The British language is a confusing thing. I feel sorry for anyone who tries to learn it in a logical way. I’ve been trying for 25 years and still can’t make sense of most of it.
It’s hard when a guinea pig is neither from Guinea not is it a pig. Quicksand results in a very slow death and boxing rings are undeniably square. Hamburgers don’t contain ham, and there isn’t any apple or pine in a pineapple or any egg in an eggplant.
So when I tried to look into the history of muffins, it was no great surprise that an English muffin isn’t exactly a muffin. It’s a sort of yeasty dough flat cake baked on a hot griddle…not the sort of muffin that you’d get to go with your morning coffee.
But then I’m sure that the airy, sweet Starbucks ‘muffins’ are what the fluffy, iced cupcake is to the denser, more robust British fairy cake. So here is a sort of ‘British muffin’. Not an English muffin flatcake, but not one of the American, sweet, puffy muffins either. A glorious middle ground.
This recipe uses Lorraine Pascale’s muffin recipe as a base. The wholemeal flour works particularly well for a savoury muffin, and they are lovely and light. A very smug-making packed lunch, or even breakfast.
60ml vegetable oil
180g self raising flour
130g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, lightly beated
100ml plain yoghurt
300g frozen spinach (200g once thawed and squeezed out)
150g sundried tomatoes, chopped
150g bacon lardons, already crisped up in a pan
Preheat the oven to 200C. Sift the flours and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
Pour the oil, milk and yoghurt into a jug. Use a fork to whisk in the eggs. Create a well in the mixing bowl containing the flour, and pour all the wet ingredients into it.
Tip the spinach, sundried tomatoes and bacon lardons into the bowl, and then use a wooden spoon to gently stir until combined. Be careful not to over-work it. And don’t worry about it being gloopy. This is classic muffin behaviour.
Oil a 12-hole muffin tin, and divide out the mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins have risen, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Put on a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel (muffins get sweaty and upset in a Tupperware), and preferably eat while still hot and fresh.
- Don’t restrict yourself to the flavourings above. Why not try spinach, butternut squash and feta, or anything from courgette and parmesan, to carrot and cumin.
- I haven’t added salt to this recipe. There isn’t any need if you’re adding bacon lardons, parmesan or feta as ingredients, because they’re all pretty salty. If you’re not using such salty flavourings, then consider seasoning the muffin mixture with a big pinch of salt.
- I have recently acquired a mini muffin tray, and can confirm that these look very sweet in miniature form, and make a really filling and healthy snack.