Monday, 23 January 2012

Making Winter bloghop for January: Cosiness and comfort


Back in 1999 I was working in Covent Garden as a patent analyst. It was an interesting, if slightly monotonous job. One of the bonuses but also the pitfalls of working in that part of London was that Neal Street and The Bead Shop were just a few minutes' walk away.

My takeaway treat lunch of choice at the time was:

A salad from Food for Thought
A Muffinski's raspberry and white chocolate oatbran muffin 
An Innocent Smoothie



Back then Innocent was a tiny start-up company and muffins were very exotic. The muffin trend had yet to take hold and this was ten years or so before cupcakes, whoopie pies or macarons were fashionable. Despite knowing very little about baking I was keen to make some.

Fast forward five years and I ate my first homemade muffin at a friend's house. I was given the recipe on a scrap of paper. 

The real eye opener was that there was no faffing about with creaming sugar and butter. There was a wet mix and a dry mix. They were bunged together, roughly mixed, some fruit or chocolate added (or both) and that was it bar the baking and scoffing. Brilliant.



Nowadays one small daughter whisks the eggs and milk whilst the other (at school for the baking, arrived home for scoffing) helps to measure out. The thrill they get from knowing that they helped to make the muffins never wavers. They may no longer be the height of baking fashion but their simplicity and tastiness are still top of the pops around here, especially as a treat on a grey wintry day. Funnily enough, raspberry and chocolate is the absolute family favourite (oh and raspberries cancel out chocolate in a matter/anti-matter kind of way. Add wholemeal flour and, really, these are a health food).



The basic muffin recipe below can be fancied up or left plain. It is a good, quick comfort baking recipe. I timed it once. From the first opening of the cupboard to getting the muffins out of the oven was 27 minutes. I'm sure it could even be faster.

One top tip (written on the original scrap of paper) is that if frozen berries are put straight into the mixture from the freezer they are just soft and tender (not mushy) once baked.

Guide to measurements: BLACK Imperial, RED Metric, BLUE Cups/sticks

Wet mix:

8 fl oz/230ml/1 cup milk
4 oz/115ml/1 stick melted butter
1 whisked egg
1 tsp vanilla extract  (optional)

Dry mix

10 oz/280g / 1.25 cups plain flour (wholemeal OR 8oz wholemeal plus 2 oz fine oatmeal for health*)
3 oz/85g/1/3 cup of sugar of choice
Level dessert spoon of baking powder

Bake as they are, or..

For extra tastiness choose from

3 oz/85g/1/3 cup - 5oz/150g/just over 1/2 cup frozen berries or chopped fruit/nuts
and/or
3 oz/85g/1/3 cup - 5oz/150g/just over 1/2 cup chopped chocolate
(3 oz good, 5 oz better)
Orange/lemon zest

To make

Add the wet to the dry mix
Add extra tastiness ingredient(s)
Mix roughly until just combined
Divide into 12 muffin cases.
Bake at 180 C/350 F for between 15 and 25 minutes (or until golden brown and bouncing back when pressed)
Cool.
Eat.

This week is Making Winter Week. If you'd like to share your cosy, comforting wintry creative doings then add your link below, a link in your post and others joining in will come over and visit. If you're new to the project then feel free to grab the button from my sidebar (html code to follow). The Making Winter Flickr pool is just wonderful - pop over for a peep. The first link you see below is Mrs TH's wonderfully simple and soothing balm recipe. I've tried it. It's excellent.

Mrs Thriftyhousehold and I would be especially excited about wintry Comfort Baking recipes over the next two months. As I mentioned yesterday, the plan would be to make and share an online links resource entitled Baking Winter.

* See matter/anti-matter theory above.

39 comments:

Thrifty Household said...

Mmmm, save some for me!

P.S. You know how much I covet those plates...

Penelope said...

Wowee, these look fabulous! Thanks for the recipe share to, I havejust posted about how my 11 year old is really into baking and made heavenly mini-Victoria sponges this weekend (in muffin cases!). Muffins never go out of fashion as far as I am concerned. Yum :0)

mrspao said...

I think I'll join in with you for Making Winter.

I also think those plates and muffins look wonderful :)

TheMadHouse said...

How wonderful, I just posted a muffin recipe on Frugaliscious http://www.frugaliciousfood.com/2012/01/banana-muffins.html

My boys actually have been know to let the bananas go black just because they want banana muffins. I think they are the perfect make for children.

Gina said...

Yum! Raspberry and chocolate are favourite here too... I rather like them with white chocolate which bakes into toffee like lumps.

Rachel said...

Blueberries are good, too!

Su said...

They look yum! I always hope that chocolate counts as 1 of my 5 a day as it comes from a bean, so that would make them doubly healthy!

by Teresa said...

Emma... oh thank you SO much for being thoughtful to us over the pond and making this recipe with both measurements!! I have a muffin every morning with my coffee and need to make my own instead of buying them from a bakery.
((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Sue said...

Muffins -make 'em at least once a week. Love a basic recipe that you can adapt.

Betty said...

Neal Street and the bead shop! I used to work nearby and loved Neal Street East... I was there at Christmas and really miss that shop being there... also Neal's Yard, the beautiful wholefood store sold out to Holland and Barrett - but the apothecary is still going.

Thimbleanna said...

YUM Mrs. Pebble - they look delicious. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

Tabiboo said...

I love muffins and they are so brilliant to make. I love that all the recipes say 'don't over mix - if is a little lumpy....then that's fine - better!'

Yours look truly scrumptious - and little helpers too.

Nina xxx

wonderwoman said...

Yumm! Definitely gonna try those! Xxx

greenrabbitdesigns said...

Mmmm, I may just have to try them! :)
Vivienne x

Menopausalmusing said...

I'm with Gina re the white chocolate..... yum!

Jackie said...

I'm so glad you included the recipe. I just might have to make these.
Yum
Do thank the little pebbles for their participation.

Annie said...

Yum ... but nooo, I must not be tempted until the weight is lost ... I suppose I could make some, eat one, and freeze the rest ;D

Victoria said...

Looking delicious ....... and thank you for stopping by. x

KatEzat said...

Hey there!

I know exactly that corner of London and Oh! the time I've spent in the Bead Shop...

I'm very impressed by your use of all measuring systems, I'm a child of the great mix up and tend to use them all a little bit, so that was very helpful x

julie said...

Mmmm, warm muffins on a cold, wet winters day - what could be better? Thanks for the recipe xxx

The Coffee Lady said...

Last time we put raspberries in muffins, they turned out a weird grey colour. Very odd. Still tasted okay, though.

Paula said...

I would be licking my fingers too if I had one of those in front of me, yummy.

Tara said...

Emma, I'm with you on the muffin thing. Our current favourite is pumpkin with a handful of chocolate chips , of course. I'll have to try the raspberry/chocolate combination next though. Can i also tell you how happy it made me to see the word "scoff". I don't hear that word used very often since i moved to Ontario from Newfoundland many, many years ago. It is such a great word and thank you for making me smile.

dottycookie said...

Yes, well, I have eaten a fair few of your delicious muffins and now hold you entirely responsible for my needing to go back to Weight Watchers. I think that's fair!

I shall look out for baking recipes, regardless of what the experiments will do to my waistline. I don't know, the things I do for you ... ;-)

Monica said...

yes, my raspberry muffin were grey too (coffee lady.. nobody wanted to eat them!)

will try this recipe. Anything quick is worth a try in my world!!

See you soon, hurray.

Ginnie said...

Yum! What I find especially interesting is that you had not had a homemade one until relatively recently. I grew up on them, and I think they've been around the US for generations. Now I'm curious to learn the origins! Must put that down for a homework assignment for myself.

a simple yarn said...

Muffins ooze winter comfort! Not to bash cupcakes (which seem to reign supreme here in the US), but muffins are folksy and with a nice cup of tea seems such a friendly winter treat. Thanks for the reminder.

Feeling a bit wistful to have missed out on 'making winter' more palatable. I'll be on the lookout next time round though.

Handmade in Israel said...

Yummy! I am going to have a go making these. Sadly I have two (biggish) boys who have no intention of helping but will gladly do all the scoffing :)

Cheryl said...

We are making so many muffins at the moment. Cherry and chocolate sound yummy to me. Another one to add to my list.

Gemma Mortlock said...

This made me smile,
I work in Soho and sometimes wander over to Covent Garden on my lunch many pennies have been spent in that bead shop!
Great recipe i must give it a go
Gem
xxx

Madelief said...

Hi Emma,

What a perfect way to spend a winter day! Your daughter looks very sweet making the muffins and licking her fingers :-)! The muffins look delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

Happy evening!

Madelief x

mrspao said...

How wonderful :) I love muffins - great recipe.

Julie said...

Completely with you with regard to cake+fruit=zero! Juliex

deZeal said...

Hi. I have just linked up to your party; I am going to try and make the muffins tomorrow (love the fact you put the measurements in three way - I always spend too much time trying to convert things, haha).
Love from your new follower from Moorland Home:)

Mrs. Micawber said...

I never realized muffins were trendy at any point in time ... and it is wonderful how quickly they mix up. I too have a basic recipe that I adapt to whatever flavour sounds good at the moment. The muffins sold here in the US are horridly huge and sugary, so it's nice to be able to make a smaller, saner, and healthier version.

Chocolate shouldn't need cancelling out - remember it's full of antioxidants. It's good for you! :)

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

Yep, I love the simplicity of muffins, I remember a place on the fulham rd that only sold muffins, soup and smoothies in the early !990s, and thinking it was sooo cool! I think it was a Canadian company. They sold some yummy savoury muffins - spinach and feta was great I remember but I have never tried making them. Hope you like my cobbler recipe. xx

elizabethm said...

They look gorgeous! I have to wait until the (adult) children come home to make muffins or I eat them all! have linked to you. Hope you don't mind that it is half a knitting blog so cosy and half a gardening one so maybe not!

Gillian said...

Thanks for sharing a delicious looking recipe, and for opening up the Making Winter project - what a lovely idea.

Calico Kate said...

Coveting of plates going on here too! They are exceedingly pretty. I haven't ever 'got' muffins, obviously had a bad one away back when, and I can't stand the HUGE American type you see in some coffee shops. But I think I might give this recipe a go soon, it seems so simple, and has great potential to be yummy as demonstrated by a Miss P!!
CKx