As I write this it looks like there will be an article on sweetenoughbakes in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to reading it – hopefully it will be accompanied by some good pictures of my cakes!
Mr McGregor and I recently visited Howick Hall Gardens in Northumberland. There is something to see in the gardens pretty much any time of the year (they are open February to November), including a snowdrop festival in early February. We have previously explored the gardens in autumn, when the trees are particularly beautiful, but even on an overcast day in early July the flower borders were lovely.
Howick Hall is important historically for being the family home of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey and his family. Charles was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland between 1830 and 1834. He was among the primary architects of the Reform Act 1832 and his government saw the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. He also had an affair, and a daughter, with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who led a fascinating life as an English socialite, style icon, author, and activist – clearly this is not a modern phenomenon! Charles is also famous because of his association with Earl Grey Tea. The story goes that the Earl Grey blend was specially created for him by a Chinese mandarin to suit the water from the well at Howick, using bergamot to offset the taste of the lime in the water. You can try this in the place it was created for at the wonderful Earl Grey Tea House at Howick Hall – and I can highly recommend a slice of Earl Grey tealoaf, washed down with a cup of Earl Grey tea. If you get the right table in this lovely Tea House you can watch red squirrels eating their lunch outside the window.
Below you’ll find a recipe for some Earl Grey muffins which we enjoyed in our own garden on a sunny day. Of course it was accompanied by a cup of tea. The original recipe called for 200g sugar, but here I’ve cut this down to 60g. For more about the reasons we should reduce our sugar intake see here.
Earl Grey Muffins (pdf: Earl Grey Muffins)
4 Earl Grey teabags
4 tablespoons of freshly boiled water
80g unsalted butter (softened)
60g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and line a muffin tin with muffin cases (makes about 12)
- Pour just boiled water over tea bags and leave to infuse for 30 mins
- Using a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder together till well mixed
- Squeeze out the tea bags as much as possible
- Whisk milk and eggs together and add the tea. Beat ¾ of this into the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk/eggs and mix to a smooth batter
- Spoon into muffin cases (3/4 full) and bake in the oven for 18-20 mins until well risen and firm
- Leave to cool slightly in tin then fully cool on wire rack