Ain’t Nuffin Like a Muffin

Ever since decadent, bedazzled cupcakes stole the show, poor old muffins seem to have taken a back seat:

muffin meanie

Don’t think of them as ugly cupcakes, people! Think of them as the healthier alternative – they’re a cupcake-shaped vehicle for all the wholesome, nutritious goodies that we wouldn’t dare put in a frilly frippery of a cupcake. Cupcakes are the Mary and muffins are the Rhoda. Refer to the following highly intellectual analogy:

{CUPCAKE: pretty, composed mainly of air and sugar}

{CUPCAKE: pretty, composed mainly of air and sugar}

{MUFFIN: still pretty, but with less icing and more wholesome goodness}

{MUFFIN: still pretty, but with less icing and more wholesome goodness}

These particular muffins were inspired by a church project – since I was baking lots and lots of muffins for homeless folk, I decided to fiddle a nutritious recipe using one from the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog as a starting point. Her recipe is for oatmeal muffins with dates, cranberries and pecans – mine are oatmeal muffins with apple, raisins and pecans. Um. I ever so slightly forgot the recipe while traipsing around the supermarket and so did a few last-minute substitutions, but the result was super-yummy anyway :-). They aren’t exactly a health-food what with the sugar and stuff but they’ve definitely got more substance to them than most sweet nothings. They’re moist and not too heavy and fibrous; I don’t care how healthy it is – even if you have completed clinical trials proving beyond doubt that bran muffins can give you a 6-pack, I still won’t eat them if they are the same density as a bowling ball or feel like heavy-duty sandpaper on the tongue. OK that’s a lie because I would really like a 6-pack but you get the idea.

{muffins should never be heavy enough to do damage}

{muffins should never be heavy enough to inflict damage…}

{or so fibrous that you mistake them for a hedgehog...}

{or so fibrous that you mistake them for a hedgehog}

The term “muffin top” is a strange oxymoron, given that cupcakes are more likely to produce this condition than a fruity fibre-rich muffin (fibre aids weight-loss! true story!). Since I’m on that topic, what is WITH all the young ladies of today showing off their oozing flesh-tyre muffin tops as if it’s a good thing?? *pushes large granny-spectacles back up nose indignantly and resumes knitting*.

muffin tops are only ok on baked goods

For 12 Slender-Waisted Oat Apple Raisin Pecan Muffins:

1 cup traditional rolled oats (if you are South African – it can only be Jungle Oats)

1 cup cake flour

1/2 cup sugar – if you think brown sugar is better for you, use that. I just like the rich taste it gives.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon (or more, if you’re a cinnamon hound like me)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 green apple, peeled, cored and chopped into little bits – don’t grate it, the chunks give a nice texture

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup buttermilk (or milk soured with a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice – just mix and let it stand for a few minutes – et voila!)

1 large egg, beaten

Cinnamon sugar (optional)

(Don’t you feel healthier just reading the list of ingredients?? Feel free to substitute ingredients which are similar – such as chopped dates or dried cranberries for raisins, almonds for pecans, etc.).

fibre loves you

appeeling

rouch chop

every manhaters favourite kitchen activity

quite a stir

bake me

deliciously cinfull

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Unless you’ve also just baked vast quantities of muffins for a good cause, in which case the oven’s ready to go. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan or use paper liners – I used liners. For prettiness.

{ok, not MUCH prettier - but more photogenic at any rate}

{ok, not MUCH prettier – but more photogenic at any rate}

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the pecans, apple and raisins and give it a stir.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk and egg. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and using a SPATULA gently fold in until the ingredients are ONLY JUST MIXED and moistened. A few little lumps are ok – rather a few lumps than a raisin-studded rubber ball, which is what you will get if you mix it too energetically.

Gently plop the batter into the prepared tin. I purposefully used smaller quantities than usual to avoid getting a muffin top (ha! ha!). They give muffins a bad name, after all. I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon sugar over the top of mine, for extra cinn-fulness.

Bake for 15-20 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing (aka eating).

best kind of pet plus best kind of snackFeel all that goodness going down? Muffins kick cupcakes butts! (Sometimes. When it comes to birthday parties, please don’t make people eat bran muffins).

PS: Muffins appear in two of my favourite books – in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (the sisters generously give their Christmas-morning muffins to a less fortunate family) and in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (admittedly, in the form of a cat, but a Muffin nonetheless – do yourself a favour and read this book if you haven’t yet! It’s one of my top three).

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