When I was raking through the fridge for forgotten and unloved veggies to go into our diet day minestrone, I came across a few courgettes that were looking well past their sell-by date. One went into the soup, but that left two more, so I was trying to think of something slightly different to make with them. (I’m sure you must all think that dinner at our place entirely revolves around using up tired fruit and veg, and that you’re all hoping to goodness you never get invited. Not true, honest Guv, but I just hate throwing things away.)
I’ve been baking courgette cakes since God was a lad, but it occurred to me that I’ve never tried them in muffin form (everything is good in muffin form). The courgettes are quite bland, obviously, so they need a few bright flavours to perk them up. They do have a very good plus point though – the extra bulk and moisture they provide means you can cut down on the amount of oil.
So, I adapted my usual ‘throw everything into a bowl and stir’ muffin recipe to suit the addition of courgettes. I reduced the oil by more than half, which has to be a good thing. (And surely this must count as one of our five a day with all those courgettes?? OK, maybe not.) I added the zest and juice of a big fat lemon, plus a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger, and a handful each of sultanas and chopped hazelnuts for added texture and crunch. Result? Absolutely yummy, even though I say so myself… In fact, I think one of these would be perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.
Courgette (zucchini), ginger and lemon muffins
Makes 17 – 18 muffins
You will need a muffin pan (or two), lined with paper muffin liners (if you only have one tin, just cook them in batches)
275g courgettes* (see hint below)
80ml plain yoghurt
2 small to medium eggs
Zest and juice of one large juicy lemon
150g self-raising flour
150g wholemeal flour
Half a teaspoon baking powder
140g brown sugar (I used Demerara)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
A couple of handfuls of sultanas or raisins
About 25g of chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts, but pistachios or walnuts would also be perfect)
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Grate the courgettes – I used the finer side of a normal box grater, as I couldn’t be bothered to wash up the food processor. (If you have picky eaters, by all means grate the courgettes, then mix everything in a food processor, then the courgettes would disappear from view. In that case, add the sultanas and nuts after you’ve whizzed everything else, or they will also disappear.)
Measure the oil, milk and yoghurt in a measuring jug, then add the eggs. Give it all a good whisk, then add the finely grated zest and the juice of the lemon. Give it another stir until it’s well mixed.
Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and ginger into a large mixing bowl, give it a stir around, then make a well in the middle.
Pour in the jug of wet ingredients and stir with a spatula or metal spoon until there are no more floury lumps. Add the grated courgettes and the sultanas, and mix again.
Finally, stir in the chopped nuts.
Divide the muffin batter between the prepared muffin cups – a spring-action ice cream scoop is excellent for this job. The batter is quite runny, so don’t worry if it looks a bit sloppy – it does also take a little longer to cook than most muffins, as the mix is quite wet.
Sprinkle with brown sugar (you will see from the photo that I had to use white, as I used the last of the brown in the mix – story of my life as a hopeless shopper).
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes – mine took the full 30 and I think my oven is slightly hotter than it’s meant to be. If in doubt, give them another five minutes. They should be nicely golden brown on the top and feel firm if you press them in the middle.
*Just for the avoidance of doubt, there is no need to wring the water out of the courgettes or salt them or anything complicated – just throw them in as they are.