Recently I went on a magnificent solo shopping trip. I bought four tops, after trying on approximately fifteen thousand, I found some incredibly beautiful notecards (stationery makes me happy), and when I got hungry I went to Greggs and bought a chicken pasty and a fat jam doughnut. Because in very specific circumstances, Greggs is as close to culinary nirvana as it gets. I doubt the fashionistas of Reading (are there any?) would’ve sat on a bench and snaffled a doughnut in public, smearing raspberry jam on their jeans and scattering sugar hither and yon, but I did and it was fabulous. A week later, I was still reminiscing. So I made Nigella’s jam doughnut muffins from her Domestic Goddess, and relived the moment.

It’s an easy recipe, probably because it’s from her Children’s Baking section. Nothing odd in the muffin mix – milk, egg, flour, sugar, vanilla, vegetable oil – and it’s a throw-it-all-in-the-mixing-bowl kind of job, which I love. Nigella says to mix the ingredients together until they’ve only just combined: apparently overbeating leads to tough muffins, and the lumps don’t matter. Really? I thought. Because this looks an awful lot like over-cooked porridge.  With the comforting knowledge that the Other Half would eat anything that came with sugar on it, I decided to run with it. Porridge mix into mini muffin cases. Check.

Pre-Porridge...

...Post-Porridge.

You fill the cases about a third full, then spoon some jam into each case, and cover with the remaining mixture. We always have at least two types of jam in the house (what if I’m seized with a desperate urge for jam and digestive biscuits?), so I used a bit of each.

After fifteen minutes in the oven they’re golden on top and steaming deliciously with boiling jam. Then, says Nigella, you take them out of the cases, dip them in melted butter and roll in granulated sugar. Well, two things here. First, when you take muffins out of the oven, they tend to be hot. I had to roll up some kitchen towel and fashion some mini-muffin-sized oven gloves. Second, dipping this flaming little boulder into a pan of butter without dropping it and splashing grease everywhere is nigh-impossible. Use a pastry brush instead, and save your fingers.

Once these stresses are over, oh, how beautiful these little things are. The sugary, buttery, jamminess of them is a delight. The muffin mix itself is fairly generic and not terribly tasty, I thought, but the main draw here is the filling and topping, so you don’t really notice.

For my first batch I was a little too enthusiastic and over-filled the cases, which made for a higher muffin-to-jam ratio than I wanted. I went more cautiously in the second batch and made them smaller, and the jam portions larger. It was like baked jam in a sugary muffin shell. And I was back outside Greggs all over again. Ah, sweet memories.

Deliciousness: Yummy. They’re much better warm, but can still be eaten cold without too much damage. We didn’t try reheating them (they didn’t last long enough) but they’d probably be fine.

Complexity: Minimal. Yes, the mixture is supposed to be that lumpy after all! Who knew?!

Washing-up pile: Seven items. And twenty-four mini muffin cases. Which is quite a lot, isn’t it?

Casualties: Grease burns aplenty. Please use a pastry brush.

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