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out of the frying pan: maple, walnut and pear muffins with maple mascarpone icing

I’ve heard it said a few times that there a two different kinds of people in this world: cooks and bakers.

I don’t believe this is entirely true, and I know a number of people who are magnificent at both. I, however, definitely fall into the former category. Most of the people I know who bake regularly enjoy the precision involved. My brother works in a laboratory, carefully and vitally measuring all day, and watching him pouring out flour and sugar to the last gram to make shortcrust pastry or banana bread is like watching a kid with a chemistry set (albeit a super delicious chemistry set).

I’m a bit of a mess when I cook; adding teaspoons of this and pinches of that, and my approach to baking tends to go the same way. I like the freedom to taste and to tweak, not to mention the relaxation I find in putting some music on and spending an hour or two spinning from chopping board to cupboard to stove, singing loudly and badly all the while. I’ve always found baking somewhat anti-climactic in that sense. You make your batter, you pop it in the oven, and you wait. The payoff is (almost) always worth it, but to me it lacks the appeal of standing over a bubbling pot.

This recipe uses pretty rough measurements of every ingredient, and is incredible easy to assemble. It’s probably reflected here that my sweet tooth is almost non-existent too. These muffins are mellow and nutty with a varied texture from the soft cubes of pear, the sharp crunch of walnut, and the sweet, smooth hit of the icing. Simple enough for anyone as useless at baking as I am.

Just as delicious without the addition of the mascarpone icing, and a treat served fresh from the oven.

Ingredients

For Muffins

2 cups self raising flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 free range or organic eggs
150ml milk
125ml maple syrup
1 pear, peeled and diced into small cubes
1 small handful of walnuts

For Icing

250ml mascarpone, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp maple syrup

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases or squares of baking paper.

2. Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl and make sure there aren’t any big lumps of sugar left.

3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and milk together until combined well, and pour into your dry ingredients. Add the maple syrup and mix well.

4. Add diced pear and walnuts (I like to crumble the walnuts up a little bit so that there aren’t too many huge chunks) and stir. If you think the mixture seems a little wet or dry, add a little extra flour or milk to compensate.

5. Spoon mixture into muffin cases and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, spoon the mascarpone into a bowl and mix together with caster sugar and maple syrup. Once cool, spread or pipe a layer onto each muffin and top with a walnut.

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