Recently I had the pleasure of going over to Peckham and having a food tour of the area courtesy of The Skint Foodie. Our first stop was Persepolis and I could have spent all day there, rummaging through the treasure chest of amazing items they stock and chatting to Sally about her cookbooks. I managed to only buy a few things (but eyed up several others for a return visit) and came away with a bag of caraway seeds.
As far as I know, these are actually the fruit of the caraway plant rather than a true seed, but whatever they are botanically, they are underrated ingredient these days. Popular in Britain for centuries, they work well in sweet and savoury dishes and for some reason they remind me of my childhood. I’m not sure I remember eating them in anything particular, but they take me back every time. I haven’t had them regularly since I used to frequent a sandwich shop in Waterloo that did a New York club sandwich on caraway bread.
So when I saw them in Persepolis, I immediately wanted to make something with them that was neither sweet nor savoury but but would show them to full effect. Much as I love the idea of seed cake, it seemed too definitive a decision. Caraway duets delightfully with carrot and I figured this was the way to go.
I love making muffins but am always put off by having to buy the bigger sized liners and paying through the nose for them. So when I got sent a stunning non stick muffin tin recently by George Wilkinson, they promised to dispense with the need to line the tin. It was time to find out!
Carrot, Caraway and Honey Muffins (makes 12) (adapted from Nigella’s Blueberry Muffins)
- 75ml vegetable oil (not olive)
- 200g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 heaped tablespoon caraway seeds
- 75ml plain yoghurt
- 100ml milk (or 175 ml buttermilk)
- 1 large egg
- 200g grated carrot
These are the easiest muffins to make. Put all your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix all your wet ingredients in another bowl, except the carrot.
Then combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. I used half plain flour and half spelt flour because I had run out of plain. You could use all spelt if you liked. Mix the batter lightly, about four folds, and then add in the carrot. Fold in to the bare minimum. Lumps are fine in a muffin batter, overmixing is the enemy.
Portion the batter out into your tray. I use an ice cream scoop as it really is the easiest, quickest and neatest way to do this. Bake the muffins at 200°C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then run a knife round the muffins to help lever them out of the tray and marvel that you really didn’t need muffin liners at all.
I had the muffins ready to eat alongside a cuppa in 30 minutes. I was a little disappointed that they were rather flat and then I realised my baking powder was almost a year out of date, so it was in fact a miracle they rose at all. But what they lacked in stature, they made up for in flavour. Lovely and moist and a perfect balance of sweet and savoury, I ate some with my cup of tea and others with a bowl of soup. You could drizzle them while warm with a bit more honey if you want them sweeter, but I liked the versatility of the flavours. Rediscover caraway today!