and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda; make sure that it is level as there is nothing worse than the taste of bicarb in a cake!
Mix together well and the pour into the muffin cases and bake for 17 minutes. Test and cook a little longer if needed – 20 minutes should do it.
While these were cooking, I made a batch of nut butter and chocolate chip cookies. This is a recipe directly from The Intolerant Gourmet, so I will not share here, but I will add that I often use salted butter when I make cookies and biscuits as I love the extra tang that the salt gives.
These little bite-sized mouthfuls are pure pleasure – the crunch of peanut nut butter, the melt of the chocolate, and then the sharp taste of the salt at the end. Heaven!
By the time the cookies were ready to go in the oven, the muffins were ready to come out. By the time the cookies were baked, the washing up was done and put away, and all that was left to do was relax with a coffee – decaff espresso at this time of day – and to try the two baked items.
I love the colour of the muffin – the pinky-red hue – and the flavour was definitely there. The pepper could be picked up at the end and the muffin was lovely and light. Definitely one to be enjoyed in the garden once the weather picks up! Of course, I will probably be on to a new batch by then! Of course, you can ice these of you wish to but I prefer them as they are – a delicious light and airy bite to enjoy in the afternoon.
As for the cookies, they were as delicious as I remembered with a lovely blend of crunch and crumble. It will be interesting to see how many actually make it to the tin later!
So there you are, my Delicate Diners, a summer recipe for a chilly May day. There are so many ways to use up and utilise all the amazing seasonal produce around at the this time of year. And don’t forget, if you aren’t in the mood for baking, you can always blitz those strawberries and mix into some freshly chilled cava!
Have a good evening, Samantha xx