|Raspberry and dark chocolate muffins|
This is a weird way to start a post about muffins, but...I'm really not a fan.
Let me qualify that.
I love homemade cheese muffins, warm blueberry muffins - the deep purple berry juices staining the crumb, and I'm rather partial to a worthy muffin. You know the ones, as much about the grains as they are the naughtiness.
But... such muffins are rare treats. Fresh homemade comforts lost in a sea of mediocre shop-bought muffinery. Most commercial muffins feel stodgy and ennervating. Double-chocolate 'treats' with the consistency and flavour of compacted soil. A dieting friend once told me that one coffee shop chocolate muffin equalled her entire 'Points' for the day, and it was that muffin plus a stick of celery, or three well-balanced meals, I've never been able to eat a [insert famous coffee chain] muffin since. If I'm going to commit calorie Hari Kiri, it's got to be for something delicious. Something memorable. Not something 'feh.' Even in independent cafes where the flat whites flow and everything is baked fresh on site, the muffins are normally the last thing I go for.
Until...running late for work one day last week, I skipped breakfast at home and popped into The Table on Southwark Street. The Table is a fantastic little cafe and restaurant which buzzes all day. The coffee is Monmouth, the displays of fresh salads are Ottolenghi-worthy and the team behind the open counter and kitchen Know Their Stuff. There were two large muffin pans on the counter, their deep wells filled with large golden muffins, the tops spilling over the bulging cake cases. It was time to reconsider the muffin.
Back at my desk, I took the dark chocolate and raspberry muffin from its paper bag, pulled the muffin top away from the cake and took a bite. Oh My God. The crumb was so soft and warm, with huge chunks of dark chocolate and fat berries. The muffin top had a thick crust, crowned with a slight crunch of granulated sugar. It made my Wednesday and remains the best muffin I have ever eaten.
I've tried to recreate that muffin from memory. The spelt flour makes it a slightly 'worthier' bake than The Table's version and adds a little more texture and nuttiness (do remember to sift it though) and the recipe is my own - an edible homage. In less modest moments, I like to think of them as the second best muffins I've ever eaten...
Raspberry and dark chocolate muffins
250g white spelt flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
150g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
100g golden caster sugar
2 free-range eggs, beaten
150ml vegetable oil
100g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp granulated sugar, to sprinkle
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases.
Sift the spelt flour and mix with the bicarb and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the sugar, chocolate chunks and raspberries.
Add the beaten eggs, oil, vanilla extract and the melted butter and stir with a large metal spoon just until all the ingredients are combined.
Fill each muffin case 2/3 full and sprinkle the tops with a little granulated sugar. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden.
Cool on a wire rack and eat while still warm and the dark chocolate is still melted and cosy inside the muffins.