Thursday, 23 April 2009

Easter! Simnel Muffins and Brownies

Dieting over Easter is tricky. So instead of baking a large simnel cake as I have done in previous years, I made a few simnel muffins to share around my family. I've got several books with recipes for simnel muffins/cupcakes but I settled on the recipe from the Crabapple Cupcake Cookbook and tweaked it slightly to suit my own tastes, mostly removing about 100g of the dried mixed fruit and replacing it with glace cherries ad secondly using marzipan and sugarflowers to decorate the top instead of icing and a chocolate mini egg as I loathe the combination of dried fruit with chocolate. Ergh. These muffins were wonderfully moist, no doubt due a ball of marzipan in the centre of each cake. Just a note on the recipe, it says it makes 11 but I managed to get 12 very generous muffins out of this with plenty of batter left in the bowl to eat raw. It's important to point out that this is no bad thing.

Makes 11 cakes.

100g shop bought marzipan, plus extra for decorating (I used M&S's as its all natural etc)
1.5 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
pinch of salt
200g softened butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
3 eggs
425g mixed fruit (or in my case 325g mixed fruit plus 100g glace cherries, syrup rinsed off)
2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with 11(or 12) papercases.

Roll the marzipan into 11 small balls a set aside.
Sift together the flour baking powder, mixed spice and salt.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring each is well mixed in before adding the next, but do not overmix.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat on a low speed until just combined the add the fruit and the milk.
Put a tablespoon of the mixture into each of the muffin cases and then place a marzipan ball in the centre and then add enough of the mixture to cover the marzipan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes (although some of mine needed about 35/40 minutes). Leave to cool before decorating.

To decorate:
The marzipan I used was sticky enough to adhere to the top of the muffins without any aid, but you may need to use apricot jam if this isn't the case. Roll the marzipan out to thickness of the £1 coin and use a scone cutter to cut out. Place on top of the cooled muffins. To ensure the sugar flowers stayed in place I used a little bit of liquid icing, such as writing icing. Just dot a little on the top and press the sugar flower on. Mine turned out like this:

And for those in my family who don't like simnel cakes, I made chocolate brownies. I shan't reproduce the recipe as everyone has a recipe for chocolate brownies, indeed, I have at least 15, but the standard one I use is a recipe I clipped out of a copy of Olive. Its meant to have nuts in it, but just as dried fruit is a ruination of chocolate, so is the inclusion of crunchy nuts in the middle of smooth, gooey chocolate brownie. Such pleasure should not be interrupted by a lowly nut. There's plenty of that nonsense already.

I did cut this into squares and pressed solid mini chocolate eggs into each one but I failed to capture the beauty of them before they were all gone. Always a good sign.

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