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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Storm o' muffins...

The conservatorium where we rehearse every Saturday morning was having a garage sale; lots of old sheet music, opera scores, junk from the classrooms, old computers... We thought we'd cash in on the fact we'd be there rehearsing and set up a muffin stall, as we're trying hard to raise money for our 2nd European tour in September. It's pretty easy to whip up a batch of muffins, and the plan was to sell them for $2 each. Even some of the non-cooking blokes got involved; my favourite was my friend who hasn't baked for 20 years, in fact had never turned on his oven (I used to think it'd be the safest place in the world to hide valuables), but who turned up with a batch of rather yummy strawberry cheesecake muffins. All thanks to his housemate assistant!
I went a bit overboard - as usual - and covered for a few of us who weren't able to produce something - and did 3 batches. I guessed a lot of people would do the blueberry, choc chip variations, so I decided on a savoury cheese & bacon muffin. I also whipped up a maple syrup and pecan batch - more cup-cake than muffin - from the copy of Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2 I bought at the uni market this week. And because I had some wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, everything-free bread mix at home, I did a batch of cranberry & white chocolate muffins for allergy people.

Yeah, so we had razzer a lot of muffins...!

The unfortunate thing was that, during the hours we were around, very few people turned up to the sale! And we were also competing against the student cake stall (not much competition, to be honest) and a very successful bacon & egg sandwich stall....yum!
Although, we did manage to made $220, which is not bad. About 1 night's accommodation for one person in Rome, but hey, it all helps!
I have to commend my friend's peanut butter & Snickers muffins, courtesy of Nigella, but we noticed that they tended towards dryness. If you make them, watch out for that. In fact, muffins sitting out in the cold and wind for a few hours does them no favours. If we had a microwave by our side they would have really jumped back into life. My maple syrup and pecan cakes had great flavour (although a little too sweet for me), but a much better texture after being zapped for 15 seconds.

The best of my bunch I made were the cheese & bacon lot. I used the basic muffin recipe in the new edition of Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion. A great idea, to have a basic muffin to which you can add any sort of sweet or savoury flavouring. I used good bacon, and a bit of tomato relish, and they had great flavour. My brother reckoned they needed a bit more cheese, but he reckons a bit more cheese is the answer to everything. He might have been right, although maybe the trick is to use a stronger cheese rather than more cheese. I'm thinking Mersey Valley would work really well. Again, these have a better texture warm, rather than cold.
I've included the recipes for the cheese & bacon and maple syrup & pecan muffins, but not for the allergy ones. Mainly because they weren't that great (awful texture, although I was assured that was normal for those sorts of mixes) and not many of you will have unusual wheat/dairy/egg free bread mix in your cupboards.
Read on for the recipes:

Cheese & bacon muffins
Adaped from Stephanie Alexander, 'The Cook's Companion'.

120g wholemeal self-raising flour
100g white self-raising flour (or use all white)
150g grated cheese (I used cheddar & parmesan)
3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
~3 slices of bacon, fried until crispy, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato relish

-Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 12-cup muffin tin
-Mix flours, cheese in a large bowl.
-Combine milk, egg, oil and relish in a jug and whisk lightly.
-Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid.
-Add the crumbled bacon, and mix lightly. Do not overmix. It will toughen the batter.
-Garnish each with a few spikes of rosemary, if you feel artistic
-Spoon batter in muffin cases until two-thirds full, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned on top.
-Remove tin from oven and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool. Best served warm.
Makes 12.

Maple Syrup & Pecan cakes
Adapted from Donna Hay, 'Modern Classics 2.'

90g softened butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 2/3 cups sifted plain flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
~100 grams pecans, lightly toasted and chopped

-Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)
-Beat the butter and both sugars until light and creamy.
-Add the eggs gradually and beat well.
-Add the milk, maple syrup, flour and baking powder and beat until just smooth.
-Fold in the pecans
-Spoon into muffin cases and decorate with half a pecan.
-Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked, when tested with a skewer.
-Cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack.
Makes 12.

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  • Awful texture is absolutely standard for those mixes. It always astounds me that people will rave about them as IME they are fairly revolting. I did like the Healtheries ones when they were briefly on the market here but at $8 a cake mix, why bother? I can do better for far cheaper at home.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/07/2006 08:13:00 pm  

  • "Yummy strawberry cheesecake muffins"! Could you ask your friend for the recipe and post it here for us please?

    By Blogger millimilli, at 5/07/2006 11:04:00 pm  

  • LOVE the story of success after 20 years -- the perfect answer to someone who bewails, I never bake anymore, nothing ever turned out! I made muffins very similar to your maple/pecan last weekend and put in some applesauce to increase the moisture. They were still moist on Day 3!

    By Blogger Alanna Kellogg, at 5/07/2006 11:40:00 pm  

  • and could u please post the recipe for the cranberry and white choc muffins?
    it sounds like a great combination!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/08/2006 01:49:00 am  

  • Your muffin stall looks so groovy! I love it when you include your brother's commentary on your cooking. Sounds like exactly what my little brother would say!

    By Blogger Kelly, at 5/08/2006 10:32:00 am  

  • All of your muffin recipe's sound great! Thanks for sharing!


    By Blogger Dianka, at 5/09/2006 04:28:00 am  

  • Anna - I can't think why people will put up with them. This mix, made by Leucke, smells absolultely atrocious. Like pure chemicals. Nasty stuff. And, yes, it's expensive!

    Millimilli - I've asked him; we'll see what he says. He's a true-to-form artistic-type, so maybe I'll have to prod him a few times to remember :-)

    AK - I forwarded your comment to my friend. Hehe. And I agree with you. I like your applesauce tip - great idea!

    Kelli - Ummm...no, I'm not going to post that recipe because it was just BAD. But if you want to know, get a packet of Leucke gluten-free bread mix, add some sugar, chopped white chocole and cranberries soaked in warm orange juice and mix it all together with some water. You too can have horrible, chewy, chemical tasting muffins. Although the cranberry and white chocolate bits were ok...

    Dianka - thanks so much. :-)

    By Blogger Niki, at 5/09/2006 04:28:00 pm  

  • Do you want a GF muffin recipe which works OK? I'm too lazy to type it in if you don't ;)

    I've not come across Leucke mixes here. It's mostly Basco and I can do it for cheaper at home. And get actual edible products. Just because it looks like a gluten product doesn't mean it tastes the same.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/10/2006 08:47:00 pm  

  • would be anonymous. Because offering recipes while posting anon would make so much sense. Not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/10/2006 08:50:00 pm  

  • Hi Anna - is your GF recipe using "normal" flours, or unusual bread mixes? I might be interested....

    By Blogger Niki, at 5/17/2006 10:42:00 pm  

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