We are mid-winter nesting here in the Attic, and I confess it feels rather lovely. I've been wholeheartedly embracing these weekends spent at home loafing around in fluffy, cosy clothing doing fluffy, cosy things with my family. My particular fluffy-cosy activity consists of crochet and baking/eating the baking, with a smidge of meal making, fire lighting, laundry duties and floor tidying thrown in when absolutely necessary. Not a lot is being achieved, but our family is happy and content it seems.
My cosy fluffy baking (and eating) has been mainly muffin based of late, and I blame Alicia P entirely for this. Her words and pictures sent me into a spin of craving and I just had to go and create a warm, light, fluffy, fresh-from-the-oven muffin experience for myself. I was quite powerless to resist.
I have a basic recipe I use, which I would like to pass on to you. It's an Easy Peasy recipe which contains straight forward ingredients and is easily adaptable depending on the fruit content available at the time the muffin need hits.
I make small batches of only six muffins at a time. Two reasons :: 1) I love fresh from the oven muffins very much more than out of a tin muffins and 2) Little B adores baking and we bake many times a week together, so no need to make huge batches of anything.
The above muffins are Apple and Apricot and were lovely. I experimented with a bit of a streusel topping on these ones, but truthfully I think the effort of making the streusel bit was not actually worth it.
My method of making fresh berry muffins (raspberries or blueberries) is to first make the basic batter without adding the fruit. Dollop about 2/3 of it into the paper cases, then drop the fruit on top. This way, each muffin gets the same juicy amount of fruit sitting nicely right inside the muffin.
And when you break into one, the texture is light and fluffy and moist. Fruity but not too sweet. Oh mmm mmm, really, they are completely yummy.
Easy Peasy Muffins (makes 6)
In a large mixing bowl, put 125g self raising flour, ½ tsp baking powder and 50g caster sugar. Mix well.
In a large jug, put 4 tbs (60ml) milk, 2 tbs (30ml) sunflower oil, 1 egg and ½ tsp vanilla flavouring. Mix well.
Tip the liquid into the dry mix and stir well to combine. You'll end up with a thick, lumpyish batter.
For apricot and apple muffins, stir in 1 grated apple and 50g chopped dried apricots (you could also use 50g any other dried fruit eg sultanas, raisins or cranberries).
For fresh raspberry or blueberry muffins, add the fruit to each individual muffin in a layer (as described above), with a few bits on top.
Divide between 6 muffin cases and sprinkle with brown sugar if you like (not essential, but nice)
Bake at 180C/Gas 4 for 25 mins.
I think technically speaking the muffins should be placed on a wire rack and allowed to cool, but that doesn't really happen around here. They kind of get pounced upon the minute they come out of the oven, ripped open and shoveled away whilst still steaming.
Edit to add :: about the paper cases....you need large muffin cases to makes these beauties as they rise a lot whilst baking and ordinary bun/cup cake cases are a bit too shallow. I buy mine from a really lovely local baking shop, they are made by a US company called MeriMeri, see here.
Another edit to say :: re the fresh berries....in the UK they can be very expensive to buy, but are sometimes on offer in the supermarkets which is when I buy them. Also I never seem to be able to use a whole punnet before they go a bit soggy and mouldy in the fridge, so what I do is buy them when they are on offer and freeze them straight away. Scissor-snip the raspberries into smaller bits first, then open freeze them (ie lay them out on a sheet of baking paper/greasproof paper on a tray to freeze them so they don't all clump together). When they are frozen you can bag them up and they can then be added to the muffin batter straight from the freezer.
One more edit! :: I had this very useful comment from Hannah in the US...it's a conversion from grammes to cups....
"For American bakers, here are the conversions I figured out, because none of my measuring cups have the metric unit. 1 c flour 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 c sugar 4 T milk 2 T sunflower oil 1 egg 1/2 tsp vanilla 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit "
Please note that the flour needed is self raising flour (self rising flour in the US?)