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Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumnal muffins to welcome the season of the harvest

     Ah Autumn!  I welcome the season with even more eagerness every year.  Perhaps it is the fact that summer here in Florida is too hot. (No, wait! That is the real reason, actually).  For all of you up north, I'm sorry to admit this, but when the end of August arrives, I come alive.  The tourists go away from Orlando and I get to have the city to myself again.  No more interminable traffic jams, plus the prospect of shorter days and cooler weather reminds me that the holidays are just around the corner, and so are the opportunities to enjoy rich foods, both made at home and bought and the local gourmet shops.

     My first bake of this Autumn season was a Swedish recipe I found in a blog called Scandilicious.  I like to call them Autumnal Muffins, and just as one of the blog's commentators points out, they pair extremely well with a shot of scotch (my favourite being The Famous Grouse) as an evening snack.

     I am reproducing the recipe with USA measurements here, along with the photos I took while making it.  The muffins taste very earthy and they seem indeed to be made for Autumn.

Ingredients (for about 12 muffins):
  • 5.29 oz. white spelt flour
  • 3.5 oz. whole grain spelt flour
  • 1.76 oz. oat bran
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg, finely grated
  • 8 sprigs of sage, roughly torn, plus 4 whole ones for scattering on a few of the muffins
  • 3.38 oz. plain yoghurt
  • 3.5 tsp. melted butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 generous squirt of mild honey
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 9 oz. butternut squash, roughly grated
  • 3.5 oz. Stilton cheese, broken into 1/4 inch chunks
  • A handful of walnut pieces
  • Extra cheese of your choice for sprinkling on top of the muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 375F and line the muffin pan with squares of parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients and stir through with a large spoon to distribute the raising agents.  In a medium bowl mix the yoghurt with the melted butter.  Crack the eggs into a cup and beat with a fork.  Add the honey and mustard to the eggs and stir again so you distribute the honey and mustard evenly.
3. Make a well in the middle of the larger bowl with the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid ingredients.  Stir through about eight times (do not overmix or you'll have tough muffins!) using a large spoon, scooping in a figure-of-eight motions so you can incorporate all the ingredients.  Add the butternut squash, stir 2 to 3 times and then finally add the Stilton and the walnuts, roughly chopped.  Stir through a few more times so you have an even mixture.
4. Use an ice-cream scoop and distribute the muffin mixture equally in the muffin pan.  Lay a few shelvings of extra cheese on top (Parmeggiano is a good option).  Then place a few sage leaves on some of the muffins.  Bake on the upper shelf of the oven for 20 minutes or so, until they look golden-brown and firm to the touch.  Eat while warm.

These savoury muffins are an ideal afternoon snack with a shot of Scotch, as accompaniment to a soup or with a crunchy Autumn salad.  They also freeze well.