These muffins are definitely the moistest muffins you will ever taste. At the expense of adding one of my favourite winter vegetables: parsnip. The truth is that there are more vegetables to cake than carrot. Adding carrot to a cake mix means the cake retains moisture without becoming soggy. It does add subtle flavour, which can be easily covered up with wintry spices and dollops of cream cheese icing.
The same principle works with any vegetable: they’ll all add a degree of moisture and some flavour. If you add them alone into a simple cake mix, their flavour will be quite prominent. Off-putting, even. That’s why if you add vegetables to a cake, you need to make sure there are other flavours there to either cover up or complement their flavours. One of my favourites is that middle-class knobbly classic: Celeriac. Yes, this vegetable makes the cake taste a bit like celery, but add a wee bit of strawberry and black pepper (and yes, the cream cheese icing), and it will blow you away. Beetroot? Chocolate. Courgette? Lemon. Parsnip works pretty well with pear, too, but add a little chopped apple and some cinnamon and you’ve got a muffin that’s hard to beat. With the glut of British parsnip at the minute, what’s your excuse?
First, preheat your oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5. Grease your muffin tins, or line them with muffin cases.
Start by peeling and grating your parsnips – the 300g should be the weight of them after this has been done. Then, peel your apples and chop them, using a sharp knife, into little bits, no wider than 1cm. Don’t worry if some go a bit brown.
Weigh out all your dry ingredients into a large bowl – your flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Mix these together roughly.
Add in all your liquid ingredients in no particular order – your egg, milk, vanilla and oil. Mix everything together using a large wooden or metal spoon – mix very roughly. You want your mixture still lumpy.
Finally, add in your carrots and parsnips and mix until just-combined. Your mix is supposed to be that stiff – it should easily fill twelve big muffin cases.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and when pressed, the muffin springs back up at you. If they seem soggy, give them an extra 5 minutes. These are best enjoyed hot, straight out of the oven, and will stay fresh for a day or two.
Muffins don’t have to be made in cases: most of the time, I just dollop the mix straight into my muffin tins. They’ve got to be greased right down into the corners, though, or you’ll have to throw away the tins with muffin still welded on.