I fell down the stairs this weekend.
How's that for an attention-grabbing opener? Don't worry, it was nowhere near as dramatic as I'm making it sound. As I turned the corner of our (carpeted) stairs, my treacherous slipper went from under me - turns out the clue's in the name with those little bastards - and I smacked right down on my arse and slid the rest of the way. I won't lie, there may have been a shriek. Not to mention quite a sizeable thump.
Luckily, oh so luckily, I didn't take anyone else down with me, least of all my beautiful baby niece who was in her dad's arms just three steps further down. No, the only casualties from this particular incident were my dignity, and my bottom. Honestly, you should see the bruise on my bum - black and blue doesn't even begin to express the colouration I've got going on. You know those images from the Hubble telescope of nebulae in outer space? That's the sort of thing we're dealing with here.
But why I am yanking this unseemly discussion of my subcutaneous haematoma into the blog? Because it was just so very unexpected. I don't know about you, but before Saturday I genuinely can't remember the last time I fell over - yet I'm sure that when I was little, I fell over all the time. Almost without noticing, I seem to have become an adult and gained control over my wayward limbs. Given that I don't play any kind of contact sport and gave up life-threatening heels years ago, I generally manage to get myself from A to B without too much bother. But playing with the afore-mentioned gorgeous four-month-old reminds you that this unconscious mastery of motion is still quite a big deal. After all, she's only just getting the hang of rolling, and even then she can only turn one way. There will be many, many falls in her future before she can tick "learn to walk" off her to-do list.
Since we are grown-ups now, with all the walking, gainful employment and god-not-more-tax-paying that that implies, the least we can do is commune with our inner child and have cake for breakfast. Or, to use the great cake-smuggling ruse of our time, muffins for brunch. These ones paired some beautifully fresh pears from the farmers' market with suitably autumnal spices, in a recipe which originally came from Sophie Dahl (like this flourless chocolate cake). However, I fiddled with it a bit to remove the more unnervingly healthy bits - swapping spelt flour for normal and 4 egg whites for 2 eggs. That makes me sound like those mums who pushed chips through the school railings on Jamie's School Dinners. Anyway, like all muffins, these were lovely fresh from the oven and much tougher and less tasty the following day, so I'd advise eating them all on day one or whacking them in the freezer pretty much as soon as they've cooled. But even with my bastardisation of the recipe, they're still quite a healthy little weekend treat - just the ticket for this time of year and an excellent option for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. Or, in my case, treatment for a bruised bottom. I'm no doctor, but I'm fairly sure this cure is working.
Pear and Ginger Muffins
Originally from Sophie Dahl's cookbook, adapted from this blog
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of bicarb
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- quarter of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 145g plain flour (the original recipe said spelt flour, but clearly I didn't have any)
- 145g rolled oats
- 100g raisins
- 100g walnuts, if you like - I didn't
- 225g pear puree (the blog where I found this recipe used baby food, I made a quick pear compote out of two further pears - see below)
- 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten (the original recipe says 4 egg whites)
- 125ml natural yoghurt
- 240g honey
- 1 firm pear, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
- another pear cut into small, thin slices to decorate
- demerara sugar to scatter over the top
If you've got a jar of pear puree or baby food, ignore this step. If not, then core and chop two pears and put in a small saucepan with a splash of water and a teeny squeeze of lemon juice. Cook over a low heat for around 10-15 minutes, or until the pears have collapsed into mush. Then blend in a food processor into a puree and set aside to cool - you don't want the puree so hot that it curdles the eggs when you mix it all together. I didn't bother to peel the pears or strain the puree because it's rustic, innit, but you can if you like.
Preheat the oven to 190C and cut squares of baking parchment to line a muffin tin.
Mix together the baking powder, spices and flour in a large bowl, then stir in the raisins, nuts (if you're using them) and oats. Add the eggs, yoghurt, honey, pear puree and chunks of pear and mix together until just combined, being careful not to over mix. I used a whisk so as to combine the ingredients in just four or five strokes.
Spoon into the lined tin, then scatter on a teeny bit of demerara sugar and place the pear slices on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with butter and jam, or just on their own.