Monday, 7 September 2009

Infallible muffins

Okay, so I'm setting myself up for a fall with that title, but Susan Reimer's muffin recipes are idiotproof (try complaining now). A former colleague recommended Muffins: fast and fantastic, and I've been spreading the good word (and dishing out the baked goods) ever since. A recipe that's honestly 10 minutes from thinking it might be nice to bake them to putting them in the oven. If the recipe works for you, please buy the book - there're lots more ideas in it and this woman deserves her reward.

Here is the basic recipe:

9oz (250g) flour
3 tsp baking powder (1 tsp if using self-raising flour)
4oz (110g) sugar (+/- 1oz/25g)
pinch of salt (don't omit - helps them rise)
1 egg
8floz (240ml) milk
3floz (90ml) oil (corn oil, for preference) or melted butter

Makes 12 muffins. Preheat oven to GM5-6 (190-200°C). Put cases in the muffin tin. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix lightly (for no more than 20 seconds) until there is no flour visible (mixture should still be lumpy - do not overmix). Spoon mixture into cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned and they spring back when touched.

You can use wholemeal flour in this recipe and can add chocolate chips, dried fruit or nuts. My favourite variety is lemon drizzle: add lemon zest to the wet ingredients; whilst the muffins are cooking, make a syrup with the juice of a lemon and 3oz (85g) icing sugar; pour the syrup over the muffins when they are fresh from the oven. The muffins pictured above are raspberry and white chocolate: increase flour to 10oz (280g) and milk to 9fl oz (260ml); add 1/2 tsp vanilla essence to wet ingredients; once wet/dry ingredients are mixed, fold in 5-6oz (140-170g) raspberries and 3oz (85g) white chocolate chunks/drops; bake as above (add 5mins to baking time if using frozen raspberries).

These muffins are best eaten on the day they are made and can be frozen for up to one month.

A recipe for bakestones

It seems only right that the first recipe on this blog is for bakestones - or Welsh cakes, in proper Saesneg. This recipe is the one my mother uses and the one she has passed on to me (together with the bakestone to cook them on).

Welsh cakes

8oz (225g) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4oz (125g) butter (or half butter, half lard)
3oz (75g) sugar
3oz (75g) currants (or raisins)
1 egg, beaten
milk (if needed)
pinch of mixed spice

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Rub in the butter. Add the sugar and the currants. Bind the mixture with the egg (and a little milk if necessary) to make a stiff dough. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds. Bake on a moderately hot bakestone (or heavy frying pan or under a medium grill) for 3-5 mins each side (until patched golden brown). Sprinkle with sugar. Best served warm.