I’ve been making these a lot this summer. It’s hot and humid here but on a clear day the sky is a bright blue and the sun almost scorches your skin. I love it and it makes you forget what the rest of the week was like, humid, hazy, soggy and sweaty with probably a thunderstorm or two to boot. Welcome to the unpredictability of a Hong Kong Summer. To cool off and ‘chill’ there’s the option, assuming you’ve reserved well enough in advance, to take to the seas on a junk – the government officially classes them as ‘pleasure vessels’ and for once I’d have to agree with them. Everyone brings beers, cocktails and a potluck dish for lunch and it’s usually an amazing day of fun and frolics. By 5 o’clock however, heading back to harbour after a day of sun, sea and swimming, you’re kind of craving something cakey and sweet and that’s where my teatime treat comes in. I’ve brought Nautical but Nice Cupcakes and Crow’s Nest & Cutlass Cupcakes – and yes everyone loves a cupcake but carrying 3-dozen of them in one hand with your full to the brim cool box in the other is a tall order! I’m also not a fan of leaving the frosted cupcakes on a hot boat for hours, as even the sturdiest of buttercreams tends to start shimmering. So this summer I switched to muffins and though not a crowd WOW-er like their rock star cousins, they most definitely are still a crowd pleaser.
To be honest, I’ve been looking for a decent muffin recipe for yonks and they always seemed to just turn out like sweet cake – with berries in them. This however is what I consider to be a good muffin. It shouldn’t be too sweet, as I just said; it’s not a cake. It should be moist (not wet) rather than dry and crumbly. It should be light and lively yet still be substantial. It should be generously filled with fruit or other such ingredients, THROUGHOUT, not just sprinkled on top for show. And finally it should have an awesome muffin top, something I haven’t quite mastered but am working on, nice and crisp, perhaps with a bit of crunch, to contrast its tender heart.
Raspberry Ricotta Muffins
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Recipe – Makes approx. 24 muffins )
- 1½ cup ricotta, preferably at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/3 cup sugar (I used half brown half white – but all white is fine too)
- Finely grated zest of 2 limes
- 4 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups raspberries (I used frozen)
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F – Line 24 muffin tin cups.
In a large bowl rub the lime zest into the sugar with your fingers – I do this stage in the mixer as I find it works almost as well (and preserves my manicure) – then set aside
Add the eggs to an empty mixer bowl and beat for a moment. Add the vanilla and ricotta and mix until combined
Stir in the cooled, melted butter.
In a large bowl, whisk the sugar into the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Pour the ricotta and egg mixture on top of the dry ingredients and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. The batter will be heavy and thick, this is normal. If it seems too stiff it probably means your ingredients are too cold.
Toss the raspberries in a tablespoon of flour. This prevents them sinking to the bottom of the muffin. Fold the raspberries into the mixture.
Using an ice cream scoop, measure the batter into the cases. If you want a decent muffin top, they should be filled almost to the top (don’t be stingy).
Bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes until cake tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean. The tops should be golden.
They are best served on the day they are baked. Apparently they can be frozen and reheated in a warm oven, but mine never last that long!
These muffins are awesome for all the said reasons and some folks have even said they’re almost cheesecake-esque, not surprising considering the addition of ricotta – yum! The rubbing of zest into the sugar is Dorie’s top tip, it’s completely genius (works even better with lemon!) and since discovering this method a few years ago I now do it with nearly all recipes that call for a citrus zest. The lime here however is very subtle and really just complements the raspberry and adds another layer of flavour, I mean, they’re not called lime muffins are they. So, if you haven’t yet got a favourite muffin recipe or even if you have, give these beauties a try – you won’t regret it!