Teacup Muffins: Back to the Future

These were the very first things I baked.

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And by that I mean the very first thing I baked as an adult. Adulthood haven being attained with marriage and childbirth. Sure I’d baked the odd cake, cookie even as a child, but none of those count in the newness of being that is adulthood. Something to do with little divide called ‘the teenage years’.

So these muffins launched my baking career back in 2005. The very first time I baked them in teacups and we all fell in love. So much so that I made 3 batches of wholemeal Lemon poppy seed muffins that day, in quick succession.

And that’s why we’re here, talking about muffins in teacups. A recipe from my past that I made last Sunday.

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We’re starting a new family tradition of Sunday Brunch. Every Sunday (at least for the last four Sundays), we’ve had something ‘special’ for breakfast. By special I don’t mean luxurious like caviar, or extraordinary like a 6-layer cake. When I say special I mean something we don’t have often or have time for often, or haven’t tasted before, something that causes us to ooh and aah at the breakfast table, that lets us linger long after we’re done eating, mugs and teacups in hand, stories exchanged, memories shared and crumbs on plates.

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……So far we’ve done doughnuts and scones, breakfast puffs and last Sunday t’was ‘muffin time.

See, at that point in time (2005), I had never made muffins, and no, I didn’t have a deprived childhood without them – we had cake! So, I didn’t have a muffin tin. Now I’d like to tell you something about Nigerians – they love (big) weddings. As in really, really, really love weddings – in all ramifications.

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Now if you’re getting married, there’s rarely a wedding ‘list’/registry (at least 10 years ago when I got married)- you don’t present anyone with a wedding list of things you’d like to have except they’re close friends/family. Loads of guests come. And by that I mean LOADS – we had over 500 people at our ‘small’ wedding. It’s a celebration so people ‘turn out and up’. A lot of gifts you receive will fall into the crockery class. I got’hundreds’ of  drinking glasses and tumblers, Twenty (20), yes twenty dinner sets, a few tea sets and loads of other gifts.

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Shortly after our wedding, we moved cities within Nigeria…. And no we didn’t take all those with us. We ended up ‘gifting’ to family and friends though making  sure that we weren’t returning gifts to the sender! Anyway, I did take some teasets with me and so when the desire to make muffins arose, and I didn’t have a muffin tin, guess what I did?

Yep, I whipped out a few teacups and got cracking. I sort of never stopped to consider if they’d stand the heat – the brazenness of youth. And thankfully, they did. The teacups were wonderful little numbers: straight-sided, and not very high with pretty green floral patterns at the base. And the muffins? They tasted wonderful and I ended up trying out a gazillion combinations: Cinnamon, chopped apple and pecan; Cranberry and orange; Plain wholemeal; Coconut and lime and many more.

But then I got refined, I sort of felt like an upgrade was necessary. Afterall I had mastered the art of muffin production and so the search began for a suitable muffin tin began till I got myself a nice metal tin, purchased some paper cases and voila, I was there, or wasn’t I? But that was back then.

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Fast forward to 2012, I no longer have a muffin tin and I can’t tell you what happened to that old tin of mine. I now have silicone moulds, all manner of baking and tart tins, dariole moulds, brioche cups, ramekins, baking rings – I could go on and on.

And all of a sudden, I began to long for the past. For the days of teacup muffins.

I got out some pretty teacups, and silicone moulds. Lemons were zested, sugar came out. Wholemeal flour, white flour, poppy seeds, cocoa powder. Chopped chocolate, butter, eggs.

Great Muffins

Makes 10-12 muffins

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely ground wholemeal flour
1  & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup thick yogurt/sour cream/creme fraiche, at room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
Additional
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds, or less
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  •  Small handful of blueberries – fresh, freeze-dried or frozen
  • 1/4 cup (Dutch processed) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped chocolate/chocolate chips (milk or dark, your preference) 

Directions

Melt the butter in a small pan and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan till the butter brown and smells nutty – about 8 to 10 minutes then set aside to cool.

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Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C (about 350 deg F), then grease or line your muffin tin, cups, moulds or whatever else you are using.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I split my batter into two so I could make two flavours. One got combined with the cocoa powder and chocolate chunks and the other got the lemon zest and poppy seeds.

In another bowl, whisk together the the sugar, buttermilk, and yogurt (sour cream/creme fraiche) until totally combined. Whisk in the egg, egg yolk, browned butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Split the liquid mixture into two portions.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and start to gently fold it together. For the lemon poppy seed version, when the batter is still quite lumpy and not fully combined, stir in the blueberries, reserving a few to stud the top. Continue to stir gently just until you see no more dry patches. Don’t overmix!

Spoon the batter into the muffin holes, filling each about three-quarters of the way full.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Let cool for just a minute or two, and then turn them out of the pan quickly (otherwise the bottoms steam) and cool on a cooling rack.

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Serve as you will.

I am glad to say that this is muffin heaven – back to the very place we started. The lemon poppy seed muffins were gorgeous, if large – I could only manage a half! The poppy seed provide a great crunch, the wholemeal flour adds a richness and nuttiness to the finished bake, as does the brown butter and the finished product has a fine, tender crumb that is perfect for starting a new family tradition.

I won’t be going back to that tin…..

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Have a great week ahead. What are your favourite muffins? Share them please.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Teacup Muffins: Back to the Future – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]

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29 Comments

  1. Pls how do I get to make the type of muffins I see around in supermarkets. My todler will not allow me to be. She wants one almost every other hour.

  2. Oh, so sweet! I would’ve been terrified of breaking tea cups – so daring and on the edge you are! 😉 (and apparently I am so Yoda reversing my sentence structure….)

    Those muffins look uh-mazing!!

    …And SO funny about Nigerian weddings!! Chris and I always think it’s so funny because it’s so opposite of weddings in the States – there you try to limit the number of guests, but here it’s a hyge party, and everyone’s invited. Like EVERYONE. I once thought I was pretty darn special when I got an invite to a wedding until I saw an invite in the hands of the woman who helps us out in the house and asked her about it: “Oh, you guys are friends? I didn’t know that!” “No, I don’t even know him. He just handed it to me as I came in the gate.” Ha ha! So much for special-ness….

    p.s. “We aim to please” in previous comment – ha ha ha!

  3. Oz . If I bake with my set of italian tea cups.. how do I know if they would crack or not? i DID TRY AND GOOGLE and it say one is fine with pocelaine? mine are also have painted…

  4. Lovely story, beautiful pictures!! These teacup muffins are absolutely adorable. I am not very adventurous with muffins and usually prefer poppy seed or banana-chocolate muffins.

  5. I would never have believed that the tea cups wouldn’t crack in the heat – but they suit these muffins beautifully. Like you I didn’t have muffins as a child and don’t feel deprived – we had cake (I feel sorry for those people who have never tasted a freshly baked rock cake!). I think a lot of muffins are slightly over-rated – not yours of course, the flavours sound heavenly. My favourites are raspberry and chocolate ones that I’ve made again and again.

  6. These are just the cutest things, Oz! They would be perfect for a refined afternoon tea. I’m going to look out for old tea sets at op shops, I think I’ve given all of mine away over the years!

  7. These are the cutest dang things I have ever seen, and a very special treat when served in your lovely tea cups. Fit for the Queen, I say!

  8. You’ve done it again! I’ve never baked in teacups! Now I want to try cupcakes with a dollop of frosting on top. A most splendid idea. And no wasting of the muffin/cupcakes papers to obtain an elegant presentation. An inspired post!

  9. Once again I am in your kitchen with you! Thanks for bringing me there! When you write your words on your keyboard and they travel across the miles to my computer screen, I feel like you are talking to me.Your photos are so real…
    I wish I could eat muffins with you…right now! Love you…and I’ll be in touch about other important things in life! xx

  10. I love the teacup idea! They don’t break in the oven? Very cool.

    Your stories make me smile every time I read your blog. I almost feel like I could knock on your door and come in for a cup of tea – and one of those muffins. 🙂

  11. These are SO sweet, Ozoz. 🙂 I love the look of them in the teacups. Sometimes it is essential to revisit our roots and recreate the things that brought us such joy in our youth. 🙂 xo

  12. I love your story of muffins! And now, lingering around the table for Sunday brunch…discovering (or rediscovering) something fun to eat and sharing thoughts, creating cherished memories. I have a special place in my heart for lemon poppy seed muffins as they were my best friend’s favorite. And to see them baked in tea cups is just lovely. I’ve made pudding in tea cups but never thought of baking. Of course, my first thought was “wouldn’t they break from the heat?”, but apparently not. Such scrumptious photos, too.

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