Posts Tagged ‘brown sugar’

Brown sugar, lemon and saffron muffins

May 14, 2009


It’s so nice when improvisation in the kitchen works out. So often it goes terribly wrong, but last night I was inspired (by being hungry, or by my pantry, or by the purple baking fairy, I’m not sure which) to make a new flavour of muffins, and the results were quite pleasing really. They turned out so well, I thought I’d share the recipe! That way you can make them too, and I won’t forget what I did.

I decided that brown sugar and lemon would make a nice combination in a muffin, and as I was getting ingredients out of the pantry it occurred to me that some sort of spice would go well too. Vanilla seemed too predictable, and cumin too savoury…then I saw the saffron. Cha-ching!

What I ended up doing was adding the saffron and some lemon juice to my standard muffin mix, then making a paste out of brown sugar and more lemon juice, and kind of swirling it through the mix just before I poured it into the cases. And they turned out really well! I’d probably add more lemon juice next time (I quite like lemon, and it wasn’t strong enough for me), and also some lemon zest–my lemon had already been zested for another dish so I had none left. The saffron came through a lot stronger than I expected too, so if you’re not used to this flavour maybe try reducing the amount.

Brown Sugar, Lemon and Saffron Muffins

2 1/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

150mL greek yoghurt

150mL milk

2 eggs

125g butter, melted

zest and juice of 1 lemon

pinch of saffron threads (~1/4 tsp)

Because this recipe has a lot of acidic (yoghurt, lemon juice) and a lot of basic (baking powder, baking soda) ingredients, it’s important to work quickly otherwise the chemical reaction will happen in the bowl instead of in the oven, and your muffins won’t rise.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, and salt in a large bowl with 2/3 cup of the brown sugar. Warm 20mL of the milk in a small cup and allow the saffron threads to soak in the warmed milk for at least 5 minutes. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining milk and the yoghurt. Add the melted butter, eggs, half the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and the saffron milk (I didn’t bother to strain it as I think it’s nice to come across a few saffron threads). Whisk it all together.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar and lemon juice to make a paste about the consistency of melted chocolate. You don’t want it too thick–it won’t swirl through easily–and not too thin, or it’ll just melt into the mixture.

Now the action: make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the eggy milky mixture. Working quickly, mix until just combined but not perfect–it’s better to err on the side of lumps, because if you mix too much your muffins will be tough. Pour over the brown sugar paste and mix briefly with a butterknife or the side of a spoon, until just marbled. Quickly pour into the prepared tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or so. Makes about 14 regular-sized muffins.

Fragrant but comforting. Just the perfect thing for a winter night, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. If you do try them, I’d love to hear how they turn out, and any changes you made. Here’s to successful improvisation!