Documenting “anything” in a hectic restaurant kitchen is a feat in istself.
If you’re not ready, the moment you turn your head both the moment and the food you’re rying to photograph are gone for good. Plus, you have to take your picture in a split second because, you know, if you’re a chef you’re supposed to be doing other food-related activities. Still, sometimes I manage.
My favourite time is when I am told what to do but not how to do it. It means I can go back to the pantry and pick and choose whatever takes my fancy. Having free-rein to do something is the best thing in the world. Nothing made me happier than when I was told: “Make some muffins, two sorts, whatever way you like so long as one batch is chocolate.” Wow!
The good thing about muffins is that all you have to do is mix the dry ingredients. Then, separately, mix all the wet ingredients. Then mix them all together and that’s that.
This means you can have a batch of dry ingredients made in advance and mix the other ingredients as you are ready to bake them (much as you would do with a cake mix, only much, much better).
Nigella also suggests mixing all the wet ingredients except the butter the night before you are going to make them and keep both cling-filmed in the fridge in separate containers. Then, the next morning, all you have to do is melt the butter, preheat the oven, mix wet with dry ingredients, fold in the fruit and spoon them in the muffin cases.
I included the butter in the chocolate version as optional because Narda’s version doesn’t include it. I think it should, though. The melted butter definitely improves the batter and it makes it smooth and silky.
Chocolate muffins – adapted from Comer y pasarla bien by Narda Lepes
1 ¾ cup strong flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. bitter chocolate powder
¾ cup sugar
125g chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
½ cup milk
¼ cup corn oil
75g butter, melted (optional but it improves the batter a lot)
These are very easy to make and very light and chocolatey.
Mix the dry ingredients and leave them aside.
Mix the wet ingredients very well.
Then mix dry and wet ingredients together. DO NOT OVERMIX.
There may be some lumps in the batter but it’s OK.
The batter should be quite liquid and lumpy.
Spoon the batter in the muffin cases and bake in a moderate oven between 10 and 12 minutes.
If you like, sprinkle some chocolate chips on top of the muffins before baking them.
Variation: the muffins you see in the photo had both white chocolate and dark chocolate chips (by all means, add some milk chocolate chips as well if you have them, we’d ran out).
You can also substitute the milk for buttermilk, as in the recipe below.
If you add some orange zest and some Grand Marnier you will end up with the most luxurious, decadent, delicious muffins you’ll have ever tasted.
receta en castellano:
Almond and strawberry muffins – adapted from a recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
75g unsalted butter
200g plain flour
100g ground almonds (optional)
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
75g caster sugar
pinch of salt
200ml buttermilk (or 100g yoghurt and 100ml semi-skimmed milk)
1 large egg
200g strawberries, blueberries or any berry that takes your fancy
flaked almonds to decorate (optional)
12-bun muffin tray lined with 12 paper cases
Melt the butter, and set it aside to cool for a little. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and in a measuring jug beat together the buttermilk (or yoghurt and milk), egg and melted butter. Using a wooden spoon and a light hand, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently to combine. Don’t worry about lumps: the important thing with muffins is that the mixture isn’t overworked. Fold in the blueberries, again keeping mixing to a minimum. You could also add orange zest at this point if you wanted. Spoon into the muffin cases — I use an ice-cream scoop and a small rubber spatula for this — and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be risen and golden and firm on top. Eat warm or cold as you like: I like warm, broken with fingers and smeared, mouthful by mouthful, with good unsalted butter and blueberry jam.
Variation: these muffins were crying out for some Amaretto liqueur and some orange or lemon zest
Tips: In both cases, please omit the spirits if you are baking these muffins for children.
Update: Here’s the Domestic Goddess herself making them: