I always used to love surprises, the unknown and the wonder of what might happen. But, I think with age (and maybe the control-freak in me) I like to know exactly what’s happening which leaves little room for surprises and sometimes a challenge for my husband to be spontaneous.
When I was little (and I mean really little) my Aunty Isobel used to make me gorgeous little smock dresses lovingly stitched together by hand. They would arrive at home, unpacked, and with each dress came a little surprise. She would always stitch in a secret little pocket for me to discover and within that pocket was a hidden bit of pocket money for me to find. I can remember putting the dresses on and trying to find the secret pocket in the hope of finding a coin wrapped in tissue which meant some penny sweets could be purchased at the sweet shop.
Today of course, smock dresses have been replaced with a high street number and instead of finding money I seem to always be handing it over. But there are still times when you bake or wander somewhere a little differently to your usual haunts and find a fabulous little surprise.
At the end of Chiswick High Street is an authentic American bake shop and cafe called The Outsider Tart which produces just the most fantastic tarts, cakes, brownies and cookies. The shelves of the shop are lined with all those American ingredients you can never find in the UK which are totally indulgent but you can’t help but grab a jar before you ponder what treat to purchase off the counter covered in delicious baked goods.
The last time I was there I picked up what looked like a slightly odd shaped doughnut covered in a golden sugar. It came across as a blend between a cake and a doughnut that was ever so slightly dense but with a chewy centre like a cake, but the outside was a cinnamon sugary delight. Now that really was a surprise!
These I had to bake!
Will’s office were having a bake sale for Coppafeel , a breast cancer awareness charity aimed at young people to promote early detection through educating about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. A worthwhile cause that I could help raise money for and an opportunity to bake some cinnamon puffs and see what the ais office thought of them.
They are baked like a muffin and when they come out of the oven they really don’t look like much, a little anaemic in fact. But, once you’ve dunked them in some melted butter and rolled them in the golden brown cinnamon sugar, they are impossible to turn down.
They have that confusing appearance that you think they must be fried like a doughnut, but in fact are baked like a muffin but have a cake-like centre.
And after much discussion in our office, a new name developed for them… ‘Muff-nuts’!
I couldn’t help but tell the Outsider Tart about our new name for them.
Breakfast cinnamon puffs, or as we now call them, ‘Muff-nuts’. It just shows that sometimes surprises are pretty good after all.
Breakfast Cinnamon Puffs… aka ‘Muff-Nuts’
For the batter
450g All purpose plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
240ml full-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter
225g granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
For the cinnamon sugar
225g granulated sugar
225g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
¼ – ½ teaspoon cardamom or cloves
225g unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 180°C
Grease 12 muffin cups with melted butter
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
In a measuring jug combine the milk and vanilla.
In an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy which will take about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Make sure you scrape round the bowl and beat again for another minute to ensure it is mixed well.
On a low speed (or flour will go everywhere) alternate between adding some flour and milk to the electric mixer. Only continue to mix until all the flour is incorporated.
Scoop the batter equally among the prepared cups, each cup should be about ¾ full. I actually made an additional 4 muffins from the batter quantities, but the recipe states it should make 12.
Bake the muffins for 25 to 30 minutes, a small knife should come out clean from the centre.
Whilst the muffins are baking, combine all the ingredients for the cinnamon crust in a brownie style tin lined with baking parchment.
In a medium pan, melt the butter.
Pour the butter into another brownie style tin as a larger surface area is much easier to roll and dunk the muffins in.
Once baked the muffins should be a pale yellow colour. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and immediately roll them in the melted butter followed by a roll in the cinnamon sugar. If you allow the muffins to cool too much before doing this, the cinnamon crust will not stick to the muffin.
Completely coat the outside of each muffin.
Top tip from the recipe book is to keep one hand in the wet melted butter and one hand in the dry cinnamon sugar as otherwise it gets a bit slushy. I couldn’t agree with this more!
Baked ‘Muff-Nuts’… enjoy the surprise!