Tamara Novacoviç has a strangely ambivalent relationship to muffins, agrees to make her friends these delicious Chocolate Orange ones anyway.
By Tamara Novacoviç
According to the Internet, the name „muffin“ either comes from the French word „moufflet“, meaning a soft bread, or from the German word „muffe“ which is the name for a type of cake. There are two types of muffins: English and American. American-style muffins are made not from a yeast dough like the English Muffin, but rather they use baking powder or baking soda. They are a cross between a bread and a cake. American-style muffins can be further divided into two types: bread-like and cake-like. Each type has its own technique for mixing the batter. Less sugar and butter makes a bread-like muffin. A higher sugar and butter content makes a cake-like muffin.
Ten years ago, you couldn’t see muffins in Croatian bakeries and shop-windows of patisseries. Then, suddenly, people started selling these mini-breads. I remember being extremely sceptical at first and thinking to myself: “What is the deal with these muffins?” They are just simple, plain sponge cakes, breads in mini forms. Then, one day, returning home from the usual busy student day at my University (after a difficult exam) I was literally falling off of my feet (hadn’t slept the night before the exam, as usual) and was beyond hungry. I stopped at the bakery nearby and bought myself… a muffin. It was so good. Plain blueberry muffin. It revived me. I don’t believe the muffin itself was anything god-given and special, it just found itself in the right place at the perfect time. Soon, every bakery enlisted muffins on their menu. Then came cupcakes. Upgraded muffins, decorated with cream and lots of fun edible stuff.
A few years ago, I bought myself a muffin pan and started making them at home. At first I was so eager to produce the perfect homemade version , but it never tasted quite like the store-bought ones. Then I consulted my long-term friend the Internet and learned a few tricks. Sift the flour with baking powder/soda before adding it to the wet ingredients. Also, don’t overmix the batter, it will make muffins heavier (more compact texture) and we want (I most definitely do) them to be as light as possible. Don’t worry about lumps, it’s good to have them and they will disappear as muffins bake. Also, be careful not to overbake them (of course) and not to overfill the muffin cups.
In the past year, my muffin-enthusiasm plumped. I found myself not so crazy about muffins anymore. Cupcakes are more fun. But the other day I was asked to make chocolate muffins. My friends, who are well aware that 80 % of my cake baking consists of making fruit, creamy cakes, came to a conclusion that I should make something chocolate, and that it should be muffin-like. So I made muffins. Chocolate orange muffins.
Conclusion: these muffins are really quick and easy, perfect for casual parties and gatherings. Orange pieces make the batter moist even the next day. And it is really great because I’m personally terrified of dry cakes.I must say I still frowardly believe that muffins are nothing special, just cute small breads. However, if you like this kind of cakes, I believe you will love this recipe.
- 1/2 cup ( 115 g) butter
- 3 oz (75 g) chocolate
- 5/8 cup (120 g) brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 1/2 cups (275 g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 orange
1. Melt butter with chopped chocolate on low heat.
2. Grease (or line with paper wraps) muffin cups.
3. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 Celsius).
4. Combine flour with baking soda and sift. In a separate bowl, mix one egg with buttermilk, brown sugar and vanilla essence. Add melted chocolate and butter and zest of one orange. Add sifted flour with baking soda. Peal orange and chop into little pieces, add to the batter. Don’t overmix it. Lumps of flour are perfectly fine.
5. Pour the batter into muffin cups and bake in the center of your oven for 25 min.
Tamara Novakovic is a passionate self-taught cook, food blogger, freelance food writer and photographer behind bite-my-cake.blogspot.com. Her life journey has led her through Faculty of Humanities in Zagreb, Croatia to discovering passion for making cakes. She is currently a weekly food columnist for Croatian newspaper V magazine and food magazine Repete.