Monday, 15 May 2017

How To Bake Just A Small Batch Of Muffins
How to bake a small batch of muffins - Hopton House Bed and Breakfast Shropshire

The buffet table at breakfast is filled with fresh fruit, fruit and natural yoghurts, Bircher muesli, homemade bread to toast, freshly squeezed orange juices and local apple juice and a selection of cereals. I also like to put some sort of baked goods on there as a treat.
At this time of year when I can pick blackberries from the wildflower meadow, the only thing to make is Blackberry cinnamon streusel muffins. If guests can’t manage them after breakfast  they can always take them away for a snack later when they get peckish.
The trouble with muffins is that I think they taste best warm from the oven and I don’t think they taste as good if they’ve been frozen or the next day. But the problem is all muffin recipes seem to produce 10-12 muffins and if I ate all the leftover muffins every day I’d soon need a new wardrobe.
So my challenge was to create a method that allowed me to make just 2 or 4 muffins with no waste. And I’ve done it! This recipe is also quite quick in the morning as much of it is already prepared for you. You just scoop out as much of your prepared dry mix as you need and then combine with the wet ingredients.
I’ve spent years looking for the perfect muffin recipe and I eventually found it the American Culinary Institute Cookbook.  The original recipe is for Raspberry pecan streusel muffins. This one is for blackberries. You can use any fruit that you think will work and add different nuts to the streusel or leave them out as I’ve done here.
Note when I talk about cups I mean American Measuring cups. They’re easy to buy in the UK these days but I’ve also included weights in grams.

Making Your Dry Mix

You need a large airtight jar. I have a bit of a thing about Kilner jars and can’t walk past them without buying them. The jar needs to be big enough so there’s room in there to shake all your ingredients to make sure they’re really well combined before each use.
First you put all the dry mix ingredients into your jar and shake really well. This is the ratio of ingredients you need but you could double ( or even triple if your jar is big enough ) them.
  • 1.5 cups ( 225g ) plain ( all purpose ) flour
  • 0.5 cups ( 115g) caster ( fine ) sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp salt

Making Your Streusel Topping

You don’t have to use it but the streusel topping really makes these muffins. You can add nuts or different spices if you like. I make up a big batch of streusel topping and put it in the freezer, then just scoop out 0.5 tablespoons per muffin
  • 2/3 cup ( 110g) plain ( all purpose flour )
  • 2/3 cup ( 110g) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons ( 60g) melted butter
Mix all the dry ingredients together and then mix in the butter till you get a crumble like mixture with big crumbs. I use my Kitchenaid mixer for this because I’m lazy but you could do it in a big bowl with a wooden spoon.
Put this into a freezer proof container or a plastic bag, seal and put in the freezer.

Making Up Your Muffins

For each muffin you need 35g or 3.5 tablespoons of dry mix combined with about 35g or 3.5 tablespoons of the wet ingredients.
This is where it can be a bit problematic as you may need you find 1/2 an egg. You could always beat up the egg and throw half of it away or use it in scrambled eggs, an omelette or another recipe.
For 4 muffins I used one of our very small eggs which I weighed ( out of the shell ) to be 40g.  A normal egg is about 80g.
I wouldn’t get too worried about being that precise with the ratios of the wet ingredients. What you’re aiming for is about the same volume of dry ingredients to wet, so if your egg is a bit bigger just use a bit less buttermilk.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius ( 170 degrees for a fan or 375 F )
For 4 muffins you’ll need

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ( 50g ) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup ( 50g ) melted butter
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small egg ( about 40g or whatever size egg you have beaten and weigh/measure out 40g or 4 tablespoons )
Beat the wet ingredients together. Shake your prepared muffin mix well and weigh out 140g ( 3/4 cup + 2 tbs ) into a bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until it is just combined. Don’t beat or over mix as this makes the muffin tough. Stir through the blackberries ( I use about a tablespoon per muffin ).
Put into 4 prepared muffin cases in a muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with about 0.5 tbs streusel mix straight from the freezer. Bake for a bout 20 minutes until risen and golden.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Gluten Free Banana Oat Blueberry Pancakes
Gluten Free Banana Oat Blueberry Pancakes

I often get requests for gluten free options at the B&B and try and offer a good choice.

On request, I can do a gluten free lemon drizzle for the rooms and the gluten free banana bread at breakfast has proven to be very popular even amongst the gluten eaters!

Pancakes are a popular choice at breakfast but by just replacing the flour with gluten free they can taste a bit gritty.  So, as it's the quiet time of year for the B&B, I thought I'd have a bit of an experiment.

I'm very pleased with the result and they have the added benefits of being high in fibre and with no added sugar.

This recipe serves 1 with 3 pancakes. You could also replace the blueberries with chopped apple and add a teaspoon of cinnamon.

The calorie count ( according to my fitness pal ) is about 320 calories for 3 pancakes - 8g fibre, 50g Carbohydrates, 15g sugar, 10g fat, 10g protein.

Adding a tablespoon of maple syrup adds 40 calories.

Gluten Free Oat and Banana Blueberry Pancakes


1 small banana
1 small egg
40 g ( 1/2 cup ) gluten free porridge oats
1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
25g blueberries
3g butter for brushing the pan


Whizz all the ingredients together in a blender until the mix is smooth. Leave for about 20 minutes to allow time for the mix to thicken up.

Heat a non stick frying pan on a medium heat. Brush with melted butter. Spoon the mix into the pan, creating 3 pancakes, Sprinkle the blueberries over the pancakes. Cook the pancakes until small bubbles appear and the bottom are golden brown, then flip the pancakes, cooking until golden brown.

Best served with lashings of maple syrup......

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Buttermilk Blueberry and Lime Zest Scones

Light and fluffy buttermilk blueberry scones with a freshly brewed coffee

I'm always overtaken with an uncontrollable urge to bake something for breakfast the morning after watching the Great British Bake Off ( GBBO). Unfortunately most of my B&B  guests have filled up on fruit, bircher muesli, toast and full Shropshire breakfast, so don't touch the baked goods, but when a girl's got to bake she's got to bake.

For some reason I've been thinking about making blueberry scones for some time. Scones are a big thing for breakfast in America, but they tend to be shorter crispier beast than the traditional English scone.

These scones are a version of the traditional scone we get in the UK, but with the addition of blueberries and lime zest. They are not too sweet and the lime zest isn't overpowering but somehow enhances them.

You can use fresh or frozen blueberries. I use buttermilk in most of my baking - it really does make a difference. If you don't have buttermilk you can use milk with a teaspoon of lime ( or lemon juice ) added a few minutes before you use it.

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40g cold butter diced into small cubes
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 140 ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 50g blueberries
  • zest of a lime

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C or fan 200 degrees.

Place some baking parchment or silicon sheet on a baking tray.

Mix the flour and baking powder together, then rub in the butter till it resembles fine breadcrumbs ( I always do this in my mixer as I'm an incredibly lazy cook ).

Stir the sugar and lime zest into the flour mix then, in a small separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour the buttermilk mixture gradually into the flour mix, mixing gently together.
You're looking for a soft, not sticky dough, so you may not need all of the liquid. Be careful not to overmix.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and fold it in half a few times. Pour the blueberries on top and fold it over a few more times.

I don't bother with a rolling pin, just press out the dough with my hand till it's about 3cm thick. Then using a cutter cut out your scones. A round 7 cm cutter will give you about 6 scones. Pull any bits of dough together and press out again so you get the maximum number of scones out of your dough.

Put the scones on the baking tray and brush with leftover buttermilk/egg mix. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes. You're looking for a nice golden brown top and a well risen scone.
Best eaten warm!

Light and fluffy buttermilk blueberry scones with a freshly brewed coffee

Monday, 22 December 2014

Cheese and Oat Biscuits

I've become very bad at doing Christmas and especially presents. In fact Mr B&B even took me to see Scrooge's grave today in the hope that it might have the same effect on me that it had on Scrooge himself but sadly not.

A little explanation here if you're not from Shrewsbury. The classic 1984 George C Scott version of A Christmas Carol was filmed in Shrewsbury. For the film they took an old gravestone in St Chad's graveyard and inscribed it with "Ebenezer Scrooge" and the gravestone remains there today.

Back to biscuits. Last year, 2 hours before attending a friend's Christmas party, I realised I had no presents so I did a quick search on the internet and found these cheese and oat biscuits.

These biscuits really are very good. They are flaky and cheesy and taste fantastic straight from the oven. But they are also very good bunged in a kilner jar ( once cool ) and tied with a ribbon and presented as a present. Best eaten whilst sipping a Prosecco or Kir Royale


75g rolled oats ( I swear by Shropshire Pimhill Farm Oats )
125g plain flour ( using OO pasta flour gives a great result but it's not essential )
85g cold butter cut into cubes
75g very strong cheddar ( Oakly Park Cheddar from the Ludlow Centre is good )
25g pecorino ( or you could use parmesan if you prefer )
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt
1/4 tsp of cracked black pepper ( I love pepper, you may prefer less )
cold water

Optional ingredients that would be good are 1/2 tsp thyme leaves or chopped rosemary or a pinch of cayenne. Experiment with the cheeses or use whatever leftover cheese you have, provided it can be grated.


Preheat the oven to fan 180 degrees C or 200 degrees C

Mix together the oats, flour, salt & pepper, herbs if using, and rub in the butter till you get the texture of large breadcrumbs. I just chuck it all in the mixer. Then grate in the cheese and mix well. Put in the egg yolks and mix together until you get a firm dough. Don't over mix. You may need to add a bit of water to get it into a dough.

Halve the dough and roll it out till it's quite thin. Then using a scone or biscuit cutter, cut out your biscuits. Pull any bits of dough back into a ball and keep rolling out and cutting biscuits until you've used all the dough.

Put on a baking tray ( I always line mine with  a silicon liner ) and bake for 10 minutes until golden. There will be too many biscuits for one tray so I do mine in batches.

If you can manage not to eat them all from the baking tray then place them on a wire tray to cool.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins

We're a bit of a fan of cinnamon here at Hopton House. My husband is particularly keen. Normally I can't tempt Jess & Rob with a fresh baked muffin in the morning, but they both make an exception for these.

This recipe takes the banana bread recipe and raises it to a different level. You can make it in a 1lb loaf tin to make a traditional banana bread. However it takes quite a long time to cook  ( 50-60 minutes at 160 degrees C non fan oven ) & needs to be completely cool before cutting. By cooking as muffins no cutting is required so they can be served warm from the oven and
only take about 20 mins to cook. They are also incredibly easy to do as it's one of the mixes where you just bung everything into the mixer. They also last quite well so can be cooked the day before.

Makes 6 muffins

Muffin Ingredients

50g softened butter ( or you could use 50ml vegetable oil )
90g soft brown sugar ( caster sugar will do )
1 tsp mixed spice
1 egg
1 ripe banana
110g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp buttermilk ( you can happily substitute 1 tbsp milk or 1 natural yoghurt as who wants to open a whole buttermilk carton for 1 tbsp but it does create a fluffier result )

Cinnamon Swirl Mix
4 tbsp of white sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C ( or 180 degrees for a fan oven ). Put all of the muffin ingredients ( not the cinnamon swirl mix ingredients these are added separately ) into a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high for 2 minutes. Combine the white sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Line a muffin tin with a 6 muffin cases. Put a tablespoon of muffin mix into the bottom of each case. Take a good heaped teaspoon of the cinnamon swirl mix then  sprinkle over the wet muffin mix. You're looking to have the mix completely covered with sugar & cinnamon. Then add the remaining wet muffin mix to the cases and finish off with another good teaspoon of the sugar & cinnamon.

Be careful not to overfill the cases - you only want them 3/4 full - they will rise quite a lot.

Bake for about 20 minutes till they're firm to touch. Just keep an eye on them to make sure they don't brown too much.

If you have any remaining sugar & cinnamon mix you can store it in a airtight jar for next time ( or sprinkle some on your porridge in the morning )

Monday, 5 August 2013

Sarah's Chocolate Cake

I can be very boring on the subject of Twitter and the real life connections it makes, but, living in a rural area and quite often stuck in the house waiting for guests to arrive/leave, it is a real lifeline for the country B&B landlady.

Just this week I had another B&B landlady Twitter friend to stay. We've talked online by direct message nearly every day for the last 3 years & it was finally time to meet. I must admit to being very nervous before their arrival. The nerves were two fold; first they run a fabulous 5 star B&B that has won B&B of the year & second, if we had hated each other in real life, it would have been the end of a beautiful online relationship & left a huge gap. And I have discovered that just because you get on well with someone online doesn't always translate to a great face to face relationship. Luckily it all went well & I was very sad to see them leave.

A few months ago I met another virtual B&B friend, Sarah of Ferndell in Shrewsbury. I took the train up to the "big city" and we nattered for hours and compared B&B stories over coffee & lovely cake. Sarah is known for her chocolate cake and has kindly offered to share the recipe with us all! In fact if you were looking for a country / town 2 centre break in Shropshire you might find Hopton House & Ferndell would be the perfect combination......

Over to Sarah:

Chocolate sponge

Firstly I would like to thank Karen for asking me to place my chocolate cake recipe on her lovely blog, I usually ask my daughter age 12 to make me a quick cake before the guests are due and between the pair of us it usually turn out alright…
I use a Kitchenaid mixer to do the hard work starting with mixing the Marg and Sugar together, then add 3 eggs mixing again followed by the flour and cocoa powder…how simple, I don’t even use a sieve. I separate the mixture between two 8” tins greased and lined and into the bottom Aga for 25 minutes but luckily with an Aga  if you forget a few extra minutes wont spoil it…as my Aga is off at the moment (sad face) I have to use a timer on the oven so 25 minutes at about 150/160..

Now the butter icing I simply make straight in the bowl the cake mix has come out of, so Marg Cocoa Powder and Icing Sugar, all whizzed up leaving a cloud of icing all over me and the worktop etc as I often forget to drape a damp tea towel over the mixer.
Sandwich together and generously sprinkle over icing sugar (my favourite bit)

Sponge mix                                                          
6oz marg                                                               
6oz granulated sugar
3 Free range eggs
5oz SR Flour
1oz cocoa powder

For the butter icing I tend to plonk the marge icing sugar cocoa in and if it looks too sloppy add more icing sugar and if its too stiff add a little more marg…not very professional I know

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Cheese and Herb Sausages

Cheese & Herb SausageI always try and provide a good selection of vegetarian breakfast options that aren't just the full English without the meat. However quite a few people still choose the full breakfast but with vegetarian sausage. So I decided to have a go at making my own veggie sausages.

I have tried different recipes in the past but without any huge success. I needed a sausage that I could make in bulk, freeze and then be able to cook from frozen without it all falling to mush.

This is a recipe from Delia's Vegetarian Cookbook. Her recipe uses Parmesan in the coating. Parmesan isn't actually suitable for strict vegetarians, so I've replaced it with a strong local cheddar from the Ludlow Food Centre which is suitable for all vegetarians; Oakley Park Cheddar.

Delia's recipe reckons it makes 12 sausages but I've only every managed 7-8.

I freeze them individually on trays and then put into plastic bags.

I use whatever bread is leftover from breakfast. But I find it works well with a mix of my homemade seeded granary bread & white bread.

Sausage Ingredients
100g vegetarian cheddar cheese, grated
125g breadcrumbs ( white, granary or wholemeal or a mix )
1 medium onion, either grated or minced in the food processor
1 tablespoon mixed fresh  herbs ( I use parsley, chives & thyme )
3/4 tsp dry mustard powder
1 egg yolk
salt & pepper

1 egg white, beaten
25g breadcrumbs
25g very finely grated cheese

Mix together all of the dry ingredients for the sausage, then mix in the egg yolk. I find it easier to do this with my hands. Take small amounts of the mix and form into sausages. Roll the sausages in the egg white the mix of breadcrumbs & grated cheese.

If you're eating straight away I would suggest putting them in the fridge for about half an hour to firm up. Otherwise freeze on trays and then bag up when frozen.

To cook fresh, fry them gently in olive oil till golden all over - 5-10 minutes.

To cook from frozen. Brush with some olive oil and bake at about 200 degrees ( or top AGA oven ) for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through.