It’s all wet and blustery in Brisbane today. A couple of tropical cyclones have brought plenty of rain and some very gusty winds to this normally sunny city. In the past there would have been a worrying (exciting if you were a kid) cyclone warning on the TV, telling you that danger was imminent. If there was any chance of the cyclone being within 500km of your location, the warning came on. Programming would be suddenly interrupted with a blaring klaxon siren that I can still hear in my head to this day. For old time’s sake, listen to it here! As meteorological forecasting has become more sophisticated and other channels have opened up for notifying and connecting with citizens, the televised warnings have all but disappeared. Nowadays, instead of panicking the public, we are told by the BOM and news outlets to prepare for a ‘weather event’. The cyclone closest to Brisbane is called Cyclone Marcia. It is a category 5. That’s one big cyclone! #MarciaMarciaMarcia is trending on Twitter.
At the tail end of summer, this weather event has dumped rain over the region and reduced the temperature by a few degrees. When the weather is wet and cool, thoughts turn to baking. Though I’ve lived in sub tropical Brisbane nearly all my life, I have an affinity with the flavours of New England in the USA. Apples and pumpkins, cinnamon and cider, chowder and lobster. They are ingredients and tastes I enjoy at home and abroad. I like to think these muffins are a nod to a blustery New England afternoon.
I have been using this basic muffin recipe for years and years, adding and subtracting according to the ingredients in the fridge or pantry. I use it for savoury and sweet recipes alike, simply reducing or increasing the amount of sugar to taste. Like many of the recipes I use, this ones is fairly forgiving. If you don’t have any butter, substitute some vegetable oil and/or yoghurt. The recipe calls for plain white flour but I often use a mix of white and wholemeal and bump up the baking powder by a ¼ teaspoon. If I had been thinking, I could have thrown in a handful of dried cramberries or blueberries. Next time… It doesn’t turn out huge Texan style muffins so I think it’s perfectly OK for you to have two of them with a cup of coffee as you watch the rain fall.
New England Pumpkin & Pear Muffins
- 1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
- 2 – 3 tbsp caster sugar (sweetness to taste)
- 1 tspn baking powder
- 1 tspn cinnamon
- 75g butter, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 firm pear, peeled & cored
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin, grated
- 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- Nuts & raw sugar for decoration
- Sift SR flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.
- Grate pumpkin and cube pear into small dice. Add to flour mix and stir to coat ingredients in flour
- Melt butter in a bowl or jug in microwave, allow to cool slightly and add eggs and milk.
- Pour milk mixture into flour mix and stir to combine. Ensure batter is mixed but don’t over mix – a sprinkling of rustic dry flour is OK.
- Divide mixture into a well greased 12 cup muffin tin. Place a pecan or walnut on top of each muffin and sprinkle with a pinch of raw sugar.
- Bake in a 200c pre-heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1 minute then loosen with a spatula and turn onto a cake rack to cool.
Makes 12 muffins