Chuckley Pears & Cakey Love

Happy Eid! Eid for me means a smorgasbord of cake and food and family. Think Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day food but all served on the same day. Growing up, Eid meant wearing the itchiest, frilliest dresses you’ve ever seen and going round to visit the whole of our (very large) extended family in Mombasa and get fed lots of amazing things (including shop bought cordials! So much sugar! So much food colouring! So not allowed by mum!) and given loads of money (for a child!). We traditionally exchange gifts between adults and all the children get given Eid money by all the adults. I LIVED for that Eid money! All those things I could buy!

As I grew older, I began to be more involved in the preparations for Eid and in baking sweet things. When I moved to the UK for uni, Eid at home is what I missed the most.

Now I have a family of my own and Eid has become a real celebration again, surrounded by my friends and family. And every year, I push the boat out a bit more in terms of what I cook. This year, my cake offerings will all include foraged fruits and one of those fruits is the Saskatoon.

Also known as June Berries and Chuckley Pears, Amelanchier Alnifolia is a small shrub with fruits that grow in clusters and look like little blueberries on stalks. They taste like the secret lovechild of a cherry and a blueberry with hints of blackberry. The photo shows you all the colours they go through as they ripen and when they’re at their peak is when they’re the colour of Victoria Plums and really plump.

They make a divine jam and addition to clafoutis, but today I’ve made something slightly different. Cupcakes! Finished with a lemony crunchy topping then baked to crunchy goldness, they taste amazing! Hope you like them too!

Saskatoon Cupcakes

Batter:

275g Plain Flour (I also substituted Dove’s Gluten Free Flour with 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum which worked well)
125g Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
2.5 tsp Baking Powder
150g June Berries
1 Egg
180ml Buttermilk (I also tried Almond Milk due to baby’s lactose issues and it worked)
50g Butter, melted (or 60ml Sunflower Oil)

Topping:

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
30g Granulated Sugar
15g Plain Flour

I used a fine microplane grater to zest my lemon. If all you have is a normal zester that gives you strips of zest, put your topping ingredients in a food processor and blitz. Otherwise, just rub the ingredients together until they look and feel like damp yellow sand.

Sift your dry ingredients together into a bowl. In a jug, mix your oil, milk and egg and slowly pour it into your bowl . Stir it together until its mostly mixed. Do not overbeat or you will end up with cupcakes like leather! Add your saskatoon berries and stir together gently. Spoon into your cases and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the muffin tray and leave to cool on a wire rack.

This mixture makes 12 muffins (they rise a lot so trust me on this one!) or 16 fairy cakes.

Muhaimina Said-Allsopp