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Sweet indulgence

Sweet indulgence

Delicious American-style muffins have become so popular over the last decade and you now see them proudly displayed everywhere from starbucks to MacDonald’s. Unfortunately, the truth is they tend to be frozen, mass-produced items that are most likely pumped full of preservatives and E-numbers. The fact is, big or small, the only good muffin is a freshly baked one straight from the oven, and if you really want to be sure…you’ll just have to make them yourself.

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Luckily, making fresh muffins at home couldn’t be easier and you’ll be well rewarded with a heavenly aroma while they are baking in the oven. There are basically two approaches to making a muffin: creaming the butter and sugar together, as if making a cake, and the far simpler quicker method, which simply folds the wet ingredients into the dry ones before throwing them in the oven.

Whichever method you use, here are a few tips to help you along the way the perfect muffin. Firstly, start with all ingredients at room temperature, eggs, milk, etc and take care not to over mix the mixture; use a flexible spatula to gently fold ingredients together.

The mixture should be stiff enough to hold a spoon upright; if it seems runny, gently fold in a few extra tablespoons of flour.

Grease the entire muffin tin, not just the holes. More often than not, the muffins expand over the sides, and if those sides have not been properly greased, you’re going to run into trouble when you try to remove the muffins. Fill muffin tins three-quarters full; the tops are the best part, so don’t be shy with the mixture. Allow muffins to cool in the pan at least 10 minutes before removing them, especially if they contain soft fresh fruits like raspberries. Finally, if you are making classic blueberry muffins, dotting a few berries on top before baking makes the muffins look more attractive: the fruit’s natural inclination is to sink, so this ensures that there will still be something to see, however high the batter rises. In mine, I like to sprinkle a little ground almonds on top so that they look extra inviting, not that you’ll need any extra persuasion to tuck in …

BASIC MUFFIN MIXTURE

Makes 12 large muffins

Ingredients

375g flour

4tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1tsp ground cinnamon

2 large eggs, at room temperature

100g sugar

100g light brown sugar (demarera)

240ml milk, at room temperature1

120ml vegetable oil

1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a 12-hole deep muffin tin with paper cases and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and brown sugar until combined. Whisk in milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Avoid over-mixing, which will produce tough, dense muffins.

Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. (if using fruit, now is the time to gently fold it in). Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with sugar and ground almonds.

Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and golden-brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Serve warm or allow to cool on a wire rack.

*For chocolate chip muffins, fold in 70g chocolate of chocolate chips and substitute 100g of flour for dark cacao powder. (a few fresh raspberries also thrown in make a wonderful addition!)

*For blueberry muffins, fold in 100g of blueberries and sprinkle a few on top to finish.

Marc Fosh – Michelin Star Chef