Muffins are a little bit passe these days. Like Friends and Snapple, they're just a bit nineties. They have been overtaken by their brash, rather disgusting, cupcake cousin.
But I still have a lot of affection for them. I think muffins are nice. And I came across this very straightforward looking recipe in a newspaper, but which utilised American cup measurements.
I was annoyed about this, just as I am always annoyed when a recipe specifies some sort of wildly exotic spice, cut of meat or fruit in an offhand manner, which implies that of course you ought to know where to source it from. I fucking don't!! And even if I did, I am not going to spend one of my three child-free mornings a week tracking it down. If you can't get it in Waitrose I am. Not. Interested.
Of course these days I DO, however, have a set of cup measurements, which I bought in Waitrose, so can convert the measurements for you.
On a whim, I decided to make these muffins with some pear and hazelnut because those were some things I had knocking about. I also used soured cream instead of buttermilk, (buttermilk!! we are in ENGLAND, nowhere sells it except big branches of Waitrose and I'm not always near one of those), which worked just fine.
You do not have to use pear and hazelnut in these - pretty much anything works: apple, chocolate, sultanas, banana, whatever. It's a very flexible vehicle, muffin mix. Having said that, the pear and hazelnut combination was really terrific and I recommend it to you.
Pear and hazelnut muffins - makes 8
2.5 cups plain flour - 340g
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar - 160g
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup soured cream or buttermilk - 120ml
3 drops vanilla essence
1/cup melted butter - 75g butter, melted
2 ripe pears, diced
2 lady-handfuls of hazelnuts, chopped and toasted in a dry frying pan for about 10 mins
1 In one bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. You do not have to sieve this but you could swizzle it about with a whisk for a bit.
2 In another bowl mix the beaten egg with the soured cream, vanilla extract and melted butter. Someone like Raymond Blanc would separate the eggs first, beat the whites and then add them separately, to make the muffins lighter.
3 Add the flour to the egg mixture and mix just until there is still about 10% flour showing, then tip in your pear and hazelnuts (or whatever you are using) and mix to combine.
4 Spoon immediately into muffin cases. Fill these to just below the brim. This is important, as these will not rise that much on cooking and you want that big luscious, over-spilt look.
5 Bake at 200C for 16-20 mins. Keep an eye on them if you have a light on in your oven. Mine were slightly underdone as I put them in at 180 (because of fan nuke horror panic) but if you have a normal oven I think you'll be okay at 200C for 16 mins. Bake in the middle shelf.