Raspberry and chocolate muffins
There is a hole in my life where the Great British Bake Off used to be. For the second year running this competition followed the highs and lows of the quest to find Britain’s best amateur baker. Presented by witty comedy duo, Sue and Mel who were permanently eyeing up the cakes and sometimes ate vital ingredients, judged by culinary experts Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood who dispensed practical baking advice liberally and supplemented by snippets of food history from the origins of Battenberg to Henry VII’s role in recipe development, these were the ideal ingredients for a must-view programme. We watched this as a family (rare in our household these days) until my teens boycotted it after Jason was voted off. In the final episode there was a little bio on the contestants including Mary-Ann who was filmed browsing through her collection of 700 cook books. My family turned and looked at me knowingly. “I haven’t got 700!”, I shrieked defensively; however, it must be said that I can’t resist the allure of entering someone elses kitchen or menu through the pages of a cookery tome as the bowing of the bookshelves testifies. As my collection grows, recipes languish and some books are neglected including The Bourke Street Bakery book that I was introduced to via last year’s finalist Ruth of the Pink Whisk .
Prompted by a moan from my teens that “you never bake anything we like” after they turned up their noses at healthy beetroot muffins, with a pang of ‘neglectful Mother’ guilt, I made the raspberry and chocolate ones from Bourke Street. In a world where everything seems to be ‘the best ever’, will you believe me when I say that these were the best muffins I have ever tasted? So good that the teens were in raptures, so good that I started eating muffins for breakfast (just to use them up you know), so good that I had to make another batch within two days.
Now this recipe is a bit controversial on internet forums I notice (especially in Australia) with people saying that they aren’t really muffins and that the very liquid consistency of the mixture makes them hard to deal with. Nonsense I say – they were really simple. I’ve adapted the recipe so that you get lots of smaller muffins rather than the BSB huge ones and I used frozen rasbs as the fresh are ruinously expensive here in Dubai. This makes them a store-cupboard baking stand-by.
Five baking tips:
- Put your sieve and bowl straight onto your digital scales and set to zero. This way you can sieve and weigh at the same time.
- If you’ve used your sieve for a dry ingredient, it usually only needs a quick wipe with a cloth (they are devil to dry when you’ve washed one up).
- Use a teaspoon measure not one you use for stirring tea (to ensure accuracy)
- Use a sharp, thin, long knife to cut chocolate in very thin slices lengthways, then turn and repeat widthways. You get even chunks and it’s quick and easy.
- An ice-cream scoop (the type with a little lever on the handle) is the best tool for scooping mixture into individual cake tins.
Raspberry and chocolate muffins – adapted from The Bourke Street Bakery
Makes 18 standard sized muffins
400g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
300g vanilla caster sugar
310g unsalted butter
480ml buttermilk (you can make your own)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
225g raspberries, fresh or frozen
55g light brown sugar
Icing sugar, to dust
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin plus half of another one and line with paper cases.
2. Sift the flour and baking paper into a bowl and add the sugar, mixing well to combine.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Using a whisk stir in the eggs to combine. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine but making sure it is still a bit lumpy. Use a large spoon to gently fold through the chocolate and raspberries.
4. Use an ice-cream scoop to measure the mixture into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops with light brown sugar. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for 20-25 minutes.
5. If cooked,the muffins will be firm if you push the top gently. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before eating. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
What are you waiting for? Go and make them now. They contain one of your five-a-day don’t they….?