Nectarine Crumble Muffins

Nectarine muffins 1

If it wasn’t for muffins, I don’t think this blog would exist. Muffins got me into baking. More than that, they made me obsessed with baking.

Nectarines 2

A simple Christmas (or was it birthday??) present of a muffin recipe book, a quick visit to John Lewis (the best department store in all the world) to pick up a couple of muffin tins and the course of my life was changed forever! Melodramatic? Moi? Never!

Nectarine muffins 9

Muffins are just so simple, any baking novice can make them, and I definitely was a bit dense when it came to the kitchen. They can also be super impressive and are always a popular choice, I don’t think anyone has ever refused one when I’ve taken a batch into the office.

Nectarine muffins 3

For a long time I baked muffins almost every weekend, ploughing my way through the book, always coming back to banana for obvious and delicious reasons. But man cannot live by muffin alone, the time came to branch out into biscuits, cake, tarts and cheesecake and the humble muffin became sorely neglected.

Nectarine muffins 4

So now it’s time for a revival! Given that summer fruit is still utterly fantastic right now, I thought I’d go with nectarines again. Sorry to be repetitive, following my nectarine frangipane tart, but I love, love, love them and always have them in the fridge in the summer time. So deal with it.

Nectarine muffins 5

These little guys are a cut above your average muffin. Supremely moist, with a crumbly top and occasional, insanely sweet, little bursts of nectarine. There is nothing here that couldn’t be described as utterly gorgeous.

Nectarine muffins 6

To make these muffins look as special as they taste I decided to dispense with the usual muffin wrappers, this helped give a nice, smooth, brown underside and avoid those ugly crinkled edges. A non-stick muffin pan will help with this, as will a good brush of melted butter.

Nectarine muffins 7

Nectarine Crumble Muffins
Adapted from Cupcakes and Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients:

85g melted and cooled butter (plus a little extra for greasing your tins if you’re not using paper liners)
280g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder (yes a tablespoon, don’t be scared!)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
115g caster sugar
2 eggs
250ml natural yoghurt (I used low fat greek style)
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
2 ripe nectarines, diced

Crumble topping:
50g plain flour
35g butter
2 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat your oven to 200 C / 180 C Fan / 400 F.

Start by melting the butter for the muffin batter. Once melted, if not using liners, brush a little onto the base and sides of your muffin tins and put the rest to one side to cool.

Now put all of the ingredients for the crumble topping into a bowl and rub them together with your fingertips until they resemble chunky breadcrumbs.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. I personally don’t go in for this sifting malarky but feel free to sift it if you’re that way inclined.

In another large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then stir in the yoghurt, vanilla and cooled butter.

Make a little well in the middle of your flour mixture, poor in the liquid mix, add the nectarines and stir it together just until the flour is no longer visible and then stop! Don’t over mix, this is the secret to a nice, light muffin!

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins, filling them up pretty much to the top. Scatter the crumble topping over each muffin and press it down lightly.

Pop the muffins into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until they are golden brown and firmish to the touch.

Leave them to cool in the tins for 5 minutes until removing them and either tucking in while they’re still warm or leaving them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Nectarine muffins 8

Peach & Raspberry Ricotta Crumble Cake

Ricotta cake 1

Following a marvellously sunny and relaxing trip to Sicily, I have become utterly obsessed with ricotta cheese.

I breakfasted on bread with ricotta and honey at every given opportunity, added it to my pasta and chose it as a pizza topping, so I was thoroughly surprised when I returned to London roughly the same size as when I left!

Ricotta

There’s just something about it that’s got me hooked and I’m not exactly clear what it is, so for now I’m indulging my obsession and bringing it home to good old blighty.

Peaches

The owner of one of the B&Bs I stayed in on my holibobs produced the most amazing cakes each and every morning, and those that weren’t eaten were popped in a doggy bag for lunch. Therefore, when I got home I decided that the best way to indulge my ricotta addiction would be in the form of a fabulously fruity cake.

Ricotta cake 2

I chose peaches as, for some reason, my flat is not conducive to effective peach ripening. It seems that every time I buy a punnet of peaches, they start out ridiculously hard and then after a few days in my flat they’ve taken on that odd dry texture (that I’m really struggling to describe!)

Ricotta cake 3It seemed like the best way around this problem would be to cook the peaches. Much like strawberries, peaches can be improved by a bit of heat and sugar, especially if they’re not properly ripe and juicy. The same applies to nectarines, apricots and plums.

Ricotta cake 4

A quick internet scout led me to the Australian Gourmet Traveller website and this lovely recipe for Peach and Raspberry Ricotta Crumble Cake.

All I can say is yum! This cake is everything I hoped it would be. Sweet peaches, slightly sour raspberries, crumbly topping, a hint of lime zest and, best of all, delightfully tangy chunks of ricotta! It’s a wonderfully moist cake, I ate my first slice slightly warm (as my patience had left me) but it’s equally scrummy cold.

Ricotta cake 5

It’s also the first cake I’ve made in my food processor. Slightly more complicated than the cakes I’ve made in the past but definitely worth the effort.

Ricotta cake 6

The original recipe calls for the cake to be served with a lime and vanilla syrup, which I’m sure would be lovely, but I didn’t think it needed the added sweetness. I also omitted the dusting of icing sugar, not on purpose, admittedly!

Ricotta cake 7

Peach & Raspberry Ricotta Crumble Cake
From Australian Gourmet Traveller

Ingredients:

20g sour cream
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour
220g caster sugar
160g softened unsalted butter
30g ground almonds
Grated rind of 2 limes
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
2 eggs
3 peaches, halved and thinly sliced
125g raspberries
200g ricotta

Start by preheating your oven to 180 C / 160 C fan oven / 350 F and butter and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper. (I used a 23cm baking tin as that’s all I could find in John Lewis!)

In a measuring jug stir together sour cream and bicarbonate of soda and set aside for a couple of minutes to foam. It’s best to use a largish measuring jug as the mixture will pretty much double in size.

In your food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, butter, ground almonds, lime rind, vanilla paste, baking powder and salt until crumbly. (If you don’t have a food processor I’m sure that you could rub these ingredients together with your finger tips instead, it’ll just take a little longer.) Take out one cup of the mixture and put it to one side.

Returning to the crumble mix in the food processor, add the eggs and the sour cream mixture and pulse again until it’s smooth.

Spread half of the mix into the bottom of the baking tin, smooth it out and then sprinkle in half of the peaches, raspberries and ricotta (in little chunks) and a third of the reserved crumble mix.

Add the rest of the cake batter, smoothing it over again. Top with the rest of the peaches, raspberries and ricotta and then cover the whole lot with the rest of the crumble.

Pop the tin in the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until a skewer comes out of the middle clean. If it starts to get too brown, cover it with foil.

Cool the cake in the tin for 15 minutes and then take it out and put it on a rack to cool completely.

Serve with a nice cup of tea!

Ricotta cake 8