Lunchbox Blueberry Muffins

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Every so often, my passion for baking all kinds sticky, chewy, creamy and generally moreish treats induces a pang of guilt, and I attempt to balance the situation by thinking up a healthier version of classic bakes. My daughter doesn’t eat sweets or bars of chocolate; these muffins are the kind of treat that I really would not mind putting in her lunchbox. I wouldn’t necessarily call these pretty little blueberry cakes ‘healthy’ as such – if you really wanted to be healthy then you should just eat the blueberries! – but they’re certainly not going to do you any harm, and you can easily ring the changes by making these with raspberries, strawberries or cherries instead of blueberries.

Muffins are so easy to make and require no special equipment; just a mixing bowl and a spatula will do. They are great for children to help make, as you should never over-mix a muffin batter. It is supposed to be gently mixed and generally lumpy; this is what gives a muffin its distinctively airy sponginess. Let’s face it, children are never very good at getting a smooth batter. Which in this case is just perfect.

Makes 12 medium sized muffins. You will need a 12-hole muffin/large cupcake tin lined with paper cases; or use silicone cases.

225g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60g sugar (caster or granulated is fine)
1 large egg (US extra large)
60ml vegetable oil (sunflower or rapeseed)
200ml buttermilk (or do what I do – add 1 tbsp lemon juice to 185ml milk, let it sit for 10 mins before using.)
200g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 200c /400f / gas mark 6.

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Sift together the dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder and salt – and stir in the sugar. In a separate jug, lightly beat the egg and add the buttermilk and oil to it.

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Pour the eggy mix into the dry mix and stir gently to combine. Just stir lightly -scraping the sides down as you go – until you can’t see any dry bits. Lumpy really is a good thing where muffins are concerned. You are not aiming for a smooth batter so please don’t attempt it!

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Now tip in the blueberries and stir gently to disperse evenly.

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Now fill up your paper cases as evenly as possible. We use an ice-cream scoop for all our muffins and cupcakes; it really does make the job easier!

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Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 2–25 minutes, until the tops look a lovely deep golden colour and spring back when you gently prod them. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tub. These are best eaten within a couple of days, or you can freeze them. You can pop a frozen muffin into a lunchbox in the morning and it will be defrosted by lunchtime!

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