We’ve been invited to our friend’s 50th birthday party this evening. Handily, it is being held in Çukurbaĝ – the almond farming village where we own a converted farm cottage, which we rent out during the summer.
As Turkey now has a zero-alcohol policy for drivers, we and some friends have elected to stay in the cottage, so that none of us has to be the designated driver. Our house is just a two-minute totter downhill from the party venue, so it seemed daft not to take advantage.
I haven’t promised our friends any hospitality, other than a bed and a shower, but I feel I need to at least make an effort to provide something to go with the strong coffee tomorrow morning, particularly as we’ve planned a short walk afterwards.
The house has been closed up since last year and we’ve just had the bathroom to the main bedroom re-tiled – it seems the tiler disturbed an enormous black scorpion who was evidently quietly over-wintering in there. I saw him about a week ago, but foolishly had bare feet and by the time I’d stopped dithering, he’d disappeared behind the wooden skirting board. Scorpions are not supposed to like cedar, but this one clearly hasn’t read the rules.
Anyway, they are creatures of habit, so I went back a few day later, and sure enough, there he was. He has now been dispatched – I just hope it wasn’t his identical twin and that the original hasn’t climbed into our bed. I think I might take my wellies.
Anyway, enough of our arachnid family, back to the important business of breakfast. I have settled on some chunky breakfast muffins – lots of fruit, nuts, wholemeal flour and oats to keep us going on our walk. No cutlery or early-morning preparation required. The list of ingredients does look long, but you literally chuck the whole lot in the food processor and press go.
This made 18 muffins in my UK-bought muffin pans, but I think American muffin cups are slightly larger. This quantity will still make at least 12.
Chunky fruit and nut breakfast muffins
125g plain flour
125g wholemeal or rye flour
60g porridge oats
1/2 teaspon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
115g brown sugar (I used Demerara – any type is fine)
150g pureed apple or sugar-free apple sauce
150g pureed pumpkin (you can get this canned or cut into cubes and microwave for 5 mins, then mash)
125ml plain yogurt (0r 125ml milk and a squirt of vinegar)
50g molasses, maple syrup or black treacle (I used grape molasses – pekmez – which is what we get here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
70g walnuts, chopped
70g raisins or sultanas
A handful of mixed seeds – I used pumpkin and sunflower
A little extra brown sugar for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 190C and line your muffin tins.
With the exception of the nuts, seeds and sultanas, put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add the nuts and pulse until they are chopped – it only takes a few seconds, you don’t want them too finely chopped. Add the dried fruit and seeds, then pulse for a second or two, just to combine.
If you don’t have a food processor, you will need two large bowls. Put the flours, oats, salt, spices, bicarb and baking powder into one bowl and mix well. Put the rest of the ingredients, apart from the seeds, nuts and fruit, into another bowl or large jug and mix well with a whisk. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, until well-combined. Chop the walnuts and add to the mix, along with the seeds and raisins.
The mixture does look a bit cow-pat like, but keep the faith, the finished article will be absolutely delicious.
Spoon the mix into the muffin cases – I find one of those flicky ice cream scoops by far the best tool for this job, especially when the mix is quite runny, like this one.
Top with a few extra seeds or chopped nuts, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until they are well-risen and the top feels springy to the touch.