Monday, 12 November 2012

Pear and hazelnut muffins

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
2 eggs
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.



  1. You're on a roll! Love it! I haven't had muffins in soo long, as you say it's all cupcakes these days. Time to bring back the muffin!

  2. Believe it or not our local tesco metro sells buttermilk. Can't imagine they sell alot of it! X

  3. Sainsbury stocks buttermilk too, but you might have to do a treasure hunt to find it.

  4. Thank you thank you thank you for converting the butter measure to grams. I can just about handle us cup measures for powdery and sloppy ingredients, but get total brain drain when it comes to solid things. I have one American recipe that calls for two cups of chopped makes me want to scream.

  5. Adding a teaspoon or so of lemon juice to a cup of milk makes a perfectly good substitute for buttermilk.

  6. You can substitute buttermilk by souring the milk yourself - just add around a tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to milk and leave it to sit for a little bit and voila!
    Hope that helps in your ever in a buttermilk bind again

  7. I love muffins, I think they're the perfect portable food, and Elliot will eat things in muffins he wouldn't touch in its original form (nuts, most fruit, courgette, etc). Yoghurt is a good buttermilk replacement too, plain greek kind. Or you can make it yourself from a tbsp of vinegar in regular milk, and leaving it to sit (google for exact measurements), though truth be told I've never found this to work as well as yoghurt, which is obviously much easier. They sell buttermilk everywhere here in huge cartons. I don't know why, I'm hardly going to pour it over my cereal. Maybe there are legions of bakers in my neighbourhood I don't know about...

  8. Yum these look lovely, muffins are always a bigger hit than cupcakes in my house. Both Sainsbury's and Morrison's sell buttermilk...well they do in Yorkshire anyway! Sooo glad you're here all the time at the moment. :)

  9. You could try plain yoghurt instead of the buttermilk. I make muffins every week for my girls' lunchboxes. This week I put in 2 slightly overripe bananas, chocolate chips, chopped pecans and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. A basic muffin mix is brilliant for getting a bit of fruit into your children.

  10. The Morrisons in our small provincial town also sells it so I am definitley going to give this recipe a go, they look delicious.

  11. Our local supermarkets (in sleepy West Yorkshire) also sell buttermilk - I buy it to make soda bread!

  12. Waitrose is literally miles away down here in darkest Devon so shall try these with soured cream. Love the sound of toasted hazelnuts and will make these for the weekend.

  13. Tasty and healthy recipe for left over buttermilk:

    love your blog. Really lilke the courgette and mint pasta and the tofu curry


  14. Don't understand the lack of buttermilk in this country when it is a free by-product of all those tons of butter....anyway you can get Polish buttermilk for instance in 'ethnic/world food' sections of some supermarkets, or the same but essentially overpriced stuff in organic food shops.

  15. These sound totally amazing! I am going to have my muffin and eat it too.