Thursday, 24 March 2005

IMBB 13: Simnel Muffins

Savoury muffins were my intended entry to the 13th edition of Is My Blog Burning? food blogging event which this time is hosted by Makiko of Just Hungry. However, when I saw this in the book 101 Cakes & Bakes by BBC's Good Food magazine, I thought I just have to make these remembering that Easter is almost upon us and they would make good substitutes for those chocolate eggs kids get *every* year. My youngest (J3) and I had a blast making these especially when it came to putting the finishing touches - icings and mini eggs on top. This was one of the most enjoyable IMBB I had, not only were our creations sold out (kids were arguing on who gets to give to his/her friends) but the muffins were really good and scrumptious plus attractive, too.

One of the recent things I discovered, if you half fill one of the cups in the muffin pan with hot water, it will keep the inside of the muffins moist. The water keeps the air in the oven humid and prevents the pan from getting too hot.

The muffins are miniature simnel cakes. You know that rich, traditional (in the West) Easter cake made up of dried fruits and a layer of marzipan in the middle. The miniature versions have got that layer, too. J3 very much enjoyed rolling and flattening those marzipans probably as much as the excitement of waiting for the lot to come out of the oven. Try these they're really very good with a delectable taste of orange, raisins, currants, mixed spice, nutmeg, and almonds with a topping of mini chocolate eggs of course!

Simnel Muffins

250 g  dried mixed fruits
grated zest and juice of 1 medium orange
175 g  butter - softened
175 g  [3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp] golden caster sugar
3 eggs - beaten
300 g  [2 1/4 cup] self-raising flour*
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
5 Tbsp milk
175 g  marzipan

*For Decorating:
200 g  [1 3/4 cup] icing sugar
2 Tbsp orange juice
sugar eggs or sugar coated mini chocolate eggs
  1. Put the mixed dried fruits in a bowl with the orange zest and juice. Leave to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line 12 deep muffin pans with paper muffin cases.
  3. Beat together butter, sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl. In another bowl mix the flour, nutmeg, and mixed spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for about 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in the fruits well.
  4. Half fill the muffin cases with the mixture.
  5. Divide the marzipan into 12 equal pieces, roll into balls, then flatten with your thumb. Put one in each muffin case and top with the rest of the mixture.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until risen, golden and firm to the touch. Remove and cool in racks completely.
  7. For the decoration: beat together the icing sugar and orange juice. Drizzle over the cooled muffins and top with a cluster of mini chocolate eggs.

Notes: *1 cup self-rasing flour = 1 cup plain flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt.
For more moist muffins: line and put batter in only 11 of 12 muffin cups leave one of the cups in the middle empty. Half fill the 12th muffin cup with hot water.

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