As you read this, I shall be waking up in London Town for a weekend away with Hungry Hubby. I fear the bargain basement hotel (ish) we’ve got won’t have anything which approaches a freshly baked muffin but I shall soldier on and go for some poached eggs on toast, usually safe. Even at a Travelodge…
There is also a distinct lack of muffin recipes on my blog, as well as in cheap (ish) and cheerful (well clean and functional) hotel rooms. That is because they are extremely hard to make to meet my high expectations of all that a good muffin should be. And that would be moist if not verging on soft and doughy but nonetheless cooked, sweet but far less so than their prettier, thinner, more eye-catching cousins the cupcakes and most of all – well risen and domed sans muffin top overhangs!
My god, am I hard to please or what?!
If you would like a real-world example of my idea of a perfect muffin, it is Starbuck’s Skinny Lemon and Poppyseed one (or the stem ginger one when they have them), although it does register on the upper limit of my sweet-o-meter. Sally’s Orange and Lemon version is an excellent version in taste and texture although looks quite different, and I suspect Sally wasn’t specifically styling her’s on Starbucks, to my knowledge.
Hungry Hubby’s colleagues at work had asked if I’d do some baking for their MacMillan Coffee Morning to raise money to help these specialist nurses care for patients with cancer and their families. A cause close to my heart as sadly, I suspect, it is close to a good number of yours too, dear readers. We’ve had one such morning in my work and are hoping to hold another very soon.
I was asked to bake a few things to add to the table and as this is not the time to go weird and wonderful, me and Hungry Hubby decided the traditional flavours would go down best. Thanh’s lemon friands and Nigella’s chocolate chocolate chip muffins were easy to decide on – tried and tested recipes I’ve made many a time. A little something vanillary was needed so I did some thinking and came up with these Custardy Jam Muffins.
It was a bit of beginners luck as it only took one batch to produce muffins bang on brief. I literally sat at the oven door watching them rise and was so thrilled as I saw them rise evenly into perfect domes, I called Hungry Hubby from bed to come see too! The trick, I think, is getting the liquid:dry ratio right. This has less liquid than some muffins but using buttermilk tenderises the crumb so it stays soft and moist after baking.
Bird’s custard powder, used for that very vanilla flavour it has primarily gives a lovely yellow tint to the dough but also, as it is mostly cornflour in composition, it has extra lift and helps with the rise. If I were in America, I may use extra vanilla extract and replace the plain flour plus custard powder for cake flour – in the UK we have to make this by adding 2 tbsp of cornflour to every scant cup of plain flour.
As I keep the sugar lower in muffins than for cupcakes, a teaspoon of my homemade strawberry and vanilla jam is nestled into the middle of the batter as it bakes and a simple glacé icing with freeze-dried strawberry powder to finish rounds off the sweetness. I find that you need to keep the jam higher up in the raw batter in such bakes as it always sinks a little as the cake cooks around it. A lot of recipes tell you to put it in the middle but this usually leaves a puddle of jam on the bottom of the muffin in my experience.
So there I leave you – if you make these muffins for breakfast this weekend, don’t forget to stop by and let me know in a comment here or share a photo with me on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. Links at the bottom of this page. I’ll see you when we’re back from our little trip, maybe with foodie tales to tell :D
- 300 g plain flour
- 4 tbsp custard powder
- 2 tsp of baking powder level
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda level
- 200 g caster sugar
- 250 ml buttermilk
- 90 ml vegetable/rapeseed/canola oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 tsp strawberry jam
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp freeze dried strawberry powder
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk the flour, custard powder, raising agents and sugar together in a large bowl
Whisk the milk, oil, egg yolks and vanilla in a jug until well combined. Pour the wet into the dry and just combine – do not over work the batter or you’ll get tough muffins.
Put 2 tbsp of batter into each case (I have a 2 tbsp ice cream scoop which is perfect for the job).
Top with a mean teaspoon of jam – if you are too generous, it will sink to the bottom on baking.
Cover the jam with a small amount of batter – approximately ½ – 1 tbsp worth. Make sure it’s completely covered so they don’t split and spill out the jam on baking.
Bake for 20 minutes until domed and well risen and a skewer comes out clean (avoiding the central jam!). I would check them at 18 minutes if your oven runs hot.
Cool on a baking rack then make a simple glacé icing by mixing a half cup of icing sugar with just enough water to make a thick paste. Spread a teaspoon of the icing on top of your muffins and straight away, sprinkle with the strawberry powder. Leave to set then eat!