I think you could describe the weather around here this week as ‘mixed’, though that would be rather an understatement.
Earlier in the week, we awoke to beautiful sunshine and temperatures nearing the mid 20s in the middle of the day. The almond blossom and wild anemones are in full bloom at the minute, so we headed off for one of our favourite walks near the ancient Lycian city of Hoyran.
I found a very nice chap sitting on a rock with a cup of coffee, basking in the sunshine. Oh yes, that would be Robin again – he can always be depended upon to turn up if there is a bit of sun and a decent walk on offer.
I never fail to be impressed by the almond blossom – it is such a beautiful sight, and this year’s offering seems particularly prolific. The chickens who live in this coop have a very lovely outlook:
On the other hand, a few hours after these photos, the weather started to go a little pear-shaped. I watched the weather forecast somewhat disbelievingly, but those chaps at the BBC weather centre know their stuff. Just a few hours later, we had what can only be described as a deluge of hail and rain, accompanied by violent thunder and lightning. This has now gone on for several days and is becoming more than a little wearing – there is a limit to how many jobs a girl can stay in and do. This is the rather dismal view of the Rhodes ferry coming in to Kastellorizo that I took a few moments ago – it all looks rather more North Sea drizzle than Mediterranean sunshine:
Now for the hummingbird muffins.
Before you get all over-excited, no hummingbirds were in any way injured or distressed in the production of these muffins. Hummingbird cake is a delicious treat that originated in Jamaica back in the 1960s. It is a bit like a carrot cake, but gets its name from the sweet bananas and pineapple that set it apart from its carrot cake cousins. Apparently, the Jamaicans used to say that it was so sweet it would attract hummingbirds.
Now that is all very well, but in these days of over-indulgence, overly sweet cakes are not what we are looking for. However, because of the bananas and the pineapple, it is not necessary to add a great deal of extra sugar. I wouldn’t dream of claiming that these are healthy to eat, but they are certainly better for you than an awful lot of the confectionary you’d find in your average supermarket.
As I am going away to England for a few days at the weekend, I thought I’d leave a few muffins in the freezer for Robin, in case of emergencies, or if it ever decides to stop raining and he’s tempted to go out for a walk. Muffins are perfect for freezing, as they thaw in no time and you can just take them out as and when you want to eat them. I have adapted my usual carrot and banana muffin recipe to give you the full-on hummingbird experience. If you don’t have rye or wholemeal flour, by all means use all white – the texture will be a little less chunky. (If you are using all self-raising, leave out the baking powder).
If I were baking these to eat today, I would probably go the whole hog and cover them with cream cheese frosting, but as they are going in the freezer, I am just going to drizzle them with water icing, flavoured with a little vanilla. Lime or lemon zest and juice would also be a good option if you are going to water ice them, though that would involve going outside in the deluge to pick something, so I am sticking with vanilla. As you will see from the photo, my icing technique needs work…
Mine made 18 muffins, but it rather depends on the size of your muffin cups – I think the British ones are slightly smaller than their American friends.
Makes 12 – 18, depending on the size of your muffin cups
You will need 1 – 2 muffin tins, lined with muffin papers
2 medium carrots (no need to peel)
2 bananas, broken into pieces
60g brown sugar
60ml vegetable oil
60g oats (any sort will do)
60g wholemeal or rye flour
120g self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
A teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (or 1 tablespoon mixed spice)
Two x 1cm slices pineapple (fresh or canned), cored if using fresh, and chopped
A couple of handfuls of sultanas and/or chopped walnuts
Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Cut the carrot into chunks and whizz in a food processor until you have tiny pieces. Add the bananas and then whizz again. (If you don’t have a processor, grate the carrots and mash the bananas, then just mix everything together in a large mixing bowl).
Add the sugar, milk, yoghurt, egg and oil (ignore the fact there are two eggs in the photo – I couldn’t decide, then my mixture ended up slightly too wet – hence you will see from the end photo that one or two of them cracked open).
Mix again until you have a sloppy mix – you will still see bits of carrot in the mix, this is a good thing.
Add the oats, flours, spices, pineapple and baking powder and process again for a few seconds – you will still be able to see little pieces of oatmeal and pineapple, this will give the muffins a nice chunky texture.
Finally, add the sultanas and nuts if using and pulse very briefly just to mix them in – you don’t want to shred the sultanas.
Spoon into the prepared muffin cases – a spring-action ice cream scoop makes this job less messy – then scatter the tops of the muffins with brown sugar (I used Demerara).
Bake for 30 minutes (check after 25) until golden brown and well risen. Decorate with your chosen frosting* or leave them plain.
*For water icing: mix 4 tablespoons icing sugar with a few spots of water or lemon juice, plus the grated zest if you wish. If using water, you can add vanilla or almond extract for flavouring. The icing is the right consistency when it will just drizzle slowly off a spoon.