I know, I know. I should be cooking up a festive storm at this time of year. Last year it was pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and Delia’s Christmas stollen. I have started the Christmas cake and puddings, but since I can’t get my teeth into them yet, I can’t tell you how they’ve turned out.
I decided to make some muffins before there’s absolutely no excuse for going all Christmassy. Not very adventurous for an adventurous baking blog I know, but I do find muffins tricky. They never turn out particularly well, and my last two batches of banana muffins had to be thrown away. I made a plea to Delia Online and the Hummingbird Bakery for help.
The lovely people at Delia Online pointed me in the direction of their tutorial video all about making muffins. I watched it very, very carefully and decided to use Delia’s method, and a recipe for banana and cinnamon muffins from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. A bit of a gamble, since it was the Hummingbird recipe that ended up on the patio feeding a flock of sparrows and a couple of rather fat pigeons.
The Hummingbird Bakery recipe is for twelve banana muffins. I decided to halve it. If it didn’t work, there’d be less to throw away, and, I always find the Hummingbird recipes pretty generous. I’d probably end up with at least eight (in fact, I made ten – I’ve never had a muffin from the Hummingbird Bakery itself. They must be enormous).
Tip one: weigh your ingredients
The first tip in the video is to make sure that you have all of the ingredients weighed out and ready to go before you even think about starting to mix. I don’t tend to do this when I’m baking, but this time I was going to obey Delia to the letter. Everything was measured, my butter was melted, my muffin tin lined. Ready to go.
Tip two: the double sift
Now, it seems as though the key to making a muffin rise is a double sift. Delia sieves the dry ingredients, then mixes the wet ones plus sugar separately and then sieves the dry ingredients for a second time into the wet ingredients. This is different to the Hummingbird method which doesn’t tell you to sieve at all.
I sieved plain flour salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into one bowl and, in another, I mixed caster sugar, egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract and melted butter (the Hummingbird recipe puts the sugar in with the flour at the beginning, and adds the melted butter once the wet and dry ingredients have been mixed).
Tip three: mix quickly
I then sieved the flour mixture again onto the top of the sugar/egg/buttermilk mixture and folded it in really quickly. Delia says that you shouldn’t mix for more than 15 seconds and, taking heart from the lumpy, floury mixture in the video, I too stopped at 15. Here’s what the mixture looked like.
It was very lumpy, and there were its of unincorporated flour dotted all over the place, BUT, if Delia says that this is OK, then it must be. I folded in some mashed banana, put the mixture into my muffin cases, and sprinkled some sugar over the top. I baked them at 150° fan for about 25 minutes.
The double sift and quick folding really worked. Here are the final muffins.
They looked like proper muffins and tasted just as a banana muffin should. None for the birds from this batch. Thank you Delia.