A triumph of adaptation

PATRICIA SOPER
Last updated 08:37 10/12/2013
Muffins
PATRICIA SOPER/Fairfax NZ
Because they are made with butter, these muffins have the keeping qualities of a fruit loaf, whereas their oil-based counterparts are best eaten on the day.

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What defines an original recipe? I've come up with a few in my time, but when you examine any recipe closely, nine times out of 10 someone else before you has written something like it or at least given you a kick-start to modify it.

Cooks are innovative and the greatest vehicle for change is need. As a rural cook I've never known the luxury of popping down to the supermarket. You would think that I would be a fanatical list-maker. Well, I used to be. Now I rely on the mind- jogging powers of the supermarket shelf and, I have to say, most of the time it works. But it's getting harder.

New products distract me, sometimes readers recognise me and ask me things, or I end up in the wrong aisle and forget to double-back. Like all of us, I have arrived home only to find that the very thing I needed most is not in my bag - or the car - even after feverish searching. Improvisation then comes to the fore.

No mixed spice? Use ginger. No muscovado sugar? Use brown. Not enough flour? Use half cornflour and half flour. And so it goes. Necessity is the mother of invention, or so my mother was fond of telling me, and, much as it grieves me to admit it, she was right.

Today's recipe is an adaptation of one by Allyson Gofton, who in turn adapted it from Sarah Leah Chase. It makes a generous quantity - about 24 medium-sized muffins - which keep well and are almost better the next day. Delicious served with yoghurt.

PEAR AND CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

Makes about 24 muffins

250g very soft butter

1 cup muscovado sugar

1/2 cup liquid honey

3 large eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp ground ginger

4 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 cups wheat bran

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup plain yoghurt

150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

100g tinned pears, chopped and drained

Method

Heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line 24 medium muffin cups with paper cases.

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.

Add honey and beat again.

Beat in eggs one by one.

Sift flour, ginger and baking soda into a large bowl.

Add bran to dry ingredients and toss through with a fork.

Stir into creamed mixture.

Add milk and yoghurt and stir.

Fold in chocolate and pears.

Spoon mixture into cups (about two-thirds full).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch.

Cool on rack. When cold, store in container.

Cook's note: This recipe also works wonderfully in well-greased friand tins.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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