Tahini Blueberry Muffins

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I know the words tahini and blueberry make this sound pretty much holy, but the taste of these muffins are as lascivious as muffins can get. Not that muffins are meant to be lascivious or anything– they’re always taken as the granny-pants-boring stuff; the complete opposite. I abhor incorrect grammar and the use of words like lascivious in inappropriate contexts, but the fluff on this thing, flavours and textures made me think of that very word, so that they shall be. These muffins are so good, so simple, so delicious (and sexy).

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I think spontaneous, successful experiments call for celebration. It almost feels like a good replacement for the lack of dirty hands-on lab practicals the past week, though I’m eternally grateful for that one incredibly eye-opening introduction to anatomy dissections. As I peered under each vertebrate (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and coccygeal), fiddled with the moist muscle (sorry for the unappealing alliteration right there) and poked and prodded at the nerves and meningeal layers, I witnessed the magic that is the human form. I crave more of it now. There’s something grossly satisfying in touching something which you know is all you, and at the same time, everyone else. It’s universal, it’s each of us, it’s everyone.

The hands-on itch was a bit delayed– got home and had the blinding urge to experiment and yield results. Delicious results And seeing that I was visiting my fellow foodies Emily and Ella that night (!!), to make something not akin to your typical baked product felt quite appropriate. With lots of tahini and blueberries on hand, these babes were born.

I’ve recently been reading up a lot on our attitudes towards food, health and nutrition, and even with all the information and resources around us, am still boggled by the fact that so many of us are tricked into what I call ‘fake healthy’ eating. Different things may work for different people, but ultimately even the whole notion of ‘striving for balance’ proves to be an inherent problem. We all possess different gut flora, different sets of genes, different intolerances– how are we to rely on anything we hear, see and touch? Is the market trustworthy, justifiable? Diet. Oh, that contentious word.

Yes, it’s good to experiment and see what works for you (no meat, no eggs, etc), but I think it’s high time we stop believing everything we hear, and start listening to our bodies. I know, that phrase is so repeated it’s practically proverbial. And yet, it’s the one thing we must always remember. Chowing down on that Special K and sugary yoghurt isn’t a crime, but advertising betrays the truth, and unless your reward circuitry systems are truly messed up, there’s no saving anyone. All that sugar is practically like lifting up your shirt sleeve and injecting cocaine. So as much as I love sugar, sugar and more sugar, I’ve also become keenly aware on what’s right, and what’s just downright harmful (basically excessive consumption).

These muffins aren’t 100% healthy, but I’m ok with that, and you should be, too.

Because it’s a bloody muffin, guys.

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Tahini Blueberry Muffins (makes 6 large muffins, lightly adapted from my nut-butter-stuffed matcha cupcake recipe)

Ingredients

130g (1 cup) plain flour

70g (1/3 cup) white sugar

75g (1/3 cup) packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 eggs

113g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

80ml (1/3 cup) tahini

1 tsp vanilla extract

50g (1/2 cup) fresh blueberries

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 170C (340F) and line a muffin tin with liners, or simply place some cupcake/muffin liners on a baking tray.

In a medium bowl, briefly whisk together the flour, two leavening agents and salt. Dump in your blueberries and lightly toss to coat in flour.

In another large microwave-safe bowl, microwave your butter for 20 seconds until partially melted. Whisk the butter and two sugars in this bowl (quick creaming method) to aerate the mixture slightly, for at least a minute. Add the 2 eggs, vanilla and tahini, and whisk everything together well. Pour the dry mix into the wet mix, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently fold in the dry mix until everything is just combined.

Spoon the batter into 6 muffin liners, and bake in the preheated oven for 25-28 minutes. The muffins are large ones, so they need time to rise and brown. Check them at the 25-minute mark– a wooden skewer inserted right in the middle should come out clean. They should have a medium brown, almost caramelised and slightly domed top. You might even need a whole half hour. The insides will be fluffy and tender.

These muffins are best served the day they’re made, but you can keep them for an extra 1-2 days in an airtight container. Otherwise, freeze any uneaten ones in the freezer and microwave when the mood hits.

Lemon Curd Muffins

If there’s anything I’m a true sucker for, it’s lemon anything. No really. I love chocolate and a lot of other sweet things, but when it comes to citrus-based desserts, my salivary glands go haywire and my head fills with buttercups and sunshine.

Fluffy, white lemon muffins with a lemon curd belly, topped with a lemon curd-sugar coating

What do I like about these muffins? Well. You mix the wet ingredients together, you mix the dry ingredients together, pour one into the other and voila, you have perfect golden muffins in a matter of 15 minutes or less. I mean it’s really not any harder than perusing the morning paper or making a cup of coffee. If you can tie your shoelaces, these are a piece of cake (got that). Wake up, make your coffee, work, take a half-hour break, and maybe during that time you can make these without breaking a sweat. There is just no excuse now.

I had to satisfy the lemon fiend in me a couple of days ago, and did so well with these muffins. I had an incredibly hard time labelling this either a muffin or cupcake, because although this one ticks the boxes for all things which make a muffin, well, a muffin, the insides reminded me more of a cupcake than anything– light as air, pale, tender and not as dense as any muffin you might come across. It’s 80% muffin and 20% cupcake in technique, but 100% cupcake in texture. The crumb is neither robust or rigid, but holds up enough to provide the perfect amount of bite. Add this to the mix of half-molten lemon curd centre and sugar-crusted, sharp-tongued top and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Just for general info, muffins generally:

  • have a domed top (as is evident above)
  • a denser crumb
  • little if any frosting (usually a sugar coating such as this one)
  • require the wet and dry ingredients to be mixed separately before one is added to the other, instead of the typical creaming method utilised in the making of cupcakes.

Therefore, I present to you the cuffin.

Delight is a synonym for that wonderful lemon curd-sugar topping, which once again couldn’t be easier. Delight is also a synonym for the feeling you get when you bite into a soft, white, lemony bit of cake, rounded off with the sharp notes of homemade (or store-bought, that’s good too) lemon curd. Sharp on soft. White and black. It’s meant to be.

Lemon Curd Cupcakes (makes 10-12 cupcakes, adapted from here)

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

200g self-raising flour

100g white castor sugar

pinch salt

1 egg

75ml vegetable oil (canola/sunflower is good here)

zest of one lemon

juice of half a lemon

120ml whole milk

60ml (1/4 cup) lemon curd, homemade or store-bought

For the lemon curd topping:

60ml (1/4 cup) lemon curd

70g white sugar (granulated/castor)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 190C (375F) and grease a cupcake or muffin tin. In a large bowl  whisk together the whole milk, egg, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. In a medium bowl, briefly whisk together the self-raising flour, sugar and salt. Pour the dry into the wet mix and mix everything together until just combined with a wooden spoon. Using a tablespoon, half fill a mould in the tin with some batter, then use 2 teaspoons to put a small dollop of lemon curd in the centre, then fill to the 3/4-mark of the mould or case with more batter. Repeat for the rest of the cupcake moulds. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes (mine took 13 minutes exactly). Check at the 12-minute mark; a wooden skewer inserted into the side (because the centre has lemon curd) of one should emerge clean. They should be nicely domed with a golden top, and no cracking on the surface.

Whilst these are baking, make the topping (YUM). In a small bowl, microwave the lemon curd until warm but not totally liquidy. Put the white sugar in a shallow dish and set these two aside until the cupcakes are done baking. Once they are fully baked, leave to cool for 5 minutes before rolling the tops in the lemon curd, then rolling again in sugar.

Devour, and know that life is good.