Beetroot and walnut muffins
Which ingredients will you always find in your kitchen? Essentials for me include lemons, onion, garlic, black pepper, tinned tomatoes, parmesan and pasta. If these are in the larder, I’m happy and can rustle up a meal or three. Top of KP’s list would be pickled beetroot. We always have a jar in the fridge which he reaches for as soon as he gets in from work. It’s precisely that version of beetroot which has put many people off it forever and this beautiful sweet, earthy root has so many better uses than being dunked in vinegar. Just look at the fabulous variety of recipes from Scandinavia.
When a muffin recipe using courgette and sesame seeds landed in my in-box I remembered the unkept promise I’d made to myself when I baked courgette cluster bread, to make a beetroot version. The muffin recipe got the purple root treatment instead, with some walnuts to off-set the sweetness. The vibrant pink colour intensified by cooking was quite shocking but the taste was moreish. They became darker pink as they cooled and would make a good breakfast or mid-morning muffin. Like sour cream with barszcz, a creamy taste goes well so I might fold in some feta or soft goat’s cheese next time I make them.
Ten uses for beetroot:
- Juice it – put one small beetroot, two apples and a stick of celery through the juicer (always dilute beetroot juice with other vegetables due to its strength).
- Make salad of equal amounts of grated carrots, grated beetroot tossed with some chopped parsley in a mustard-based vinaigrette.
- Roast whole and unpeeled (200 C for about 45 mins) with a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, olive oil and sea salt.
- A bright pink beetroot dip can be made by softening some chopped beetroot in butter then adding a splash of balsamic vinegar and water and steaming with the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Blitz with a pinch of brown sugar, seasoning and ground cumin then stir in some creme fraiche.
- As a side dish: toss some apple slices, sautéed in butter, with warm, cooked beetroot, add a dash of creamed horseradish and a squeeze of lemon to the pan juices, combine and garnish with chives.
- Beetroot soup (barszcz) is quick to make, warming, and beautiful to look at.
- Use the tender leaves from summer beetroot in salad.
- Beetroot bruschetta – diced cooked beetroot on slices of sour dough with melted Brie on top.
- As an ingredient in chocolate cake (just think how moist carrot cake is). Here’s a nice gluten-free recipe.
- Beetroot chutney. Simmer 750g diced raw beetroot, 2 small, chopped onions, 1 1/2 grated apple, zest and juice of a large orange, a tablespoon each of mustard and coriander seeds, with 400 ml white wine vinegar, 300 ml balsamic vinegar and 350 g light brown sugar for about an hour (until thickened). Pour into sterilised jars.
Beetroot and walnut muffins
Makes 12 muffins
300g beetroot, finely grated (about 4-5 small beetroot)
320g plain flour (or 220g plain with 100g rye flour for a deeper flavour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
40 g chopped walnuts plus 12 whole ones
1/2 level teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
2 large eggs
240 ml buttermilk*
90 ml sunflower oil or melted butter
*If you can’t get buttermilk where you live (e.g. Dubai) you can make a substitute. Here’s a good guide by Chef and Steward.
Alternatives: Replace about 50g of the beetroot with sultanas or grated dessert apple for a sweeter taste or crumbled feta for a creamy one.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners.
Lightly beat the eggs together in a bowl, then beat in the buttermilk and oil. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Stir in the grated beetroot, thyme and chopped walnuts.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the liquid ingredients. Stir gently until just combined; don’t over-stir, a lumpy batter is best for muffins.
Spoon the batter into prepared muffin pan (I recommend an ice-cream scoop for this) and place a walnut on the top of each one. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan before serving. Best eaten on the same day of baking (they freeze well though).
I’ve baked these for Muffin Monday, a great idea by Baker Street. She describes it as “a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week” ; drop her a line if you’d like to join her. Beetroot is in season, so what are you waiting for? For further inspiration pop over to Simple and in Season over at Fabulicious food.
I’d love to know which ingredients you can’t live without. And are you a beetroot-a-phile or phobic?