I’m sure I read somewhere that completing a series of small, achievable tasks provokes feelings of accomplishment that positively motivate you to tackle larger ones. With this kind of self-help in mind, I seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of January baking apple muffins. I decided it would be handy (and thrifty) to develop a recipe, since we always have wrinkly apples left in our fruit bowl. I was also inspired by the impressive rise of Nigella’s pear and walnut muffin recipe, but being the half-arsed health nut that I am, I wanted to create a version using a little less sugar and a bit more, er, vegetables.
My early attempts involved such experiments as substituting ginger for cinnamon, reducing the sugar content and adding oats, raisins, carrots… The addition of oats is about as close as I have got to a stroke of genius, as they disappear into the mix on cooking, improving the texture of the baked muffins no end.
Until I substituted apple juice for milk, I thought my reduced sugar muffins a little bit ‘meh’. I’m happy to say, however, that the sweetness of the fruit juice, along with the addition of some mixed spice, ensures the version I’m sharing here is full of flavour. I should add, at this point, that there is still sugar in this mix. Call me old-fashioned but I don’t see a problem in using a little sugar in your cooking. As with many of the best things in life, you should just try not to get hooked on it. (For those considering eliminating sugar from their diet completely, there is much to consider; I think this Zoe Williams article cuts to it quite nicely.)
As to the idea that small achievements lead to greater capability, I shall have to wait and see, but I do feel mighty relieved that I won’t be spending most of February baking muffins. On to bigger and better things…
Carrot, oat and apple muffins
Makes 12 regular or 6-8 large muffins
1 small apple, grated
1 small carrot, grated
(combined weight should equal about 130-140g)
120g soft light brown sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mixed spice
180ml apple juice
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Turn oven to 200c then line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper or silicone cases and set to one side.
Weigh the sugar and oats into a large mixing bowl and add the grated carrot and apple, stir briefly to combine.
Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices into the bowl and stir together lightly.
In a jug, beat the egg and whisk in the apple juice and sunflower oil.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into the middle. Fold the mixture together gently but quickly, stopping as soon as the mixture resembles a batter.
Carefully divide the mixture between the muffin cases and top with a sprinkling of oats and/or brown sugar. Bake in a hot oven (200c) for 18-20 minutes until risen and golden. Use a skewer to check whether the muffins are cooked through before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Great at breakfast or as a lunchbox treat.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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