Lemon, Sunflower Seed and Blackberry Muffins (makes 8)

At this time of year, I start thinking about festive food. The first job on my list of preparations is to empty out my usually overstocked freezer to make way for dishes prepared ahead of time, to take the strain off Christmas entertaining.
Every year without exception I find bags of blackberries, freshly frozen from one of my many foraging frenzies.
At the end of August and beginning of September, when the warm days of summer are either present or recent enough to imagine the heat on the back of your arms, the blackberries ripen; round and plump glistening like wild garnets. I just can’t resist.
This year I‘ve made jam and chutney and still had plenty of blackberries left. I had the urge to bake (I blame The Great British Bake off- BBC have a lot to answer for!).
I looked for a recipe I could adapt and came across one in my
ever faithful and very stained Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache, by Harry Eastwood.
The recipe also uses courgette, a vegetable that always gets wasted because no one in my family wants to eat it, apart from me.
I just have to make sure that I peel them well, and they never guess what the ‘mystery ingredient’ is’!

2 large unwaxed lemons
3 medium eggs, free range, of course and brought to room temperature
160g Caster sugar
250g peeled topped, tailed, and finely grated courgette (zucchini if you’re in the US)
180g white rice flour
160g ground almonds
2 tsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp. salt
60g sunflower seeds
150g blackberries

  • Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4 and line the muffin tray with paper cases (I prefer to use silicone cases)
  • Finely grate the lemon zest on to a plate.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk or mixer for exactly 3 minutes and till pale and creamy.
  • Add the courgette and lemon zest and beat.
  • Using a spatula, wooden spoon (or if you’re a complete lazy bones like me, continue using the mixer), beat in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until they are thoroughly mixed. Be quick though.
  • Quickly stir in the seeds and berries. It’s important to use a spoon or spatula for this part, so that the berries don’t become mushy.
  • Spoon the mixture into the cases, making sure that the mixture comes right to the top.
  • Bake in the centre of your oven for 35 minutes.
  • Remove the muffins from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  • They might be cracked on the top. Do not be alarmed, this is normal!

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Caption found on http://www.the36thavenue.com