My relationship with muffins goes back a long way and this is partly the reason why I only have one recipe on this site. It’s not because I don’t like them, I do, but it’s taken me about 10 years to finally let them back into my life.
I worked for a large American baking company for 9 years, and muffins were one of our main product lines. We had all manner of muffins literally on tap in our offices all the time. I was initially involved in selling them, then marketing them and worked closely with the R & D department to develop new variants to take to market. This involved a lot of muffin eating.
I’m somewhat of a muffin-expert and can diagnose if there is a problem with one at a glance.
A good blueberry muffin is my favourite, and I have been wanting to make a batch for a while. I also had a lot of frozen berries in my freezer.
I then walked into Woolies the other day and spotted a punnet of out-of-season imported apricots lying on the shelf. Feeling Like I was committing a very bad food crime, I decided to buy them. Its mid-winter in Cape Town and I longed to sink my teeth into the flesh of some beautiful, summery stone fruit. I had also never tasted a miniature apricot before, so the temptation was all too much. And as a food stylist, I find it impossible to resist baby fruit and vegetables.
See what I mean?
I discovered after eating the first one that it, in fact, had a red flesh, so was even more intrigued. I knew that I wanted to add them to my blueberry muffins, but would need to poach them first.
My initial idea was to poach them whole, remove the pip, and then stuff a whole apricot into each muffin which would form a gorgeous fruity centre. Unfortunately, the flesh clung to the pip and I was only able to pry chunks of it off which I then stirred into the batter at the end with the blueberries. This worked perfectly. You could also use about 1 heaped cup of freshly pipped and sliced apricots as a substitute for these baby ones.
I liked the slight acidity of the apricots with the blueberries. Orange and blueberry go well together as I recently discovered with my blueberry and orange trifles.
To poach the apricots simply add them to a small pot with a cup of water and 3T of fructose. According to Heston Blumenthal (my hero), fructose is better to cook the fruit in. You need less of it, and I find it less sweet. If you are using sugar add 1/4 cup or 4 T. Bring the pot to the boil with the lid on and allow to simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. Cool and drain.
I drained out the juice which had turned into the most gorgeous ruby red colour. I tasted it and it was far too good to throw away. I hate waste. So I dissolved 2 1/2 leaves of gelatin in the juice and poured it into 3 small glass serving dishes and tossed in a few pomegranate seeds. Jelly!
But I seem to have digressed.
I had also wanted to make a crunchy streusel topping with almonds for the muffins, but somehow in the making of this, things didn’t work out, so I landed up making the most delectable almond and chocolate bars….but I’m leaving that for the next blog post as it’s a whole other story.
Recipe to make the muffins | makes 12 large muffins
- 125g butter / 1 stick (room temperature)
- 2 free-range eggs (large) – at room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk (125ml)
- 1 cup sugar (about 170g)
- 1 3/4 cup flour (220g)
- 2t baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups of whole blueberries (fresh or frozen) (about 250g)
- 1 heaped cup of apricots, pipped and sliced in half ( you will need about 1/2 an apricot per muffin)
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a 12 muffin baking pan with paper liners. Poach apricots as per instructions further above, drain and cool. Make the jelly with the leftover juice.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time ensuring that they are well mixed before adding the next one. Beat further until fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder (I very often sift it twice). Add half the milk to the mix and half the flour and briefly mix until combined. Add the remaining milk and flour and mix. Do not over mix. By hand stir the fruit through the mix. Using an ice cream scoop to ensure uniform quantities, scoop out a dollop into each muffin case. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes and until they are well risen, golden brown and springy to the touch.
I loved how my one recipe playtime in the kitchen yielded 3 great results. Tomorrow I will post about my almond chocolate bars.
I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.
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