Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dolly muffins and breaking the muffin rules


I know I recently posted about muffins, but I had to tell you about these anyway. They were a total baking mishap yet turned out quite delicious. I kid you not. They are extremely humble, not vain and dressed up like so many of their berry or nut-encrusted cousins. They are not studded with chocolate chips, there is no surprise swirl of tasty delight, not even the delectable presence of tangy cheese or vegetables reserved for their savory counterparts. These are plain Janes, but in a good way. Not in the 'you get what you see' way, because there is so much more to them than you expect. They have a depth of flavor that knocks your socks off. Perhaps it is the butter in them or their crumb, I really don't know, but the flavor is so complex in its simplicity, that I found them 'simply' irresistible.

Two things:
1) I have only made these once, so I have no guarantee they will turn out quite as yummy the next time round. Still, I had to tell you about them.
2) Again, these were an accident (then again some of the greatest inventions in the kitchen - not that I intend to elevate this particular one to quite that level - were accidents), but promise to read this post till the end.

But let's start from the beginning. Once upon a time there was a mishappen cake dough. Remember when I posted the ricotta cake recipe and I mentioned a failure in my first attempt to make the cake dough due to the approximate measurements from my mother in law, the disorganized way I jotted down the recipe when she was demonstrating and the fact that much time had passed since I had seen her make it? Luckily I had the ingredients to make new dough, but I could not get myself to just throw the mishappen dough away. I had added too much flour to the mix and it was crumbly and lumpy, impossible to work. I needed a wet ingredient to bring it all together again and soften the texture. Butter was out of the question, as there was plenty in the mix already. I didn't have any plain yoghurt and as I excitedly pulled out an open container of cream cheese from the fridge, I realized it had the worst, green and fuzzy way. I noticed some Petit Suisse sitting in the back. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is a fresh cheese made with cow milk and enriched with cream. It is a great snack for kids mixed with sugar, honey or jam.


In went the Petit Suisse and out came a soft, yielding dough, just perfect to let my daughter mess around with (without awakening the control freak in me). She was happy to say the least and she kneaded, manipulated, broke off pieces and put them back. And then she kneaded some more, rolled it into balls and worked it again - you get the idea. There goes the rule to not overmix your muffins! Then she asked me to bake it for her. A loaf pan seemed boring so I pulled out a muffin tray instead. She rolled out 6 individual balls and placed them in the holes and in went the muffins. Which I knew would be perfect for her dolls' tea party.

About 15 minutes into the baking, the most wonderful aroma insinuated itself into my nostrils. I breathed in and follow the smell, just like a cartoon character, and ended up smack in front of our oven. I looked in and saw the most picture pretty muffins with domelike tops, golden and perfect. When we pulled them out we were so curious we could barely wait for them to cool off before breaking them open and tasting them. The first bite: a little crumbly on the outside, warm, soft and rich (not fluffy) on the inside. Not too sweet, but sweet enough and buttery. Similar in texture to a corn muffin, reminiscent of it too, with a buttery cookie aftertaste minus the sickly feeling.

Thus the overkneaded Dolly muffin was born.


Still, I was diffident. Once these babies cooled off, they would surely be dull and tough. Not so, they were just as good the morning after for breakfast, the following afternoon with tea and the morning after that. And then they were gone. Sniffle.

The end.


3 egg yolks
125gr butter (100gr for dough, 25gr to grease muffin tray)
6 tbsp sugar
approx. 13 tbsp flour
1 sachet baking powder (12gr)
2 petit suisse (80gr)

Follow the instructions to make the dough for the ricotta cake: beat the yolks with 6 tbsp sugar, until creamy. Add in 12-13 tbsp of flour. While you are mixing, melt 100gr butter in a sauce pan and let cool. Then add the butter and baking powder and mix some more. At this point, and this is where I strayed, add one or two tablespoons of flour (I thought the dough was too greasy), until you see the dough become crumbly (like in the picture above). Add in two petit suisse (or any similar fresh, spreadable cheese) and work the dough like there is no tomorrow. Divide the dough into six portions and place in the holes of the muffin tray. Bake for approx. 30 minutes at 220°C in a pre-heated oven.


  1. This sounds wonderful! And I love how it came about too! Just by accident (which I'm sure is how some of the best recipes came about :) )

  2. Lorraine - I could spend hours imagining how those first culinary discoveries were made, how people millions of years ago discovered you could cook food on fire or you could actually use salt to add flavor and to store goods...I wonder if a book has been written on that subject?


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