Sunday 12 February 2012

The best low-fat blueberry muffins made by the worst baker

 Low-fat blueberry muffins sprinkled with snowy spiced sugar

Like most of London, I awoke last weekend to a winter wonderland. The heavens had opened overnight and left every surface caked in a bright white layer of snow, as if the mortal world were a delicious dessert dusted with icing sugar ready to be served at the gods’ dinner party.

As someone who grew up by the Jurassic Coast and can count the “snow day” memories from my youth on one hand, the slightest flurry of frosty flakes still surprises me – unlike my other half, whose Northern roots mean he would barely bat an eyelid if a blizzard suddenly descended on us.

My lack of all-weather training means I have no idea how to continue my daily routine after a snow shower, so my good intentions to spend Sunday morning working up a sweat in the gym were thrown out the window as soon as I opened the curtains and clocked the potentially hazardous conditions outside. Far better to stay safe and warm inside, I convinced myself, than risk unnecessary injury for the sake of trying to keep fit…

But the spellbinding sight of our everyday surroundings coated in a crisp layer of ice also filled me with a childlike sense of excitement, as if I’d stumbled through the wardrobe into Narnia and any miracle could happen next. So I summoned up the courage to try my hand at a bit of baking, in the hope that the snow’s enchantment could undo my former failed attempts (which include exploding jam doughnut cupcakes and disintegrating fruit flapjacks!).

My love-hate relationship with tempting treats means I’m just a beginner when it comes to the sweet stuff. With savoury food, I’m confident that I can think on my feet and alter ingredient quantities or flavour combinations to salvage a dish that could be heading for disaster. In comparison, I can’t stand the feeling of helplessness and suspense of staring at the oven and willing a cake to rise, or praying that your pièce de résistance doesn’t burn.

I may not have been brave enough to venture out into the cold, but I steeled my nerve for the heat of the kitchen and prepared a Bakers Dozen of the low-fat blueberry muffins I’d spotted in Marks and Spencer’s “I love sugar” cookbook. My calculations suggested they contained around 125 calories each so they seemed relatively sinless, and the recipe sounded so simple that hopefully even I couldn’t screw it up.

Listening to the oven timer tick away, I licked the bowl clean in anxious anticipation. When the moment of truth arrived, I was amazed by the sweet-smelling gorgeous golden peaks that emerged from the oven! I was struck by the fluffy blueberry muffins resemblance to a mountain range scattered with crunchy snow, and just hope that I can recreate them on a sunny day without Aslan guiding me to baking safety…

#Project366 Day #36 - Licking the bowl out is the best part of baking...

Low-fat blueberry muffins (serves 13)

225g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch salt

1 tsp allspice

115g caster sugar

3 large egg whites

3 tbsp low-fat margarine

100g blueberries

150ml thick low-fat natural yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Note: I used vanilla yoghurt and then left out the vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 190C and place 12 cake cases into a muffin tin.

2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and half the allspice into a mixing bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and mix together well.

3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites together. Add the margarine, yoghurt and vanilla extract and mix well, then stir in the blueberries until thoroughly mixed – don’t worry if a few berries burst, as the juice will just add to the overall flavour of the muffins.

Note: The recipe doesn’t specify what consistency is needed for the whisked egg whites, so I was a bit nervous about overdoing it. I decided to stop whisking once I could cut through the egg mixture with a spoon and leave a mark behind, but before they turned into opaque peaks.

4. Add the fruit mixture to the dry ingredients, then gently stir until everything is combined – it’s fine for the mixture to be slightly lumpy, so make sure you don’t over-mix everything.

5. Divide the mixture evenly between the cases – each one should be around two-thirds full. Mix the remaining sugar with the additional allspice, then sprinkle the mixture over the muffins.

Note: I found I still had some spiced sugar left over after giving each muffin a decent coating, so obviously you could weight out less sugar at the start to make your muffins even healthier!

Low-fat blueberry muffins before baking

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the muffins are risen and golden. 

These muffins are best eaten whilst warm in front of a roaring fire…but if you have the willpower to save them until after the snow has melted then just leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Low-fat blueberry muffins hot out of the oven


  1. These look awesome Katy! Bet they tasted great too

  2. Thanks Kerry! They were certainly very tasty but we didn't eat them fast time I'll go for a double helping (they are low-fat after all...!)

  3. I've made these muffins many times and everyone has loved them! Often I use a 50:50 ratio of blueberries:raspberries for an extra fruity kick. Delicious!!

  4. Ah very nice.. but i never use low fat margarine ... so i guess substitute with butter would make them full fat!