Vegan Banana Buckwheat Chocolate Muffins

Vegan, Gluten Free, optional Sugar Free
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Guys, who here likes muffins.

I used to be so on the fence with muffins. I could take them or leave them, usually after eating the muffin top first. I think it’s because most of the muffins I used to eat were from the supermarket, and were a) HUGE so it was almost impossible to ever finish one without feeling obese and ill, and b) dry and super sweet and kind of…”clammy”. They also contained interesting ingredients like soy beans and monosodium glutamate.

No one wants that kind of muffin experience…no one.

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But everything changed when I had one fateful muffin at Bourke Street Bakery. It was full of raspberries and dark chocolate chunks and so good I shed a little tear of joy. I think I ate one of those muffins after soccer every weekend for about a year, not gonna lie.

But sadly my friends, all good things come to an end. When I was given their cookbook as a present one year I realised why those muffins are so delicious! They’re literally little balls of sugary butter held together with some chocolate. Yuuuum. But also not yum when you’re lactose intolerant like me…

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Enter the muffin baking stage of my life. There have been some pretty exciting creations, including banana chai cupcakes with cinnamon cream and the best carrot muffin recipe I’ve ever tried. This weekend though I wanted fudgy chocolate cake and no messing about.

I decided to try a version of this cocoa banana bread with buckwheat flour instead of normal. A lovely reader let me know that she had great success with buckwheat flour, and I did too! I used only half buckwheat, half normal wholemeal but she used fully buckwheat so if you like the taste, give it a go!

Also add chocolate chips. No excuses xxx Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Granola Clusters 

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Banana Buckwheat Chocolate Muffins:
2 cups mashed overripe banana
1 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (or 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water for vegan)
120ml olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

optional: 100g chopped dark chocolate, raspberries or nuts

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Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers.

Blend together the banana, oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry gently with a spatula, until just combined. Stir in any extras.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the muffins bounce back at the touch and are cooked through. Enjoy!

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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Yogurt Icing

Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

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Yesterday my beautiful friend Maddie had her twentieth birthday party. Last year I made her this lemon sponge birthday cake and covered it in sugar flowers and told you all how much I love Maddie, if you want to read that. This year I wanted to make the MOST EPIC CAKE OF ALL TIME.

Maddie loves banoffee pie so I decided to make a four-layer caramel mud cake with banana and cream filling and chocolate ganache covering the entire thing. So I got up early, went and bought all the ingredients, whipped up my cake feeling like a casual Masterchef, and as I was cleaning up I found the pound of sugar sitting on the counter. Not in the cake, like it was supposed to be, just relaxing on my counter.

Uuugh. Life’s struggles. I tried to fix it by covering every single layer in a thick layer of more caramel as well as the chocolate and bananas and cream, and it ended up pretty awesome. But I think it would probably have tasted better with you know, sugar in it.

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Lots of people tell me they’re too scared to bake or try my recipes because they might stuff up or they’re not “good enough.” To them I say, I stuff up all the time. Like literally every time I make something there’s a stage that goes wrong somewhere in there. But it doesn’t matter! Try it anyway, and if you have to go out and buy a jar of Dulce de Leche to smother on your sugar-free cake, that’s ok too.

You can never get any better if you don’t try in the first place. Which brings me to these cupcakes. Ever since I made these apple and cinnamon cream cheese cupcakes, I’ve been wanting to make a gluten free AND vegan version that’s just as good as the original.

I was waay too scared for ages because my memory of them was so perfect, I didn’t want a mediocre cupcake to replace it. But finally thought, geez Lil. Just go make the cupcakes already. With the help of My Darling Lemon Thyme‘s gluten free muffin recipe I finally cracked the apple cinnamon cupcake challenge.

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I’m going to go as far to say that these are better than the original muffins. And they happen to be way better for you too! There’s no eggs, dairy, gluten or refined sugar in them at all and they also happen to be super easy to make.

I’m always worried when I make gluten free cupcakes that the texture will be either super powdery, or gluggy, or dense. These weren’t any of these. My sister ate one not knowing they were gluten free and said they were crumbly but moist (mooooooist), like the perfect cupcake. So there you go, the Cake Kahuna has spoken. You can replace the apple with carrot or pear if you want! You could add chopped almonds or walnuts, sultanas instead of the dates, and you can even leave out the icing.

By the way, I am calling these cupcakes but they are technically muffins…But in my mind once it has icing it is a cupcake, so…yeah. They’re cupcake muffins. Have a great week guys!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Butter Cake

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Apple and Date Cupcakes with Coconut Icing
Recipe inspired from this book
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup fine brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato flour
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, lightly beaten OR 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water for vegan
3 apples, washed and grated
1/2 cup dates, chopped into chunks

1.5 cups (370g) coconut yogurt (or normal yogurt)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar (optional but awesome)
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Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line 10 muffin moulds with muffin cups. Whisk together in a bowl the dry ingredients well. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Gently fold the wet into the dry and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool.

Drain the coconut or normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a teatowel for a few hours, to make Labneh. Mix with the maple syrup and brown sugar and pipe over the cupcakes. Once iced, keep the cupcakes in the fridge.
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Raspberry, Burnt Butter and Coconut Friands (gluten free!)

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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 My favourite scene from Kath and Kim is when Kath and Kel are at a cafe having a cup of tea, and when Kel goes to pay Kath says “no we’re not paying Kel. My friand was dry.” My goodness, such good memories. Kath is right though! There is nothing, NOTHING worse than a dry friand. 

You may be wondering right now what a friand is. Otherwise known as a financier, it is a little French almond cake usually topped with a piece of fruit or two. I wonder if Australia is the only country to call them Friands. I think it might be a national habit to think up funny names for otherwise normal products. Why do we call granola bars muesli bars? I honestly don’t know. So whether you call them friands or financiers, that’s what I made today. But these ones are a little bit special!

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 When I made trifle a few weeks ago I used up twelve egg yolks. That’s a lotta yolks! The egg whites have been patiently staring at me from the freezer ever since, to the point that I can hear their little voices talking to me. “What are you waiting for Lillian? We’re ready to go!” CURSE YOU EGG WHITES. Joking…but seriously sometimes I feel my life is dedicated to thinking of what to do with leftover egg whites. 

Cue friands. Friands use egg whites, and they are made with almonds! So no gluten AND no more egg whites. Well I didn’t quite manage to use up all twelve of them, but I did make them gluten free! I ground up some finely desiccated coconut and replaced the plain flour with that. And it was awesoooome.

They came out tasting so coconutty and soft and just uuugh. Yum. And burnt butter people. Don’t pretend that ship has sailed yet. 

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When I was researching recipes I was surprised by how unhealthy friand recipes are. Like HEAPS of sugar and icing sugar at that! Whenever I see icing sugar I think of when my friend ate a mug of it with a spoon on holidays once because she was craving sugar so much. I decided to just take a risk and replaced the icing sugar with agave nectar and the white sugar with a few tablespoons of raw sugar. 

And guess whaaaat they still tasted amazing. Lil = 1, Icing Sugar = 0. The agave nectar actually kept the friands really moist so there was no worry of them drying out. The edges went deep golden because I left them in the oven a minute or two long and the filling was still super light and lovely. You could replace the raspberries with any berry or even a little piece of fruit if you like. I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz and he mentions peaches, plums or blackberries could be nice. If you try them tell me how they go!

One Year Ago: Rich Dark Chocolate Fudge

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 Raspberry, Coconut and Burnt Butter Friands: Adapted from Ready for Dessert 

110g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

140g (1.5 cups) ground almonds

40g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut

100g (1 cup) raw sugar

4 large egg whites 

70ml (5 tbsp) agave nectar or honey

100g raspberries, enough for a few each

1 tsp almond extract

1 pinch of salt

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Preheat the oven to 200C (390F) and line 12 small or 6 big muffin tins with muffin liners. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Cook slowly stirring only occasionally until the butter starts to darken and smell nice and toasty. Turn it off when you start to see brown, it will continue to cook longer after the heat it off. Allow to cool. 

In a blender, pulse the almond meal, coconut and sugar until very finely ground. Pulse in the agave, egg whites, salt and almond extract. Stir in the butter and spoon into the muffin tins. Top with a couple of raspberries and cook for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are fluffy and golden and the raspberries have sunk down. They last well but taste best on the first day you made them. 

Enjoy!

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Black Tea and Currant Hot Cross Buns

Wholemeal, Low Fat

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 Is it just me or is Easter kind of the coolest holiday ever?!? You’ve got chocolate by the bucket load, all kinds of exciting buns and spiced cakes in bakeries, holidays galore, it’s wild! 

And don’t even get me started on the Easter Show. I don’t know if it’s just Sydney, but every year here there’s a huge fair with a theme park, food markets, baking competitions, wood chopping and largest animal competitions, which are all somehow very connected to the concept of Easter…

I think it’s super fun but all my friends and family think it’s lame (they’re lame!!) so I haven’t gone in years. Sad face 😦 But this year I might just go with the kids I babysit so woohoo get ready for the biggest chicken weighing competition!!! I know I am.

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My family isn’t actually that into Easter. I never even knew about the whole ‘Easter Sunday Lunch’ thing until I went away one year with my friends family. It was amazing! We ate all the traditional meals like pies and lamb roast and simple fish the night before (well I didn’t because I don’t eat meat but I creepily watched them eating it). And on the celebrated morning, we came down to the dining table which had been completely covered in decorative chocolate nests with Belle Fleur chocolate sculptures for each child. Oh my God. I was in heaven.

We set up an Easter Egg hunt for the little kids, hiding the colourful chocolates in tree branches and under piles of autumn leaves. We boiled eggs and decorated them with paint and glitter, then cracked them open and drizzled olive oil and vinegar in the yolks. We walked through the forest and drove in her older brother’s rally car around the paddock behind the house, then watched the sun set over the trees eating chocolate leftovers.

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After that year I realised how good Easter can be. I decided to start making hot cross buns as my own family tradition, even if the first try was a couple of weeks late. Now the heady smell of cloves and cinnamon, and the calming roll of dough and currants is familiar to me. It makes me think of Easter. It makes me think of hot Autumn rain showers and uni holidays, of early sunsets and browning leaves.

It makes me think of the Easter Show, with the turkey pavilion and the poodle parade and hot curly fries with tomato sauce and mustard. It makes me realise that Easter is a pretty great holiday, whether you celebrate it traditionally or not.

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These hot cross buns are the best I’ve made so far. They’re classic of this blog made with wholemeal flour and a good dose of cinnamon, but still rich and soft from butter and lots of dried fruit. I steeped the currants in tea for half an hour before adding them in, and it made the buns taste lovely and complex. You can always skip this step if you don’t like tea, or use a different flavour if you’re feeling adventurous.

I originally got the recipe from Poires au Chocolat, because she is my bible for all English/traditional buns and cake recipes and I trust her yeast expertise with my life! Also, you may have noticed I forgot the crosses. I know, I know! I’m sorry!

For a vegan version, I’m planning on adapting these Coconut Scones, swapping the vanilla for cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and adding in sultanas for that traditional flavour. If you want to give it a try before me, please tell me how it goes!! I hope all of you have a happy Easter 🙂

One Year Ago: Apple and Cinnamon Cupcakes with Honey Icing

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Black Tea and Currant Hot Cross Buns: Adapted/Copied from Poires au Chocolat
50g unsalted butter
225g whole milk (I used light and it worked fine)
300g strong white flour
150g wholemeal flour
7/8g instant yeast
50g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1 egg, cracked and lightly beaten
110g (1 cup) each sultanas and black currants
1 cup of strong black tea

Method: In a saucepan, heat the butter and milk until the butter melts and the milk scalds (this will keep the buns extra soft). Place in the fridge or freezer to cool down, it needs to be room temperature otherwise it will kill the yeast!
Steep the dried fruit with the tea until the fruit is soft, then drain and dry the fruit well with paper cloth.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flours, spices, sugar and dried fruit. Mix in the egg and milk (it has to be room temperature or slightly lower!!) until combined. Mix on medium for 6-7 minutes until the dough is elastic and bouncy. Put into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave for an hour to an hour and a half until doubled in size (I take a photo of it with my phone so I can work this out).

Pour out onto a floured surface and punch down. Cut into 14 pieces and roll into balls. Working quickly, place the balls on a lined baking tray and cover with plastic wrap for 45 minutes until puffy. Preheat oven to 200C (390F) and bake the buns (take off the plastic!) for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden. Drizzle a little honey or marmalade over for a glaze. Enjoy! For a cross, mix flour and water and use the back of a spoon or piping bag to mark a cross on before you bake them. Enjoy!

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Banana and Fig + Carrot and Cinnamon Cupcakes

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 As you can see I made cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. My Mum is having an art exhibition tonight and guess who got asked to make the cakes! Some professional baker called Susan. Well you know what I told Susan? I said shove your fancy tarts up your jumper! She’s my Mum and Imma gonna make her cakes and they’re going to RULE. 

Last time I baked for an art show, things got very *tense* in the kitchen. Namely the cupcakes came out as dry, flat pancakes burnt on to the bottom of the muffin pan. And don’t even get me started on the chocolate icing that split and became a greasy ball of brown slime. That was a very stressful day for me. 

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 So today I thought I’d do a post on good ideas for party catering! Or maybe more of what are not good ideas for party baking, because I have had far more of those and can happily share them with you for future avoidance. 

Ok: the big kahuna of don’t do it in the realm of catering is…don’t try a recipe you’ve never made before!! Obvious you say? Not so obvious to me! Why did you choose five recipes you’d never seen before you may ask? Because I am an idiot. This time I chose trusty old timers from the archives. You may recognise the banana and fig cupcakes from this recipe. Just replace 150g of the pureed banana with pureed fresh figs. 

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 Tip number two: Don’t choose recipes that are really involved and require lots of washing up. For example eton mess cups. Delicious in theory! But so messy you will be throwing blueberries at your dog in frustration. Also the cream will need to be in the fridge until you’re literally ready to serve, so as a handy hint number 3 make sure there is a fridge at the venue beforehand. 

Tip number four: Choose cakes and slices that are naturally moist and longlasting. Little sponge cupcakes are so cute in theory but so dry and crumbly 24 hours later when they’ve been sitting in an air-conditioned room. The little carrot cakes I made today are from this recipe. I think you could take it to the beach for a day in the sun and it would still come home sticky and dense and perfect. 

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 Tip number 5: Choose a few dishes rather than a whole heap. I was originally going to also make a rhubarb and coconut crumble slice and a caramel slice and at one point even fairy cakes! But no one wants to spend the end of the night trying to pack boxes of uneaten cakes and take them home and eat them by yourself. 

Today I made brownies, these two sets of cupcakes, and a friend made berry friands. Something for everyone! Everybody is happy and no one has food poisoning from the cream in the eton mess cups. Perfecto. 

I made the same icing for both cupcakes: 500g (just shy of 1 pound) cream cheese, 225g (1/2 pound) mascarpone, 4 limes zested and juiced, plus 125g (4.5 ounces) icing sugar. Blend it all together and dollop on the cupcakes! Either keep them in the fridge or only ice them half an hour before serving. 

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Fresh Peach and Brown Sugar Muffins

Vegan and Wholemeal 

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Guys I’m back! Did you miss me?!?! Europe was so amazing and I had the best two months of my whole life, but! I was very excited to come back and blog again. Mainly because the last few posts have been horrendous! I squeezed them out just before I went away and they’re so horrendous… why! It makes my eyes burn. 

My new years resolutions (of which I made 25…) included using only manual on my camera and spending more time making my photos pretteh. So that started out today! Ok, so I haven’t mastered manual yet, and the peach muffins I made decided to come out as little butt ugly troll muffins, but they’re waay better than I was expecting for my first attempt.

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I have so many recipes that have been building up in my head to make as soon as I got home, but when I got off the plane yesterday after sitting in front of a screaming baby for ten hours, I just couldn’t do anything except make muffins. I just couldn’t face the world!!

Plus as a welcome home present my step-dad bought me a box of peaches. And they’re all ripe RIGHT NOW! So I whipped out the trusty Moosewood Cookbook and made some wholemeal brown sugar muffins, studded with lots of juicy peach slices. And they turned out so so good. I have a very evolved and scientific method of testing my recipes: I take a small bite, and if I don’t want another huge bite in the next two seconds, the recipe isn’t very good. These guys passed the test. I ate the whole thing in about 4 seconds. 

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I didn’t realise until I went away how big muffins are in Australia! I seriously don’t think I saw any the whole time I was away. I ate scones in Ireland and crepes in France and gelato in Italy, but where were the good old muffins hey? I missed these little guys. 

Starting the new year (my new year starts in February, shh) made me think about what this blog is going to be about more. Last year when I started it I had no clue what kind of things I wanted to make and what kind of photos I could of taken. I think most of the recipes from now on are going to be more centred in my everyday diet. Lots of wholemeal, mainly vegan, healthy and colourful recipes with some celebration things as well. I’m so excited! Happy belated New Year! 

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Vegan Fresh Peach and Brown Sugar Muffins

Update: On repeating this recipe they did not turn out well- word of warning, I no longer trust this recipe
125g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

25g (2 tbsp) brown sugar

1/2 medium banana, mashed

2 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil

120g (1/2 cup) soy or coconut yogurt

310g (2 cups, 2 medium peaches) cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) chunks

Preheat the oven to 170C (350F). Line 6 muffin tins with papers. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the mashed banana, oil and yogurt. Stir together well. Stir through the sliced peaches and spoon into the muffin moulds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and the muffins spring back when pressed. Makes 5-6 but the recipe can easily be doubled!

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Wholemeal Cinnamon and Rhubarb Muffins

optional Vegan and Sugar Free

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 I made a chocolate birthday cake for my friend recently, and I was so impressed with myself. It was a fudge layer cake with chocolate ganache and I decorated the top and everything! With little edible sugar flowers and silver drops spelling out HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I took a photo of it and snapchatted basically every single person I knew, claiming I was Lord of the Cakes and they must bow down to me. 

And then I looked at the photo more closely, and realised I’d written HAPPY BIRTHAY. Birthay. Wow. I really set myself up there. The worst part is, it’s not even the first time I’ve spelt birthday wrong on a cake. Last time I forgot the H! But last time, I was smart, and didn’t send a picture of it bragging to everyone on my contacts list. THE SHAME!

ImageI kind of made these muffins to comfort myself that I can, indeed, create something worthy of photographing and sharing with everyone. I wanted to use the last few sticks of rhubarb leftover in the fridge. They were getting quite sad and floppy in there (that’s what she said hehehehe…) and I kept picturing the delicious pairing of cinnamon and poached rhubarb I have on cereal every morning, but in muffin form. 

I looked up a basic muffin ratio on the internet, pre-sugar and add-ins like buttermilk and fruit, and decided I’d adapt it myself. I was nervous because the recipe didn’t have any sweetness in it or fruit measurements yet, and the batter came out looking clumpy and strange. But they turned out absolutely perfectly. 

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You can see from the photos how perfectly they rose and how crunchy the top layer became. I’ve adjusted the recipe I used slightly to give more rhubarb in the centre and a slightly sweeter batter, because I used almost no sweetener at all. The spices in the batter came out really sweetly and perfumed my house while they were baking. Soo good fresh from the oven. 

I talked about that amazing moment you get when you produce the perfect muffin when I made the Best Banana Muffins, and the Chocolate Fudge Vegan Orange Cupcakes. Well these are my favourite fruit filling muffins. You don’t have to fill it with fruit, you could put nutella, a chocolate ball, anything really. The muffin mix is strong enough to hold anything!

There’s no refined sugar or butter in these muffins, and the addition of wholemeal flour makes them a little healthier than the usual muffin affair. They’re still rich and a little bit naughty though! Perfect for weekend mornings 🙂 

ImageRhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins: 

200g (1.5 cups + 1 tbsp) plain flour

130g (1 cup) wholemeal flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

125g (1/3 cup) runny maple syrup or honey

3 eggs (or flax eggs for vegan)

125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

120ml (1/2 cup) natural or coconut yogurt

450g (1 pound) rhubarb, cut into chunks + 2 tbsp maple syrup

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 Preheat the oven to 165C (330F) and line 10 muffin holes with papers. In a small saucepan, stir the rhubarb and honey together with a splash of water. Cover with a lid and stew until soft for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add in the oil and yogurt. Combine the wet and dry together, add a splash of milk if the batter is too dry. Spoon half the batter in to the muffin cups. Make a depression in the centre and put in a few pieces of rhubarb. Add the other half of batter and press down to cover the rhubarb completely. 

Bake for 25 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Eat them warm! 

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