Hello, Autumn!

It’s been quite a while since my last recipe post (June, in fact), so here’s one to celebrate the arrival of Autumn. Around here this weekend has well and truly signaled the change in seasons – it’s blustery, rainy and downright cold. I for one am pretty excited about the Autumn. I know I’m in the minority here, but with our Summers in the UK being so half-hearted, come September I’m more than ready for cosying up, staying in and lighting the fire. Autumn is my favourite month, in fact, and I love everything that comes with it: darker evenings, wrapping up in colourful layers and knits, planning for Christmas, sitting by the fire with the wind whistling outside. I also love the recipes that come with the cooler months: spicy gingerbread, dark chocolate, crumbly fruity pies, treacle toffee…you get the idea.

So I thought it was time to welcome Autumn with a thoroughly sticky, indulgent and delightfully warming treat: doughnut muffins. The recipe comes from one of my favourite books, Tea with Bea by Bea Vo, the clever lady behind Bea’s of Bloomsbury, the tiny chain of cafés in London specialising in delightful cakes and bakes. Bea’s recipe book is a thing of beauty too: gorgeous photography paired with lavish recipes. One recipe I was particularly eager to try was that of the doughnut muffin – not as technically challenging as making an actual doughnut (er, hello, Great British Bake Off), but just as delicious.

Jammy, soft, and totally indulgent, Bea’s doughnut muffins are great for a party. And the recipe is seriously easy: the ingredients are mixed together using the classic all-in-one method, then spooned straight into greased muffin trays. Once the muffins are baked, set up a production line of melted butter, sugar and jam-filled piping bag. Then grab a muffin, dip it in butter, roll it in sugar, and pipe jam into it. Done! You will make a mess, but that’s a small price to pay for rocking up casually to a party with a tin full of these beauties. My only issue was that I did find it tricky to tell how much jam I was piping into the muffins. If in doubt, always add more. Just make sure you have a good lot of jam to begin with, and be generous! No-one likes an under-jammed doughnut.

The only alterations I made to this recipe were using ground nutmeg instead of freshly grated, and making my own buttermilk. If you haven’t done this before, it’s very easy. Simply squeeze a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice into a cup of milk, and let it sit for ten minutes until it has curdled slightly. Much easier, and quicker, than nipping out to the shops to buy the real (more expensive) thing.

The muffins turned out beautifully; better than I’d hoped, in fact. They were sticky and spongy, with that particular doughnutty texture and flavour. A real party treat, and a great way to ease into Autumn. Come on, you know you want to really. After all, It’s only 100 days until Christmas…

Doughnut muffins
From Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury by Bea Vo

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Makes about 22

Ingredients:
420g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
330g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
375ml buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
130ml sunflower oil

Coating and dipping:
250g butter, melted
300g caster sugar
About ½ jar of raspberry jam

Equipment:
2 x 12-hole muffin trays, well-greased
Piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle/tip

– Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 6. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix.

– Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray holes, filling them three quarters of the way up.

– Bake in the preheated oven for 22-30 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle should come out dry and crumbly.

– While the muffins are baking, put the melted butter and sugar in their own shallow bowls and set aside.

– Remove the muffin trays from the oven and tip the muffins out. Immediately dip the muffins in the melted butter, then roll in the sugar to liberally and evenly coat.

– Fill the prepared piping bag with jam. Push the nozzle/tip through the bottom of the doughnut, up to midway. Pipe about one tablespoon of jam inside each doughnut and serve immediately.

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Lately: Summer’s end

OK, I give in. Summer has officially beaten me. July and August have been a blur, and trying to keep up with blogging once a week has well and truly been beyond me over the past couple of months. It may well be my own fault for squeezing so much into the Summer months, but what, that’s it? Summer is really over? It’s rushed by and although lots of fun things have happened, all the busyness seems to have sapped my baking mojo, too. I’ve had it with light, summery puddings, and instead I’m hankering after dark, warming puds; ginger and apple and sticky heavy cakes. Something in me is yearning for chilly evenings, woolly gloves and perhaps not having as much on the agenda. Well, apart from a hen do, a university reunion, baking my friend’s wedding cake and cheering my brother on in a triathlon. What can I say? Turns out I’m all about plans. But I’ve let the blog slip lately. Normal service will return soon. Promise.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with some photos from a very recent end-of-Summer wine-tasting roadtrip around France, during which we ate snails, stayed in a treehouse, hit up antiques markets, visited La Machine in Nantes, frolicked on beaches and, of course, bought a hella lot of wine. I also took my long-neglected film camera with me, so those photos will be up on the blog in the near future. PROMISE. And if you want to keep up to date with me off the blog, you can follow me on Instagram. See you soon, chums!

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