Fig & white chocolate oatmeal muffins

IMG_2303.jpgWe’ve been on another Grecian adventure – we just can’t keep away. When we went on our little jaunt to Kastellorizo back in June, we promised our friends that we would go again while they are here in Kaş this autumn. We just had time to squeeze in our trip before the daily ferry service finishes at the end of this week. Thankfully, the little spat between the Greek and Turkish harbour authorities seems to have been resolved and it is business as usual.

Our lovely home-from-home billet was the Megisti Hotel – definitely the best view on the island, picture-perfect sun terrace overhanging the sea, and the most obliging of staff.

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Who could ever get tired of this view?

We arrived home in glorious sunshine, finding it difficult to believe that the weather forecast was suggesting the end of our fabulous run of good weather. Accuweather said we would have ‘spotted showers’. To be fair, Accuweather often says this, but in the 14 years we’ve lived here, I’ve yet to encounter what any normal person would describe as a rain shower. Deluge, yes. Monsoon-like downpour, yes. Cloudburst, yes. Cats & dogs, water spouts, terrifyingly loud thunder claps, roads and footpaths turned into rivers – yes, yes, yes and yes. Shower? Errrr, no, not seen one of those.

The clouds closed in and Kastellorizo – less than 2km offshore – ominously disappeared from view, closely followed by the Kaş Peninsula, which is across the inlet from our village. We’d barely closed the shutters and pulled the plug from the router before mayhem began. Within minutes, we had soaking-wet cats arriving through doors and windows on all levels of the house – even they had been taken by surprise (they have an uncanny knack of being installed on the sofa with the full complement of remote controls lined up next to them before the first spot of rain descends). Our poor neighbours had a flood in their house, caused by the local council recently filling in the ditch that runs along the side of the road, to widen the road a little while our village is a diversion from roadworks on the coast road. It was inevitable that when the first downpour came, the water would have nowhere to go except down the footpath and in through their front door. I am afraid that Turkey is not known – and probably never will be – for its forward-planning talents.

No beach for us then. Instead, a flurry of much-needed kitchen cupboard cleaning, a new batch of granola and some muffins to use up the last of the figs I found in the market (any excuse).

I’ve based this on my usual muffin recipe, but I substituted oatmeal for some of the flour, to give the muffins a more chunky and chewy texture. Even if you are not a white chocolate lover, do not be put off by its presence here – in the oven it turns into the most deliciously gooey caramel chunks, which complement the fruit perfectly. I made these muffins last week with raspberries and blueberries in place of the figs, and they were pronounced a triumph by those that ate them – in fact, I’d like to place on record that I only managed to sample one of them before they all disappeared.

We can’t buy oatmeal here, so I simply put some normal porridge oats into the food processor and whizzed them until they had the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Of course you can omit the oatmeal and replace it with the equivalent weight of flour – the muffins will be just as delicious but won’t have quite the same satisfyingly chunky texture.

I am trying to make these during multiple power outages, which is more than a little annoying – let’s just hope the electricity stays on for long enough to bake them. I am sure the people from the electricity board have no idea of the potential consequences of separating a girl from her muffins – I may have to go and find them and give them a smart thwack with my spatula if they don’t stop switching the blessed thing off. Perhaps I should offer to share, then they might see their way clear to keeping the power on for the next half an hour…

Do check these after 20 minutes and turn the tray around if necessary – I failed to do so and some of mine caught on the top. They will take between 25 and 30 minutes in total, but I also leave mine to cool in the tin, so that they carry on cooking for a minute or two more once they are out of the oven.

Fig & white chocolate oatmeal muffins

Makes 12

You will need a muffin pan, lined with muffin papers

225g self raising flour
75g oatmeal (or porridge oats pulverised in the food processor)
150g brown sugar (I used Demerara) plus a little extra for sprinkling
100ml milk
100ml yoghurt (or replace the yoghurt and milk with 200ml buttermilk)
125ml vegetable oil
1 egg
4 figs* (mine were slightly larger than golf balls – green or black are fine)
80g bar white chocolate
A handful of walnuts, chopped (optional, but they do add a nice crunch)

*if you can’t get figs, substitute raspberries and/or blueberries – frozen is absolutely fine


Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

In a large bowl combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and walnuts (if using).

Measure the milk, yoghurt (or buttermilk) and oil in a measuring jug, add the egg and whisk until smooth – the mix may curdle a little, but that’s completely normal.

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces, roughly the size of large gravel.

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Cut one of the figs (and you may have to use part of one more) into 12 segments for decorating the tops of the muffins. Chop the remaining figs into small dice.

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Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk/yoghurt mixture. Stir briefly with a spatula or table knife until the ingredients are just combined – I find I make less mess with a table knife. (It doesn’t matter if there are a few lumps – over-mixing will give you tough muffins). The mixture should resemble very thick porridge.

Add most of the white chocolate (saving a little for the top) and the diced figs, and stir again.

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Use a spring-action ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture into the muffin pans. Place a slice of fig and a couple of bits of white chocolate on top of each muffin and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.

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Bake for 20 minutes, open the oven door carefully and turn the tray around. Bake for a further five to ten minutes, until the tops are a deep golden brown and the muffins are just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

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