Ahh autumn. London’s trees, with their unusually rich hues of gold, burnished orange and moody auburn bear more of a passing resemblance to New England this year than any I can remember. Seeing Regent’s Park earlier in the week the romantic softie in me felt suddenly overcome by all the pretty colours on the trees. And no, my morning cuppa tea had not been spiked thankyouverymuch.
As a kid I really dreaded autumn, for all the predictable reasons you do when growing up. End of careless summers spent in the States – New England as it happens – back to boring school, the long Norwegian winter ahead, clocks going back, nothing to look forward to til, well, the following June when school finished. Bleak really.
Being a feckless, temperamental sort I haven’t quite overcome that sense of overwhelming doom when the leaves start turning. But I do have a newfound appreciation of the good things autumn brings us. Which might explain the unexpected swoon at seeing all those colours in the park the other day. Or perhaps I just need to take a vitamin supplement.
But enough musing and on to the recipe. These little beauties are really autumn in a muffin – strong, robust cheese such as stilton and pungent, heady sage mixed with perky butternut squash and crunchy, mellow walnuts. I do a variation on this theme now every autumn – last year it was with pumpkin and cheddar, this year stilton and squash. In our straitened times these savoury muffins make a delicious addition to any lunchbox, or as a sidekick to soups, salads and midweek suppers.
Do give them a try, I reckon bonfire night would be greatly improved with some cheese-y muffins and a glass of hot buttered rum.
Stilton, Squash, Walnut & Sage Savoury Muffins Recipe:
Makes 12 pretty muffins
- 150g refined spelt flour
- 100g wholemeal spelt flour
- 50g oat bran
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 whole nutmeg, finely grated
- 8 sprigs of sage, roughly torn, plus 4 whole ones for scattering on a few muffins
- 100ml plain yoghurt
- 50g melted butter
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 generous squirt of mild honey
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 250g butternut squash, roughly grated
- 100g stilton cheese, broken into 1cm chunks
- handful of walnut pieces
- extra cheese of your choice for sprinkling on top of the muffins
Preheat the oven to 190 C. You will need a 12x medium-sized muffin tin. Line the muffin tin with squares of parchment paper or paper muffin cases.
In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients and stir through with a large spoon to distribute the raising agents. In a medium bowl mix the yoghurt with the melted butter. Crack the eggs into a cup and beat with a fork. Add the honey and mustard to the eggs and stir again so you distribute the honey and mustard evenly.
Make a well in the middle of the larger bowl with the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid ingredients. Stir through about eight times using a large spoon, scooping in figure-of-eight motions so you incorporate all the ingredients. Add the butternut squash, stir 2-3 times and then finally add the stilton and the walnuts. Stir through a few more times so you have an even mixture.
Use a tablespoon or ice cream scoop and distribute the muffin mixture equally between the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with extra cheese if you wish, some extra stilton or parmesan for example. Then place a few sage leaves on some of the muffins.
Bake on the upper middle shelf of the oven for 20 or so minutes, until the muffins look golden-brown and feel quite firm to the touch. Eat while warm. These savoury muffins keep well for a few days. Simply wrap in clingfilm or keep them in an airtight container. They make a fab alternative to a slice of bread with soup or with a crunchy autumn/winter salad.