These muffins are light and moist, with the goodness of natural, unsweetened fruit, ground almonds and yoghurt.
Muffins are a great pick-me-upper when I’m on the go. And they’re so quick to put together, usually just a handful of ingredients thrown together in a bowl, and mixed by hand. No need for lugging around any heavy-duty electric mixer, or busying yourself with tons of washing up after. In fact, with just a few, simple but well thought through ingredients, muffins can be a healthier snack for your family too.
These almond cherry muffins are a lovely indulgence for afternoon tea. I grew up on tea, thanks to Mom and Dad. We are a fairly traditional Chinese family, and whilst we didn’t have the luxury of tucking into Western-style treats during the 1970s, Mom and Dad always made delightful, mouth-watering Asian snacks and desserts for tea. However economical these were, like plain steamed yam dipped in sugar, or steamed tapioca drizzled over with coconut milk, it was all wonderful stuff to me!
It wasn’t until we emigrated to Canada that Western snacks, the likes of muffins, donuts, cakes and scones, started becoming a regular feature at tea time. I reckon it was probably during those years that I started to entertain the notion that I could bake anything if I put my mind to it. After all, I was a growing teen who was beginning to appreciate all things sweet in the land of plenty. Who could blame me? There and then, the spark that would fuel my baking craze late into my adult life, was ignited.
These English-style almond cherry muffins are the product of Bea Vo, the woman behind the highly successful establishment, Bea’s of Bloomsbury (London). In her cook book titled ‘Tea with Bea’, she describes these as a cross between the friand (a popular French/Australian treat) and the wonderful muffin. These muffins are light and moist, with the goodness of natural, unsweetened fruit, ground almonds and yoghurt. As muffins, they are indelibly sweet, and its subtle tinges of tartness at the same time (especially when you bite into juicy bits of baked cherries), are guaranteed to perk you up right away!
Almond Cherry Muffins
- 200 g caster sugar
- Grated zest 1 lemon
- 150 g plain flour plus 1 tbsp extra, for coating cherries
- 70 g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 eggs at room temperature
- 130 g Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 80 ml canola oil (or sunflower oil)
- 50 g butter melted
- 120 g pitted sour cherries
- 50 g almond flakes or slivers for sprinkling
- Pre-heat oven to 170 deg C (340 deg F). Line a 6-hole or 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases.
- Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers, until the sugar smells super lemony.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Stir to mix well. Sift into the sugar-lemon zest mixture, and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined and no traces of flour remain in the batter. Fold in the oil and melted butter until just combined. Do not over-mix.
- In another bowl, toss the cherries in extra flour until thoroughly coated. Then fold in the cherries into the batter.
- Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cases, each about three-quarter full. Sprinkle the tops with almond flakes or slivers. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes. Muffins are done when a metal or bamboo skewer inserted in the centre of the muffins emerges dry and crumbly, and the tops of the muffins feel springy to the touch.
- Remove the muffins from the mould and let cool on a cooling rack. Repeat baking the next batch of muffins. Best eaten immediately or when warm.