Muffin madness and the Kindness of Strangers…

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As most of you know I like a good challenge! Whether this is a good thing or not I’m not always sure but once it is set in my head there is no turning back…

Java coffee house is the Nairobi equivalent of Starbucks, personally I find the coffee a bit bitter and I’m not overly impressed with the baked goods but it is the most popular place in town. The baked products are all made in a factory in Nairobi (180 km away) they taste processed and not fresh, but unusually for Nakuru the service is good, the cafe/restaurant is well finished and clean and has the feel of a decent coffee chain in the UK. Java opened in Nakuru in early February this year, the first of its kind and we’ve been watching its popularity with interest as we work on Jamii bakery. There is clearly a market for good service!

A very close friend said his favourite thing in Java was the muffins, I tried one at the weekend (market research!), it was a Wholemeal and Saltana muffin. It wasn’t bad but not something that would bring me back for more. The gauntlet had been laid down and I decided to experiment with a variety of flavours for the next bake challenge.

Lucas and I spent the morning preparing all the grated carrot, butternut squash, orange rind and blitzing the almonds.

I would love you to try them but instead I thought maybe it would be more fun to introduce some blog voting! Which would you choose on a menu?

1. Banana and Sultana. A breakfast wholemeal and oat muffin, made with bananas, sultanas and roasted cashew nuts. This muffin contains minimal dark sugar, small amount of vegetable oil and is spiced with cinnamon and vanilla extract.

2. Mango and Cardamon. A breakfast muffin of wholemeal and oats with fresh cubes of mango and roasted cashew nuts inside, spiced with cardamom and finished with dried mango on top.

3. Lemon and Lavender. A day time muffin made with butternut squash and honey (no added fat). Also has some ground almonds in and a mix of wholemeal and white flour, very light.

4.Carrot and Orange. A daytime or evening muffin made with roasted cashews, sultanas soaked in orange juice and  muscovado dark sugar. This muffin is made with no added fat but has some ground almonds and the sugar content is higher than the others above.

Once the voting is in we will let you know which we took to the field and then I can make the winner for another bake soon.

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It’s midday and we are making good progress. We are working in an area called Gilgil in a local village church. The pastor’s wife invites all the team to her home (just next to the church) for tea and bread. We take in in two shifts to enjoy the generous hospitality. We squeeze together on a sofa and armchair as she washes our hands with hot water from a jug and squeezes soap on to our wet hands. She then offers us each tea, coffee and bread.  Madeleine was on a muffin making fest last night, sometimes she gets an idea in her head and despite exhaustion she has to see it through. Some would call it stubbornness  we prefer to call it “strong-mindedness”. As a consequence, we have plenty for the team to enjoy today so we offer one the pastor’s wife. She is overjoyed that her visitors have brought her something. She takes one bite then runs outside shouting. At first I’m not sure if I’ve just poisoned her or somehow offended her. She calls for the pastor to come immediately. He arrives and is force fed a bite of the muffin. It transpired that she enjoyed it so much she wanted her husband to try it. Photos were taken with a promise to email them to a distant relative who has a computer with an email address and we went back to work with a full stomach and smile on our faces.

The Pastor and his wife’s family home taken from the church next door

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We enjoy hot milky tea and bread in their home

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Madeleine’s muffins reach new parts of Kenya….

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Recipes:

Breakfast muffins – Banana and Sultana:

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

100g wholemeal flour

200g rolled oat

75g brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 bananas mashed

2 large eggs, separated

3 tbsp sunflower oil

250ml milk

125g saltanas

Half tsp vanilla extract

 

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the plain flour, wholemeal flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the mashed bananas, egg yolks, milk and sunflower oil. Mix together gently with a wooden spoon until a wet batter forms but do not overmix.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  4. Gently fold the egg whites into the muffin batter along with the sultanas until everything is mixed through evenly.
  5. Divide the muffin mixture between 12 individual muffin cases and place in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Breakfast muffins – Mango and Cardamom:

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

100g wholemeal flour

200g rolled oat

75g brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1tsp cardamon

1 tsp salt

one large mango cut into 1cm cubes or slightly smaller

3 large eggs, separated

3 tbsp sunflower oil

250ml milk

80g roasted cashew nuts

Half tsp vanilla extract

Method:

As the banana an sultana muffins.

 

Lemon and Lavender muffins:

Ingredients:

200g grated butternut squash

120g clear honey

2 medium free range eggs

Finely grated zest of one lemon

60g of plin and wholemeal flour mixed

60g ground almonds

2tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼-1/2 tsp of lavender oil

50g roasted almonds

Top with fresh lavender and chopped almonds

 

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Whisk the eggs and the honey together until at least doubles in volume and light coloured.

2. Beat in the grated butternut squash, lemon rind, then beat in the remaining ingredients leaving the almonds until last, stir these in.

3. Divide into 9 muffin cases and bake for 20-25mins.

4. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire tray, these are best eaten when cool as the texture of the muffin holds better.

 

Carrot and Orange muffins:

Ingredients:

One orange

150g sultanas

80g roasted cashew nuts chopped

3 medium free range eggs

160g muscovado sugar

280g scrubbed and finely grated carrot

75g rice flour

75g wholemeal flour

80g ground almonds

2tsp cinnamon

2tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

Top with chopped cashew nuts

 

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Grated the orange and squeeze the juice, then gently heat.  Remove from the heat and soak the sultanas or raisins in the range juice and out to one side.

2. Whisk the sugar and the eggs together until tripled in volume and light coloured.

3. Beat in the grated carrot and orange rind.  Then beat in the dry ingredients followed by stirring in the raisins and juice, cashew nuts and vanilla extract.

4. Divide into 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin and bake for 20-25mins.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

 

2 thoughts on “Muffin madness and the Kindness of Strangers…

  1. Just loving all the blogs. Couldn’t resist trying the Mango and Cardamom muffins a go, they were a hit both at home and a work, have also passed the recipes to a friend. You guys are are an amazing inspiration keep up the good work and of course the recipes!

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