Muffin Season

muffins It’s Muffin Season once more! This is mostly because I bought a dozen full-sized silicone muffin cases, which are an absolute delight. No-fat no-stick, just fill in the muffin base, pop in the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then pop out of the cases, followed by very easy cleaning.

No more fumbling with tearing and half-burnt paper, and no more fumbling with cases not strong enough to hold the base before baking. I strongly recommend that you get yourself some. I find them very hard to find here in the UK (if not, in fact, impossible), but they are abundant and readily available in the US (check out Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma stores for starters). I’d imagine other countries are ahead of the UK, cooking-wise, too.

So, now you’ve got those lovely muffin cases. Here’s the under 10 minute yet perfect muffin base – makes 6 to 10 muffins, depending on size and amount of fillings:

100g white wheat flour, 80g melted butter, 75g sugar, 80ml whole milk. One free range egg yolk, seeds from half a vanilla pod, and one generous teaspoon of baking powder. Put ingredients into bowl, start mixer on low gear and mix thoroughly. You’ll find the base will be fairly runny, maybe like a thick yogurt. That’s OK.

When the basic base is ready, gently stir in fillings. Only the sky and your fantasy is the limit, but you might want to stop one step prior to reaching olives and anchovies. Here are some pretty obvious suggestions:

  • Whole milk choc chips with a tiny pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • Cherries (from a jar), fresh blueberries, fresh peach (pieces)
  • Semi-dried cranberries, tossed in cinnamon
  • Apple pieces, sprinkled with lime juice, then tossed in cinnamon and sugar.
  • Crushed poppy seeds (with bitter almond oil?)

Gently stir in the fillings, then fill each cup to about 3/4 of its height. When using heavy fillings, add one or two pieces on top of each base (those won’t sink all the way to the bottom). Pop into the pre-heated oven at 180 Celcius for 10..15 minutes – use a wooden stick or visual judgement to determine when they are ready.

The next job is to figure out a savoury muffin base. I want the same consistency and lightness, but want to use them as appetizers. Fillings could include anchovies, rosemary, olives, bacon, mushrooms, … again the sky will be the limit, but it will be a whole new sky!

(For those of you familiar with The Alice Project, yes, this would be part of it.)

So, tell us all about your favourite muffin fillings.