Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's Just Another Muffin Monday or The Purpose-Filled Muffin

Wattleseed and Date Mini Muffins

There’s just something about Monday mornings that makes you want to retreat. The alarm sounds and you turn over wishing it were a Saturday morning instead. You pull the covers over your head in the vain hope that somehow that incessant beeping will magically disappear. After having pressed the snooze button one too many times, it becomes apparent that there is no escape. You reluctantly roll over until you inadvertently fall out of bed, hoping that somehow you might hit you head on the way down and sustain a massive concussion, thus affording yourself the perfect excuse to miss work. Then the stark realisation comes that you are in fact unharmed and of sound mind, so you grudgingly make that long walk to the bathroom, zombie-like, as if you were just made to walk the green mile.

I am fortunate enough to have a work schedule that doesn’t require me to feel this way every Monday morning, although I still know the dreaded feeling of having had a 4-day weekend and knowing that the day is no longer your own. What is it about Mondays that are so hard?

Wattleseed and Date Mini Muffins

I guess for most people the hard thing is that what they do for a living isn’t exactly what they live for. And sadly, all too often it just becomes a means to an end. As for me, I like my job, although I don’t love it and I don’t live for it. When given the order to take some accrued annual leave, I took it without hesitation and never gave work a second thought. The only thoughts I had of work were thoughts of how glad I was not to be there.

I don’t always feel so miserable about Mondays, most times I get up and I look forward to the day ahead, but there are just some weeks when all I can think of when that alarm sounds is how I can get out of work today. Should I feign illness? Will my car break down today? Or should today be the day I must visit my ailing grandmother living a 7-hour drive outside of woop-woop, somewhere remote like Cootamundra, who somehow needs my undivided attention today. I don’t know if it’s a hormonal thing, a girl thing, or perhaps just a me-thing, but there are just some days when all I want to do is pull the covers over my head, stay at home and watch a string of 80’s midday movies with a bowl of popcorn and a tub of ice cream clutched at my bosom.

Mini muffin paper cases

I am probably depressing you all as you read this, and I’m sorry. If you came looking for adventure and intrigue, I’m sorry, you came on the wrong day. I know most people assume the food-bloggers’ life as one of endless banqueting and reverie, but sometimes, you open the fridge door and all you find are leftovers, some rotten bananas and a half eaten cake perhaps. Sometimes the mundane creeps up on all of us and sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad.

Okay, so everyone is prone to a little bout of Mondayitis, but enough of this maudlin, forlorn mush, I have devised a recipe that may be able to help you with the Monday blues or whatever day your working week starts. Besides waking up with an inherent sense of purpose and intention- and maybe a caffeine fix- here is another thing you can add to the list of things to help get you out of bed the mornings- Wattleseed and Date Mufins.

Wattleseed and Date Mini Muffins

Muffins have been a familiar morning staple for as long as I can remember. It’s probably all that sugar in them that aids in the “waking up” dilemma most people have in the mornings. I don’t know exactly how high these muffins rate on the sugar scale, as they don’t taste overly sweet, but the muffins contain dates, which are naturally sweet and means that you don’t have to add that much sugar to the recipe. But just envisage the heady, intoxicating aroma of wattleseed and dates baking in the oven and this should be enough to rouse you from your slumber.

Wattleseed speckled flour
wattleseed speckled flour

Wattleseed usually comes roasted and ground, it smells and tastes like a combination of coffee, hazelnut and chocolate, which as far combinations go cannot be beat. The wattleseed that they sell in shops comes from a blend of several edible acacia plant seeds, native to Australia. It’s quite a unique taste and there is nothing in the world like it. If ever the opportunity to taste wattleseed arises take that chance and you will find out what a treat it is. You can buy wattleseed on the internet and most places ship overseas. If you can’t get hold of any wattleseed, you can replace it in the recipe with some coffee ground, but there is really no substitute.

Wattleseed and Date Mini Muffins
makes 36 mini muffins

Wattleseed and Date Mini Muffins

1¼ cups plain all-purpose flour
1 tbsp wattleseed, ground
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
170g unsalted butter
½ cup packed light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg
1 cup or 250g Medjool dates

Preheat oven to 170˚C. Line a 24-hole mini muffin tray with paper cases.
Chop the dates into small pieces and mix into a tablespoon or two of flour to stop the dates from sticking together.
In a bowl sift the remaining flour, wattleseed, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and maple syrup and mix to combine; the mixture may look a little curdled at this stage but this is fine.
Fold in the flour mixture until just combined.
Stir in dates until incorporated.
Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the batter into the prepared muffin tray, careful not to over fill the cases. Only fill them about ¾ of the way.
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the muffin tops are golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer the muffins to a rack and repeat procedure with the remaining batter.

NOTE: This recipe can be adjusted to make regular sized muffins. A longer baking time is probably required.


givengrace said...

Wow. What a terrifically beautiful post and great way to end this Monday. You've put into words the very thoughts I've had, from time to time, and I loved reading.

Will be back!

Anonymous said...

yeah, we´ve all had those Mondays... though for me, it´s usually Sundays around 7pm that it starts getting a bit depressing.
And don´t worry about not fitting into any glamorous-food-blogger lifestyle... I´m a food blogger and my lifestyle is certainly not glamorous! hahaha
I´m sure muffins like these could help kickstart a great week... that is, if one could find wattleseeds to begin with... oh well, one more reason to add to my list of "reasons to travel to Australia someday".

Meeta K. Wolff said...

After being in a job where I had that same feeling on Mondays. I promised myself to find a job that made me feel good and happy to be at work. Now I do and I understand what a luxury it is. Jen, those muffins are like a dream. I love the elegant flavors you have combined!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the recipe. I have some dates in the fridge so will give them a try (will sub linseeds for the wattleseeds).

thecoffeesnob said...

Oh wow. "a combination of coffee, hazelnut and chocolate"? I can't wait to lay my hands on some wattleseeds.

As always, your photos are spectacular.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am an Italian foodblogger, my name is Ady, I like very much your blog, and this muffins are wonderfull,I'll return here.
very compliments

L Vanel said...

Mondays are officially the worst day of the week for me. This week in the first 3 minutes of being at work, I broke a coffee cup. Things didn't get much better throughout the day.

I love your purpose filled muffins.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I always had the idea there was something in the physical laws of the universe that made Mondays that way. Even when I loved my job, Mondays were hard.
... smells and tastes like a combination of coffee, hazelnut and chocolate...now girl them there are really inticing words...I absolutely must get my hands on Wattleseed. Oh, how I'm hoping this is something I can find in town. Although a trip to Australia would be much better, I don't think it's in my future right now.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wattleseeds? I've never heard of them and now I can't wait to find some so I can try your muffins. Thanks for the recipe and the lovely pictures - good enough to lift any day of the week.

Helene said...

Beautiful wriitng as always. Your pics are just shining with morning goodness. I have yet to find wattleseed around here!

Cheryl said...

Wow, you post really spoke to me. As a member of the Monday through Friday club, my woe also starts around 7pm on Sunday and doesn't stop until 4:59 on Friday.

Love the muffins. I have never heard of Wattleseed. That is an amazing combination of flavors. I would love to try that.

Unknown said...

Where did you find those pretty pastel muffin cups? I have a hard time finding anything but white or silver here in Sydney!


Anonymous said...

I do understand your Monday-morning blues! As well as the "looking into the fridge at meager collection of horrid leftovers" feeling. For me coffee always helps :) But if I had these fantastic sounding muffins it would help so much more! :)

Truffle said...

They look wonderful. Another great wattleseed product is wattleseed ice cream. Delicious!

Linda said...

this has got to be THE most beautiful muffin shoot i've seen. i love the idea of piling the empty muffin papers! brilliant. and so very colorful. they also look delicious but i was distracted by your food styling the most ;)

you are so talented! i just adore scrolling through your photos over and over!

Freya said...

Now I know what to do with the wattleseed I bought from a local deli! Great post and the muffins look awesome! THanks!

Anonymous said...

Hmm... 'Monday Sickness', that's how I call it. Even though I like my job, I still don't like to get up at 7:30am, esp. on Monday.

Those muffins seem really tasty and like you said, it may boost me up on Monday morning. May I have one, or all of them please? :P

Anonymous said...

wonderful post! love to source some wattleseed in london...

Anita said...

Congrats on taking some truly sunny pictures despite having the Monday blues. I know what you mean...ever thought of taking the leap and pursuing your passion - perhaps becoming a baker?:)

Orchidea said...

Nice recipe... I really like it.

Karin W. said...

I recently found a
Swedish website
(well, translation into English is avaiable too). There are more than 600 Muffin Recipes. I have found that American, English and Swedish usage varies. The Swedish Muffin usually is a sweet one.

Peabody said...

I do have to agree that people think food bloggers are always eating amazing things...sometimes not so much :)
Your muffins look quite tasty.

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds fantastic. I've added it to my list of morning food options, hopefully I'll get a chance to make these gorgeous little beauties soon. Thanks! I'm learning all about new spices this weekend, wattleseed is new to me. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

You enticed me with your description of Wattleseed. I just rang up my trusty, favorite supplier of difficult to obtain gourmet items and I am so happy to report that they have wattleseed in stock. I can't wait to try this recipe out. Thanks for the lovely photos and recipe.

Paula said...

Great - my mother brought me some wattleseed over from australia, and i've been at a loss as to what to do with it. You're recipe has inspired me to finally get it out of the cupboard and try it out...is it a spice that is mostly used in baking, or does it have other uses?