Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mandarin muffins

Most people who are keen on cooking are either cooks or bakers at heart, and I'm a cook. My occasional baking never looks like the picture, though it usually tastes fine. I did bake more when I had hungry boys, but it's just not my thing (though I eat it with gusto). I used to make a pretty good scone - I had the knack because I made them all the time. Now I've lost it completely.
       Like scones, muffins seem simple enough. But as cafe frequenters know, they're not that easy to get right - how often do you get a really good muffin? They turn out to be too cakey or crumbly or lumpy or dry, or taste of baking soda, or are just plain boring.

I've tried a range of muffin recipes, without great results. I couldn't seem to get the hang of mixing the batter just enough, so that the muffins didn't become tough and chewy. They're an American import - they weren't around when I was growing up, so I never saw Mum make them.
         Three years ago I found Pat Churchill's recipe for citrus muffins in the Dominion Post. It's become one of my small store of really good baking recipes that are as close to foolproof as possible. Even so, I have to concentrate when I'm making it, and I'm prone to forget something.
         Today I was making them for visitors, and I did everything properly - until I put them in the oven without taking note of the time, so I had to guess how long to leave them in. But except for being different sizes, and only one of them coming out of the pan with a perfect bottom (I got impatient and scooped them out too soon), they turned out really well. Though you can make them with oranges or tangeloes, I like mandarins best. The little ones are beautifully sweet now, but they go off quickly, so it's good to use some up.

Orange, tangelo or mandarin muffins

Set the oven to 200C.
Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

Weigh out:
200g fruit - remove stalky bit, and cut into eighths (or quarters for small mandarins - you'll need 5 or 6 of these)
Put into food processor with:
1 cup sugar
and pulse to process until fruit is finely chopped.
Then add:
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
100g melted butter
Pulse  briefly to mix.

Into a large bowl, sift:
1 and 1/2 cups plain white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix well.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix very lightly together, just to combine the two. Spoon into the greased muffin pan cups and bake for 12-14 minutes, just until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.


And although I'm not much of a baker, it's imensely satisfying to see, share and eat these beautiful crisp-edged, orangey-brown, moist, tangy-flavoured creations (slightly broken bottoms and all).


Deborah said...

Just to clarify - do you leave the skin on?

I make muffins A LOT. They're great for school lunches. I make a batch at the beginning of the week, put three in the lunch boxes that day, freeze the rest, and use them as needed. I wrap them in paper towels when I put them in my girls' lunchboxes, to absorb the moisture as they defrost.

I will give these muffins a go. I need a new recipe for my school lunch repertoire.

AnneE said...

Yes, you do leave the skin on - just cut the fruit up and use it as is. That's partly why I like this recipe, it really is simple.

Unknown said...

The neighbours have a feijoa hedge and while they give them to us and others, they still end up chucking out loads each week. Seems a shame. But apart from a crumble and stewing what would you do with them?

AnneE said...

Send me a box and I'll tell you! I always thought feijoas, like lemons, grew on trees until I moved from Auckland to Wellington...seriously, I'll hunt through my recipes and see what I can find.

Sheila said...

for a long time i have made Orange and date muffins, and love them. Our Mandarine tree this year has produced so well and i wondered about using them in muffins the same way. Thank you for posting this recipe. I have a double batch in the oven as i type, and they smell fabulous

Anonymous said...

Just made these now - yum! I made 1.5 batches as I had a few people to feed...I also added 3 tablespoons of coconut (just because I LOVE coconut and citrus). Note - these rise really well. I'm used to my baking being kind of flat and filled my cups almost to the top. Explosion! Meant I got to eat all the overspill though so not a total loss!

AnneE said...

Lovely to hear that they turned out so well, thank you!

Anonymous said...

hey anne - thanks for this simple recipe! they turned out yummy - a hint of bitter from leaving all the white bits and seeds in, but that's what i like about them! i'm no professional baker, so i have to ask: how can i make sure the muffins stay nice and risen? they looked so nice in the oven and when they came out, they became very flat :-( and how do you store them?
thanks! julia

AnneE said...

That's odd, I haven't encountered this problem before. You need to make sure the baking powder and baking soda are very well sifted and stirred into the flour so that they are evenly distributed. But of the muffins are rising ok, I don't know why they are going flat, unless they weren't quite cooked through? They will keep in an airtight container for a day or two, but if you want to keep them for longer than that, then better to keep them in the fridge and gently reheat or toast them, or else freeze them and defrost as needed.

Unknown said...

Hi Anne I was hunting for a mandarin muffin recipe (I’d run out of oranges) and this came up on Google Number 1. What a great recipe - somehow more ’formal and grown—up’ than than the orange ones I’d planned. They were lovely and golden ad perfect to take to a neighbour who unfortunately was unwell on this beautiful Labour Day weekend.
Kind regards

AnneE said...

REally pleased worked so well for you, Susan. Yes, they are "grown-up" muffins, aren't they.