We seem to be making a habit of going to St Mawes – one of Cornwall’s prettiest towns – at the moment. It must be the lure of the £13.95 crab sandwiches in the pub there – or possibly not! Thinking they must be the most expensive crab sandwiches on the planet, that illusion was quickly dashed by our friend Jean spotting that the ones on the terrace at the Hotel Tresanton just pipped them at the post at £14. At least at the Hotel Tresanton, there are lovely waiters who bring you things, you get an amazing view and you might very well end up rubbing shoulders with the great and the good, as opposed to fighting off your fellow tourists in the yard at The Rising Sun. There is also homemade ice cream… Perhaps I will persuade Robin to save up and take me there for lunch for my birthday next June.
Last week, we went via the 45-minute scenic route down the Fal River on the new(ish) ferry service from Trelissick House – our favourite National Trust property around these parts, and got thoroughly sunburned for our efforts.
This week, with my niece and her friend on board, we dropped in on St Mawes on our way back from Poldark-spotting in Charlestown, so that we could share with them the thoroughly exciting experience that is the King Harry Ferry. Hurrah.
The ferry, which runs from Philliegh to Feock, has been operating since 1888, with the current model, imaginatively named ‘No 7’, running since 2006. The King Harry has been a firm favourite of mine since I first rode it with my parents in 1977, though that must have been a predecessor to No 7. I also have a photograph taken in the late 1980s, where it was very possible that my shoulder pads – and definitely my hair – were actually bigger than the ferry. The ferry runs on chains and holds 34 cars, whose drivers would otherwise have to make a circuitous 40-minute trip via Truro to circumnavigate The Fal.
Anyway, none of that has anything to do with banana muffins – I just thought I would share some of Cornwall’s lovely quirky things with you.
I baked banana muffins because, as ever, we had black bananas in the fruit bowl (are there any other sort?). While we have guests coming and going, I thought they would make ideal emergency fodder for missed breakfasts, afternoon pick-me-ups or portable picnic food. To make them a little more sustaining, I replaced some of the flour with porridge oats, and added some mixed dried fruit and nuts. You can use any oatmeal – I just whizzed some ordinary rolled oats in the food processor for a few seconds so that they were reduced to flakes. You can add the oats whole if you prefer – they give a lovely chewy texture. If you don’t want to add fruit and nuts, chocolate chunks would be good, or you could just leave them plain.
The recipe is supposed to make 12, but I ended up with 13, so I put a muffin liner in a ramekin for the last one.
Banana oatmeal muffins
You will need a 12-cup muffin tin, lined with muffin papers.
3 bananas, of which at least two need to be very ripe
140g brown sugar
100ml plain yoghurt
125ml vegetable oil
100g rolled oats (left whole or whizzed into flakes) or oatmeal
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (or other spice of your choice)
150g sultanas, raisins or mixed dried fruit
50g walnuts, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the two very ripe bananas with a fork and stir in the brown sugar and the egg.
Pour the milk into a measuring jug, then add the yoghurt and vegetable oil and beat until combined. Pour the milk mixture into the bananas and sugar and whisk thoroughly (don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled at this stage – it usually does).
Using a rubber spatula or metal spoon, fold in the flour, oats, baking powder and nutmeg, then stir until just combined and there are no floury lumps – don’t over-mix or your muffins may be tough. Stir in the dried fruit and nuts.
Using a spring-action ice cream scoop if you have one (or just use two spoons if you don’t), divide the mixture between the lined muffin cups. Slice the final banana into 12 and lightly push a slice onto the top of each muffin. Sprinkle with a little more brown sugar.
Bake for around 30 minutes, until the muffins are a deep golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.