What spurred me on to make these here muffins? A near-disaster ending in almost-mutilation! Not to myself, I hasten to add. The other day my lovely friend N was blending ingredients for a butter chicken recipe using a stick blender, and accidentally whizzed her left thumb into the mix while trying to prise out a cashew nut from the blades. Aaaaaaarrrrgh. Thankfully, she has now been stitched back together again, and retains her thumb but sadly not her fingernail. I thought only one thing could bring a smile to her face. Muffins! Yes!!!!
For years I have searched high and low for a muffin recipe that would replicate those ones you get in upmarket cafes – basically, soft and juicy on the inside, crisp on the top with a bit of crunch, with a satisfying overhang over the muffin case. I never seemed to be able to make them that way, the muffins I made always had something slightly earnest about them…but then I found this recipe by Donna Hay. Donna Hay is a bit like an Australian Martha Stewart, but younger and trendier. She lives in a world of tasteful decor and food styling (she is, after all, a food stylist first and foremost, a cook second), and strikes me as the kind of woman who would take your head off if you DARED to be messy in her kitchen. In the series ‘Fast, Fresh, Simple’, currently airing on the Good Food channel, she serenely puts together recipes in the kitchen of her gorgeous magazine-spread of a lofty beach house that looks out onto the ocean, and her kitchen is white, white, white. Her gaze seems to X-Ray its way right through you, via the screen. Check out ‘Donna’s Diary’ – yikes…I would be terrified to be one of her kitchen interns, for sure…
Anyway, any muffin recipe from the Hay style factory was bound to be perfect, accurate and good-looking. And it was! Plus, very easy and quick to make.
I have tweaked it a little bit and added a mix of frozen berries, plus lemon zest.
Based on Donna Hay’s Blueberry Muffin recipe
Makes 12 large muffins
You will need:
375 g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
200 g golden caster sugar
125 ml vegetable oil
Zest of 1 lemon
125 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g mixed berries (blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants etc – Sainsbury’s do a great ‘Forest Fruits’ in their freezer section)
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, milk, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Pour this wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until just combined – do not worry if the mixture seems fairly solid and almost dry. Add the berries and mix gently to combine.
Spoon the mixture into paper muffin cases placed into a 12-hole (125ml per hole) muffin tray (I use an ice cream scoop to measure it out which makes it really easy) and then sprinkle the top of each muffin with a dusting of granulated sugar. Bake for 30 – 35 mins until golden on top, and a skewer poked into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Remove each muffin from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.