The chocolate and beetroot recipe - and more about Agas

So here it is, my first ever blog... I've been inspired by the #marchmeetthemaker posts I've been doing on Instagram, and a few requests for recipes for the muffins I make. I will try to post something each Sunday, although I can't promise it will always be entirely baking related... The other caveat I should probably mention is that because all my baking is done in our old Aga, I have never test...ed these recipes in a conventional oven, and can only guess at cooking times for non-Aga owners. I appreciate this is the vast majority of the country, and not just a rarefied few who live in large Georgian piles, or remote Scottish Islands, or those who bought a standard family home in an East Sussex town but inherited a farmhouse kitchen from the previous owners who either had marvellous taste or delusions of grandeur, either of which have rendered the gas bills for the property inconceivably large, resulting in various embarrassing conversations with young chaps from NPower unable to comprehend how a gas bill in August can really be that astronomical. But I do love it.
Right. Chocolate and beetroot muffins were one of the first recipes I worked on. When we lived in Hampshire, and were regular shoppers at the Winchester Farmer's Market, there was an amazing lady there called Juliet who used to bake cakes made using fruit and veg from her garden. She did a chocolate and beetroot cake which I initially wrote off, being an avid beetroot-hater. Her clever husband persuaded me to try some, and I was hooked. A year ago I decided to take the plunge and start Bee & Bear, and Juliet was, and has remained, my inspiration. Sadly our small garden doesn't allow me to grow beetroot, or have an orchard (although we do have a herb garden which is heavily utilised in the savoury muffins), but one day I dream of growing much of what I bake with. And having chickens. And a large Georgian pile.
This recipe isn't my own invention (most of them are, I hasten to add) - it owes a lot to a large supermarket and a recipe I found on its web-site...

Chocolate and beetroot muffins

(makes 12 muffins)

180g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g cocoa powder
250g caster sugar
250g cooked peeled beetroot
3 large eggs
200ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

- sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl
- mix in the sugar
- blitz the beetroot in a blender
- add the eggs one by one, then the oil, then the vanilla extract, and blend until smooth
- add to the dry mixture (as with all muffins, the secret is not to over mix, so just stir with a large spoon until everything is combined)
- divide into 12 muffin cases
- bake for 20 minutes on the grid shelf on the bottom of the roasting oven, with the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners, turning half way
Or 180C / 355F / Gas mark 4 for around 25 minutes


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