There is a reasonably famous New Zealand journalist who takes himself extremely seriously, yet every time I see him on TV I want to laugh. You see, although he is all sharp suits and pancake makeup now, I remember when he was at journalism school with a bad mullet hairdo and a collection of dreadful acrylic jerseys that could have belonged to David Bain. I used to see this guy three times a week, not because I was at journalism school but because I’d stupidly got myself a job delivering muffins there and he was one of my best customers.
Three mornings a week, before I ran up the hill to sit through French grammar classes, I donned my ‘Muffinstuff – We Deliver’ t-shirt and trudged around the central city delivering muffins made by a pair of madwomen who paid me barely anything AND made me pay for any muffins that broke on the way.
While I walked I spent a lot of the time imagining the things I could say to the horrible office workers on my route instead of just smiling sweetly and encouraging them to spend up. It was a huge relief when I got a job washing dishes somewhere else instead, not least because I had become two-thirds muffin top by the end of it. And now, well, Mullet Man is on billboards and here I am, making muffins. But at least I don’t have to deliver them.
Secret pumpkin muffins
Most baking recipes involving pumpkin or carrot or zucchini often make gleeful reference to how you can fool your children/spouse/co-workers into eating these dreaded vegetables. This time I’ve turned that around completely by hiding something else inside a light, tender pumpkin batter.
300g peeled, seeded pumpkin (about 450g, with the skin on and seeds in)
125g unsalted butter
4 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp golden syrup
220g white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100ml plain yoghurt
12 squares of good quality dark chocolate (I use Whittakers Dark Ghana)
Heat oven to 175C and grease a 12-hole muffin pan.
Prepare the pumpkin first – cut it into chunks and put it in a small pot. Cover with water and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until soft – around 10 minutes – then drain well and mash to a smooth puree. Add the butter to the pot. The heat from the pumpkin will make it begin to melt, which is exactly what you want.
When the butter is melted, add the sugar and golden syrup. Stir well, then set the mixture aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices into a large bowl. Add the egg and yoghurt to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine, then pour into the dry ingredients. Fold together until just combined.
Put a generous spoonful of this batter into each of the prepared muffin cups, then put a square of chocolate on top. Top with the remaining mixture.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the muffins are risen and springy. Leave in the tin for five minutes, then gently turn out onto a rack to cool. Be careful if you bite into one straight out of the oven – the chocolate middle will be very hot.
Have a great weekend, everyone x