There are two kinds of muffins, English ones, and American muffins.
Muffins originate from England, but are also very popular in the United States. They were first mentioned in the eighteenth century.The English muffin is made from a yeast-dough that is baked on a griddle on the stove instead of in the oven. After baking the muffin is split open with the fingers, butter is inserted, and the muffin is closed again. Then you eat the muffin while it is still warm, butter dripping down your chin.
The American muffin is made from a batter with baking powder that is baked in the oven. It can be eaten either warm or cooled to roomtemperature. You can add all kinds of extra’s to the batter, like blueberries, peanutbutter, bananas, orange-peel, currants in sweet muffins, and cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, olives to savoury muffins.
Muffins are fun to make, all it takes are ten minutes preparing the batter and a maximum of twenty muffins in the oven.
The recipe below is for an American muffin with speculaas-spices. If you wonder what “speculaas” is, look at my recipe for speculaas filled with almonds. In the Netherlands you can buy pre-mixed spices for speculaas. If you can’t find them where you live, you can make your own mixture of speculaas-spices. Since speculaas is part of the Dutch Sinterklaas-tradition: here is a link to a page with several sweet and savoury dishes for the Dutch Sinterklaas feast.
Baking muffins, the basics
Baking muffins can’t go wrong, as long as you keep the following tips in mind.
- Always grease the muffin mould carefully. Your muffins will never be demoulded whole if you haven’t done that, they will stuck to the one tiny spot you forgot to grease.
- Use two bowls, one for all dry ingredients, and one for liquid ingredients.
- A teaspoon is not just any spoon laying about. It is a fixed measure of 5 mililitres, which equates the volume of 5 gram water. A tablespoon equates 3 teaspoons, or 15 mililitres.
- Always add the content of the dry bowl to the liquid one, NOT the other way around.
- Stir the combined ingredients only till they are just blended. The batter must remain lumpy.
- After baking, let the muffins rest for five minutes after removing them from the oven before demoulding.
For a twelve-muffin tin; preparation in advance 10 minutes; preparation 20 minutes.
250 gr (2 cups) ordinary, unbleached wheat flour
125 gr (⅔ cup) sugar
1¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ to 1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp speculaas spices
40 gr (½ cup) flaked almonds, crumbled (NOT ground)
1 egg, stirred
2½ dl (1 cup) buttermilk
125 gr (½ cup) butter, melted but not browned
butter to grease the mould
25 gr (¼ cup) flaked almonds
Preparation in advance
Preheat the oven to 180 °C/355 °F.
Grease the muffin mould with butter. If you don’t have a special mould for muffins, use a cake tin. Just remember that in that case the baking time will increase to fifty minutes.
Dry bowl – Mix flour, salt, sugar, rising agents, almonds and spices.
Wet bowl – Mix egg, buttermilk, melted butter.
Add the contents of the dry bowl to the wet bowl, mix with a fork until you have a lumpy batter.
Pour the batter into the muffin-holes, fill for not more that three quarters. The batter will rise during baking. Scatter some flaked almonds over the batter.
Place the mould in the middle of the oven, bake for fifteen minutes. Check whether the muffins are done by inserting a wooden toothpick into a muffin. If it comes out dry it is done, if not, bake a few minutes longer.
Remove the muffin mould from the oven, leave for five minutes.
Demould the muffins. I beat the mould lightly on the worktop until the muffins jump loose.
Place the muffins on a cake-rack to cool.
You can eat the muffins either warm or cooled to room temperature. These muffins are sweet. Serve them as dessert with cinnamon icecream or a warm chocolate sauce. But speculaas muffins are also excellent at breakfast, or with your coffee.
How to keep muffins
When the muffins are cooled completely, you can store them in a box for a day or two. But they are best when eaten fresh.
In the Netherlands you can buy the spices for speculaas premixed. I doubt whether that is the case elsewhere in the world. So here you have a mixture to make yourself: Take cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, ginger and cardamom (everything powdered) in a ratio of 8:2:2:1:1:1 (whether you use grams, teaspoons or tablespoons, the proportions must be the same). The used spices betray the age of the recipe for speculaas: this combination of spices can be found in many fifteenth century recipes.
Recipe for Dutch muffins for Sinterklaas