Splendid Bakes' PYO Blackcurrant and White Chocolate Muffins

Ripe blackcurrants that have been warmed by the sun thanks to their inky hue are the perfect taste of a British Summer. This week we had some friends visiting from overseas and I thought that what better way to show them around than to take them berry picking? I told my friend that we were going to a PYO at a farm shop filled with British cheeses and she took no more convincing. 

We picked almost a whole punnet each of blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries and those that weren’t eaten on the way home or grabbed by the handful after lunch were made into some rather splendid treats:


Blackcurrant and White Chocolate Muffins

These muffins are great for making with children. Weigh out all of your ingredients first, then use your largest mixing bowl (to prevent mixture sloshing over the sides from erratic mixing) combine the sugar with the wet ingredients and then with the dry, then add the blackcurrants and chocolate. That’s it! 

250g Plain flour

2 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp Ground cinnamon

150ml buttermilk (or curdle 140ml full fat milk with 10ml lemon juice)

100ml Rapeseed oil (or melted butter or another flavourless oil)

75g Caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g (about a quarter of a punnet) Blackcurrants, stir in a teaspoon of flour to coat them.

50g white chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 150C (Fan), line cupcake tin with paper cases or grease the tin.

Combine all of the wet ingredients and the sugar in a large bowl. I gave the children a balloon whisk to use as it makes it easier for little arms to mix, and you’re less likely to have them launching mixture over the sides. 

Combine the dry ingredients then sift over the wet mixture. Stir just enough to combine to a lumpy mixture then add almost all of the blackcurrants and chocolate. The less you mix, the lighter the muffin. 

Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake cases then top each with a few of your reserved blackcurrants and chocolate chips

Bake in the prepared oven for 30 – 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes. They are done when the sponge is golden and firm when pressed and the blackcurrants on top have burst.

Makes 12 large muffins or 24 – 36 mini muffins, depending on your tin size. 

They are best on the day they’re made but will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container. They also freeze well.

Variation – I like my muffins with a flat top but if you like more American style domed muffins, add another teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients, and a teaspoon of lemon juice to the wet. 

Top Tip – Don’t put your children in white T-shirts to go blackcurrant picking. 

Thank you Kate! See more at www.splendidbakes.co.uk



Serves 4

500g Gooseberries

4 tbsp caster sugar

2 finely pared strips of lemon zest

12 medium heads of elderflower, plus a few to decorate

300ml double cream

Put the gooseberries into a pan with the sugar, lemon zest and a few splashed of water and throw the elderflower heads on top. Heat gently until the gooseberries begin to break up, then simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Push the pulpy mush through a sieve and leave to cool completely. 

Whisk the cream until soft peaks form, then fold into the gooseberry purée - either leaving it as a ripple or combining evenly. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Spoon the chilled fruit fool into serving glasses and top each with a sprig of elderflower to decorate.



Sterilise a few jars in the oven before/while cooking.

5 Pears - cored, peeled and chopped into small chunks 

300g Gooseberries - chopped into quarters 

2 Garlic Cloves -crushed

2 Tsp Sea Salt

250ml White Wine Vinegar

250ml Water

2 tsp Ground Coriander

1 tsp Ground Cumin

100g Soft Light Brown Sugar

100g Demerara Sugar 

1 . Put all of the ingredients in a heavy based pan or preserving pan - except for the sugars. Bring it to the boil, then simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, to soften the pears.

2. Once the pears have softened, add the sugar and heat gently until dissolved. Keep stirring it, bring to the boil, then simmer for 1 hour until thick. You may not need this long depending on your stove type!  Once the sugar is in I would advise stirring it throughout the cooking time to stop it sticking.

3. To check if it’s thick enough run a spoon across the base of the pan – it should leave a clear trail through the chutney if it’s ready. 

4. Place the chutney in sterilised jars while it is still hot and keep stored in a cool dark place. You can leave the chutney to mature for a few weeks or eat it straight away! Once jarred it will last for a few months.

This recipe pairs really well with goats cheese and water cress!



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The HEFS butchery team is our pride and joy and regularly wins awards for its skill, creativity and service-with-a-smile. We are incredibly proud to have trained five butchers from apprentice all the way through to fully fledged butcher since we the Farm Shop opened.

We are excited to be expanding our team, creating new roles within our butchery department, working within our day to day team and on our butchery workshops and events. We are looking to take on experienced butchers, all levels will be considered.

If you would like to be part of our successful team of butchers, please send cv and covering letter to clare@hawardenestate.co.uk.

Experience essential, salary negotiable. We look forward to hearing from you! 

Photo by Ginger Pixie Photography.



At the beginning of every Summer we field many, many questions about our Pick-Your-Own growing calendar, so we thought it would be useful to let you know what we've got growing this year.

For five months or so during summer and early autumn (May to October), if the weather has been good to North Wales, the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop orchards and fields are abundant with beautiful fruit. This is when you are invited to come in and pick-your-own: a lovely family activity, and a great value way of buying nutritious fresh fruit.

First up, there are have rows of gooseberries -75 bushes to be precise- which are ready to be picked in May, followed up by the redcurrants and blackcurrants, which are in plentiful supply by June. August brings the Victoria plums, which are always a favourite. Next you will find a variety of English apples, including Russets, Katys and Discoveries, and by the time September arrives, the 125 trees are groaning under the weight of all the apples. Those that are taken down the road to the local press to be turned into the award-winning Hawarden Estate Apple Juice. Autumn also means Conference pears, Bramley cooking apples and Autumn raspberries in abundance. This year for the first time the team will be planting up 1000 corn on the cob plants, perfect for roasting over the campfire at The Good Life Experience festival. And last of all come the pumpkins, in all shapes and sizes, and a rainbow of colours. This year we’re planting up a bumper 5000 seedlings to make sure nobody is without when Halloween comes round.

Pick up a pot or punnet at the Farm Shop, and then come back for weighing. Over the summer at our Smoke Shack we have our barbecue fired up with delicious wood-fired street food; we also serve delicious Plas Farm ice cream.

Take a look at our Instagram hashtag #pyohawarden to see our pick-your-own in the wild!


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The next step in our quest to reduce our single use plastic here at the Farm Shop is to encourage you, our customers, to bring your own reusable containers to our butchery and deli counters to help minimise packaging consumption. This is by no means obligatory, but was suggested to us by a customer and is something we wholeheartedly support! 

Photo by our friend Rachel Kay.


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We're really excited with the arrival of this rainbow of reusable Filt string shopping bags that has arrived at the Farm Shop. Normandy-based company Filt have been making netting bags since 1860. Originally used by fishermen, these lightweight, expandable bags are the perfect carry-all and fit almost as much as Mary Poppins' famous carpet bag.

As well as being incredibly practical, here are six great reasons to invest in a reusable string bag:

1. A plastic bag can take from 15 to 1,000 years to break down, depending on environment. 
2. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, but they can break down through photo degradation (exposure to light), breking into small, toxic particles.
3. An estimated one million birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea animals die each year from ingesting plastic. 
4. The cost to recycle plastic bags outweighs their value, so most recycling facilities will not take them. Thanks to their light weight, plastic bags in landfills don’t always stay there. They are likely to fly away and can settle in trees, block storm drains, and clutter beaches.
5. The average reusable bag has a lifespan equal to that of more than 700 disposable plastic bags.
6. One person using reusable bags over their lifetime would remove more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment. Now that's an incentive.



Our butchery team is also preparing itself for our Easter Sausage School, where our expert butchers will share their sausage-making skills in a fun series of children's workshops. Here are the dates and how to book.

Mon 2 April - 2pm - FULLY BOOKED
Fri 6 April - 12pm / 2.30pm - FULLY BOOKED
Tue 10 April - 12pm / 2.30pm
Thu 12 April - 12pm / 2.30pm

Age: 4 years +
£6.50 per child (sessions are paid for on booking)

Please call 01244 533 442 to book spaces