The Musette: Race-winning muffins

This is my trusty go-to recipe whenever I need to whip up a few (or more) muffins. It’s an incredibly forgiving recipe as the batter will last for 30 days in the fridge. Trust me, I’ve tried it and the last muffin is just as good as the first which is great if you only want to bake a few each time. It’s based on a recipe from Rachel Allen.

My friend’s son, who I hope I’ve set on the road to cycling stardom, sometimes stays with me overnight at the weekend so that I can drop him off at the rendezvous point for his lift to the races at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning. The advantage of muffins for breakfast – and as a post-race snack to share with the team – is that I can bake them just before he gets up and then send him off with more to refuel en route. I call them ‘race-winning muffins’ because that’s what he does after eating them!

Looking good in yellow!

Looking good in yellow!

Of course, he’s not the only one who got to taste my last batch, I took them along to Cycle Cote d’Azur’s recent women’s bike maintenance afternoon and they got rave reviews.

Ingredients (makes 18 muffins)

  • 3 large organic eggs (approx 45g [1⅔oz], without shells)
  • 225g (2½ cups) soft brown sugar
  • 500ml (2 cups) buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml (½ cup) sunflower oil
  • 485g (5 cups) wholemeal flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Your starter for delicious muffins

Your starter for delicious muffins

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan).

2. Take a pastry brush, dip it in sunflower oil and gently paint it all over the muffin tin. This will stop the muffins sticking to the tin if you’re not using muffin cases. If you are, place the cases in the tin(s). I make my own muffin cases from squares of greaseproof paper. (I explain how in my ‘handy hints’ section.)

3. Put the sugar and eggs into a large bowl and whisk to combine until air bubbles appear on the surface of the mixture.

4. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla and whisk again.

5. Sift and mix together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda adding back the bran from the flour which will collect in the sieve.

6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and lightly combine. I find using a rubber spatula in a figure-of-eight movement works best. Ensure that no pockets of flour remain but don’t worry if the batter’s a bit lumpy. Lumpy batter makes light muffins. You now have your basic batter mix to which all manner of yummy ingredients can be added. See Sheree’s Handy Hints below.

7. Pour the mixture into a jug and fill the muffin cases ⅔ full, ensuring that you have equal amounts of batter in each case. Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes (depending on the size of your muffin tin) or until soft and springy to the tough. Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

8. The muffins will keep in an air-tight container for 3-4 days, but they never seem to hang around that long.

9. Leave any unused batter in a jug in the fridge. Place clingfilm (plastic wrap) directly onto the surface of the batter to prevent a skin from forming.

A selection of muffins: here one minute, gone the next!

A selection of muffins: here one minute, gone the next!

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the muffins in the oven, put the timer on for five minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. You can slightly under-bake small cakes as they’ll continue cooking for a few minutes after they come out of the oven.

4. Variations: Take 400ml (14fl oz), approx ⅓ of the basic batter – enough for six muffins – and add the following ingredients:

Fruit and nut

  • 100g (3½oz) raisins
  • 75g (3oz) apple puree
  • 75g (3oz) finely chopped, cored and peeled eating apple
  • 50g (2oz) chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (optional)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)

Blueberry

  • 100g (3½oz) fresh blueberries
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest

Carrot, apple and ginger

  • 75g (3oz) apple puree
  • 75g (3oz) finely chopped, cored and peeled eating apple
  • 100g (3½oz/1 cup) grated carrot
  • 1 tsp of ginger juice squeezed from a piece of fresh ginger

Banana and chocolate

  • 100g (3½oz) peeled and mashed very ripe banana
  • 100g white chocolate pellets, but you could also use either dark or milk chocolate
  • 75ml (2½fl oz) maple syrup

Strawberry and white chocolate

  • 100g (3½oz) firm strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
  • 100g white chocolate pellets
  • 1 tsp of grated orange zest

Let your imagination run riot! Combine tastes and textures which you know go well together and, if necessary, add additional liquid in the form of dairy, fruit juice or maple syrup to maintain a soft pouring consistency.

5. Make your own muffin cases by cutting 15cm (6 inches) square pieces of greaseproof paper and put them into the muffin cases. Push well down, pleating the sides and leave overnight to set.

(Images: Richard Whatley, chief in-house photographer and taster.)

One thought on “The Musette: Race-winning muffins

  1. Pingback: The Musette: Caramel banana cakes | VeloVoices

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