Thursday, 23 June 2011

Muffins for the bun in the oven.

My sister-in-law is pregnant: life as we know it is due to end in October.  I could never have predicted what an excitable group we’d turn into - family members bouncing in anticipation like a rowdy bunch of school children on their way to Disneyland. My grandmother had found an especially entertaining new hobby winding my parents up about how old they were now THEY were going to be grandparents until it was pointed out she was about to become  a great-grandmother...  Silence ensued.

So far, I had been enthusiastically referring to the baby as my “proto-neicephew” but at the most recent scan the parents-to-be found out “it” was a “he” so now just nephew suffices.  I’m quite besotted with him already, apparently not only has he already taken after his aunt (a prodigiously accomplished wriggler in her own time) but already I’m filled with plans for him: I have decided that he will become a professional rugby playing, surfing, snowboarder.  My brother has (unfortunately) resolved the baby should instead be a footballing, skiing, surfer.  Either way, quite a lot of pressure, especially considering any sporting prowess he inherits from our mal-coordinated side of the family is limited to say the least.

They’re using an app which plots the baby’s growth via comparisons to fruit and vegetables.  The poor little guy’s  come a long way since initial doctors visits (when he was described as a “cyst-like yolk-sac”); from grape, through an inordinate number of citrus fruits, a variety of earthy root vegetables and has now safely emerged this week as a banana (really?!). 

It being my sister-in-law’s birthday this week, I decided to bake her some birthday muffins.  For some reason banana recipes seemed to be in the forefront of my mind, so after some exploration I found a Nigella recipe for chocolate banana muffins which looked reasonably healthy and pregnancy friendly.  Unfortunately, I am incapable of making any form of muffin without incorporating a batch of my favourite lemon and poppy seed, so I ended up making twice as many as necessary.

Chocolate and Banana Muffins:

First preheat the oven to 200˚C and line a muffin tin with papers.  Mash the bananas (the more over-ripe the better, they only get sweeter and softer).  Then add the oil, lightly beaten eggs and sugar.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together and add to the banana mixture.  I decided to add some milk chocolate chips at this stage as well.  Mix together until fully incorporated and spoon into the 12-hole muffin tin. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, then cool for a few minutes in the tin before cooling completely on a wire rack.  When cold I topped them with Nutella because... well it’s heavenly with banana and that's all the justification I need.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container and thanks to the addition of the moist bananas they will keep longer than other muffin varieties.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon and Clove Icing:

First preheat the oven to 200˚C and line a muffin tin with papers.  Melt the butter and leave to cool.

Rub the sugar and lemon zest together until fragrant. 

Measure out the dry ingredients and add to the sugar and zest.

Whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, butter and milk (the ordinary milk becomes like buttermilk with the acidity of the lemon juice), until well blended. 

Mix the wet and dry ingredients and divide evenly among the muffin cases.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes in the tin before cooling completely on a wire rack. 

Mix the icing sugar with cloves and 2tbsp of lemon juice.  Once a thick paste has been made with no lumps, gradually add more juice until the desired drizzling consistency is achieved.  Drizzle over the tops of the muffins once they are completely cool, to add an extra zingy kick of lemon.

Nigella's Chocolate and Banana Muffin Recipe: (makes 12)
3 very ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
100g soft light brown sugar
225g plain flour
3  tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
(I added 100g milk chocolate chips)

Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins: (makes 12)
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup sugar
2 ¼ cups self-raising flour
¼ cup poppy seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs
½ cup milk

Lemon and Clove Icing:
1 cup of icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
A pinch of ground cloves (to taste)

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