Sunday, November 28, 2010

Muffin of the Week - Experimental

I hadn't realized how much I enjoy creating these weekly postings until I got off schedule, but this morning the muffins are back, this time as an experiment based on "Name That Muffin" from Morning Food by Margaret S. Fox and John Bear. Margaret is the former owner of the renowned Café Beaujolais in Mendocino, California, and I bought the book when we were vacationing there a couple of years ago.

The recipe she gives is a sort of basic muffin recipe (though not too basic, since it includes poppy seeds and chopped nuts) with suggestions for several variations using diverse fruits and vegetables. I had one orange and one lemon in the fridge, but they didn't quite give me enough prepared fruit, so I added some of the leftover mashed sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving. No one in my family likes that concoction of sweet potatoes, sugar and marshmallows so many people eat at the holidays - these were pretty basic and, in my opinion, all the tastier for it. Like the equally popular green bean casserole (that I tasted once, just one bite, and swore I'd never touch again), candied yams seems to me to be a vegetable dish for people who don't like vegetables. However, we all have our biases and I'm sure I like things that other people find just as appalling. But I don't think anyone will be put off or appalled by these lovely muffins!

Citrus-Poppyseed-Sweet Potato Muffins - makes 14, more if you don't fill the muffin cups quite so full

2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large orange, chopped in 1" chunks and seeded
1 lemon, chopped in 1" chunks and seeded
1/3 cup mashed sweet potato (you want 1 1/3 cups smooshed up fruit/vegetables total)
1/3 cup poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or use paper liners (I use the spray).
Put the orange and lemon in the food processor and pulse till the rind is finely chopped and the rest is a mushy mess. Add the sweet potato, eggs, brown sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract, and pulse again till everything is well mixed.
In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, soda, baking powder, ginger, cardamom, and poppy seeds. Stir in the liquid mixture very gently. To quote Margaret Fox, "Urgent message: Do not overmix or Margaret [and Vicki] will have a nervous breakdown." Of course, if you like tough muffins with pointy heads (hmmm, kinda makes me think of some kids I went to school with), just beat away. I like to use my rubber scraper for this mixing; it's gentler somehow, makes it easier to slow down and be mindful of how I'm treating the batter, which I think requires a folding rather than a beating motion.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, almost to the top (not quite so full if you want smaller muffins) and bake 25-30 minutes. If you're not using all the muffin cups, fill the empty ones half full of water, and then be careful not to get the baked muffins wet when you take them out. My oven temperature's pretty accurate and 25 minutes was just right. Have a delicious day!


  1. Hi, this is Margaret Fox, of the above mentioned muffins. Just last week, a woman told me that this is the only muffin recipe she uses at her B&B since she can vary it radically according to the additions. I love knowing that my recipes have become a part of someone's life!

  2. Margaret, thank you for your post! I love your cookbook - I remember as we drove through Anderson Valley on our way home to Arizona after I bought it, reading through it and deciding I was going to make every single recipe. Well, I haven't quite achieved that goal yet (so many recipes, so little time!) but I have tried several and everyone I feed has been very happy with the results. In fact, I think it's time for another Ole Souffle. Happy holidays!