In case you’re new to our blog: Our posts about baking are not only about the recipes, but also very much about the process of baking together with our son who’s autistic, non-verbal, and has develomental differences. I feel that baking is a great activity for us to enjoy together, and I hope that sharing about this can inspire others to try baking with their kids, regardless of differing abilites. Of course, you’re still very welcome even if you’ve ‘only’ come here for the recipe (you’ll find all the ingredients in a bullet list further down), and being accompanied by children during the baking process is not a compulsory requirement!
It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote a post on here about baking. It’s not that we haven’t been baking, I just haven’t got around to posting about it, or I haven’t felt sure about posting because we’ve only made someting once, and I know that recipes from ‘proper chefs’ and big recipe sites etc are normally tried and tested many times before being published.
But you know, we’re just a mum and son mucking about in the kitchen, and I want to share what we do and what works for us (so that others can give it a go too), not do things specifically for the sake of blogging. If we bake something and like it, I want to share it right away, not do repeat baking sessions for the sake of checking an refining the recipe. And after all, if you’re using different brands of ingredients or have a different cooker etc, there will still be variations in end results.
So, with that said, I’d like to share about our blueberry muffins that we made a couple of days ago! We added a touch of citrus to them, which I think turned out very well. I honestly can’t remember when we last made muffins before this, which I’m a little embarrassed to say, as it really felt like the best way to spend some time on a rainy summer day, baking these blueberry muffins, and then enjoying a few of them with a cuppa. Very cosy! And I’m not that good at creating cosy moments on a regular basis, so this felt like a win, especially as Penguin really liked the muffins too, which was not a given as he’s a very selective eater (as many autistics are).
Now, onto the list of ingredients:
- c. 180 g of Stork/margarine/butter
- c. 180 g of sugar (we used granulated, but caster sugar should be good too)
- 2 eggs
- the zest and juice of about 1/2 a large lemon and 1/2 a lime
- c. 180 g flour
- c. 1.5-2 tsp baking powder (we used one heavily heaped teaspoon, which I estimate to be 1.5-2 normal tsp measurments)
- c. 2 tablespoons of orange juice (optional)
- c. 1-2 cups of blueberries (we used frozen ones, but if you’ve got the chance to go into a forest and pick your own, do so!)
One of the reasons why I really like baking with Penguin, is that it means practising some very important life skills. With his neurodevelopmental differences (autistic, developmental delays, non-verbal etc.), he will most likely be relying on others to help him with everyday things for the rest of his life. But he’s always learning and developing skills, just not at the same rate as most kids do.
So, I try to build up a gradually increasing independence in the activities we do, such as in this case, baking. This can be another source for my uncertainty regarding recipes, as I try to let Penguin do the measuring of ingredients, and I don’t want to correct him unnessecarily as that could make him loose confidence in what he’s doing. Hence, all the measurments above, other than the eggs (which however can vary in size naturally, of course) are approximate. The orange juice is something we decided to add towards the end, as the mixture seemed a little to thick. If you’re happy with the thickness of your mixture without the orange juice, feel free to leave it out.
Firstly, we put the required amount of butter (we used Stork) into a large bowl. We then added the suggar, and mixed it in thoroughly before adding the eggs, and mixing thoroughly again.
Next we grated zest of lemon and lime into the mix (and this is great for practising motor skills! It requires bilateral coordination, as well as applying the right amount of pressure etc. Penguin gives it a go to practise, but I still do the majority of any kind of grating needed in our cooking or baking.). We then cut the lemon and lime into wedges, to make squeezing easier, and added their juice into the bowl.
We then added the flour and the baking powder, and gave everything a good mix. As it was quite thick, we decided to add some orange juice. After that, it was just the blueberries left to stir into the mix.
We put dollops of the mix into paper cups, and Penguin worked hard at this, getting slightly frustrated when spilling some, but overall it went really well! I wish we’d had the metal muffins tray we used to have though, as that would have provided support for the paper cups. As it was, we just placed the paper cups on our regular baking tray, which was okay, but some mix escaped out of a few of the cups during the baking process and that could have been avoided with a muffins tray (or by using double paper cups, for increased stability).
We baked our muffins at 180 C for about 15 mins. We have a fan assisted electric oven, and for non fan assisted you should probably go for about 200 degrees, and for a gas oven, gas mark 5 should be good. Check on your muffins after about 10 mins. The exakt time needed will vary quite a bit depending on how much mixture you’ve put in each cup, so if some ended up smaller, you might like to get them out and leave the larger ones in for a bit longer.
All in all, our muffins might not be the best looking ones I’ve ever seen, but they were fun to make and taste great to eat! As for sensory stimulation, which is an important aspect of life and learning for us, baking is of course an inherently sensory rich activity, and the citrus elements of this recipe added a nice bit of extra stimulation for our sense of smell (a.k.a the olfactory sense).
I hope you feel encouraged to get baking now, especially so if you too have a child who is a ‘different learner’. I’d say it can take a fair bit of effort and patience to do these things, and you need to have a pretty high tolerance for mess if you’ve got a Penguin in the kitchen, but it’s oh so worth it!
Thank you so much for reading, and please feel free to share your own thoughts, experiences, questions etc in the comments below! And for more regular interactions, come join us on social media:
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Take care now, and enjoy your muffins! x
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