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Spiced carrot muffins

spiced carrot muffins

Nicholas loves making and eating ‘muffles’ (that’s muffins to you and I!). I’m not sure he understands that what he’s stuffing into his mouth are the fruits of his zealous stirring and pouring, but that doesn’t matter; we both like eating them.

While these muffins aren’t sugar-free, I have reduced the sugar a lot. With the healthy carrot, seeds and sweet raisins inside, as well as some wholemeal flour, I think the amount of sugar is ok. And adding a pinch of extra sugar on the top makes them seem much sweeter than they are πŸ˜‰

You can easily leave out the seeds, but I like the different texture they add to the muffins. I also like sprinking a few more over the tops before baking.

SPICED CARROT MUFFINS

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 18-20 mins
Makes 12 regular-sized muffins
Freezable

150g white self-raising flour
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
75g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
30g raisins
20g pumpkin seeds
20g sunflower seeds
125ml vegetable oil
125ml milk
1 egg
1 large carrot, grated
Extra golden caster sugar for sprinkling

Preheat theΒ  oven to 180C and grease your muffin tin with a little oil or cooking spray (or line your tin with paper cases to avoid washing the tin).

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the white and wholemeal flours, the caster sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir in the raisins, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, until evenly distributed.

In a jug or another bowl, whisk the oil, milk and egg together. Squeeze the excess liquid from the grated carrot and stir it through the milk mixture.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (mixing too much will make your muffins heavy and dense).

Pour into prepared tin and bake for 18-20 mins until golden on top and cooked through when tested with a skewer.

spiced carrot muffins

Variations:

  • add chopped walnuts or pecans instead of the pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Tip: soak the raisins in hot water for about 10 minutes beforehand to become plumper and avoid them drying out while cooking.

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Cornmeal muffins

I was debating whether to call these cornbread muffins as the taste and texture is similar to cornbread, and then I thought perhaps spicy cornmeal or cornbread muffins. To avoid any confusion, as the recipe isn’t an authentic cornbread recipe nor are they very spicy, I’m going with the (perhaps boring but simple) cornmeal muffins.

If you don’t want to make muffins, you can pour the mixture into a square baking tin and then cut them into squares after they’re cooked. Or you could make a loaf and cut off slices.

The level of spice is very mild, so perfect for toddlers (the predominant flavour is cheese). But you can easily add more spice by increasing the cumin and coriander, and/or add some crushed dried chilli.

Eat them on their own as a snack or as an accompaniment to a main dish, they’re perfect for little and big fingers alike.

CORNMEAL MUFFINS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes 12 small muffins

140g fine cornmeal
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (about 75g)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
225ml Greek yogurt

Preheat theΒ  oven to 200C and grease your muffin tin with a little oil or cooking spray (or line your tin with paper cases to avoid washing the tin).

Mix the cornmeal, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cumin and coriander in a bowl. Add the grated cheese and mix well so the ingredients are combined evenly.

In another bowl or jug, mix the beaten egg, vegetable oil and yogurt together.

Mix the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and stir quickly until just combined.

Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 15 – 20mins until golden on top and cooked through when tested with a skewer.

Variations:

  • Add fresh chives or coriander to the batter
  • Add some crumbled cooked bacon to the batter

Β 

Spinach muffins

Yes, you read correctly, spinach muffins. And they’re sweet. I’ll let you have a minute to get your head around that.

Still can’t imagine what they’d taste like? Don’t worry, neither could I when I came across the recipe by Weelicious. I’m still on my mission to get more vegetables into Nicholas, so I thought I’d continue my attack from a sweet angle too.

I’ve made two batches of these now, modifying the original recipe both times. Honestly, they’re a strange taste sensation and I certainly won’t be waking up any time soon thinking ‘Mmmm, I fancy a spinach muffin.’ But I made them for Nicholas not me.

Reading the numerous comments for the original recipe, many people who’ve made them say you can’t taste the spinach and that they taste like plain vanilla muffins. For me the spinach taste is strong, and its metallic flavour in combination with the vanilla is probably what confuses my taste buds. But I made them for Nicholas not me.

The original recipe has applesauce and sugar. I replaced the sugar with honey to be healthier (I honestly can’t see the point in packing a muffin with spinach goodness if you then add sugar, sorry). I also left out the salt, as just reading that in the ingredient list made my taste buds apprehensive, and again why add it to your munchkin’s food if you probably don’t need to (after tasting them I think adding the salt would make the clash between sweet and savoury too much).

For my second batch I also left out the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) as I really don’t like the taste of it in muffins. It didn’t affect the texture and the taste was better. Yes, for me, but I made them for Nicholas not me!

Nicholas has eaten them but without gusto, however he hasn’t been completely well this week. We’re going to the joint first birthday party of Nicholas’ best friend at the weekend. It’s a party with all the babies from his antenatal group, so I will go armed with my spinach muffins and see how they go down with a pack of one-year-olds.

SPINACH MUFFINS

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 12 small muffins
Freezable

1 cup fresh spinach, packed tightly
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (apple puree)
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Extra vegetable oil, for greasing muffin tin

Preheat oven to 175C and grease your muffin tin with a little vegetable oil.

Put the spinach, applesauce, egg, vanilla, honey and vegetable oil in a food processor, and puree until the spinach has broken up into small pieces and the mixture has combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium-sized bowl.

Pour the spinach mixture into a large bowl and carefully fold in the flour mixture, mixing just enough to combine the ingredients (mixing too much will make your muffins heavy).

Divide your mixture evenly between the 12 muffin holes.

Bake for 12-15 mins until a skewer comes out clean.

Sugar-free banana muffins

I was very happy with my apple sauce efforts. Armed with the sauce, I headed back into the kitchen to use it in a recipe instead of sugar. As usual, staring me in the face were some rather ripe bananas so I thought I’d attempt to adapt one of my favourite muffin recipes.

If you don’t want to be bothered making apple sauce (but it only takes 20 minutes!), you can use caster sugar (150g) instead, although then these muffins won’t be sugar-free πŸ˜‰

SUGAR-FREE BANANA MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30-35 mins
Makes about 16 muffins
Freezable

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
375g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125ml vegetable oil
150ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan). Line muffin trays with paper cases.

Mash the bananas and then mix in the apple sauce.

Put the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix.

In a separate smaller bowl or small jug, whisk together the oil, milk, egg and vanilla (if using). Pour into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the banana and apple sauce and gently mix through the batter quickly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared paper cases and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden on top and cooked when tested with a skewer.

Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.


Tip
: the ‘secret’ to muffins is mixing the batter just enough to combine the ingredients. Mix too much and you’ll have heavy stodgy muffins. I like to use a spatula. It makes me use bigger stirring movements (smaller ones would beat the mixture too much), and I can scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as I mix to avoid having unmixed flour hiding in the bottom.

So how did they turn out? The texture was exactly the same as using sugar. The taste, for me, isn’t super sweet but sweet enough, and Nicholas wolfed down one whole muffin as soon as they were cool enough to eat, so a success! Hubby’s verdict is that they’re nowhere as sweet as the ones you buy… πŸ™‚

What would you try making using apple sauce instead of sugar?