Here’s some quick inspiration for a healthy summer breakfast: homemade spelt and sunflower seed bread, topped with vanilla protein soya yogurt*, nectarine and raspberries.
* For the protein soya yogurt I use 5 tsp of plain Alpro mixed with a 3/4 scoop of PHD Diet Whey vanilla protein powder. It’s my go-to breakfast protein boost that I rely on pretty much daily for my toast topping. The vanilla flavour works well with peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. And chocolate flavour protein powder is great paired with bananas and strawberries.
Summer has finally arrived, and with it punnets of gorgeous berries everywhere you look. I love berry season – from the moment you bit into the first strawberry of the year to the harvest of juicy, sharp blackberries later in the summer. And there are endless ways to enjoy them. Think fresh berries to top your breakfast toast for a healhty alternative to jam. Think smoothies – sweet strawberries and peaches, for example, or refreshing blueberry and mint. Or mid-afternoon snacks – all I need in summer is a punnet of blueberries to get me through those hours in the office. And, of course, cake! Cupcakes in particular – the combination of tiny cakes and berries is a guaranteed winner for any occasion.
Gooseberries are often overlooked when it comes to baking but they are gorgeous in cake. Their fresh, tart flavour balances out the sweetness beautifully, adding a bit of zing to your bake.
For these cupcakes I’ve used dark brown sugar instead of white because it gives you a subtler, richer sweetness. And by replacing half the white flour with wholegrain spelt, you can deepen the flavour even more and get a more interesting texture while keeping your cakes perfectly light and fluffy.
Crumble toppings work well with berries and they’re a great way to make your cupcakes look pretty without having to muck about with frosting – for example when it’s so hot that your buttercream would just melt off, or you don’t want to go all out on the calories – and throwing in a handful of granola adds a lovely bit of extra crunch.
INGREDIENTS Makes 12 cupcakes
90g self-raising flour
85g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, softened
115g dark brown sugar
2 large free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk
FOR THE TOPPING
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
icing sugar, to dust
TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES
First prepare the topping: Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the granola and the sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Wash the gooseberries and pat them dry. Top and tail them, cut them into half and dust with a little flour – this is to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cakes during the baking.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, then beat in the vanilla essence and egg until fully incorporated.
Mix the two flours and baking powder and sift over the mixture. Gently fold in along with the milk, then fold in the gooseberries.
Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them no more than two thirds. Spoon the crumble mixture over the top and press down slightly.
Bake in the middle of the oven at 180°C (fan) for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Once the cupcakes are cooled completely, dust them lightly with icing sugar.
If you can’t get hold of gooseberries, these cupcakes also work beautifully with other slightly sharp berries, such as raspberries or blackberries.
For some more baking ideas with summer berries, check out these recipes:
Peaches and strawberries are two of my summer favourites, so of course I had to throw them into a smoothie together. And guess what – yep, liquid heaven. Made with a handful of oats and some coconut milk for a full breakfast, this is an incredibly creamy smoothie full of gently sweet flavours, almost crossing over into milkshake territory. In short, totally yum.
STRAWBERRIES AND PEACHES SMOOTHIE
2 small peaches
1 small pear
a handful of red grapes
100ml coconut milk
Throw everything into a blender (I use a Thermomix) and blitz until smooth.
Optional: To make the smoothie more filling (for example to have it for breakfast), add 3 tbsp oats and an additional 100ml coconut milk
Today’s mid-day run through sunny London was hot, sticky and sweaty, leaving me with a craving for something super-fresh. My first impulse when I got home was to drown myself in a bucket of ice water, but luckily a punnet of blueberries in my fridge came to my rescue and a new smoothie flavour was born. It was the perfect lunch.
APPLE, KIWI AND BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE WITH FRESH MINT
1 green apple (something fresh and crisp, I used Granny Smith)
A handful of red grapes
Two handfuls of blueberries
3-5 fresh mint leaves (depending on how minty you want it)
200ml light coconut milk (I use Koko dairy free)
Throw everything in a blender (I use a Thermomix), blitz until smooth and feel ultra refreshed.
I needed a birthday cake for a friend who can’t eat gluten. I’d never tried any gluten free baking but did remember a cake my granny used to bake when I was a kid. The recipe uses finely ground hazelnuts instead of flour, so it’s perfect if you want to avoid gluten. And the hazelnuts combined with cocoa powder also give the cake a wonderfully deep flavour and a light, moist texture.
You can make this cake with pretty much any kind of creamy filling and fruit. The original recipe uses whipped cream mixed with a type of conserved berry that’s widespread in Germany but not available in the UK, so I chose blueberries and cream cheese instead. (Can’t go wrong with cream cheese frosting and blueberries!)
Gluten free and with extra flavour thanks to the hazelnut-cocoa base: The perfect alternative.
The butterflies and leaves are cut out of icing using Lakeland icing cutters. I was going to make flowers originally, but then just really liked the idea of butterflies nibbling on clusters of blueberry-flowers.
For the frosting
60g unsalted butter, softened
200g full-fat Philadelphia
200g icing sugar
300 g blueberries
1 tbsp blueberry jam
A handful of blueberries
Green and yellow icing
Leaf and butterfly icing cutters
TO MAKE THE CAKE
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease two 20cm diameter cake tins lightly with butter.
Beat the butter, adding the sugar until the mixture becomes creamy. Beat in the vanilla essence, then gradually add the beaten eggs until the mixture is well combined.
In a separate bowl mix the finely ground hazelnuts with the cocoa and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and fold in gently.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING AND DECORATION
Place one cake on a cake stand, cover with the blueberry jam and spread a layer of blueberries on it.
Beat the butter, Philadelphia and icing sugar into a smooth cream. Spread half of the cream over the blueberries and smooth out evenly up to the edges. Top with the second cake and spread the remaining cream cheese mixture on top, again smoothing it out evenly. Stick the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the cream to set a bit.
In the meantime, cut out a selection of different sized leaves from green icing and butterflies from yellow icing. Arrange them on top of the cake with small clusters of blueberries.
For extra prettiness, push a line of blueberries into the cream layer around the side of the cake.
Icing cutters are cheap, and one of the simplest ways to make impressive decorations.
Making the most of the season’s berries while summer lasts!
The summer bake-a-thon continues! With English produce finally arriving in the supermarket, I’m in a rush to make as much of the berry season as I possibly can. This week’s quick and easy summer muffins are super light and juicy, stuffed full of whole raspberries and melt-in-your-mouth white chocolate chunks. And with low-fat yogurt replacing most of the butter in the recipe, they’re practically skinny! =)
INGREDIENTS Makes 14 cupcakes
80g unsalted butter, softened
100g light brown soft sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g natural low-fat yogurt
300g self-raising flour
120g white chocolate, chopped
7 extra raspberries
50-80g white chocolate
TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two muffin tins with 14 paper cases.
Cream the butter, adding the sugar until it becomes fluffy. Gradually mix in the eggs and beat well. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla extract.
Sift the flour over the mixture and stir in until just combined. Finally, fold in the whole raspberries and the chocolate chunks.
Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling them no more than two thirds. Cut the remaining raspberries in half and put one half on top of each cupcake with the sliced side facing down. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Once the muffins are cooled completely, melt the chocolate (for example by blitzing it in a cup in the microwave for 2 x 20 seconds). Fill the melted into a small freezer bag, snip one corner and use this ingenious device to drizzle the muffins evenly with as much chocolate as your heart desires. (They might not be so skinny after all.)
If you leave some chunks of white chocolate sticking out at the top, your muffins will get a delicious, almost caramelised crust.