Jan's four muffin recipes are great accompaniments to winter meals and make sustaining snacks.
What came first? The muffin or the cupcake? The flat, yeast-based English muffin that is toasted dates back to 11th century Wales.
However, the origin of the quick-bread style of muffin cooked in a tray using ‘cups’ to hold the mixture appears to be North American. The first reference to these muffins was in the late 1700s when the original chemical raising agent pearlash — a refined form of potash that gives off carbon dioxide during baking — was developed.
Today’s phosphate baking powder wasn’t commercially developed until the mid-1800s.
Cupcake recipes appeared at the same time. But many recipes were for cup cakes not cupcakes. The spelling makes the difference. Some recipes were for cakes cooked in cups or mugs. Others were for cakes using cup measurements.
The first American muffin was sweet so how did it differ from the cupcake? It’s all in the mixing. Traditionally, the cupcake mixture is prepared by creaming the butter and sugar until light then adding the flour and flavourings. With muffins, the wet and dry ingredients are combined separately then the wet mixed into the dry until just moistened.
I’ve used two sizes of pan for my muffins today — a silicone one with holes that hold half a cup of mixture. And a non-stick metal pan with holes holding one third of a cup. Texan muffin pans hold about three-quarters of a cup. All pans should be lightly buttered or oiled before baking.
Gluten-free spinach and smoked cheese muffins
These muffins are great served warm with butter and tomato chutney. The spinach can be chopped in a food processor rather than by hand.
Green curried apple muffins
Excellent served with chicken soup. For a milder muffin, halve the amount of curry paste.
Fennel, cheese and bacon muffins
Serve these muffins, flavoured with bacon, tasty cheese and fennel seeds and fronds, with soups and salads.
Corned beef and piccalilli muffins
Reserve a little of the green of the diced spring onions to garnish the tops.
- ¼ cup each: fine instant polenta, milk
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 150g corned beef, diced
- 2 small spring onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup each: shredded tasty cheddar cheese, piccalilli
- 50g butter, melted
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup milk extra
- Combine the polenta and milk. Cover and stand for 15 minutes to allow the polenta to soften.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 9 x 1/3-cup muffin holes.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the corned beef, spring onions and cheese.
- Combine the piccalilli, melted butter, egg, the polenta mixture and extra milk. Add to the flour combo and mix until just combined. Spoon into the prepared muffin holes. Top with the reserved spring onion.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes then remove from the muffin pan to a wire rack.