When Mr E and I have some spare time we often go for a walk in the Yorkshire countryside. Up hill and down dale as they say. Last weekend saw us at one of our local nature reserves walking through the woodland waiting for a shower to pass. The woods were quiet, as is expected at this time of year, as the songbirds are recovering from the enormous effort of raising their brood. Just a few short minutes into our walk a bird made its presence known, and not through the beauty of its song. The bird decided to, well, visit the bathroom at the precise moment that we walked beneath the tree where it stood. Wearing no hat Mr E had been well and truly got! And needless to say he wan't too pleased about it!
Despite Mr E not being too happy about the 'incident' it is said to bring good luck. Perhaps he should purchase a lottery ticket for the next draw 😉 Or maybe the good luck was stumbling across the heavily ladened bilberry bushes we found later in our walk.
Many of the bilberry fruits had yet to ripen but there were plenty which were ready to be picked. So retrieving a small empty paper bag, which had earlier held bird seed from feeding the mallards, from my pocket I picked what I could.
As a child Mum, Grandma and I would often find ourselves on the hills above our family home picking bilberries at this time of year. They're such a treat. Not only because they need to be foraged for (as it's very unlikely that you'd find them in supermarkets and greengrocers here in the UK) but because they taste amazing. Really amazing! Although bilberries (which are also known as blaeberries, whartleberry, winberry, wimberry, and myrtle blueberry) look like a mini version of blueberries, they, in my humble opinion, are far tastier than their larger cousin. Wikipedia tells us all about the bilberry, and have a look here for the nutrition of the bilberry.
Last year we made a Bilberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake with our foraged fruit. This time though, we decided to rustle up something a lot easier and opted to make a few muffins. These Bilberry and Spelt Muffins are jam packed with delicious fruit and are topped with a little spiced sugar. Having some spelt flour which had been languishing in the cupboard, I decided to replace the usual plain flour in favour of this tastier version, but of course plain flour would work equally well in these muffins.
Many bakers comment that their fruits sink to the bottom of their sponge during a bake, but these little bilberries found their way to tho top (I've no idea why). To be honest I quite like seeing their purple noses poking their way though the Bilberry & Spelt Muffin crust, teasing us with the tasty delights to be enjoyed.
I really wish I could have captured the aroma when the Bilberry & Spelt Muffins emerged from the oven. They smelt good. Really good! It took me all of my will power not to eat them before I'd captured the images I wanted. And yes, I definitely needed an image of a Bilberry & Spelt Muffin with a bite taken out of it 😉
So, let's get to it and bake!
Bilberry & Spelt Muffins Yum
Yield: 6 Muffins
Time: hands on time about 10 minutes; plus 20 - 25 minutes bake time; cooling time.
Storage: Airtight container for 2 or 3 days.
You will need:
Baking Tray, with sides
6 Muffin cases (or large cupcake cases)
1 x medium mixing Bowl
Spatula or large Metal Spoon
For the Bilberry & Spelt Muffins
110g White Spelt Flour (or plain flour)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
65g Caster Sugar, plus ½ tablespoon extra to sprinkle
½ teaspoon Mixed Spice, plus pinch extra to sprinkle
30g Unsalted Butter, melted
1 large Egg, beaten
100g Bilberries (or bluberries)
How to make them:
1. Prepare the bilberries. Gently wash the bilberries, removing any leaves, stems or spoilt fruit. Dry them gently with kitchen roll. Put them into a sided baking tray. Distribute the berries to make a single layer. Place the tray in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200c / Fan 180c / Gas 6. Place the paper muffin cases into the hollows of the muffin pan.
3. Prepare the spiced sugar. Place the half tablespoon of sugar and pinch of mixed spice into a small bowl and mix together. Set aside.
4. Mix together the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and mixed spice into a medium sized bowl.
5. Mix together the wet ingredients.
Break the egg into a pyrex jug, or similar, and lightly beat. Add the milk and melted butter. Mix together.
6. Combine the wet with the dry ingredients.
Make a well in the flour. Pour the wet mixture into the well. Use a
spatula or large metal spoon to gently combine, avoid over mixing.
7. Add the bilberries. Remove the frozen berries from the freezer. Tip them into the batter and gently mix to combine.
8. Fill the muffin cases.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, aiming to divide the berries
equally amongst each muffin case. Each case needs to be no more than
two-thirds full. Use a teaspoon to generously sprinkle the spiced sugar
over the top of the raw muffin mixture.
the muffin tin into the pre-heated oven and bake for 20 - 25
minutes. You may need to rotate the tray after 18 minutes of baking.
muffins will be ready when they are well risen, golden brown and an
inserted skewer (or tooth pick) comes out clean.
Once the muffins are baked remove them from the oven. Remove them from the muffin pan and place onto a cooling tray to cool.
Enjoy either slightly warm or cold.
a) Freezing the bilberries for a few minutes helps to prevent the berries from being spoilt and damaged whilst being mixed.
b) If you are unable to obtain bilberries, substitute them for blueberries, either fresh or frozen. Though if using fresh do freeze them for a few minutes before incorporating them into the batter.