Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Madrigal Muffins

Recently I made muffins again, for the first time in years. I used to make them often and had the recipe memorized, but I've been exploring other baking options recently and muffins got undeservedly shoved to the bottom of the list.

I call these madrigal muffins because I always served them at the end of rehearsal when the madrigal group I sang in practised at my house. Recently I served them to colleagues and several people asked for the recipe.

I copied the original version of this recipe from a handwritten piece of paper I found on a friend's kitchen counter about 25 years ago. It was for Rhubarb-Orange Muffins and had been left behind by her housekeeper.

Since then, I've tweaked the proportions,  made it with lots of different fruit and vegetables, and used different types of liquids. It's a very flexible recipe, but this adaptation is the standard.

It yields a wholesome, robust muffin that is not too sweet, and bears no relation to the mini-cakes and cupcakes that are too often sold as muffins. Serve it for breakfast or a snack with afternoon tea. Mmmm.

Madrigal Muffins

Yield: 12 -14 large, or 24-28 mini muffins

1 cup140 gwhite flour
1 cup140 gwhole-wheat flour
3/4 cup160 gsugar
1 1/2 teaspoonsbaking powder
1/2 teaspoonbaking soda
1/2 teaspoonsalt
1 cupcranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cuppecans, chopped
3/4 cup180 mlorange juice
1/4 cup  60 mlvegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoonlemon zest, grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cranberries, and walnuts.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix the orange juice, oil, egg, and orange peel.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir quickly, mixing only enough to moisten all the dry ingredients. (If you overmix, the muffins will not rise properly and become quite tough.)
  5. Spoon into a greased muffin tin (or one lined with muffin papers) and bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the muffins. They are done when they are golden brown and spring back to the touch.


  • Replace the cranberries with chopped rhubarb or blueberries.
  • Replace the pecans with walnuts 
  • For extra tenderness, add 1/4 cup yoghurt or buttermilk.
  • Replace the cranberries with grated courgette, or other summer squash, and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves or allspice.
  • For a vegan version, omit the egg or replace it with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed soaked in 2 tablespoons of water.

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