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Strawberry and Cream Muffins


I am a devotee of savouries, rather than desserts or cakes. There’s nothing I like more than to finish a good meal with anchovy toast or Welsh Rarebit, but alas, finding a restaurant which is still prepared to serve this singular Victorian English eccentricity is becoming difficult. I have heard that they are still offered in some of the traditional, London’s ‘old boy’ clubs but not being one of those, I shall have to await a kind invitation to check out this rumour.

However, this week I am not going to go on about my own favourite dishes - apart from the savouries I have mentioned – but to please a fan (of Intrepid-Gourmet not  of mine) I promised to mention her favourite sweet things - Muffins, which also were once a singular English thing.

Until well into the 1930s the bells and calls of the muffin vendors could still be heard in the streets of London. Henry Mayhew, one of the co-founders of the sadly missed Punch magazine, (1841- 2002.) believed that the London  muffin and crumpet sellers were among the oldest of street traders. He recorded this fascinating account by a fourteen year old pedlar:

‘ I turns out with muffins and crumpets, sir, in October and continues until it get well into the Spring, according to the weather. I carries a fust-rate article; werry much so...If I sells three dozen muffins at one halfpenny each, and twice that in crumpets, it’s a werry fair day, werry fair; all beyond that is a good day...Perhaps I clears four shillings a week...If I has a hextra day’s sale, mother’ll give me three pence to go and play, and that hencourages a young man, you know, sir...My best customers is genteel houses, ‘cause I sells a genteel thing. I like wet days best, ‘cause there’s werry respectable ladies what don’t keep a servant, and buys to save themselves going out. We’re a great convenience to the ladies...to them as likes a slap-up tea.’

Dear Fan, I very much doubt that the ringing of a muffin seller’s bell is going to be heard outside your house, so I will offer this proven do-it-yourself recipe to try. Should it not be up to your expectations, then I would suggest the Welsh Rarebit.

Strawberry and Cream Muffins
 approximately 12 muffins.

Ingredients
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
280 ml (1 pint) single cream
200g Sugar
400g Flour (plain)
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
 200g Fresh Strawberries

 Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mk 6, 400°F). Place the eggs, vanilla extract, sugar and cream in a large mixing bowl and beat together until sugar is dissolved.
 In another bowl place the flour, salt and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
 Chop the strawberries into small pieces, and stir into the flour. Pour in the liquid, and mix together until just blended.
 Line a muffin tray with paper muffin cases, and then fill each case to just below the top with the muffin mixture.  Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes. They are cooked when a skewer inserted into one and then removed comes out clean.
 

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