Midnight Muffin Madness

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Would you believe that once upon a time, I was absolutely terrified of baking muffins?1 Yes, I kid you not – in the early days of this blog, I publicly outed myself as having absolutely no skill in the muffin department, as the recipes I’d tried till then had always given disappointing results.

Well, folks, as it turns out, I was just using less than stellar recipes! I’ve since then accumulated much better cookbooks which hold the most glorious recipes for muffins, and my family and I (as well as friends who are often recipients courtesy of various family members) have been enjoying these handfuls of fluffy fluffy goodness.

Despite my new years resolution for 2007 that I would not add any new cookbooks to my collection till I had tried at least 20% of the recipes in each, I have somehow ended up with a much heavier bookcase over the course of the year – thankfully, most have been gifted to me so I’ve not been burdened with too much guilt at the new acquisitions, however there is a mild amount of panic that has accompanied each addition as I wonder when on earth I’ll have the time to try all these new recipes! I plan on lowering the limit for 2008 (I’ve decided that 20% is far too much, considering the sheer size of some of my kitchen tomes) down to just 10% of each cookbook, but that still leaves me with a few hundred recipes that dearly need trying the the coming 365 days.

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Whilst I am grateful for the bountiful fruit of the summer season, such as all the glorious mango around, there are two thing that summer brings which I can most definitely do without – that is the stinking humidity and sweltering heat. Both are fine when lounging by the pool or sea, soaking up the rays and cooling off in a large body of water, but when I want to bake in my kitchen which is unfortunately not one of those lovely climate controlled kitchens, it often means I have to leave my baking shenanigans till late at night, when the rest of the family has gone to bed and the house has cooled down enough so that my turning on the oven for an hour or two (or more, depending on how much baking needs to happen) doesn’t turn the house into a sauna.

This was, unfortunately, the case a few weeks ago when I was struck with an intense longing for some muffiny goodness. Of course, we have a few decent little mom & pop bakeries around and I could have easily gone and bought a few…but if you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m not one for buying baked goods (or anything premade, for that matter), especially if I’m more than capable of making it myself. As the rest of the family was out, I apologized to Mr Woofy for the coming swelter-session and began to prep my ingredients to try two recipes that I had been eyeing off in my ‘Marie Claire – Comfort‘ cookbook for awhile – one for mixed berry muffins, and the other for carrot and coconut muffins. The pictures for both in the books were absolutely adorable (much better than my humble attempts here) and combining that with my lust for muffin-love meant I couldn’t wait, and I had to have them now.

Alas, as I began to sift my flours, my mother arrived back from her game of golf and eyed my baking supplies sprawled all over the kitchen counter. Giving me her attempt at an evil eye, she asked what exactly I thought I was doing. When I told her that I was about to embark on a muffin-baking session, she immediately ushered me out of the kitchen, telling me that it was far too hot to be doing any sort of baking, and that if I felt the same way after midnight, I could make them then.

Hoboy.

The rest of the day was spent longing for muffins and watching each hour crawl by slower than a sleepy tortoise, till finally, at one minute past midnight, I sprung from the couch with cookbook in hand and a look of grim determination on my face.

Ah-hah! Muffins, you would be mine!

Though I didn’t actually finish baking and cleaning up till almost 3am, I have to say that sitting down at the kitchen table with a fresh muffin, still warm from the oven, in hand, it made all the waiting and tiredness worthwhile! Unfortunately, I only got to have that one as the rest were taken away by various family friends, but by all reports they were extremely glad I’d had a midnight muffin session too :)

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Mixed Berry Muffins
(Adapted from ‘Marie Claire – Comfort‘)

Ingredients
250g plain natural yoghurt
100mL natural applesauce *
2 medium-sized eggs
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
280g all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
100g brown sugar
250g frozen mixed berries
Demerara sugar

* – The recipe originally called for vegetable oil to be used here, but I decided to try replacing the oil with applesauce to see how well it worked. I must say that the results are MOST pleasing, and I’ll be looking to use applesauce as a replacement for oil in my baking more often!

If, like me, you’re not the kind of person who stocks applesauce, then you can easily make some by taking some SWEET apples (I always have some fuji apples in my fridge), peel and core them and put them in a large pot with about 1-2 inches of water in the bottom (depending on how much you’re making). Put the lid on and cook them till they’re soft all the way through, then allow them to cool, drain the water and put the apples through a food mill. Ta-da, its that easy!

1. Grease 12 holes in a standard muffin tin or prepare 12 muffin papers and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Whisk together the plain yoghurt, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract till well combined.

3. Sift together the all-purpose flour with the baking powder, then stir in the brown sugar and mixed berries till evenly mixed together. Add the yoghurt mixture to the flour mixture and lightly fold together, taking care not to overmix.

4. Spoon into the prepared muffin containers and sprinkle the top of each muffin with a tsp of demerara sugar and place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes, or till a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out cleanly.

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Carrot & Coconut Muffins
(Adapted from ‘Marie Claire – Comfort‘)

Ingredients
280g all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200g finely grated carrot
100g desiccated coconut
2 medium-sized eggs
Zest & juice of 1 small lemon
1 tbsp honey
200mL natural applesauce *

1. Prepare 12 muffin holes (or 12 muffin papers) and preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Sift the all-purpose flour with the baking powder, then stir in the caster sugar and cinnamon till evenly mixed together. Add the grated carrot and coconut and toss till combined, then make a well in the centre.

3. In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice, honey and applesauce. Pour the wet mixture into the well of the dry and lightly mix together till just combined.

4. Bake the muffins for 30-40 minutes, or till the muffins are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.


People who have tried this recipe:

[tags]muffins, berries, coconut, carrot, recipes, baking[/tags]

NOTE: You may have noticed that my instructions call for a wooden skewer to be used. The reason for this is that the natural grain of a wooden skewer allows you more accurately to tell when the inside of your cake is done – slightly moist crumbs will slide right off a metal one, and with something like these very moist muffins, the skewer could be the difference between an underbaked and a perfectly baked muffin.

– The fear of muffins was actually a fear of small cakes – which included cupcakes as the other miniature which struck fear into my heart. Whilst I’ve conquered my fear of muffins and replaced it with pure love, I’m afraid the same just cannot be said about cupcakes. Yet another resolution for the new year, I suppose.

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